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History

The Crusades

In the 11th century, European Christians began to challenge Muslim predominance in the Mediterranean, retaking Sicily and much of Spain by the mid-12th century. At the same time, the papacy inaugurated the Crusades, a series of largely unsuccessful efforts to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. Initially the Crusaders established a number of small states on or near the Mediterranean coast: Antioch, Edessa, Jerusalem, and Tripoli. Edessa returned to Muslim control in 1144, and the others had fallen to Kurdish Muslim leader Saladin by the time of the Third Crusade in 1189. Although the influence of the Crusades in the Arab world was slight, many of the European merchant communities established in the Crusader states remained intact after Muslims recaptured the region. These communities continually promoted trade between Europe and the Middle East.

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