The Crusades were a series of several military campaigns — sanctioned by the Papacy — that took place during the 11th to 13th centuries. Originally, they were Roman Catholic endeavors to capture the Holy Land from the Muslims, but some lead to militarical actions against other Christians, such as the Fourth Crusade where Constantinople was sacked by Christian knights. In a broader sense, the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars of southern France and the Baltic Crusades are also considered as Crusades.
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The Crusades were preceded by a Middle Ages reform movement to abolish private wars between Christian knights known as the "Peace of God" movement. The intention to give these knights a new "field of action" may have been one of the causes of the crusades.
There is a broad consensus in the Western world that the Church as a religious institution may not direct or sanction military action and therefore the Crusades are seen as a historical fault of the church of the day.
- Kenneth Setton, ed., A History of the Crusades. Madison, 1969-1989 (e-book online)
- Angeliki E. Laiou, The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, (e-book online), includes chapter on Historiography of the crusades.
- E.L. Skip Knox, The Crusades, a virtual college course through Boise State University.