Since the Middle Ages, the term Crusade, originating from the cross of cloth worn on the garments of the participants, has been applied to all expeditions of wars undertaken, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, and directed against infidels, i.e., Mohammedans, pagans, heretics, those under ban of excommunication. Not only the expeditions to recover the Holy Land from the Turks, but also other wars such as the attack on the Albigensians in the 13th century, and the battles waged by the Spaniards against the Moors from the 11th to the 16th centuries are included in the meaning of the word. All crusades were announced by preaching, supposed a union of all peoples and sovereigns under the direction of the popes, and were granted indulgences and temporal privileges. The Eastern Crusades, directed against the Mohammedans in the Holy Land and the most important of all these undertakings, began in the 11th century and continued till the end of the 13th, and are described as eight in number, which excludes two later expeditions undertaken in the 14th and 15th centuries. They met with little success principally because the undisputed authority of the pope was shaken by dissensions between the Church and the empire, and unity of command was thus lost, and because avaricious political leaders caused a deviation from the original purpose.

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Crusades”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 20 June 2021. <>