Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / The Crusades

Go To
Deus lo vult!Translation 

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."Translation 
Arnaud Amalricnote 

The Crusades were a series of military campaigns that took place between the 11th and 13th centuries, most famously against the Muslims, or Saracens, to reconquer the Holy Land, but it also included other conflicts, such as the campaigns against the Moors in Spain as well as pagans in the Baltics, and the Albigensian heretics. The word Crusade is a coinage from a later era. During the era, the expeditions were described as iter or peregrenatio which means pilgrimage. The warriors going to the Holy Land saw their duty as essentially religious in nature, a holy quest to a holy place, defeating and crushing heathens and heretics, earning glory in earth and a place in heaven. The word Crusade comes from croisade which referred to the practice of stitching a cross on garments, a heraldic practice which metaphorically certainly fits the era. Arab historians of the medieval era simply called it "the Frankish Wars" while modern historians returning to the Crusades after their experience with colonialism and Arab nationalism, also call it Crusades (or "campaigns of the cross" or ḥamalāt ṣalībiyya with the word ṣalībiyyūn used to describe Crusaders and Westerners in general).


The immediate cause was the petition from the Eastern Roman Emperor Alexios I to Pope Urban II. Alexios' request was a somewhat delayed response to the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 and to the ongoing campaigns of Norman lords based in southern Italy against Constantinople's holdings in the Balkans. Manzikert was symptomatic of the Byzantines' major problem to the East—- the arrival and rise of the Turks, who had upset the balance of power that had existed between the Empire and the Arabs for over 200 years. The Normans for their part were to the Byzantines emblematic of Catholic Christendom's small-mindedness and stupidity — attacking the only thing keeping the ascendant Turks from rampaging all over a completely unprepared Europe. The Emperor (or someone in his court) conceived an idea: Why not turn these bloodthirsty, land-hungry Normans (and their equally uncouth Catholic friends) against the Turks? Hence the letter to the Pope, who in turn considered all sorts of angles to convince the Normans—whom he also disliked, since the Normans had kidnapped his predecessor and were generally wreaking havoc in Italy as well — to fight the Turks. Eventually, the Pope got windnote  of a Turkish provocation to all Christendom—the Turks had just (re)taken Jerusalem from the Fatimids, and being a more itchily pious lot than the Fatimids, they tended to treat Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem poorly (as opposed to the Fatimids, who were more like "as long as you keep the gold flowing, we don't care what you do").note  This gave the Pope an idea: sell this war as a kind of armed pilgrimage, with the holy aim of "bringing the Cross to Jerusalem." After all, "Bring the Cross to Jerusalem" is a much better slogan than "Save the Greek Empire".


These wars and their associated events had a powerful and lasting effect, despite the fact that the Crusaders left Palestine by the fourteenth century. The Western Catholics, who already had something of a taste for Eastern luxuries, got even more of a taste for them after living in the East for a while—and the Italians, who ferried them between Western Europe and the Levant, got massive experience in sailing (which helped in the 15th century craze for exploration, and we all know where that led) and Middle Eastern trade contacts up the wazoo (which gave the Italian city-states the means to fund The Renaissance once The Black Death was over).note  The Crusades also led to the development of Catholic "just war" theory, and reintroduced the idea of a Church Militant to the West—which promptly turned it on the East, when The Teutonic Knights went and conquered/converted the Baltic (giving the side effect of completing the Christianization of Europe).note  The Muslim world, which had long been locked in a period of infighting, got something to unite it; the end result was larger, stronger Muslim states, and—with Saladin's conquest of the Fatimid Empire—the end of Shiism as a significant political force for the next three hundred years (when the Safavids converted Iran). And as for Byzantium—well, scroll down to see what the Fourth Crusade did to them.

Naturally, the movement extended to a much bigger and more complex set of conflicts. Although religious fervor was certainly a big factor, the motives, progress, and effects of the various Crusades are deeper and more various than most people think, so perhaps you are better off reading The Other Wiki (among other places) if you want to know more. Nevertheless, here is an overview of the more important crusades―the first through the fifth, which had the approval and blessing of the then reigning Popes, to get you started.

