"The crusades were a series of holy wars called by the Pope (the head of the Catholic church) in order to reclaim the Holy Land - specifically Jerusalem - which had been under the control of various Muslim countries (who had taken it from the declining Byzantine empire). The First Crusade was called in 1095 by Urban II at the request of the Byzantine Emperor, who (although not a Catholic) was a Christian ruler whose land was being taken by invading Turks and other Muslims. In 1099 the Christians captured Jerusalem, massacring many Muslim and Jewish inhabitants. They then set up feudal kingdoms in the Levant - the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Principality of Antioch, and the Counties of Edessa and Tripoli. The Second Crusade was called because the County of Edessa fell to Muslims. It was a huge failure for the crusaders, as Edessa was still held by Muslims. However, crusaders did capture Lisbon in Portugal on their way to the Holy Land. The Third Crusade was called when the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem. Despite European successes, they failed to recapture the city, held by Saladin. The crusade was very large, but Richard the Lionheart of England and Philip II Augustus of France bickered among themselves, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa's massive army failed to join the crusade when he drowned crossing a river. The Christians kept cities on the coast, and the island of Cyprus (which they conquered from the Byzantines), but they ultimately failed. The Fourth Crusade was the key turning point in the decline of the Byzantine empire and relations between Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Venetians who were travelling to the Holy Land instead decided to sack the Byzantine capital Constantinople, and then proceeded to steal territory and create the Latin Empire and other ""Latin"" states in the Balkans. The Byzantine Empire remained in Anatolia at Nicaea and in Greece at Epirus. The pope, Innocent III excommunicated the Venetians. However, when they brought back stolen treasures, they were forgiven, and the Pope recognized the Catholic ""Latin"" states that had been created. Eventually the Byzantines reconquered these territories. There were many more crusades, including the Northern Crusades fought between the Teutonic Order and the Holy Roman Empire against the Lithuanian and Baltic Pagans, but these listed 4 are generally regarded as the most important. Hope it was helpful!"
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