Week 8: We melted crayons into the shapes of religious symbols to represent the Crusades.
The Crusades were a series of wars fought in the name of religion. With promises of wealth, and getting into heaven Europeans united and traveled east to fight for lands with religious significance, or holy lands.
Jerusalem is a holy land to several different groups of people. In
Christianity, Jerusalem was the city where Jesus was crucified. Muslims
believe Jerusalem was the location Mohammed rose into the sky, and
Jerusalem is sacred to the Jews because of the Temple of Solomon.
Huge numbers of crusaders embarked on the journey for the cause. Sometimes they walked, and sometimes they sailed, but they always required huge amounts of resources. Unfortunately, the food and water requirements along with the lively crowd caused much devastation. The city of Constantinople was significantly weakened during the Crusades, which played a factor in the empire's downfall.
For five hundred years before the Crusaders arrived in Jerusalem, various religious groups were welcomed by the Muslims who had control of the region. There were religious structures for people of many faiths and pilgrims were able to visit holy sites.
Of the nine crusades, most stories come from the third. During the Third Crusade, the city of Jerusalem was taken by the Christians. Afterwards, groups of knights formed to aid Christian pilgrims on journeys to the holy lands. The Knights Templar protected the people on the road. They also got rich through their tax exempt status and by lending money to pilgrims with high interest rates. The Knights Hospitallers were armed monks who provided medical care to journeying pilgrims and protected religious valuables. Over time the Knights Hospitallars changed, and became the organization we know today as the Red Cross.
After the Third Crusade, Saladin, a hero of Muslims, united the people of Jerusalem to take back the region. Unfortunately, there has been fighting in the region ever since the crusades began.
Since the crusades were fought under the pretense of religion, and several religions were effected, the children were given the choice of creating a cross, star of David, or Muslim geometric figure.
Other hands-on history projects are available on our History Page.