Levantine Crusades

  • The First Crusade: In 1096, after Pope Urban II had called for military action at the Council of Clermont in central France, the mainly Frankish, Norman and Lombard Crusader forces, led by Bohémond de Hautevillle, his nephew Tancrède, Raymond de Toulouse, Godefroy de Bouillon, and other noblemen, after being warily received in Constantinople and pledging to restore lost territories to the Byzantines, sailed to Anatolia and began conquering the Seljuk-occupied land. All the while being faced by grave deprivation of food and water, they reached Jerusalem in 1099; the city refused to surrender and a lengthy siege began, with Jews and Muslims fighting side by side to repel the attackers, the native Christians having been expelled from the city before the siege. After the city was taken, the soldiers massacred all inhabitants of a city that refused to lay down arms (so that, we are told, their horses waded in blood up to the fetlocks), though some commanders managed to control their men and allowed the remaining citizens to surrender. Still, much of the city was destroyed and most of its civilian inhabitants were killed or expelled. Afterwards, the consolidation of the crusader states was completed, with the barons dividing the territory of Palestine (or as they called it, Outremer ― the "Land Beyond the Sea") among them. Godfrey of Bouillon became the first "Frankish" ruler of Jerusalem, though refusing the crown and title of a King and preferring to be known merely as "Defender of the Holy Sepulcher".
  • The Second Crusade: Initially the Muslim leaders did not do anything about the Crusaders, as they had internal conflicts to deal with, and a period of relative calm followed in the Holy Lands between the Muslim and Christian population. Eventually, however, Muslim forces under Zengi, the Turkish Atabeg ("Viscount", more or less) of Mosul (in what is now northern Iraq) finally organized and retook the city of Edessa in 1144; a second crusade was launched to defend the new kingdoms. They had great success in the Mediterranean but failed to win any major battles in Palestine. King Louis VII of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Konrad II returned to their countries (although not before Louis led a completely futile and idiotic attack on Damascus—one of the few Arab allies of the Crusaders). This crusade was supposedly enlivened by the spectacle of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of the King of France, conducting with her ladies-in-waiting a sort of pageant of "women-warriors" (as well as being accused of carrying on an affaire with her uncle(!), Raymond of Antioch).
  • The Third Crusade: Also known as the Crusade of the Three Kings. After the Second Crusade had ended, Turkish emir Nur ad-Din, Zengi's son, took control of Damascus, unified Syria, and subjected Egypt to his rule. When Nur ad-Din died in 1174, his general in Egypt, the Kurd Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known as Saladin, seized power and became his successor. Now commanding a unified Muslim front, Saladin defeated the King of Jerusalem's army in 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, conquered Acre, and headed towards Jerusalem itself; the city, not being able to stand against Saladin's army, surrendered after being put under siege. The fall of Jerusalem after it had been nearly a century in Christian hands caused widespread alarm across Europe, and a new Crusade was called to retake her. King Richard I "The Lion-Hearted" of England and King Philippe II "Augustus" of France suspended their war with each other and joined the crusade. Friederich I "Barbarossa" of the Holy Roman Empire also answered the call, but his crusade was cut short when he drowned in the River Saleph in Turkey on his way to Outremer; a tiny fraction of his army straggled on under the command of Leopold, Archduke of Austria. Philippe and Richard arrived in Acre in 1190 and 1191 respectively (Richard having paused along the way to be married and to conquer Cyprus) and recaptured the city. However, after a falling-out in the Crusader leadership (Richard had jilted Philippe's sister, threw Leopold's banner off the walls of Acre, and was supposedly complicit in the assassination of the King of Jerusalem), Philippe and Leopold left the Holy Land, while Richard carried on the campaign, defeating Saladin again at Arsuf and Jaffa. However, it became apparent to Richard that he would not be able to hold Jerusalem with his remaining forces; moreover, Philippe, back in Europe, was already plotting against him with Richard's brother, John. Richard therefore reached an agreement with Saladin which allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims into the city, and afterwards pulled back his army and set forth to England. As ill-luck would have it, he was forced to make his way home through the domains of Leopold of Austria — where he was recognized, seized, and held ransom in the castle of Dürrenstein by Leopold and his overlord, Barbarossa's son, the Emperor Henry VI.
  • The Fourth Crusade: In 1199, Pope Innocent III initiated another crusade to save the remaining Christian territories in the Holy Land through Egypt. After the failure of the Third Crusade, his call was largely ignored by the most powerful monarchs of the time, who were preoccupied in their own conflicts with each other. Nonetheless, those crusaders who heeded his call assembled in Venice, which had offered ships to transport them. However, the Venetians refused to transport the soldiers until the latter had paid in full, as the Venetians had devoted great expenses to preparing the expedition. The famous blind Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo, perceived an opportunity to use the crusaders to crush the city of Zara, which had rebelled against Venice. The papal legate reluctantly authorized this, deeming it necessary to prevent the failure of the Crusade, but when Pope Innocent found out, he was alarmed and forbade the attack against fellow Christians under threat of excommunication; it nonetheless duly took place anyway. To make matters worse, one of the crusade leaders, Boniface of Montferrat, had left Venice earlier to meet with the son of the recently deposed Byzantine emperor Isaakios II Angelos, Alexios IV Angelos, who offered money, ships, and men to help the crusaders — if Boniface and his men would in turn sail to Byzantium and topple the reigning emperor Alexios III Angelos (brother and usurper of Isaakios II, and thusly the uncle of Alexios IV). This unsavory bargain ended in the infamous sacking of Constantinople in 1204, marking the definitive point where the crusades lost their original intent and making the schism between western and eastern Christianity all but absolute. Following crusades would be largely engineered by monarchs more for political than religious motivations; by the end of it almost none of the Fourth Crusade reached the Holy Land and the Pope excommunicated everyone who participated in it.
  • The Fifth Crusade: Sometimes divided into two different crusades, this began in 1217, when crusader forces from Austria and Hungary joined with John I of Jerusalem. Their remarkable early success was reversed when their foolhardy attempt to capture Cairo in July of 1221 failed, resulting in an eight-year truce with the Egyptians.
  • The Sixth Crusade: In 1228 the Holy Roman Emperor Friederich II (called Stupor Mundi, "Wonder of the World") landed in Palestine; through a spectacularly unexpected coup of diplomacy, he reached a peace agreement with the ruler of Egypt and seized the rule of Christian Jerusalem for himself. A section of the kingdom, including Nazareth and Bethlehem as well as the Christian parts of the Holy City itself, was delivered to the crusaders for a period of ten years ―, until some Muslims who were not content with their leaders' decision to allow the crusaders back into Jerusalem put the city under siege and expelled the remaining Christian forces in 1244. This is the last time the crusaders would maintain any actual control of Jerusalem itself.
  • The Seventh Crusade: Lasting from 1248 to 1254 under Louis IX of France, this was an utter disaster after Louis and thousands of his troops were captured by the Ayyubid Sultan Turanshah. He was freed after payment of a large ransom. No significant territory changed hands.
  • The Eighth Crusade: In 1270, Louis IX instead tried to attack Tunis, but died shortly after arriving, with his army struck by disease and dispersing quickly back to Europe afterward.
  • The Ninth Crusade: The last crusade, from 1271-1272, saw Edward, son of Henry III of England (the future Edward I of England) attack Acre in Palestine. Despite impressive victories over Baibars, Edward withdraw to England because of pressing concerns at home and inability to resolve the internal conflicts within the remaining Outremer holdings. The crusading zeal was nearly burned out by this point, and with the end of efforts to recapture the Holy Land the last Crusader states fell to the Muslims.

European Crusades

  • The Northern Crusades (1147 - 1240): Eventually successor Popes got the idea, lets call for Crusades against the remaining pagans of Europe and complete the Christianization of Europe. Crusaders traveled into the Baltic countries and mounted campaigns against the Wends. These were led by The Teutonic Knights and other orders such as the Livonians that spun of the Teutons. The success was complete and total, albeit filled with horrific scenes of violence such as the mass suicides of Pilenai where Lithuanian pagans, 4000 according to medieval chronicles, committed suicide rather than submit or convert to Christianity. The Livonian Crusaders also clashed with the Orthodox states like Novgorod where they were famously defeated by Alexander Nevsky.
  • The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229): Far and away the bloodiest of all crusades, concentrated on the practitioners of the Cathar sect in Languedoc which ultimately crushed it. Reports of casualties range from 200,000 to 1,000,000. Famous for Arnaud Amalric's famous dictum at the massacre at Béziers.

Tropes associated with the Crusades:

