Crusades

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  1. Islamic Spain c. 1030 map thumbnail
    Cordoba’s collapse in 1031 marked the end of southern Spain’s Islamic golden age and the beginning of the disintegration of its empire. Amir Abd al-Rahman I, the emir of Cordoba, had successfully united the separate Muslim kingdoms, creating stability and a climate of religious and ethnic tolerance. Jews and Christians could worship in their own synagogues and churches. Over time, divisions appeared between the different caliphates and Cordoba splintered into multiple mini-states called ‘taifas’. There was also growing Christian resistance to escalating restrictions imposed upon them as non-Muslims. This created an atmosphere of conflict and rebellion, which worsened during the Almoravid Era (1031–1130). The Christian states in the north saw the collapse of Cordoba as a signal to send its crusaders to the south, where they lay siege to the Islamic kingdoms on the Iberian peninsula. Toledo, capital of pre-Islamic Spain, was the first to fall in 1085. Learn More
  2. Recruitment for the First Crusade 1095–96 map thumbnail
    The call for the First Crusade was made at Clermont in France’s heartland by Pope Urban II, a French nobleman by birth. In a God-fearing age his message was compelling; liberate Jerusalem and attain salvation. Urban had other pragmatic motives, since Muslims still controlled most of Spain, and threatened Byzantium to the east. He was also locked in a relentless struggle with the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, who had already deposed a previous pope. The Crusade promised a belated counterstrike against an ascendant Islam, the possibility of rapprochement between the eastern and western branches of Christendom and insulation from a vengeful emperor. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the crusaders and their leadership came from France and Norman Sicily. There was also significant support from the states bordering Muslim Spain and Norman England. The Holy Roman Empire was beset by rebellions, and with their ruler ambivalent, provided far less support. Learn More
  3. The First Crusade 1096–99 map thumbnail
    The ‘official’ start date for the First Crusade ordained by Pope Urban II was 15 August 1096, the Feast of the Assumption. Caught up in the general fervour, unofficial armies of peasants, accompanied by knights errant, set off early under the loose command of a charismatic priest, Peter the Hermit. These first crusaders were unruly, undisciplined and erratic. They massacred Jews and pillaged en route. This People’s Crusade was followed by the four armies of the Princes’ Crusade, which gathered around Constantinople in winter 1096–97. After capturing Nicaea and repelling a Seljuk attack the crusaders, supported by the Christian kingdom of Cilicia, took Antioch after a difficult siege, and then advanced forward to capture Jerusalem. There they massacred its defenders and populace. A follow-up Crusade in 1101 was largely abortive but helped to reinforce the defence of the new Kingdom of Jerusalem. Learn More
  4. The Siege and Capture of Jerusalem June–July 1099 map thumbnail
    The crusaders reached Jerusalem on 7 June in the punishing midsummer heat with only 15,000 men remaining. Initial attacks, without siege towers to breach the walls, were unsuccessful. Luckily, European ships had just arrived at Jaffa, two of which were beached and broken up for timber, and the leader of the First Crusade, Tancred, stumbled across a cave containing 400 pieces of timber from which two large siege towers were constructed. The final attack began on the night of 14 July. Raymond of St Gilles’s siege tower was destroyed but Godfrey of Bouillon moved the second siege tower to a weak point in the wall and gained entry into the city, drawing defenders from the south. The crusaders then engaged in widespread massacre, burning the Jews inside their synagogue and slaughtering the Muslims on the Temple Mount. A small group, including the city governor, was allowed to escape after blockading themselves in the Tower of David. Learn More
  5. Jerusalem in the 12th Century map thumbnail
    The slaughter unleashed by the crusaders during the capture of Jerusalem left it a virtual ghost town. Most of the crusaders then returned home, but a nucleus remained, and began the re-population with an influx of eastern Christians, Armenians from Cilicia and Syrians from Oultrejordain. The economy was rebuilt by the imposition of heavy taxes on caravan routes, tribute from coastal cities and participation in the lucrative cotton, silk and spice trades. Additionally, increasing income was derived from pilgrims journeying to the Holy City, their focus being the Way of the Cross. The High Court of the nobility, which elected the king, was based in the city, as were the Knights Templar and Hospitaller. These knights were founded to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, but were rapidly becoming powerful economic and military entities. The Order of St Lazarus founded a leper hospital outside the city walls. Learn More
