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Crusade of 1197


Crusade of 1197

Crusade of 1197
Part of the Crusades
Date 1197-1198
Location the Levant
Result Decisive Crusader victories
Holy Roman Empire Ayyubids
Commanders and leaders
Henry VI Al-Adil I
60,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Crusade of 1197 (also known as the Crusade of Henry VI or the German Crusade of 1197 German: Deutscher Kreuzzug) was a crusade launched by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in response to the partway victory of Frederick I Barbarossa's crusade in 1190, and thus is also known as the "Emperor's Crusade."[1] The Crusade ended abruptly, after the fall of Sidon and Beirut.[2] Henry VI died of a fever in Messina in October 1197, with many higher-ranking nobles returning to Germany to protect their interests in the next imperial election.[2] The remaining nobles in the Crusade captured Sidon and Beirut before returning to Germany.


In 1187 Saladin captured Jerusalem from the Crusader states. In an effort to reclaim it, the Third Crusade was launched by King Philip Augustus of France, King Richard Coeur de Lion of England and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Frederick Barbarossa, although taking Iconium, died after drowning in Anatolia and the German Crusade, which may have included between 100,000 and 150,000 men, disbanded. Only a few Germans continued to the Holy Land.[3] A compromise was reached between the crusaders and the Muslims. The Muslims retained Jerusalem, but the Crusaders maintained Acre, Jaffa, and other key coastal cities.

Frederick's older son Henry VI declared a new Crusade hoping that the massive momentum of the Third could still be utilized. Despite the stalemate of the Third Crusade, a large number responded[2]:

  • Two Archbishops
  • Nine Bishops
  • Five dukes

A large number of minor nobles also joined the Crusade and before long, according to Arnold von Lübeck in his Arnoldi Chronica Slavorum, a powerful military host of 60,000 including 7,000 German knights was on its way.

German Crusade

Henry VI decided to take advantage of his Father's threat of force against Byzantium to exact tribute and had a threatening letter sent to the Byzantine Emperor, Isaac Angelus. Isaac had been overthrown in April 1195 by his brother Alexius III Angelus. Alexius immediately submitted to the tributary demands of Henry VI and then exacted high taxes from his subjects to pay the Crusaders 5,000 pounds of gold. Before he could set sail, Henry died. When this occurred, a substantial German army was already on their way to Palestine. The crusaders landed at Acre in September 1197 and captured the wealthy and important cities Sidon and Beirut. With the support of the German crusaders, Amalric II of Jerusalem (a vassal of Roman-German Emperor Henry VI.), was crowned King of Jerusalem in 1198. When news of the emperor's death reached them the Crusaders returned home without any further victories or ambitions.[4]

See also



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