  • Aluminium Christmas Trees:
    • Why yes, the most significant and heroic Muslim leader of the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Crusades was indeed a blond blue-eyed man!
    • A number of women went along on the Crusades, despite their depiction as a male-only affair.
      • First Crusade: Elvira de Castilla (wife of Raymond IV de Toulouse), Florine de Bourgogne (wife of Sweyn the Crusader), Godehilde de Toeni (wife of Bauduoin de Boulogne).
      • Crusade of 1101: Ida of Formbach-Ratelnberg
      • Second Crusade: Eleanor of Aquitaine (wife of Louis VII).
      • Third Crusade: Berenguela de Navarra and Joan of England (wife and sister of Richard the Lionhearted)
      • Seventh Crusade: Marguerite de Provence (wife of Louis IX) and Beatrice de Provence (wife of Charles d'Anjou)
      • Eighth Crusade: Leonor de Castilla (wife of Edward I)
  • Ambiguously Bi: Richard the Lion-hearted and Philippe Auguste... maybe.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Baudouin de Boulogne, the first king of Jerusalem.
  • Anticlimax:
    • The Second Crusade was launched in 1146 in response to Imad ad-Din Zengi conquering Edessa. Imad was killed by one of his slaves before any of the Crusaders even got there.
    • In the Third Crusade, Emperor Friederich Barbarossa, already known as a badass for his leadership in many wars in Italy, marched an army of many thousands from Germany to southern Turkey, curb-stomped an enormous Turkish army at Iconium, sacked the Seljuk capital, headed towards the Holy Land — and drowned in a one-foot deep river (his armor was too heavy for him to get up and he may also have had a heart attack simultaneously).
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: This was what a sizable portion, maybe even the majority, of the First Crusade and especially the preceding Peoples' Crusade was (or devolved into at any rate), and especially the later ones. Prior to the Crusade many of these fellows spent their time robbing and stealing and pillaging each other; much of the violence in the First Crusade was basically them doing in the Middle East what they normally did in Europe. Some historians have posited that a big reason the Pope announced the Crusade is that he feared they would sooner or later get round to sacking Rome, and so directed them against the Saracen aggressor to put their impulses to more constructive use. He promised them pardon for all past sins, but even he was pretty horrified by their behavior (this included sacking Byzantine cities, i.e. the the people they were supposed to be rescuing from Muslim invaders), and it's debatable how much this pardon affected their actions.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In his chronicle on the First Crusade, Albert of Aix comments on the cannibalism at Ma'arra with the incomparable line: "The Christians did not shrink from eating not only killed Turks or Saracens, but even dogs!"
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: This was a justification some used to persuade others to go on a crusade. Killing another Christian was a sin but killing Muslims that were seen as enemies of Christianity to free the holy land would actually be held as a noble cause that would get one forgiven for their sins. This, however, did not stop Crusaders from killing Arab or Byzantine Christians eventually. It was totally averted during the Fourth Crusade, where the Latin Crusaders sacked Constantinople, putting ends of any hope of healing the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox schism.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Edward The First of England killed a Mamluk assassin with the man's own blade while fighting in the Ninth Crusade.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • At the time of the First Crusade, Raymond IV de Toulouse was probably in his mid-fifties.
    • During the Third Crusade, Friederich Barbarossa was in his sixties.
  • Badass Family: This was to be expected in a marital age, yet even so:
    • The Hautevilles, a family of minor nobles from Normandy, craved out an empire for themselves in southern Italy and Sicily, despite the initial misgivings of the Papacy, Holy Roman Emperors, and Byzantines. Two leaders of the First Crusade, Bohémond and Tancrède, were Hautevilles.
    • Eustache III, comte de Boulogne; Godefroy de Bouillon; and Baudouin de Boulogne, who went on the First Crusade and claimed Jerusalem and Edessa, were fearless warriors and unshakably loyal to each other, the latter being rare at the time. Their late father, Eustache II, had fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and was credited with having been one of those who personally killed Harold Godwinson, so maybe it was In the Blood.
    • The Aleramici brothers, sons of Guglielmo V of Montferrat. The first, Guglielmo Longsword, married Sybille of Jerusalem and proved to be a capable military leader before dying of malaria. The fifth, Raineri, married Theodora Komnēnē and co-led a faction with her against Marie of Antioch. He and Maria were later killed by a eunuch on the orders of Andronikos I. The second, Corrado, married Theodora Angelina (sister of Isaakios II Angelos), curbstomped a rebel army and beheaded its leader before heading to the Crusader states just in time to save Tyre, which was being besieged by Saladin. He was elected king of Jerusalem, but was assassinated before his coronation. The third, Bonifacio, was the de-facto leader of the Fourth Crusade and made himself King of Thessalonica before dying in battle with Kaloyan.
    • Ivan Asen I, Petar IV, and Kaloyan of Bulgaria, who led a rebellion against the Byzantine and Latin Empires and restored the Bulgarian empire. So long as the three brothers were together, they were almost unstoppable. The Byzantines tried multiple times to get the brothers to turn on one another, to no avail. Apparently, a trio of part-Bulgar, part-Kuman barbarian warlords could understand filial devotion, even if the Byzantine imperial family did not. Ivan Asen's son, Ivan Asen II, was more a Chessmaster who preferred diplomacy over warfare, but skillfully played Nicaea and the Latin Empire off each other and kept Bulgaria independent.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Latins to the Byzantines throughout. Plus, the Cumans and Bulgars during the Fourth.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Played straight in the First Crusade. Godefroy de Bouillon, the later King of Jerusalem, was ambushed by a Syrian brown bear in Anatolia while hunting, and he only miraculously escaped with his life, later being incapacitated for weeks. It later added strength to the legends surrounding him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Several examples:
    • In 1206, the remnants of the Crusader army under Henry of Flanders, newly-crowned emperor of Constantinople, coming to the rescue of 20,000 Greeks taken prisoner by Kaloyan, khan of Bulgarians.
    • In a sense, Berke Khan, the Mongol ruler of Russia, to the Muslims. As the first Mongol khan to convert to Islam, he allied himself with Sultan Baybars and waged war against his cousin Hulegu Khan after the latter sacked Baghdad, wrecking Hulegu's war plans against Muslim forces which would have tipped balance significantly in favor of crusaders.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Alexius V Ducas had these, leading to his title of Murtzuphlus or "Bushy Eyebrows"
  • Cain and Abel:
    • The Komnenoi Imperial Family basically slaughtered itself into near-extinction, but a direct example of this trope were Alexios III and Isaakios II.
    • Imre and András II of Hungary. Pope Innocent III wanted them to go on Crusade or crush the heretical Bosnian church, but instead they spent most of their time plotting against each other. He then agreed to recognize Kaloyan as the king of Bulgaria as a counterweight to them and the Byzantines.
  • The Chessmaster: Bohémond's primary contribution to the First Crusade, and how he wrung as much power out of his conquests as possible while still technically obeying his oath.
  • Church Militant:
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Raymond II, Count of Tripoli toward his wife, Hodierne.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • After being overthrown, Andronikos I was tortured for three days by the citizens of Constantinople before being torn apart.
    • The end of Foulques V, comte d'Anjou and king of Jerusalem. He died in a Hunting "Accident" and his head was crushed his saddle.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The First and Third Crusades for the Crusaders (and the Fourth Crusade, technically, but no one likes to talk about that). The Seventh Crusade for the Muslims. The Battle of Ascalon in particular deserves a mention, as the exhausted and quickly assembled Crusader army was able to destroy an Egyptian army over three times its size.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Byzantine court. FULL STOP.
    • Really, most of the courts were this to some degree. The Muslim world was absolutely fascinated by the (Christian) Kingdom of Jerusalem because succession *didn't* feature the entire kingdom plunging into chaos as everybody struggled for control. Considering things like their own track record and that of the Eastern Romans, they had good reason for it.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Friedrich Barbarossa, leader of the Third Crusade. See Anticlimax above.
  • Enemy Mine: Most of the Christians (French, Greeks, German, English...) and Muslims (Syrians, Turks, Egyptians...) did not like each other, but had to band together to fight the other side. Played best by the Hashashin, Shia Muslim fanatics that even allied at some point with the Crusaders to fight off Saladin.
    • In 1109, two powerful Muslim lords, Chavli of Mosul and Radwan of Aleppo, quarreled. At the same time, Tancrède of the Galilee and Baudouin de Rethel (future king of Jerusalem) were at each other's throats. So Tancrède and Radwan teamed up to take on their co-religionists, Chavli and Baudouin (who had assistance from Joscelin de Courtenay). The Tancrède/Radwan team won the day.
    • There was an attempted alliance between the Crusaders and the Mongol Empire against Muslims since Genghis Khan crushed the Kwarazmians around the time of the Fifth Crusade. Initially, the Crusaders thought the Mongols were Christians too due to the legend of Prester John, a mythical king descended from one of the Three Magi that ruled a Christian empire hidden in Asia and that Genghis Khan was descended from him. Despite the Mongols making incursions into European territory such as Poland, Hungary and the Kievan Rus' and they didn't necessarily hate Muslims (they largely didn't care about religion and employed anyone who swore allegiance), the Papacy and King Louis IX had relatively cordial relationships with many Khans against their common enemy but a alliance never truly materialized because they never accepted each other demands (the Crusaders wanted the Mongols to convert to Catholicism, and the Mongols wanted the Crusaders to submit because they never had allies - only subjects or enemies).
  • End of an Age:
    • The Siege of Baghdad brought an end to the "Arab Golden Age" since that effectively broke their power as caliphs and they never recovered from that, being reduced to powerless figureheads. The balance of power shifted in the Islamic world among several different Muslim states until it finally settled on to the Turks, who later on emerged as it's new leaders with the Ottoman Empire to whom the Arabs would serve as vassals.
    • Even after the campaigns to retake the Holy Land ended, it wasn't until the Knights Templar were finally purged that the Crusades was over for the Europeans, since the organization had at this point outlived their purpose and were becoming a nuisance to the Papacy and the French monarchy.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Godefroy de Bouillon in the First Crusade. He was the second son of Eustache, comte de Boulogne and inherited very little of his father's domains. But he became one of the most famous of the crusaders, even over those who were higher up in the social pecking order.
