The Hospitallers, or Knights of St. John, still kept possession of the important islands of Cyprus and Rhodes, which long served as a barrier to Moslem expansion over the Mediterranean.
The Results of the end of the Medieval Crusades
The crusades, judged by what they set out to accomplish, must be accounted an inglorious failure. After two hundred years of conflict, after a vast expenditure of wealth and human lives, the Holy Land remained in Moslem hands. It is true that the First Crusade did help, by the conquest of Syria, to check the advance of the Turks toward Constantinople. But even this benefit was more than undone by the weakening of the Roman Empire in the East as a result of the Fourth Crusade.
Reasons why the Crusades Failed
Reasons why the crusades failed. Of the many reasons for the failure of the crusades, three require special consideration. In the first place, there was the inability of eastern and western Europe to cooperate in supporting the holy wars. A united Christendom might well have been invincible. But the bitter antagonism between the Greek and Roman churches effectually prevented all unity of action.
The emperors at Constantinople, after the First Crusade, rarely assisted the crusaders and often secretly hindered them. In the second place, the lack of sea-power, as seen in the earlier crusades, worked against their success. Instead of being able to go by water directly to Syria, it was necessary to follow the long, overland route from France or Germany through Hungary, Bulgaria, the territory of the Roman Empire in the East, and the deserts and mountains of Asia Minor. The armies that reached their destination after this toilsome march were in no condition for effective campaigning. In the third place, the crusaders were never numerous enough to colonize so large a country as Syria and absorb its Moslem population. They conquered part of Syria in the First Crusade, but could not hold it permanently in the face of determined resistance.
Why the Crusades ended
Why the Crusades stopped. In spite of the above reasons the Christians of Europe might have continued much longer their efforts to recover the Holy Land, had they not lost faith in the movement. But after two centuries the old crusading enthusiasm died out, the old ideal of the crusade as "the way of God" lost its spell. Men had begun to think less of winning future salvation by visits to distant shrines and to think more of their present duties to the world about them. They came to believe that Jerusalem could best be won as Christ and the Apostles had won it "by love, by prayers, and by the shedding of tears."