  6. Feudal Holdings in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 12th Century map thumbnail
    The First Crusade achieved the capture of Jerusalem in July 1099, within months of its arrival in Palestine. No clear plan for governing the captured territory was in place. The papal legate Daimbert of Pisa sought the creation of a theocratic state modelled upon and directly controlled by the papacy, but realpolitik in a highly precarious situation required a military strongman to take charge. Godfrey of Bouillon obliged, deferring to papal sentiment with a title of ‘Defender of the Sepulcher’ rather than king, establishing a network of feudal vassalage before succumbing to illness. His brother Baldwin succeeded, promptly seizing the title of king, and justifying it by a series of victories against invading Muslims: a strong, centralized kingdom seemed in prospect. However, he died without heirs, and the ephemerality of his successors, and a series of feudal fiefdoms, represented through the haute cour, a feudal council, kept rulers in check. Learn More
  7. Battle of Harran 1104 map thumbnail
    After the successes of the First Crusade, the newly-founded crusader city states were bullishly seeking to extend their domains. In 1104, Baldwin, Count of Edessa, and Bohemond, Prince of Antioch, teamed up to lay siege to the fortress town of Harran, thereby threatening the city of Aleppo. This galvanized the main Muslim rulers in the region into action; Jikimish, Seljuk governor of Mosul and Soqmen, Artuqid, ruler of Mardin, countered by attacking Edessa. Learning of this, Baldwin and Bohemond wheeled round to confront the Seljuks, who feigned a retreat, retiring behind the Balikh River. When the Edessans charged, Jirkimish’s forces, concealed in woodland, ambushed his right flank. The crusaders were routed, and both Baldwin and his ally, Joscelin, prince of Galilee, were taken prisoner. The Antiochene forces were able to make their escape, but the power of the crusader states, Antioch and Edessa, was permanently impaired by the defeat. Learn More
  8. The Muslim Near East 1127–1174 map thumbnail
    Nur al-Din (born c. 1127) inherited Aleppo from Zengi, his father, in 1146. He was determined to unite the region’s Muslims against the Christian occupiers in Palestine and Syria. With the support of his brother, who had inherited Mosul, and the Abbasids in Baghdad, Nur al-Din massacred the Edessan Christians and took Antioch. In 1154, in an armed attack and after economic sanctions, he occupied ‘crusader friendly’ Damascus. For several decades, he fought against the Christian territories, but made little further progress. In the 1160s, the Egyptian Fatimid Empire was invaded by the crusaders. Nur al-Din’s army, led by Kurdish general, Shirkuh, defeated them. Shirkuh soon died, to be replaced by his nephew, Saladin. Saladin ended the Fatimid dynasty and took control of the Egyptian government and army. By 1174, the year of his death, Nur al-Din’s had unified the Islamic sects within the Near East. Learn More
  9. The Fall of Edessa 1144 map thumbnail
    In 1143 the deaths of both the Byzantine Emperor John and King Fulk of Jerusalem created a power vacuum in the Christian Middle East. Hemmed in by hostile Muslim states, Joscelin II, Count of Edessa, needed a Muslim ally; he chose the Artuqids, a Turkmen dynasty, and marched his army to join them in an attack on Aleppo, a stronghold of the rival warlord, Zangi. Zangi exploited Joscelin’s absence to lay siege to Edessa. Lacking the forces to take on Zangi, Joscelin retired to his fortress at Turbessel, and requested reinforcements from the Byzantines; the new Queen Regent, Melisende of Jerusalem, and Raymond of Antioch. None were willing or able to help. Inevitably, after a four-week siege, Edessa fell. It was the first crusader city to be reconquered, and its fall both revitalized the various Muslim powers in the Middle East and acted as catalyst for the Second Crusade. Learn More
  10. 1146–86 Defence of Latin East map thumbnail