    • Richard the Lionheart in the Third Crusade. Friederich Barbarossa was Christendom's White Knight, leader of a Power Trio of European warrior-kings. Richard was actually the least well-known of the three at the time. Friederich's death in a freak accident before the Third Crusade could really get off the ground meant someone had to step in and take a leadership role...and in the process, become legend.
    • Saladin is often held up by Muslims today as one of their greatest heroes from this particular period. They've got reasons, of course - his successes against the Crusaders are quite notable particularly the Battle of Hattin, and he does embody the virtues of mercy and honour that Islam extols. That being said, in his time he was actually considered one of the minor heroes of the Crusades and was mostly overshadowed by more formidable Muslim leaders - such as Sultan Baybars. In his defense, Baybars is pretty much the closest the Real World's ever gonna get to Conan the Barbarian.
    • The (Syrian) Hashshashin, and their leader, Rashid ad-Din Sinan, popularly known as the Old man of the mountain. They were an obscure sect of religious minority extremists who had very minor impact on the overall setting, but even their contemporaries apparently found the idea of absurdly devoted religious assassins who killed by an extremely unusual code of conduct (killing in broad daylight, which subverted the very idea of an assassination) and operated from hidden mountain castles to be extremely intriguing and cool.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Daughters: Isaakios of Cyprus, a despot so evil that he was accused of murdering his wife and son and everyone thought it sounded like something he'd do, broke down and surrendered when Richard the Lion-Hearted captured his beloved daughter.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Simon IV de Montfort, who later became infamous for his brutality during the Albigensian Crusade, went on the Fourth Crusade but was enraged by his fellow Crusaders attacks against other Christians and went home.
    • When Saladin killed Renaud de Châtillon in front of Guy de Lusignan's eyes, the latter became deathly afraid that he would be next, but Saladin reassured him by saying that he didn't kill Renaud because he was a Christian, but because "that man had crossed all boundaries". Indeed, he would later release Guy from captivity even.
  • Eye Scream: Whenever a Byzantine emperor was overthrown, he had his eyes gouged out. This was considered to be more merciful than other methods of execution. It also had practical reasons, since a blind leader would be unable to rule or command an army, and that would ensure they would never try to retake the throne.
  • Everyone Is Related: That or they were vassals of some kind.
  • Fanon:
    • The idea that Renaud de Châtillon ever raped Saladin's sister. Renaud was without a doubt a sadistic bastard, but no contemporary sources, even the Muslim ones which could be expected to cast him in the worst possible light, ever accuse him of raping Saladin's sister. It is known that Renaud raided some of Saladin's caravans and held the merchants hostage, and that in response Saladin sent troops to watch over his sister as she returned from her pilgrimage to Mecca. The two events seem to have become conflated with rape added on top.
    • There was a persistent legend that Imad ad-din Zengi's mother was Lady of War Ida of Formbach-Ratelnberg, who was rumored to have been carried off to his father's harem. This seems unlikely because she was 46 (already past menopause and thus unable to have children) during the Crusade of 1101 when this event happened and Zengi was probably born in the 1080s, which means there is a huge disparity in time. It's far more plausible that she died in combat.
    • The story that Eleanor of Aquitaine and her ladies dressed as Amazons was probably the result of Victorian historians misreading the account of Niketas Choniates. Chionates' accounts only mentions rumors of "masculine" German and French women among the armies of the Second Crusade being led by one who dressed in gold. It's possible that he was referring to Eleanor, but it's also possible that he meant someone else or he just made the story up.
  • Femme Fatale: The Damsel of Cyprus, daughter of Isaakios Komnenos of Cyprus. She was taken captive by Richard the Lionhearted during his stop and ended up spending time with his wife, Berenguela and sister, Joan. She most likely stayed part of Joan's entourage and traveled with her to Languedoc when Joan married Raymond VI, comte de Toulouse. After Joan ran away from Raymond and fell to Death by Childbirth, the Damsel either became Raymond's mistress or married him. After the end of that relationship, she married Thierry, the illegitimate son of Baudouin I of Constantinople and they tried to press a claim to Cyprus.
  • Fiery Redhead: Foulques V, comte d'Anjou and King of Jerusalem and his great-grandson, Richard I of England. Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa as well.
  • Final Solution: The fate of the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade, described by Raphael Lemkin (who coined the phrase) as an example of genocide but contested by others.
  • First Installment Wins: Averted; the Third Crusade tends to be the most famous, thanks to Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.
    • From another perspective, this is played straight. The First Crusade was the only one that the Crusaders were more or less entirely successful at least in Palestine. On the whole, the most totally successful crusades were in Europe against Cathars and Baltic pagans.
  • Five-Man Band:
    • For the First Crusade...
      • The Hero: Raymond de Toulouse, the all-around leader of the First Crusade, he would step aside and become the Lancer to Godefroy after the latter won the Siege of Jerusalem
      • The Lancer: Bohémond de Hauteville, leader of the Normans and constant rival to Raymond.
      • The Big Guy: Robert de Flandre, was given the position of the vanguard of the Crusaders
      • The Smart Guy: Gaston "le Croise" de Bearn, the more philosophical and diplomatic minded member of the Crusaders, although a veteran of the wars in Spain and a capable military leader in his own right
      • The Chick: Adhémar de Monteil, a priest sent by the Pope to accompany the Crusaders as Spiritual Leader who tried to keep the Crusade leaders united... until his untimely death
      • Sixth Ranger: Godefroy de Bouillon, would become the Hero after Jerusalem was captured.
      • The Heart: Tancred de Hauteville, another Norman knight. During the fall of Jerusalem he was one of the few Crusades who tried to save the lives of civilians in the city.
      • Tagalong Kid: Robert de Normandie, disgraced at home in England, despite being the oldest son of the famed William the Conqueror, his contribution to the crusade was rather minor and consisted of only himself and a small guard.
      • Crutch Character: Hugues de Vermandois, one of the early crusaders, an ineffective soldier and leader but with a sizable army. He left the Crusade and returned home after a few battles before the Crusaders reached Jerusalem.
      • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: He returned in the Crusade of 1101 but died early on of the stabbity while fighting Turks.
      • Early-Bird Cameo: Baudouin de Boulogne, Godfrey's younger brother, who would have qualified for The Smart Guy if he had stayed with the Crusaders. Instead he campaigned with the Crusaders only for a bit before marching his army to the east and becoming Count of Edessa. He would later return to Jerusalem and become its first real king.
      • 11th-Hour Ranger: Guglielmo Embriaco, who appeared out of nowhere during the Siege of Jerusalem with siege engines.
    • For the Seventh Crusade...
  • Four-Star Badass: A lot of people qualified for this to varying degrees, but the absolute biggest one of these events is undeniably Sultan Baybars who is the only military commander in all history to not merely have decisively defeated the Mongols - but indeed have broken their backs so badly that they did not return afterwards for revenge note . That's right, Baybars was such a badass that he terrified the THE MONGOLS!!!
  • Genghis Gambit: A large part of Pope Urban's intent when organizing the First Crusade was to give these bloodthirsty Frankish warlords something to do other than killing each other and laying waste to the countryside. Medieval Europe was a morass of warfare and violence, and a good way to tone it down was to give them a single cause to rally behind, and then ship them overseas to go fight it.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!:
    • Marie of Antioch was seen this way while she served as regent for her son, Alexios II. She was a certainly bad regent, but not particularly wicked or tyrannical, especially when compared to her replacement.
    • Chroniclers often portrayed Maria Komnēnē, the second wife of Amaury of Jerusalem, this way. Particularly ones loyal to Richard the Lionheart.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Alexios I Komnenos' call for help from the West resulted in the Crusades.
  • Gone Horribly Right: That call for help? It's believed the Emperor only intended to ask for a contingent of Western mercenaries to bolster the Byzantine army.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Fourth Crusade, for so many reasons. What began with the crusaders intervening in what they thought would be a relatively easily resolved dynastic squabble at Constantinople turned into them taking over the entire Byzantine Empire and completely gouging Constantinople of all its wealth. The crusaders never even tried to fulfill their original goal of taking Egypt and Palestine, and controlling Constantinople only detracted funds and soldiers away from the cause of keeping a Christian foothold in Palestine. In the long term, although eventually the Byzantines would regain control over Constantinople, the empire would remain weakened and shattered and impoverished, vulnerable to enemies like the Ottoman Turks, who'd eventually take over much of eastern Europe. This also effectively destroyed any prestige the Crusades still had as it had exposed the entire undertaking as monstrously hypocritical. Future Crusades were launched but remain largely forgotten save by historians. Irony happens that one succeeded in retaking Jerusalem, was completely bloodless, and made Frederick II an outcast in Europe.note 
  • The Good King:
    • Saladin was famous among all rulers for his religious tolerance and humane treatment of prisoners and occupied peoplesnote . Richard The Lionheart is also almost always portrayed this way.
    • Henry (Hendrik) of Flanders, who became emperor of Constantinople after his brother Baldwin was defeated in battle by Kaloyan and hauled off to a mysterious fate in a Bulgarian dungeon. Notably the only Latin Emperor to be respected by his Greek subjects (they called him "Emperor Ares" because of his martial prowess) Henry kept the Latin Empire going decades longer than it might have otherwise.
    • Godefroy de Bouillon would be an example but he refused to ever take the title of King of Jerusalem insisting that only no man could be crowned king in the city where Christ was crowned. He's essentially made into an idealized figure by most chroniclers of the crusades and made a hero in a number of epic poems.
