Long Journey to Jerusalem

By Land

A crusader leaving from Paris would have traveled more than 2,100 miles (3,360 km) to Jerusalem. That journey is roughly equivalent to walking from New York to Salt Lake City. This distance doesn’t include numerous side journeys to forage for food or skirmish with enemy forces.

Most pilgrims walked, and they had to climb steep mountains and cross semi-desert. The band tramped perhaps 12–15 miles per day, fewer in mountainous areas. Thus, the journey took many months. With sieges and delays for gathering food and supplies, most campaigns lasted for years. Thousands of crusaders deserted or died from disease, starvation, or warfare.

By Sea

The perilous voyage from Genoa to Antioch stretched approximately 1,450 nautical miles. Despite storms, however, sea travel was much faster than travel overland. In 1248, for example, an immense fleet led by Louis IX sailed from France to Cyprus in about three weeks.

Increasingly, then, crusaders traveled all or part of the way by ship. And once in Palestine, they depended on shipping for supplies. This enriched Italian shipping cities such as Genoa and Venice.

The Goal

The Holy Land. Crusaders soon settled and ruled over four new “countries” in Palestine: the County of Edessa, Principality of Antioch, County of Tripoli, and Kingdom of Jerusalem. Though these did not last long, until 1291 Christians controlled long stretches of coastline in modern-day Israeli Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #40 in 1993]

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