The First Crusade


In November 1095, Pope Urban II preached a sermon at Clermont-Ferrand in France to launch the First Crusade. The aim was to aid the Christians of the East and return to Christian control the Holy Sepulcher, the church in Jerusalem said to contain the tomb of Christ. Absolution from sin and eternal glory were promised to the Crusaders, who also hoped to gain land and wealth in the East. Nobles and peasants responded in great number to the call and marched across Europe to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire. With the support of the Byzantine emperor, the knights, guided by Armenian Christians, tenuously marched through Seljuq-controlled territories in modern Turkey and Syria to Jerusalem. In June 1099, the Crusaders began a five-week siege of Jerusalem, which fell in July 1099. The Crusaders then took over many of the cities on the Mediterranean coast and built a large number of fortified castles all over the Holy Land to protect their new territories.