      • Most of these cases are examples of Historical Hero Upgrade. Saladin, Richard, and Godefroy all engaged in acts that would be considered monstrous today by some people. While Saladin in particular is remembered for his tolerance and humane treatment, he behaved in such way only when it suited him. After the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, Saladin had 100-200 Templars and Hospitallers executed by Sufis and Islamic scholars, men for the most part unfamiliar in the use of weapons, leading to clumsy, agonizing deaths for many of the prisoners. Saladin, by his own admission, intended to sack Jerusalem, and only abstained from doing so when the commander of Jerusalem, Balian d'Ibelin, threatened to destroy the Islamic Holy Places and execute thousands of Muslim prisoners. Earlier, before he began his conquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he put down a Sudanese revolt in Egypt by burning down their quarter of Cairo...with their women and children still inside their homes. After the Sudanese troops surrendered, he promised them safe passage up the Nile, only to have them massacred when they left Cairo in smaller, disorganized groups. Godfrey, of course, was one of the leaders of the brutal sack of Jerusalem. Richard executed 2700 Muslim prisoners at one point during the Third Crusade.
    • Frederick II, King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor, is a genuine example. He was famous (and often reviled) in Europe for his religious tolerance towards Sicily's Jews and Muslims, as well as his banning of trial by ordeal, his academic pursuits (he was a polyglot and a scientist who studied bird migrations), and his patronage of the arts. All this on top of being known as a mighty general for his wars in Italy. In regards to the Crusades, he managed to take Jerusalem totally bloodlessly after extensive negotiation- aided by the fact that the Muslim sultans genuinely respected him and trusted him to keep his word. It is said that when he entered the city, the Muslim residents of the city hastily sought to stop their prayers, only for Frederick to inform them that they could keep going and he would not infringe.
  • Handicapped Badass: Baudouin IV of Jerusalem, the "Leper King", as his nickname implies, suffered with leprosy throughout his life; nevertheless, he did not let this prevent him from fulfilling the role of a tough young warrior-king. He was only 13 when crowned, won a decisive victory over Saladin at sixteen at the Battle of Montisgard, and is often portrayed sympathetically in works related to him.
    • Also Enrico Dandolo, doge of Venice, who was ninety and completely blind when he pointed the Fourth Crusade like a missile at the city of Zara.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Godefroy de Bouillon occasionally appears, but the big star is Richard the Lionheart, followed by his opponent Saladin.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Crusades have, with good reason, become a byword for religious fanaticism but many often consider this the ultimate example of religion run amok, when the Crusades weren't as bloody as the Protestant Reformation and the period of the Wars of Religion. Likewise, the bloodiest crusades were fought in Europe against Europeans (Baltic Pagans, Rhineland Jews, Albigensians, Orthodox Christians) rather than the people of the Levant.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kaloyan of Bulgaria offered to ally with the Fourth Crusade against their common enemy, the Byzantine emperor Alexios III. The Crusader lords dismissed him coldly as a minor barbarian warlord. This ended up being a very, very bad idea.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Byzantines and Muslims both viewed the Latin Crusaders as a Planet of Hats. Anna Komnene wrote:
    "The Celtic race is independent and does not like asking for advice; they have no military discipline nor strategic skills, but as soon as they have to fight a raging fury seizes their hearts and they become implacable, common soldiers and leaders alike. They hurl themselves with invincible impetus into the midst of the enemy ranks as soon as the latter give a little ground."
  • Idle Rich: Al-Mustazhir, the Abbasid Caliph during the time of the First Crusade, was a figurehead who did nothing.
  • I Shall Taunt You : Allegedly how the city of Béziers was taken in the first place during the Albigensian Crusade : the defenders, as the approaching army was setting camp for The Siege, went out of the city walls to taunt them. They failed to take into account that the mercenaries, "Men at arms" had horses and could easily cross the river and outrun them to the city gates. Then the defenders that had stayed on the walls tried to let their fellow citizens in, waited for too long, and let the mercenaries in instead. This led tho the infamous sack of the city, along with the Kill Them All quote above.
  • Just the First Citizen: When Godefroy de Bouillon established the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he took the title "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre" rather than King, declaring that only Christ had the right to call Himself King in the Holy Land. His successors were neither as devout or as particular as he was...
  • Kill 'em All: How the First Crusade ended. When the Crusaders took Jerusalem, after six months of grueling marching and a month-long siege, by the end of which they were hungry, tired, and just generally pissed off, pent-up fanatical bloodlust took over and they slaughtered just about every living thing inside the city walls that wasn't them.
    • You have to understand that Jerusalem is a big city and most of the citizens already evacuated, the crusaders just slaughtered all the soldiers in the city because they didn't want to surrender.
    • Pretty much the same thing happened to the citizens of Acre after the Muslim Mamluks finally took over the city.
    • Saladin threatened to do the same thing to the Christian defenders in 1187, but backed down after Balian, commander of the city, threatened to destroy Muslim holy places and execute prisoners.
    • As the above pague quote sums up, what happened to the people of Béziers during the Albigensian Crusade.note 
  • Knight Templar: Both sides had people that were willing to do whatever it took to achieve victory, but really that's standard mediæval fare. It's also where the original Knights Templar come from.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Gerard de Ridefort during the time of the Third Crusade. Shortly after arriving, he distinguished himself by engaging in Attack! Attack! Attack!-style raids against the Turks that ended with the deaths of most of his fellow soldiers. He was mostly responsible for the utter failure of strategy that was the Battle of Hattin.
    • Robert d'Artois (younger brother of Louis IX) on the Seventh Crusade. He died leading a group of Templars on an impulsive attack of Al Mansurah.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Rumored to have been the case for Mélisende de Tripoli, ostensibly the daughter of Raymond II de Tripoli and Hodierne de Jérusalem.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Hugues de Vermandois, and how. The Other Wiki article about him used to open with:
    "He was ... an ineffectual leader and soldier, great only in his boasting."
  • Mis-blamed: Eleanor Of Aquitaine was blamed for the failure of the Second Crusade. In reality, the blame can mostly be laid at the feet of Konrad and Louis and their mediocre military leadership.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Kaloyan the Greek-slayer. It was probably in reference to an 11th century Byzantine emperor, Basileios "the Bulgar Slayer"
  • Nausea Fuel: The accounts of cannibalism during the Siege of Ma'arra. The bloody end of Andronikos I. The massacres of prisoners on both sides during siege of Acre. The constant disease outbreaks (specifically dysentery).
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: After the capture of Ma'arra in Syria in the First Crusade, the crusader army was so beset by famine that they turned to eat the bodies of the dead Muslims. Afterwards, however, they were horrified and wrote to the Pope begging for absolution.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: Saladin was for a long time admired much more in the Christian West than in his native Middle East. This has partly to do with his Kurdish ancestry, the relatively short life of his empire, and mostly for his conflicts with the Caliph. It was not until Kaiser Wilhelm II (the German monarch during WWI) came to Saladin's tomb and honored him that Saladin's name was revived in the Middle East.
  • Not So Different: Mikhael VIII Palaiologos and Charles I of Naples and Sicily. Both wanted territory that the other had (Mikhael wanted Italy; Charles wanted Greece and Anatolia), both had won what they had by Conquest, both were The Chessmaster, both wanted very much to destroy each other, but were unable to do so because of internal problems, both founded dynasties that ruled until the 15th century despite opposition, both created legacies that influenced Italian politics for centuries.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: Andronikos I Komnenos married Agnes of France when he was around 65 and she was 11 or 12. Even though it wasn't uncommon at the time for girls to marry men old enough to be their fathers, an age gap that large Squicked out more than a few of his subjects, including the Greek historian, Niketas Choniates.
  • Outside-Context Problem: By around 1250, the Muslim forces had soundly defeated and driven back the Christian forces. The shaky alliance of European monarchs had fallen apart, and there was little chance of them getting their acts together to mount another Crusade any time soon. There would be no further significant threat from the west. Unfortunately, during the two bloody centuries before, nobody had really been paying attention to what was happening further east. Cue the Mongol Horde. Of course, historians point out that the Crusaders had drained the region significantly of its manpower and left it vulnerable to an attack from the East. The Crusades essentially marked the end of the Muslim Golden Age, culminating in Hugelu Khan's sack of Baghdad and the destruction of the House of Wisdom.
    • In a sense, the Crusaders themselves were this. The Muslims had dealt with the Byzantines for a long time, but were caught completely off guard by Frankish weapons and tactics (while the Franks had some warning of Muslim tactics from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios). Most early Muslim writings after the First Crusade portray the Crusaders as akin to a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, striking for no conceivable reason and without warning.
  • Pendulum War: The Fifth Crusade. The Crusaders invade Egypt, capture Damietta, and destroy the large Muslim army there. The ruler of Egypt tries to trade Jerusalem and the lands around it in exchange for the invasion ceasing, but to no avail. Just as the Crusaders are preparing to move south, several of them get sick of the journey and go home, an epidemic breaks out, supplies run low, their camps are hit with bad weather, and floods cut off their retreat. The Muslims then counterattack the disorganized Crusaders, winning a decisive victory in a nighttime ambush. The remaining Crusaders in Damietta then sign a peace treaty and leave.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
    • Baudouin II of Jérusalem and Morphia of Melitene. Their marriage was arranged to solidify an alliance, but it turned out happily and Baudouin refused to divorce Morphia even though she'd failed to give him a son.
    • Another Baudouin, Baudouin de Flandre, later the first Latin Emperor, married Marie de Champagne as a young teenager to end bad blood between their families. Baudouin became utterly devoted to her, verging on Single-Target Sexuality.
    • Tsar Ivan Asen II and his third wife, Irene Komnene Doukaina. He was said to have loved her, "no less than Antony loved Cleopatra."
