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Crusades were Christian military expeditions in the Middle Ages organized in Europe and promoted by the papacy, initially to recover formerly Christian territories under Muslim occupation in the eastern Mediterranean. They were soon directed to other regions. Crusading built on a tradition of pilgrimage to Christ's sepulcher in Jerusalem and the evolution of just war into biblically inspired holy war against the enemies of Christendom.

Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade in 1095 in response to a Byzantine appeal for mercenaries to fight the Seljuk Turks who had recently occupied Christian Asia Minor. The Crusaders’ initial victims were European Jews, but in 1099, they captured Jerusalem, ultimately establishing four Latin states. The second (1147–1149) and subsequent crusades sought to defend, recapture, or extend these territories, ...

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