The crusades were a series of religious wars in western Asia and Europe initiated, supported and sometimes directed by the Catholic Church between the 11th and the 17th century. The crusades differed from other religious conflicts in that participants considered them a penitential exercise that brought absolution. Historians contest the definition of the term with some restricting it to armed pilgrimages to Jerusalem, others including all Catholic military campaigns with a promise of spiritual benefits, all Catholic "holy wars" or those with characteristic religious fervour. The most well known are those fought against the Muslims of the eastern Mediterranean for the Holy Land between 1096 and 1271. Crusades were also fought from the 12th century against the Iberian Moors, the Ottoman Empire and for a variety of other reasons. These included fighting pagans, the suppression of heresy and the resolution of conflict between Catholic groups. (Wikipedia 2020)
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