YET the failure was of itself productive of results. The leader of a Crusade was obviously the emperor, the co-ruler of Christendom. But the emperor had his hands abundantly full in Germany. Nor was any other monarch, despite theoretical willingness to take the Cross, particularly enamoured of leaving his own realm for Palestine. The result was that the Pope had to appeal over the heads of the kings to the barons and the common people. The greater barons had the same reluctance to go, and for the same reasons, as the king, and the leadership of the First Crusade fell to minor barons, honest crusaders or doubtful adventurers, with a following of enthusiasts recruited from all ranks of life. The motley crew that followed Peter the Hermit and the later Children's Crusade were in themselves the symbols of revolt against the feudal system; to any politico-ecclesiastical theorist they must have appeared enormities for which there was no excuse, and he must have trembled when he realised that the idea of a holy war had caught the imagination of Christendom.
The course of the crusades is not important to this history, for the kingdoms of the crusaders are of interest really only to the historical archaeologist and student of war. The First Crusade beat the Seljuks at Dorylaeum, took Antiochthanks to their opponents' dissensionsand by winning a crowning victory at Ascalon entered into Jerusalem (1099). From Edessa to Sinai the crusaders, as they flowed in, established a series of little feudal principalities, of which the most important was the kingdom of Jerusalem.
The reaction of Asia was immediate and the gains soon imperilled. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade to war-rent Europe and this time succeeded in getting both the Emperor and the King of France to take the Cross. It was a hopeless failure, and the respite enabled the famous Saladin, who seized the throne of Egypt, to retake Jerusalem. The Third Crusade saw the greatest effort of the West. It was headed by the foremost figures of this age, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Richard of England, and Philip Augustus of France. It failed equally and for the same reasons. The Emperor was drowned in the waters that had nearly proved fatal to Alexander the Great; Philip and Richard quarrelled and their followers discovered that they were not vassals of a feudal monarch but Englishmen and Frenchmen each worth six of the other. Although they took Acre and Richard inflicted on Saladin his greatest defeat at Arsuf, they were not strong enough to retake Jerusalem. They returned to the West with added reason for quarrel rather than with the lesson learned of a new unity.
Pope Innocent III. preached a Fourth Crusade which was the least honourable of all. No king led it; it was financed by the merchants of Italy, and at the request of Philip of Swabia it turned aside to assail the Byzantine Empire. The host stormed Constantinople, set up there a Latin Empire (1204), and divided classical Greece up into tiny feudal duchies. The Fifth Crusade was a failure. The leader of the Sixth Crusade, the Emperor Frederick II., won results by diplomacy and not by fighting. Egypt surrendered Jerusalem by treaty, and Frederick styled himself, to the great annoyance of rivals, King of Jerusalem. But the treaty remained a dead letter. The Holy Places remained in the hands of the Moslems, but contact between East and West had been re-established.
Some of the later Crusades are of great interest, for they constitute the first overseas effort of France. But they are incidental. St. Louis (Louis IX.) led a skilfully planned though . badly executed descent on Egypt, but was disastrously defeated (1249), simply through the complete indiscipline of the feudal baron. St. Louis's second crusade was just an episode; its hero died at Tunis (1270), which is very near France but a considerable distance from Jerusalem. Edward I. of England's crusade of 1271 accomplished little and the Frankish outposts of Christendom were gradually reduced until by the beginning of the fourteenth century only Cyprus and Rhodes remained in Christian hands.
The Crusades were over. The movement had failed of its many objects. Neither merchant not enthusiast, neither pope nor king, had attained what he sought. But besides enriching Italian traders and turning Italian ports into miniature empires, besides giving Europe the produce of the East and opening up new horizons which were never to cease alluring until there was no longer terra incognita (unknown territory) on European maps, it enlarged the mind of Europe, intensified nationality, and disturbed the relations of classes. Above all, it created at once a sense of nationalism and difference and of common civilisation and unity.
If we look at the map in 1300 and compare it with that of 1100 the Crusades will be found to have produced no changes except minor ones in the Mediterranean. Not even the Latin Empire lasted; it was overthrown by Genoa in 1261. In its major lines indeed the map shows less change than the record of wars and conquests would have led one to expect;
in the West, minor principalities rise and fall, or change allegiance, and a detailed map would show infinite variation from decade to decade, but the really significant changes are few.