    The Latin East was formed after the First Crusade (1095–99), when Christian settlers occupied territories in the Levant, including Jerusalem. Further north, they settled in Tripoli, Edessa and Antioch. Despite Edessa falling to Muslim warlord Zengi in 1146 and a failed Second Crusade (1147–49), the settlers stayed entrenched. Their kingdom was virtually ignored by western Europe until the siege of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187, when Richard the Lionheart led the Third Crusade. Between 1167–70 the Muslim warlord, Nur ad-Din, attacked Antioch and drove the Christian Europeans out of Egypt, but it was in 1186 that the substantial defences of the Latin East were placed under extreme threat. Saladin, sultan of Egypt, had captured Muslim Syria and was ready to conquer the Latin East, beginning with the County of Tripoli. Saladin had taken nearly the entire Latin kingdom by the time the third crusaders arrived several years later. Learn More
  11. Mobilization in England 1147–1272 map thumbnail
    Pope Eugene III called the Second Crusade in 1144, when England was in the throes of a 20-year civil war. Nevertheless, a powerful force was raised, some 13,000 sailing from Dartmouth in territory held by the Angevin opposition to King Stephen. This force achieved the only substantive success of a miserable campaign by recapturing Lisbon from the Moors. When Henry II agreed to English involvement in the Third Crusade he determined to finance it through the Saladin Tithe on ‘revenues and moveable properties’. At the time this was the greatest tax ever levied in England, and his successor, Richard I, extended it further by confiscating lands and imposing draconian fines. Prince Edward (later Edward I) financed the Ninth Crusade with an unprecedented levy of one twentieth of every citizen’s possessions, but sailed in 1270 with a relatively modest force of 1,000 knights. His campaign achievements were similarly modest. Learn More
  12. Battle of Hattin 1187 map thumbnail
    Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, assembled a large empire that engirdled the crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. In 1187, exasperated by the constant marauding of Reynald de Chatillon, Lord of Oultrejordain, he marched an army of 20,000 through the Horns of Hattin to Tiberias. In response, the perpetually fractious crusaders, sinking their differences, gathered an army of similar size under their king, Guy de Lusignan. When Saladin took the town of Tiberias, the crusaders, rather than awaiting him at their well-watered encampment, decided to confront Saladin in the arid basaltic plateau, north of the Sea of Galilee. Here, at the Horns of Hattin and close to the village of Maskana, they were surrounded. The crusaders fought with grim determination before being overwhelmed on 4 July. All crusader leaders were captured, except Raymond of Tripoli. The captives were treated civilly, bar Reynald, who Saladin personally beheaded. Learn More
  13. The Third Crusade 1189–92 map thumbnail
    The Third Crusade was Christian Europe’s response to Saladin’s re-conquest of Jerusalem. First to take up the cause was Frederick Barbarossa, the veteran Holy Roman Emperor who set off overland with a huge army. Richard I of England, and Philip II of France rendezvoused in Sicily, before sailing separately for the Holy Land (Richard conquering Cyprus en route in a fit of pique with the local princeling). Meanwhile Barbarossa had drowned while crossing Anatolia and most of his demoralized army had turned back. Militarily, the campaign was successful, Richard bested Saladin in battle at Arsuf, and the key ports of Acre and Jaffa were recaptured. However, disputes between the leaders meant that the ultimate goal, Jerusalem, remained in Saladin’s hands; the crusaders had to be satisfied with a treaty permitting unarmed Christian pilgrims permission to visit the Holy City. Learn More
  14. Battle of Arsuf 1191 map thumbnail
    The pivotal moment of the battle of Arsuf was an act of insubordination. After taking the Siege of Acre, Richard I of England marched his crusader army south along the coast towards Jaffa, south of Arsuf. Throughout, his forces were harried by the forces of the Ayyubid sultan, Saladin. Richard demanded his forces remain in close formation, with his strongest forces, including the Knights Templar and Hospitaller, respectively in the van and rear, facing the enemy. Outside the southern Palestinian village of Arsuf, from the concealment of woodland, Saladin sprang his main attack; under intense pressure, Richard held his formation, fearing outmanoeuvre by the more mobile Turkish horsemen. Provoked beyond endurance, the Hospitallers’ leader, Garnier de Nablus, charged the enemy, followed quickly by his knights. Richard reacted swiftly, ordering his other knights to join the charge, and routed the enemy. His army soon seized the whole coastline of Palestine, but not the prize, Jerusalem. Learn More
