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Crusades

Aftermath and Heritage of the Crusades

After the fall of Acre no further Crusades were undertaken in the Holy Land, although several were preached. Already, however, the term crusade was also being used for other expeditions, sanctioned by the pope, against heathens and heretics. Albert the Bear and Henry the Lion led (1147) a crusade against the Wends in NE Germany; Hermann von Salza in 1226 received crusading privileges for the Teutonic Knights against the Prussians; the pope proclaimed (1228) a crusade against Emperor Frederick II; and several crusades were fought against the Albigenses and the Hussites (see Hussite Wars).

War against the Turks remained the chief problem of Eastern Europe for centuries after 1291. Campaigns akin to crusades were those of John Hunyadi, John of Austria (d. 1578), and John III of Poland. In their consequences, the crusades in Europe were as important as those in the Holy Land. However, although the Crusades in the Holy Land failed in their chief purpose, they exercised an incalculable influence on Western civilization by bringing the West into closer contact with new modes of living and thinking, by stimulating commerce, by giving fresh impetus to literature and invention, and by increasing geographical knowledge. The crusading period advanced the development of national monarchies in Europe, because secular leaders deprived the pope of the power of decision in what was to have been the highest Christian enterprise.

In the Levant the Crusades left a lasting imprint, not least on the Byzantine Empire, which was disastrously weakened. Physical reminders of the Crusades remain in the monumental castles built by the Crusaders, such as that of Al Karak. The chief material beneficiaries of the Crusades were Venice and the other great Mediterranean ports.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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