Medieval attempts to solve the Muslim problem so saving their descendants the trouble of nuking their raghead asses back to Allah. The Crusades were a series of military campaigns undertaken to recover the Holy Land from evil Islamic types in the name of Christendom and usually given the nod by the Pope. They were a combination of pilgrimage and invasion. These were a RESPONSE to ISLAM'S REPEATED ATTACKS on CHRISTENDOM... and don't let the buggers tell you otherwise (no matter how furious or outraged they get)!
There were nine main crusades and a few that seriously went off the rails.
The First Crusade
Let's get this party started
The First Crusade kicked off in 1096ad. It consisted of two parts: The peoples' crusade led by a mad hermit called Peter. Poorly equipped, provisioned and not actually led, they acted like a pack of drugged-up chavs on a weekend to Blackpool. They rampaged across Europe killing Jews en route (and you wonder why the Jews aren't willing to turn the other cheek any more?). They were wiped out by a Seljuk Turk king called Kilij Arslan I (an early ARRSER) and everyone (especially the Jews) was happy.
The main military body arrived in the Holy Land a year later. This degenerated into a massive land grab in the Levant. Two major battles (Dorylaeum and at Antioch) gave the advantage to the Crusaders so allowing them to captured the Kingdom of Jerusalem and several other cities. Strangely after the Christians moved in, everyone settled down and both sides lived in peace... for a while!
The Second Crusade
Bunch of drunks on holiday
1147ad. Forty-six years of peace was broken when the Turks attacked and captured Edessa. Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany turned up (with a few bezzers), minced about causing problems then went home having achieved piss all.
The Third Crusade
One for posterity
The crusade that everyone knows about. 1187ad. Richard the Lionheart & Saladin having a major man crush on each other, The French taking the huff (jeez! things never change), The German king drowning en route (Hmm, not like them!). Tactically it was pretty successful with Acre captured and the Muslims humped at Arsuf but strategically nothing changed.
On Richard's way home, his ship was wrecked and he ended up in Austria. In Austria, his enemy, Duke Leopold, captured him and Richard was held for a king's ransom. Paying this beggared the country requiring the IMF to bail us out just like in the 1970's. Robin Hoodie and his merry chavs got an ASBO and Maid Marion was claiming single parent payments while shacked up with fifty blokes in tights.
The Fourth Crusade
Christians cause havoc
Jerusalem fell into Muslim hands. It then took ten years for Pope Innocent III to get off his fat arrse in 1202 and get things started. The Venetians, under Doge Enrico Dandolo, gained control of this crusade and diverted it to the christian city of Constantinople where they attempted to place a Byzantine exile on the throne (to make a quick profit). After a series of 'misunderstandings' and outbreaks of violence, they stormed and looted the city in 1204. This crippled the Byzantines who till then had been a bulwark against Muslim aggression. This led directly to Muslims overrunning what became Turkey and starting the ethnic problems in the Balkans. Cnuts!
The Fifth Crusade
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
By 1215 the Vatican had worked Catholicism up for another go at the Muslims. A crusading force of Hungarians, Austrians, and Bavarians captured Damietta in Egypt in 1219. However after the Vatican representative (think meddling politico) demanded that Cairo be attacked, the crusade was cut off and had to surrender or drown after the Nile flooded.
The Sixth Crusade
Germans attack from unexpected direction
In 1228, Emperor Frederick II set sail for the Holy Land without the Pope's blessing. Instead of killing everyone in sight, he achieved unexpected success by actually talking to the Muslims - taking possession of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem for a period of ten years.
The Seventh Crusade
Frogs arrse it up again
In 1243 Jerusalem fell to Islamic types at the behest of the Egyptians. Louis IX of France organized a crusade against Egypt from 1248 to 1254. (Can you guess what happened next?) It was a total failure and Louis spent much of the crusade hanging about like a bad smell at the court of the Crusader kingdom in Acre.
The Eighth Crusade
Frogs in 'No Show' shambles
Organized by Louis IX in 1270 and planned to aid the remains of the Crusader states in Syria. The crusade however was diverted to Tunis, where Louis spent only two months before dying.
The Ninth Crusade
Too little too late - likely the Foreign Office's fault
The future Edward I of England decided to have a go in 1271. He had accompanied Louis on pointless Eighth Crusade. He accomplished sod all in Syria and decided to go home the following year after a truce. The Muslims pretty much had a free hand and Antioch (1268), Tripoli (1289), and Acre (1291) all fell before the end of the century.