  15. The Recovery of the Coast 1191–97 map thumbnail
    Following Saladin’s decisive victory at Hattin in 1187, the Kingdom of Jerusalem sans Jerusalem, was reduced to isolated pockets of coast round Antioch, Tripoli and Tyre. Three armies arrived at intervals in the Holy Land: Leopold V of Austria commanding the imperial German forces; King Philip II with the French; and finally, in June 1991, Richard I of England, who promptly managed to fall out with both the earlier arrivals. Leopold and Philip thereupon took their forces and left for Europe in July (although Philip left 10,000 soldiers to continue with the crusade). Richard managed to capture both Acre and Jaffa, but not Jerusalem, before his departure in October 1192. In 1197, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, declared a crusade, and managed to emulate his father by dying on his way to the Holy Land. But the German crusaders did capture Beirut, Gibelet and Sidon, reconnecting the Christian territories once more. Learn More
  16. Military Orders in the Latin East 1197–1291 map thumbnail
    The three Military Orders, the Teutonic Knights, Knights Templars and Hospitaliers, each came into being in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century. The Templars and Hospitaliers were already well established by the end of the Third Crusade, while the Teutonic Knights were established as a chivalric order during the German crusade in March 1198. The position of the Teutonic knights was enhanced by their wholehearted support of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, in the Sixth Crusade, when the return of Jerusalem into Christian hands was negotiated with its Ayyubid occupiers. However, all the military orders were expelled when the Khwarezmian Turks took the city in 1244. After overcoming the Mongols just south of Acre in 1260, the Mamluks picked off the remaining strongholds of the military orders, culminating in the capture of Acre in 1291, effectively spelling the end of the crusading era. Learn More
  17. The Fourth Crusade 1202–04 map thumbnail
    From the moment it sailed, the Fourth Crusade was dominated by the commercial and political imperatives of the supplier of their fleet, the Doge of Venice. With the crusaders unable to pay, the Doge threatened to intern them in the harbor unless they subdued Venice’s trading competitors in the Adriatic, principally Zara in the Byzantine Empire. After brutally sacking Zara, the Crusaders, still indebted, were seduced by the promise of huge rewards from the Byzantine prince, Alexios IV Angelou, in return for deposing his brother, the emperor. Diverting to Constantinople, the crusaders accomplished their mission, and installed Alexios IV as emperor, but he was rapidly overthrown and slain. Baulked of their payment, the crusaders laid siege to the city and captured it, massacring the inhabitants, and desecrating its holy sites. Only a small separate force of crusaders ever reached the Holy Land, sufficient to replenish the garrisons but not to conduct any military operations. Learn More
  18. The Fifth Crusade 1217–21 map thumbnail
    The Third Crusade had re-established a viable Kingdom of Jerusalem, but failed to secure the ultimate prize, Jerusalem itself. Well-resourced and with a coherent masterplan, the Fifth Crusade started with admirable prospects of success. The first army arrived in the Holy Land in 1217, led by Andrew II of Hungary, and joined with the kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus and the prince of Antioch. The Ayyubid defenders fled Jerusalem, with their army defeated at Bethsaida, on the north of the Sea of Galilee, but Andrew II lacked siege equipment, and became bogged down trying to capture well-fortified Muslim strongholds. Sick and discouraged, Andrew II left with his allies in February 1218, with Jerusalem still in Muslim hands. The second army decided to attack the Ayyubid heartland, Egypt, first capturing the coastal stronghold of Damietta in 1221. The sultan offered Jerusalem in exchange for Damietta, but the crusaders refused and marched on Cairo, where they were surrounded and forced to surrender. Learn More
  19. Recruitment and Fundraising for St Louis’s Crusade 1248–54 map thumbnail
