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The Crusades And The

Progress Of Islam

The reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula took seven centuries. According to tradition it began at Covadonga in the mountains of Asturias where Pelayo, a member of King Roderick’s bodyguard, had taken refuge.  A party of Arab troops sent to capture him was defeated, perhaps in 718 – the date is uncertain and the entire story comes only from the early tenth century.  It is certain, however, that a Christian enclave developed in Asturias, which gradually extended its borders south.


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The Crusades

And Their Aftermath

The Crusades were a series of expeditions that occurred primarily in the 1100s and 1200s, when European armies fought to gain control of Syria and Palestine.  European Christians called this region the Holy Land because it contained the city of Jerusalem and other places associated with the life of Jesus Christ.


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The Crusades an

Their Aftermath

Many complex factors went into the call of Pope Urban II for a crusade against the Muslims, who since 638 had occupied Jerusalem. For more than four centuries Christians had been allowed to practice their religion freely in that city.  In 1076, however, Jerusalem was taken by the Seljuk Turks, who were said to have desecrated the holy places of Christianity and treated the Christian population with brutality.  Pilgrims returning from Jerusalem brought sad news of their fellow Christians there.  Although the notion of avenging these wrongs and regaining the holy city for Christianity had been seeping into western consciousness for some time, it was not until the preaching of such monks as Peter the Hermit of Amiens that popular opinion began to rise in support of such an effort.  Encouraged by an appeal for assistance from the emperor Alexis I in Constantinople, Pope Urban II promised his help and sent out the call for the first crusade.