Peasant crusaders from western and central Europe were largely unprepared for the climate and cultures of Asia Minor and the Middle East.
Illustration by Stanley Meltzoff, National Geographic

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  • On October 21, 1097, the People’s Crusade ended in failure as Muslim Turks defeated Christian European invaders in what is today northwestern Turkey. The Crusades were a series of conflicts in which Christians (mostly western Europeans) tried to take control of the Holy Land from Muslim leaders.
     
    Thousands of French, German, Italian, and other European peasants engaged in the People’s Crusade. After meeting in Cologne, Germany, the group fought among themselves as they made their way through regions of what are now Hungary, Serbia, and northern Turkey. They also led pogroms, or organized massacres, of Jews in Central Europe. These pogroms became known as the Rhineland Massacres—some of the first Christian-led pogroms in recorded history.
     
    When they reached Anatolia, the unruly crusaders were met with the organized, disciplined Turkish military. The crusaders of the People’s Crusade were defeated, but the Crusades continued for another 200 years, before ending in Christian defeat in 1291.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Anatolia Noun

    part of the country of Turkey located in Asia.

    Christian Noun

    people and culture focused on the teachings of Jesus and his followers.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    Crusades Plural Noun

    series of wars in which medieval European kingdoms attempted to gain control of the Middle East or "Holy Land."

    defeat Verb

    to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

    discipline Verb

    to train or control.

    engage Verb

    to interact with.

    Holy Land Noun

    ancient kingdom on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, of historic significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    invade Verb

    to enter and attack.

    massacre Noun

    mass killing of large number of people.

    military Noun

    armed forces.

    Muslim Adjective

    having to do with Islam, the religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.

    organize Verb

    to coordinate and give structure to.

    peasant Noun

    person of low social rank and little social mobility in medieval society, usually a small farmer, farmworker, or owner of a houshold industry.

    pogrom Noun

    organized, mass killing of Jews.

    record Verb

    to preserve observations with notes, drawings, photographs, audio or video recordings.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region