  • Pirates: Renaud de Châtillon's Red Sea fleet, which threatened Mecca itself at some point. In reality, Mecca was under no real threat and it was unlikely that Renaud's fleet was actually targeting it. However, the existence of a Christian fleet operating in Arabian waters close to Islam's holiest city raised fears of this.
  • Planet of Steves: Being particularly creative with naming practices was not true of any of the Christians at this point in time.
  • Plucky Girl:
    • Sybille, Queen of Jerusalem would be a deconstruction if she wasn't a real person. Her brother, Bauduoin, had leprosy, so it fell on her (and her half-sister Isabelle) to provide an heir and she quickly became The Pawn to rival court factions. Despite her best effects, she ended up as a Broken Bird.
    • Isabelle I, Queen of Jerusalem and half-sister of Sybille. Like her half-sister, Isabelle spent a lot of her early years as The Pawn. Isabelle managed to survive countless intrigues, however, and outlived her four husbands.
    • Shajar Al-Durr, during the Seventh Crusade. A former slave girl turned wife of As-Salih Ayyub, the Fatimid Sultan, her husband died suddenly not long after the arrival of the crusaders, but she and the Mamluks were nonetheless able to stop the Crusaders from achieving their goals.
  • Politically Active Princess:
    • Marie de Courtenay, a daughter of the would-be Latin Emperor Pierre de Courtenay and his wife, Yolande de Flandre (sister of the deceased Latin Emperors Baudouin I and Henri). Sent as a peace offering to her family's enemy, Theodoros Laskaris, emperor of Nikaia, Marie convinced him to make peace with the Latin Empire at a time when it was at its most vulnerable. When her husband died in 1221, Marie went to join her brother, Robert, now the emperor in Constantinople. Robert died in 1228, leaving Marie as "Empress Regent" for their eleven-year-old brother, Baudouin II. Marie, who was herself still only about twenty-five years old, ruled ably for eight months until her own death
    • Baudouin II of Jerusalem's four daughters, Mélisende, Hodierne, Alix, and Ivette, were all active in politics, in part because Baudouin never had any sons. Mélisende and Hodierne were rumored to have orchestrated the assassination of Alphonse Jourdain de Toulouse.
    • Dayfa Khatun, daughter of Al-Adil I and niece of Saladin, married her cousin Az-Zahir Ghazi in 1212. After her son's death in 1236, Dayfa served on the regency council of her grandson, An-Nasir Yusuf. She built the Sufi monastery Khanqah al-Farafira, kept Aleppo out of the intra-Ayyubid wars, and helped defend the city from the Khwarezmians.
  • Power Trio: The leaders of the Third Crusade:
  • Professional Killer: The Hashashins (whence the word "assassin" comes from) were a semi-religious sect that held a few independent territories next to the area of conflict[[note]]They were mostly based in Masyaf, in modern Syria; the name is derived from the "hashish" with which their legendary leader, Rashid ad-Din Sinan, the "Old Man of the Mountain", supposedly brainwashed them and bound them to his will. Their preferred method of dealing with anyone who might threaten them (Muslim or Christian) was quietly disposing of him by means of well-planned assassinations or by leaving a dagger next to his bed to let the target know that he should really leave them alone.
    • Not quite the same as modern career killers, as an Hashashin's career would comprise exactly one kill (their favored modus operandi involved a highly public assassination in which the assassin would definitely be killed).
    • They also worked as Deep Cover Agents, trained in languages and politics for infiltrating enemy organizations.
    • The sect was feared enough that their fortress in Masyaf was assaulted and the members killed or scattered sometime after the Third Crusade. Yes, most of Assassin's Creed is historically accurate.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The view of the Muslims towards the Franks of the First Crusade. Despite facing significant difficulties, they managed to overcome superior (though disunited) numbers. Subverted in that Muslim writers portrayed the Franks as being skilled in battle but like animals in all other aspects. Really, there's not much of a difference between the Muslim portrayal of the Franks and the Roman portrayal of the Franks' Germanic ancestors. Specifically, Osama ibn Munquidh wrote:
    "Anyone who knows anything about the Franks has looked on them as beasts, outdoing all others in courage and warlike spirit, just as animals are our superiors when it comes to strength and aggression."
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Isabelle I of Jerusalem.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Subverted and played straight in an interesting anecdote. Saladin captured a number of Crusader princes, one of whom, Renaud de Châtillon, had even more of a reputation for Rape, Pillage, and Burn than most warlords (on either side) had not only had Renaud harried the Muslims, he had once tortured the Christian Patriarch of Jerusalem. Saladin passed around water, which was a symbol and each drank as a sign that the captor had pledged his protection. When it got to the hapless Renaud, Saladin said "I did not give him permission to drink" and then swiped his head off.
    • Before killing him, Saladin offered him a chance to convert to Islam, which Renaud refused. It was unlikely Saladin expected Renaud to accept, and Renauld likely knew the consequences of his refusal. So it probably didn't come as much of a surprise to Renauld.
  • Save the Villain: When the remnants of the French and German armies reached Attalia in 1147, those who could pay the exorbitant prices charged by the Greeks did so and took ship to Antioch. The poor, the sick, and the injured were left behind in the care of locals, who promptly abandoned their charges and even told the local Turks where they where, fully expecting the Turks to finish them off. When the Turks saw what a sorry state they were in, they took the Crusaders in and fed and cared for them. Odo of Deuil, a historian and participant of the Second Crusade, notes with astonishment that more than 3,000 of the Crusaders, traumatized by the cruelty of fellow Christians, willingly converted to Islam and went to live with the Turks.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The end of the Crusades meant Mongol invasions, the Little Ice Age, and the Black Death, all of which effectively ended the Golden Age of Islam and The High Middle Ages.
  • The Siege: Quite a few. The most notable are probably the one that gave Jerusalem to the Crusaders in the First Crusade, and the one that gave the same city to Saladin later.
    • Another important siege was the Fall of Acre which marked the end of the crusades in the Levant. In contrast to the "peaceful" surrender of Jerusalem, Acre choose to fight to the last man against a large Mamluk army, which slaughtered everyone who did not mange to escape trough the city's harbour.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Hugues de Vermandois, in spades. Boasting was one of the only things he was good at, as you tell from his infamous letter to Alexius I Komnenus:
    "Know, O King, that I am King of Kings, and superior to all, who are under the sky. You are now permitted to greet me, on my arrival, and to receive me with magnificence, as befits my nobility."
  • Still Fighting the Civil War: Perhaps the Ur-Example of this trope: modern-day Islamic terrorists use the spectre of Western "crusaders" quite liberally in their propaganda, as if the Crusades had never ended.note 
  • Super Drowning Skills: Kilij Arslan I shortly after the First Crusade and Friederich Barbarossa during the Third both died of drowning after battles. To be fair, they were both wearing armor, which is not terribly conducive to swimming, but even so...
  • The Unsolved Mystery: Who was behind the assassination of Corrado del Monferrato? The Ḥashshāshīn did the killing, but did they have the support of any of the Christians at the court of Jerusalem? It's unknown; possible suspects include Onfroy de Toron, Guy de Lusignan, Richard the Lion-hearted, and/or Henri II de Champagne.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • Byzantium—aka Basileia ton Romaion, the Empire of the Romans. Oddly enough, it was actually experiencing a minor renaissance under the Komnenoi and was actually getting stronger between the First and Third Crusades, but power struggles and the Fourth Crusade put the kibosh on that.
    • Even after its namesake city was recaptured by Saladin in 1187, the Kingdom of Jerusalem lingered along the Palestinian coast for a little more than a century. After even that was lost, the royal court relocated to Cyprus, where they continued to rule until the island was essentially sold to the Venetians in the late 15th century.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Invoked by Urban II as part of his Batman Gambit in orchestrating the First Crusade. How better to get all these Frankish warlords to stop killing each other (and the innocent peasantry that always got caught in the crossfire) than to give them a common cause to rally behind? One that was conveniently far away from Europe?
    • Part of the reason for the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187, due to the power struggles between the Hawks and Doves in the court.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Matilde of Tuscany originally planned to go on the First Crusade, but changed her mind after finding out that Godefroi de Bouillon and his brothers, Eustache and Baudouin were planning to participate. They were her dead husband's nephews and they'd quarreled many times before over his property.
    • During the Third Crusade, there was a plan for Saladin's brother, Al-Adil to marry Richard's sister, Joan of England, and install them as the new King and Queen of Jerusalem.
    • An alliance between Crusaders and Mongols is often debated between historians if it would have been possibly feasible or if it was even wise in the first place.
  • Watching Troy Burn: The destruction of Baghdad by Hulegu Khan in 1258. It's said that the caliph Al-Musta'sim was powerless to watch his city being sacked by the Mongols, his whole immediate family was slaughtered except for a son (who was sent as a hostage to the Mongols) and a daughter (who became a slave in Hulegu's harem) before being depending on the tales, either trapped inside a room to starve to death or being rolled up inside a carpet and trampled by horses.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: Alphonse Jourdain, comte de Toulouse arrived in the Holy Land during the Second Crusade and quickly started making enemies. Then he died suddenly. The prime suspects in his death are the Queen of Jerusalem, Mélisende; her sister, Hodierne; Eleanor of Aquitaine; all of the above; or no one.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Even though he was the Muslim leader, Saladin was highly respected by King Richard and many of the crusaders fighting against him (and vice versa). This led to his being praised as the perfect example of a chivalrous warrior-king in Christian literature and being included in the first circle of Hell by Dante - this was actually a compliment, since it was mostly just boring and the home of good people who simply happened not to be Christians.
    • Most Muslim chroniclers thought of Raymond III of Tripoli this way, writing:
    "Among the Franj of that time, there was no wiser or more courageous man than the lord of Tripoli."
  • You Keep Using That Word: Some Latin Christians often referred to Muslims as pagans. The only people who were pagan by our standards (following a polytheistic or animistic traditional religion) at the time were the Cumans and the Baltic peoples. This would be Have a Gay Old Time, but they're referring to Muslims as pagans was partially because of the mistaken idea that Muslims were worshippers of Apollo.
    • By the same token, the Muslims referred to Christians as "Polytheists", under the belief that their concept of a Trinity was a pantheon of multiple gods.

