What were the motivations behind the Crusades? How have the Crusades influenced the modern world?
The Crusades were a series of military interventions by Christians in the Latin west to regain or conquer lands held by the Ottoman Empire. There were several different Crusades, starting in 1096 and continuing until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The Crusades are characterized by their religious nature. The original cause of the Crusades was a request by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I to Pope Urban II for support as fellow Christians against the Turks. The Pope helped not only in organizing Crusades but promised indulgences to Crusaders. There were both unofficial Crusades led by charismatic religious leaders and officially organized military expeditions. As well as supporting the Byzantine Empire, the avowed purpose of the Crusaders was to free the Holy Land from Islamic control, making life easier for pilgrims. An additional motivation was desire for the great riches of the east. Thus the Crusades had multiple simultaneous motives, ranging from the purely religious to the purely acquisitive.
The legacy of the Crusades and other clashes between Christians and Islam in the period was a degree of historic hostility and suspicion between the Islamic Middle East and the Christian West. Many of these tensions still remain, with Islamic states often suspecting western interventions in their region to be a sort of extension of the Crusading impulse.