The Holy Land Crusades, lead by the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church with the intent of conquering Jerusalem and overpowering the Muslim rule, were a series of pilgrimage travels taken by devout believers (namely soldiers) from the European continent to the Holy Land.
Western history has documented eight central Crusades to the Holy Land between the years 1095-1291, and several more to other countries in the Levant as well as pagan Europe. For over 200 years Christian Crusaders dominated Jerusalem, spreading the word of Christianity throughout the Holy Land and reaching as far as present-day Morocco and Syria.
Any Christian travel following in the footsteps of the Holy Land Crusades, whether a Christian group tour or an individual tour to the Holy Land, is an experience you won’t want to miss!
The First Crusade to the Holy Land
Administered by Pope Urban II, the First Crusade is historically regarded as the most important of the eight crusades. In it the crusaders did not only defeat the Turks in two battles on Constantinople land but also opened up transportation routes between Palestine and the coastal region of Europe, enabling more and more believers to travel the distance to the Holy Land in order to conquer it and thus redeem their mortal sins.
In his time, Pope Urban II was known as an outstanding orator and a master of rhetoric. The speech he gave in November of 1095, intended to encourage the Christian people of Europe to join him in the Crusade against the Turks, has gone down in history as one of the most influential public talks to have ever been given. Certainly in the highly religious spirit of the Middle Ages, Pope Urban the Second’s cry “God wills this war” was powerful enough to encourage believers from all parts of Europe, reaching as far as Scandinavia, to join his cause.
The First Crusade’s importance also lies in its being the most successful of the crusades from a military point of view. Indeed, it was as a result of the First Crusade that the Kingdom of Jerusalem was founded. Though the Kingdom of Jerusalem was only in existence for a mere 200 years, after which it was destroyed by the Islamic Mamluks in the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Jerusalem played a significant role in Christianity’s takeover of Palestine and the weakening of The Ottoman Empire.
Holy Land Crusades – Past and Present
Palestine and establish Christianity as the region’s reining religion, most historians will agree that they were unsuccessful; failing to accomplish their initial purpose. However, from a theological standpoint, the Crusaders did succeed in spread knowledge about Christianity in parts of the world which were, until that time, unaware of its existence.
This major achievement is the reason that Holy Land Crusades remain today, as they were in the Middle Ages, a common practice amongst believers from all corners of the earth.
Each year thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world flock to Israel to visit its many religious shrines. Even if the purpose of your trip has not been clearly defined as a pilgrimage, when on a tour to the Holy Land be sure to take the opportunity to visit its holy sites. Keep in mind that most Christian travels will not pass over such key destinations as the Sea of Galilee, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of Annunciation and the Garden Tomb.