    In 1245, Pope Innocent IV convened a great ecclesiastical council at Lyons, at which Louis IX of France announced he would lead a crusade. The pope lent his support and authorized a levy on clerical revenues to help with finance. Louis proved adept at finding additional revenues. After the Albigensian Crusade, the County of Toulouse was annexed by France, and a continuing Inquisition of the Cathar heresy produced a steady flow of confiscated properties. He had also confiscated all the property of Jews engaged in usury; two-thirds of any Christian debts to Jews became payable instead to the Crown. Accordingly, the Crusade set sail with sound financing and, unusually, a tight-knit leadership; Louis IX was accompanied by his brothers Robert of Artois, and Charles of Anjou. Unfortunately, the campaign itself was a disaster, with the army put to the sword and the king and his nobles imprisoned for ransom. Learn More
  20. The Seventh Crusade of King Louis 1248–54 and 1270 map thumbnail
    The ‘Liberate Jerusalem by first conquering Egypt’ strategy had been tried first, and failed disastrously, in the 5th Crusade. With a confidence not matched by military competence, Louis IX of France decided to replicate the strategy in 1248. Once more, Damiette, at the mouth of the Nile, was taken. Again, the crusaders marched on Cairo and, once more, they met with catastrophe. This time they were not able to surrender, and were annihilated. In each successive battle, the crusading armies were either captured or slain. Louis was taken and ransomed. Undaunted by this failure, Louis once more began to mobilize a crusade in the late 1260s. Originally, he planned to head for the crusader states around Tripoli via Cyprus, the mustering point for his previous crusade. In the end, he decided to sail for Tunis. While laying siege to the city, he died of dysentery, and the crusade was abandoned. Learn More
  21. Hospitalier Priories of England c. 1250 map thumbnail
    The Knights Hospitalier emerged in the early 1100s, when a group devoted to the care of sick pilgrims acquired a further military function after the First Crusade’s capture of Jerusalem. This dual proficiency proved popular and the Order spread rapidly, arriving in England in the 1140s. In 1177, they were granted a Royal Charter by Henry II and provided lands for the foundation of a hospital at Dalby in Staffordshire. By the middle of the 13th century, the Hospitaliers’ network extended throughout England with outposts in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For administrative purposes within the order, the British headquarters were located at Clerkenwell. By the standards of the time, the Hospitaliers were enlightened – they employed women to nurse the sick, and had established convents in England. Members were divided into military brothers (knights), brother infirmarians and brother chaplains, each with distinct roles and terms of service. Learn More
  22. Byzantine Constantinople 1260 map thumbnail
    During the Fourth Crusade in 1204, much of Constantinople and its priceless architecture was destroyed by the crusading Christian armies from western Europe. Following a lengthy siege, the Latin Christian armies broke through the city’s defences and sacked some of its most important sites, including the Hagia Sofia and Justinian’s tomb. Although the attackers were fellow Christians, the cultural differences that had developed during the long separation of the eastern and western churches meant that the sacking of the city was especially brutal. After Constantinople briefly became the centre of the Latin Empire, its prized monuments and buildings were largely neglected because funds were severely limited and had to be spent on the tenuous defence of the crusader empire. The emperor of Nicaea, John III, reportedly sent his own funds to the Latin Crusaders to ensure that they did not further desecrate important churches in their search for saleable materials. Learn More
  23. Hospitallers in Western Europe 1261–91 map thumbnail

    In the last half of the 13th century the Hospitallers, like the Templars, were steadily losing their raison d’etre. The Mamluks were mopping up their strongholds in the Holy Land and the fall of Acre in 1291 would deprive the military orders of their founding mission. In the preceding two centuries, the crusading period had enabled the Hospitallers to build a formidable pan-European property portfolio, with an equally effective organization. The main regional subdivision was the ‘priory’, some very extensive. For example, England, Ireland and Scotland each constituted a single priory. Each priory was divided into bailiwicks, and then individual commandries. In 1262, individual divisions were required for the first time to produce accounts of their finances, increasing central control. This resilience enabled them to reinvent themselves; in the early 1300s, they would capitalize upon the dissolution of the Templars, and build a new bulwark for Christendom in Rhodes.

