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Word Count: 996
The Crusades were a series of wars by Western European Christians to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims The Crusades first started in 1096 and ended in the late 13th century The term Crusade was originally used to describe the European efforts to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims Europeans later used crusade to designate any military effort against non-Christians The origins of the Crusades probably began with the death of Charlemagne king of the Franks in 814 and the collapse of his empire Christian Europe was under attack and on the defensive Magyars who were nomadic people from Asia literally rioted and looted eastern and central Europe until the 10th century Beginning about 800 several centuries of Viking raids disrupted life in northern Europe and even threatened Mediterranean cities But the greatest threat came from the forces of Islam who were militant and victorious in the centuries following the death of their leader Muhammad in 632 By the 8th century Islamic forces had conquered North Africa the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and most of Spain Islamic armies established bases in Italy greatly reduced size and power of the Byzantine Empire the Eastern Roman Empire and besieged it capital Constantinople In the 11th century the balance of power began to swing toward the West The church became more centralized and stronger from a reform movement to end the practice where kings installed important clergy such as bishops in office Also Europes population was growing European human and economic resources could now support the Crusades European traders had always looked to the Mediterranean now they sought greater control of the goods routes and profits So worldly interests coincided with religious feelings about the Holy Land and the popes newfound ability to mobilize and focus a great war The Pope Urban II in a speech at Clermont in France in November 1095 called for a great Christian expedition to free Jerusalem from the Seljuk
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