Although Simon de Montfort had slighted the fortifications of Toulouse in 1216, the city still managed to hold out against his forces from October 1217 to the beginning of July l2l8. The inhabitants of Toulouse rallied behind their returned count, Raymond VI, and rebuilt the fortifications as best as they could, supplementing them with ditches and palisades to prevent the crusaders getting near the walls. When his direct assaults failed, Simon de Montfort ordered the construction of ‘cats’ (mobile shelters, shown here) to protect his troops so that they could get close to the walls to undermine the defences. It was whilst he was trying to protect one of these shelters from a sortie by the defenders of Toulouse that Montfort was killed on 25 June 1217. Simon is shown being hit in the head by a stone thrown by a mangonel (in the bottom left); his brother Guy has already been shot from his horse by a crossbowman and lies on the ground to Simon’s right.



Peipus 1242 Repulse of the “Baby-Burners”





How you know the Germans are Bad Men: they toss naked babies into fire. After the Nazi war of extermination 1941+ not so far from the truth. From a memorable Russian film made in 1938 by Sergei Eisenstein

The battle of Lake Peipus (mod. Peipsi Järv, Estonia, Chudskoe Ozero, Russia) is more significant for its place in the national consciousness of Russia than as a military episode. In fact the battle itself was a small-scale affair, but it came to epitomize Russia’s struggle against Western interference. Similarly, the victory of a Russian Orthodox army over a force of Latin (i. e., Roman Catholic) crusaders became a symbol of the Orthodox determination to retain a distinct identity.



King Richard – prepares for the Crusade


Richard stood over his father’s corpse in silence. He looked down at a face marked by nearly half a century of trouble and glory. Henry II had died a miserable death: abandoned and embittered. The last words he had spoken to Richard were a vicious hiss in his ear as the two men embraced in a kiss of peace following the humiliating peace at Ballan: ‘God grant that I may not die until I have my revenge on you.’ But God had granted no such thing. Since 1187 Richard, in alliance with Philip II, had taken much of his royal inheritance – Maine, Touraine and many of the castles of Anjou – by force of arms. After Henry’s death the rest passed to him by right of law.





The Siege of Acre was the first major confrontation of the Third Crusade


Philip II depicted arriving in Palestine


The new Crusade began in disjointed fashion. The English and the French had first to settle several bitter disputes. Then Henry II died and his son Richard (already known as the Lionhearted) was crowned king of England. Richard had also taken the cross, so the English commitment to the Crusade remained. But because the English crown still had huge holdings in France (the entire Atlantic coast was theirs), he and Philip II had much to negotiate before they could head east. Meanwhile, Frederick Barbarossa began marching to the Holy Land.



Battle of Nicopolis, (September 25, 1396).




Seven years after the Battle of Kosovo (June 20, 1389), Pope Boniface IX proclaimed a crusade against the Ottomans. Sigismund of Hungary gathered a Christian coalition at Buda, which may have totaled 50,000 knights and men-at-arms from across Europe. This horde ate out the Christian lands as it moved toward Nicopolis, which it besieged for two weeks. Meanwhile, Sultan Bayezid I broke off his siege of Constantinople and marched to lift the Christian siege. A body of 2,000 French knights did not wait for Sigismund’s order; they charged the Muslims headlong and were overwhelmed. Bayezid ordered a massive counterattack that overran the whole Christian position. Many thousands died on the field; more drowned in the Danube. Afterward, Bayezid had 10,000 prisoners slaughtered. Nicopolis ended the Latin Christian adventure in the eastern Mediterranean dating to the Crusades.



First Crusade – Historical Impact


If we consider the First Crusade as a whole, taking an overarching view of its nature and impact, we are immediately confronted by one simple but utterly overwhelming fact: the expedition succeeded. Against all the odds, its primary goal – the recovery of Jerusalem – was achieved. This sounds like an obvious statement, but the full force and impact of this victory are actually quite difficult to appreciate.

The reasons for the crusade’s success are readily apparent. Historians have long appreciated the central significance of the profound religious and political fractures that afflicted Islam at the end of the eleventh century. Had the Muslims of the Near East united in the face of the First Crusade it could not possibly have prevailed. The combined forces of Damascus, Aleppo and Mosul would surely have crushed the Franks outside the walls of Antioch; facing the collective might of the Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates, the Latins could never have mounted the sacred walls of Jerusalem. In the years to come, hundreds of thousands of Franks sought to equal the achievements of these First Crusaders, but in the face of burgeoning Islamic solidarity, none prospered.