The last traces of the Christian rule in Syria thus disappeared seven hundred years ago but the buggers are still whining and outraged about 'the Crusades'!
Northern Crusades: Poland ... Germans find a hobby.
Mostly German Christians (Teutonic Knights and visiting pro-celebrity knights, i.e. Henry of Lancaster 1392) attempting to subjugate and convert the Slavs to Christianity. Started in the 12th century, the krauts kept at it right up till the 16th century (although by then mostly just a land grab). Obviously they were still at it in the 20th century but by then they'd almost stopped calling it a crusade!
These are the events of the movie Alexander Nevsky which has coloured the opinion of the world about the 'baby eating' Teutonic Knights. Only problem was the movie was produced in 1938 when it was written as propaganda to slander the Germans. However it was too anti-German for 1938 given that Soviet-German non-aggression pact was signed in 1939! When the war kicked off, Stalin demanded it be shown in every movie theatre as a rallying cry against the krauts.
Balkan Crusades: Remember the 4th Crusade? Here's the repercussions!
In the 15th century the Muslim Turks were running wild through Greece and up into the Balkans. To prevent all of Europe having to swear off wifebeater and never eat pork sausages and bacon butties again, 3 crusades were called against the evil (so the Pope says!) Islamic types. These were the Crusade of Nicopolis (1396), the Crusade of Varna (1444) and the Crusade of 1456 to break the Siege of Belgrade. Since we can still get legless, I had pork chops for my tea and women are butt nekkid on page 3 of the The Sun ... guess the Muslim hordes were stopped.
Iraqi Crusade the First
The USA and George Bush Senior give the M.E. a kicking. In 1991 The boss of the Iraqis (a Sunni chap called Saddam Hussein), decided to grab a neighbour called Kuwait. He had accused the Kuwaiti's digging out the oil from his part of the sandpit and made warry noises. Bush Senior made very quiet murmurings of disapproval but he was their man so he should be able to take a hint. Desperate for relief from his crippling debts owed to Kuwait - Mr Hussein didn't take the hint and went for it. Now that the Shiite had hit the fan, the great Bush Senior gathered together a 'Coalition of the Willing' (included 500,000 men, women and politicians from around the world) and stomped Iraq in just 100 hours of battle (but admittedly after bombing them back to the stone age for weeks). Just when victory was in sight, due to the bargaining in the various Arab sooooks beforehand, the battle was stopped just short of Saddam's House. Everyone decided that the job was done (?!?!?!?) and went home. Saddam kept his cushy job but the west hinted to the oppressed Marsh Arabs that they should kick off and finish the job. The Kurds in the north gave it a bit of a go as well. Both got a kicking (and a bit of a gassing). And so ended the first war carried 24/7 on CNN.
Iraqi Crusade the Second and ongoing
Change of leader, change of plan. Some 12 years after GW1 Bush Junior had managed to land the top job in the USA and (although he seems barely literate) the country was right behind him. He decided that the first Gulf War Crusade was a bit of a Cake and Arse Party and counted as unfinished business. He needed to show dad some love.
He got the UK's Dear Leader in for a bit of a smooze and cuddle. And before you could say "Do you want me to bend over?", we had a new 'Coalition of the Willing' who made up lots of stories about how Saddam and his (still wrecked) armies were poised (for something or other) and WMD's waited to smite the whole of Western Europe and the Home Counties in just 45 minutes. This was good enough for the UK and the USA. Oh, and the Aussies, who thought that beating everyone at cricket meant that they were capable of doing likewise to old mate Saddam. However the rest of the world, including the French (who would have cocked it up anyway) said "What a load of bollocks!" and passed on the warry stuff.
Then in a spectacular piece of Anglo-Spam arrse kicking, regular Iraqi troops just melted away before Coalition troops. However it took weeks and an awful lot of money in bribes to find Saddam. He was found doing humanitarian work digging a new well in his home town ... but not wanting to publicise his philanthropy ... he had it cleverly disguised.
The boiling animosity between the Shia majority (now freed from purgatory) and the Sunni minority (now thrown into the gutter) now on show did not stop them both having a pop at the crusaders (although they didn't miss many oppotunities to ethnically cleanse each other). Also every Islamic nutter within 5,000 miles of Iraq thought that this was a good way to get their 70 virgins and descended on our Modern Day Crusaders for a bit of martyrdom.
At the time of writing, our forces are still trying to find WMD death-ray laser space guns or something, insurgents and Saddam's money. It helps that they did at least find the oil, even though no-on was actually looking for it... honest!