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Maps of the Crusades

Geography & History of Religious Wars Between Christians & Muslims

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The Crusades occurred over a vast geographic region in the Middle East - and they were heavily influenced by geographic and political issues back home in Europe. Although it is common and reasonable to talk about the Crusades as Christians fighting Muslims, the reality was that the Christians were comprised of many different nationalities who didn't always like each other - and the Muslims could be similarly divided.

Thus while the Crusades were principally driven by religion, especially in the minds of those who went off to kill adherents of other religions, there were significant ethnic factors involved as well. Although European nationalism had not yet fully developed, nascent nationalism was also a factor. English, French, and German Christians were not all united into a single, happy religious family to kill Muslims.

Sometimes Christiand allied with Musllims and vice-versa in order to fight their own co-religionists. As important as religion was in separating friend from foe, there were cases where national and personal rivalries from back home intruded to overcome religious bigotry. While it could be difficult to keep the various groups organized and together, when faced with the infidel enemies it was still usually easier to set aside home-grown political differences in favor of killing non-Christians.

How and why these shifting feelings occurred is important to better understand how the Crusades developed both militarily and politically. Real understanding of the Crusades in both their religious and secular aspects thus requires some geographic understanding of what happened where and when.

Maps of the Crusades
Religious Divisions at the Time of the Cursades Religious Divisions at the Time of the Cursades
Map of the First Crusade Map of the First Crusade
Map of Charlemagne's Empire at his Death, 814 Map of Charlemagne's Empire at his Death, 814
Map of the Division of Charlemagne's Empire Map of the Division of Charlemagne's Empire
Map of England and France under Henry II Map of England and France under Henry II
Maps of Jerusalem Maps of Jerusalem

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