Works dealing with, or set in the era of the Crusades:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Exodus, the Knight Templar villain from X-Men, was eventually revealed to have been a French knight who fought for King Philippe II and the medieval Catholic Church during the Third Crusade. Being an early mutant and Superpower Lottery winner, he survived becoming a Sealed Badass in a Can for the next 800 years before being revived in the present day by Magneto.
  • There are two characters from The Avengers who call themselves the Black Knight, both of whom are descended from a lineage that can be traced back to the days of King Arthur. One of their mutual ancestors, Eobar Garrington, fought as a crusader knight during the days of the Third Crusade (and was incidentally the best friend of Bennet du Paris, the future Exodus as detailed above).
  • A more generalized Marvel Comics character with roots in the Crusades is Arthur Blackwood, a minor villain who literally calls himself the Crusader. An ex-seminary student of unstable mind, Blackwood eventually had a vision of one of his ancestors, who is identified as having served in the Crusades (in which Crusade and in what role is not specified). Being bequeathed a suit of knightly armor and a sword by said ancestors, Blackwood went on to become a ranting Tautological Templar villain to heroes such as The Mighty Thor, Luke Cage: Hero for Hire and Nate Grey the X-Man.
  • On the DC Comics side of things there's the Order of St. Dumas from the Batman books. An offshot of The Knights Templar dedicated to the teachings of the titular Dumas (who, according to Oracle, "no one else ever accused of being a saint."), the Order quickly fractured further due to the Tautological Templar nature of its followers, but somehow managed to survive over the centuries into the present day. They're best known as The Man Behind the Man to Azrael.
    • Speaking of Azrael, he eventually gained a villain of his own called the Crusader, who is about as loony as the Marvel Comics Crusader above.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Set Free) is a poetic version of the First Crusade; the original version included fantasy elements, which Tasso later suppressed, to no good literary effect.
  • Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (and its various film versions — and the opera by Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan) and The Talisman (and its film version, unimaginatively re-titled King Richard and the Crusaders); the former features characters who have returned from the Third Crusade, the latter is set actually in the crusade itself. King Richard the Lionheart is prominent in both.
  • Throughout the Requiem series of books by Robyn Young, which follows the fall of the Templars, we see the fall of Acre and the attempts of the Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and Pope Clement V to get another crusade going. They never do.
  • Piers Anthony's ''For Love of Evil'' portrays some of the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars of southern France.
    • As does his Tarot trilogy.
  • Jan Guillou's Crusades Trilogy focuses on the life of Arn Magnusson, a Swede who is forced to join the Knights Templar as penance. During his service in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade, he saves the life of and later befriends Saladin, who saves Arn's life in turn and gives him the means to return to his homeland and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with.
  • Pagan's Crusade by Catherine Jinks is a young adult novel in which the ironically-named Pagan Kidrouk becomes a squire to one of The Knights Hospitallers in the Third Crusade. (In the sequels, Sir Roland returns to his native France, taking Pagan with him, and they eventually get tangled up in the Albigensian crusade as well.)
  • Umberto Eco's Baudolino begins in Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.
  • In The Crowner John Mysteries, Sir John de Wolfe is a returned Crusader, and the 15th book Crowner's Crusade is a prequel taking place during his time in the Third Crusade.
  • The Alexiad is a historical account written by Byzantine princess Anna Komnene who recorded the reign of her father Alexius I and also covers the First Crusade from her people's perspective, showing that the relationship between the Greeks and Latins was uneasy at best or downright hostile at worse.

