This First Crusade route was dependent on Byzantium's good will and vulnerable to attack. Travel from and to Constantinople added water and resupply problems. Taking careful aim, later crusaders deliberately attacked and looted wealthy Constantinople and thus destroyed its power utterly. (The Turks exploited the resulting viulnerability and Captured both Constantinople and its empire. Modern Turkey is the reminder of the crusaders treachery.)[1]

The crusades were prinicpally about power - not religion!

These sea routes were dangerous with piracy from Italians, Africans, Turks, and Arabs. The helpful Italians provided fleets of ships, but only at exorbitant prices: Richard I of England captured Cyprus to use as his staging base.

Apart from sacking Constantinople (then the greatest city in Christendom), the later crusaders had to use these routes to try to avoid the Italians, deal with enemies, avoid the Turks, and mask their own unclear goals. Crusading was not so easy as it seemed.


The crusades were the child of Pope Urban II, theoretically to meet the request from Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium. He is quoted by Fulcher of Chartres below, leading up to his demand for help.[2]

"Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be....For God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it. Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship. You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings. But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands. Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged with remorse for your faults-, you will be fiercely overwhelmed in hell, the abode of death....For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George....On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it."


1          Adapted from many sources including See also Paul Halsall, Internet History Sourcebooks Project, the Internet Mediaeval Sourcebook Maps and Images, at; and

2          See Fulcher of Chartres, quoted at

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