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  24. The Mamluk Conquest of the Coast 1263–91 map thumbnail
    In Baibars, the Mamluk Sultan, the Levantine crusader kingdoms found their nemesis. After first consolidating his rule over the encircling Islamic territory, he began to pick off crusader strongholds. Arsuf and Safad were taken, and their respective garrisons of Knights Hospitallers and Templars were both massacred after being promised safe passage. He also sacked Nazareth and Haifa. Seeking an alternative Christian quarry, he invaded and laid waste to Armenia, razing the cities of Mamistra and Tarsus. The remaining crusader strongholds were now surrounded, and from 1268, he captured Damascus (with a wholesale slaughter of its inhabitants), then Jaffa, Ascalon, Caesarea and the Krak des Chevaliers. Baibars then turned his attention elsewhere before being assassinated in 1277. The Sultan Qalawun would mop up most of the straggling remnants of crusader rule, taking Latakia, Margat, and Tripoli before his son, Khalil effected the coup de grâce by taking Acre (1291). Learn More
  25. Archbishop Romeyn’s Preaching Campaign in the Diocese of York 1291 map thumbnail
    As the Muslim army of Qalawun threatened the removal of the Franks from Jerusalem in the lead-up to 1291, there was a desperate attempt to recruit new Christian forces from across Europe to defend Christianity’s last grasp of control in the region. As Archbishop of York, John le Romeyn was given the task of rallying support for the divine cause within the various parishes of his diocese. He asked for the help of both the Dominicans and Franciscans in the preaching campaign, and outlined a specific target area for each of the houses supplying preachers. Sermons were to be held at the same time across the region on the day of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September. Locations were chosen that would draw large enough crowds to be impactful, whilst at the same time ensuring that people from different social and economic classes were present. Learn More
  26. Cyprus under the Lusignan Kings c. 1300 map thumbnail
    In 1192 the Knights Templar sold Cyprus to the dispossessed King of Jerusalem, the French crusader, Guy de Lusignan. It remained in the Lusignan family until 1489. In 1285 the Lusignan dynast, Henri II, became both King of Cyprus and Jerusalem. In 1291 he lost Acre, Jerusalem’s last stronghold, to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate and fled to Cyprus, where he made plans to win Jerusalem back. Henri II turned Cyprus into a thriving kingdom, attracting merchants and crusader refugees. Limassol was given to the Knights Templar and Hospitaller as a place of joint occupancy. The Greek Orthodox Church was granted equality with the Latin Church, which they had previously been denied. In 1306 the Knights Templar joined forces with Henri’s brother Amalric and deposed Henri. In 1300 Amalric lost the vital garrison island of Ruad, near Tortosa, to the Mamluks, making it impossible for the crusaders to reclaim the Holy Land. Learn More
  27. The Templars in France 1307 map thumbnail
    The Knights Templar were founded early in the 12th century to protect Christians on pilgrimages to Jerusalem from Muslim attacks. The Templars were renowned for their military prowess, which they transformed into a lucrative security franchise, guarding not only the persons of crusaders in transit but their domestic assets when on crusade. This role was facilitated through a network of fortified Templar houses throughout Europe and the Near East. Their wealth created enemies, and the loss of Acre, the last crusader stronghold, to the Turks in 1291 left them exposed. Philip IV of France, although deeply indebted to the Templars, seized on accusations of heresy and corruption in 1307 and ordered all the leaders of the order in France to be arrested: many were subsequently burned at the stake. Pope Clement V was pressured to abandon the Templars and to seize their assets. This order was finally disbanded in 1312. Learn More
  28. The End of Latin Greece c. 1350 map thumbnail
    The Fourth Crusade from 1202–04 resulted in the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of a number of so called Crusader States. During this period, which became known as the Francocracy, the various Latin armies from western Europe set up a number of small competing states. These were eventually either enveloped by one another or the ascendant force in the region, the Ottoman Empire. In 1302, the Italian military adventurer Roger de Flor employed the services of a group of Catalan mercenaries to take land in Anatolia from the Ottomans. After originally assisting the Byzantines, he attempted to establish his own state and was killed in 1305. The leaderless mercenaries then went on a spree of destruction around the Mediterranean whilst being targeted by the Byantines and employed by a number of other rival states. Various pockets of Latin influence lasted well into the period of Ottoman dominance in Greece. Learn More
  29. The Hussite Crusades 1420–31 map thumbnail
    In the early 1400s, reforming Bohemian priest, Jan Hus, denounced corruption in the Catholic Church and the institution of the papacy. The Council of Constance was convened, supposedly to arbitrate, but Hus was seized there and burned as a heretic. Open revolt now broke out amongst his followers, the Hussites, and Catholic forces were sent to subdue them at the battle of Sudomer in 1420. The Catholics were defeated and a series of crusades (1421–31) against the Hussites followed, proclaimed by successive popes. Each would fail due to the effectiveness of the Hussite generals, notably Jan Zizka and Prokop the Great. The Hussites were also battlefield innovators using the wagenburg (a circle of wagons concealing infantry, horsemen, and artillery) tactic to devastating effect against the heavily armoured cavalry. Fighting continued until 1434 when Prokop was killed by revolting Hussites, who then concluded a peace with the Catholic Church. Learn More

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