Travel & Trade in the Crusades


        To ensure safety of pilgrims

        To save Byzantium from threat of Turks

        To get squabbling lords to focus aggression outward

        Idea of actually freeing the Holy Land seems to be an afterthought


First Crusade:

        Called by Pope Urban II during the Council of Clermont in 1095

        Offered chance for the wealthy to get complete remission of sins

        Largest Crusade, with 4,500 cavalry and 30,000 foot soldiers

        Majority of travel went across land for this Crusade

        Soldiers marched in a protective wall around cavalry to protect the valuable horses from crossbows

        The Crusaders met up in Anatolia, except for Godfrey of Bouillon, who met them in Constantinople

        During the siege of Nicaea, Alexius ordered the creation of many boats which were collapsed, transported over land (portaging), and reassembled when they arrived at Ascanion Lake

Third Crusade:

        France and England took their armies over seas

        Germany marched overland, and Frederick Barbarossa fell into a river and drowned and his army never reached the Holy Land

        Ships used were called “hulks” or “naves” which are large war ships, and small “coasters,” which usually didn’t cross the open sea

        Hulks were often outfitted for war with rams, and turrets for soldiers to take refuge behind and shoot crossbows

        Ship to ship combat was rare, most sea attacks were from pirates

        The Third Crusade was not successful in taking the Holy Land, but the crusaders did encounter many commodities like salt and silk which they brought back to Europe.  This stimulated trade between the East and West greatly.


Fourth Crusade:

        Before the Fourth Crusade, Christian boat-makers invented an inner skeleton for the keel of sea going boats that allowed boats to be longer, deeper, and stronger.  This paved the way for later trans-Atlantic travel

        The Pope recognized the need for a large fleet during the Fourth Crusade and sent the crusaders to Venice. 

        Dandolo, the doge of Venice, was a very old, very shrewd business man who exploited the opportunity

        The crusaders built up a large debt while waiting for their fleet to be built, and the fleet was larger than needed.  Dandolo then approached the crusaders and offered to cancel their debt if they laid siege to Zara.

        While in Italy, Alexius IV, son of Isaac Angelus, offered the crusaders money, ships, and weapons in exchange for laying siege to Constantinople and placing him on the throne.

        For wont of transportation and supplies, the Fourth Crusade disobeyed the Pope and became a crew of hired thugs.


This page compiled by Shannon Huecker for Professor Sterk's HIS 3931/REL 3938 course.