    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS campaign Banestorm takes place in a Magical Land that has summoned Crusaders and Saracens from this time period, who managed to establish Christianity and Islam and convert most of the local natives into their faiths. The opening quote goes on to say that the Crusades never ended in this universe.
  • Warhammer had a Fantasy Counterpart version. The Skaven (who had been trading services of espionage and assassination for warpstone for the Sultan) convinced Sultan Jaffar (by lying of course) that Estalia is planning to invade Araby and that he should strike first, which he does, conquering the city of Magritta and moving onto Tilea. Two-hundred years of warfare follow in which Bretonnia and the Empire get involved sending thousands of Knights to fight the Arabyans. The Empire's Knights Panther knightly order was founded during the crusades and named after the exotic animal the brought back from Araby. The Skaven disappeared once the tide turns against Jaffar having caused much destruction with not single Skaven casuality.
  • Ars Magica takes place in the year 1220 so the crusades (and Reconquista) are an important background event or perhaps even something the characters themselves will take part in.

  • Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, with Saladin as one of the main characters.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Empires II has two campaigns including missions inspired by the Third Crusade: one focused on Saladin, one focused on Friederich I Barbarossa.
  • Assassin's Creed is set during the Third Crusade. You play as a member of the third side in the conflict, the Hashshins. Again, it isn't much of a historic representation of the period, what with those pesky Templars orchestrating the entire thing in yet another of their Ancient Conspiracy schemes. However, if you look past the conspiracy stuff and the reimagining of the Hashashin sect, the game has a surprisingly amount of historical accuracy.
  • One of the campaigns in the Kingdoms expansion for Medieval II: Total War takes place in the Holy Land after the First Crusade. You can play as the Kingdom of Jerusalem, The Principality of Antioch, The Turks, The Egyptians, or the Byzantine Empire. Focused, of course, around Palestine and Egypt. Oh, and in the main game of Medieval II, if you gain enough favor with the Pope, you can ask a Crusade to be waged on one of your enemies. On the other hand, if you manage to conquer the Papal States, the Pope will launch a Crusade on the Vatican. Look forward to wave after wave of Christian armies marching on you. Only if you're a Catholic or Islamic faction, but if you're playing an Orthodox one, you can conquer Rome without worrying about a Crusade.
  • Crusader Kings. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, especially with Deus Vult expansion. The sequel opens the game's time period, and being an Alternate History game from the second you start playing, the crusades will almost never play out the way they actually did. In fact, you can entreat the Pope to call a Crusade on a non-Catholic realm, or have a rival leader excommunicated and then call a Crusade to take his realm from him. With the Sword of Islam expansion pack, playing as a Muslim leader allows you to call Jihads on any realm with a non-Muslim religion, making them Crusades in all but name. And the Old Gods expansion makes it possible to reform several faiths that historically were marginalized, making them major religions and launching their own holy wars.
  • Dante's Inferno takes place during the Third Crusade and behavior of crusaders as a major plot point, as Dante was a crusader in his back story.
  • Dragon Age: The Exalted Marches are Thedas' equivalent to the Crusades as holy wars led by the Chantry against their enemies, though technically speaking, the first ever Exalted March preceded the Chantry's foundation as it was carried out by their Jesus-like figure Andraste. These wars were fought against the Dalish Elves (which was an excuse by the newly formed Chantry to annex their territory of the Dales into Orlais), Tevinter several times over theological differences (mirroring the conflict between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) and the Qunari (who are partly inspired by Muslims, but they are more complicated than that).
  • Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader is an Alternate Universe take on the Crusades of the 12th century and features appearances from several notable medieval figures who appear to have been born a few centuries earlier in this timeline, from Jehanne D'Arc to Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Stronghold Crusader, with both historical campaigns and a skirmish mode featuring opponents such as Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted.
  • If you play with a Catholic State in Knights of Honor the Papal States can request/order your best marshall to head a Crusade, and not complying with this decreases your relationship with the Papal States and other Catholic States immensely. If you play with an Islamic State, the moment you become the least bit powerful, or start conflicts with a Catholic State, Crusades will be called against you.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption features a French Crusader-turned-vampire called Christof Romuald as The Hero, though it takes place in 1141 just before the Second Crusade took place and he is fighting against pagans in Prague.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The background lore details a distant time in the past when the Republic was taken over by an human supremacist cult known as Pius Dea that venerated a deity only known as the Goddess and they fought an series of wars against aliens in general. Initially, they gained great support due to targeting the Hutts since they were launching slave raids into Republic territory, but soon they escalate into an all-out war against all aliens and end up alienating the Jedi Order with their actions. If the parallels with the Crusades weren't obvious enough, their battle cry was "The Goddess Wills It" an parallel with historical Crusader war cry "Deus Vult".

    Western Animation