The landing of the Crusaders at Damiette, woodcut from the book “The Great Voyage of Jerusalem”, printed in Paris in 1522
Curator: Avshalom Zemer
In the Middle Ages adventurous kings and knights conducted a series of expeditions to Syria and Palestine with the hope of reclaiming the Holy Land from the Moslems. Much of their motivation was also aroused by the riches of the Orient and the expected spoils of war.
These expeditions, known as the Crusades, were partly successful - for the Crusaders managed to gain a foothold in the Holy Land. They maintained their connections with their home bases by settling and fortifying a series of harbour towns and fortresses in the Holy Land, which they used as forward and supply bases for their forces.
The First Crusade was undertaken in 1096 and successive expeditions continued until 1291, when the Crusaders were finally defeated by the Mamelukes, led by Sultan Baybars.
Along the coast of Israel there are prominent Crusader remains at Acco, Athlit, Dor, Caesarea, Ashkelon, etc., which attest to the importance of the sea links between the Crusader Kingdom and the home ports of Europe.