The Crusades are a Christian holy war launched in the Medieval era and are akin to the Jihads of Islam, with the exception that they are sanctioned by the Pope himself. Historically there were at least nine crusades to the holy land, the first three being the most renowned. However, there were many 'minor' crusades launched during the medieval period. Eastern Europe was often crusaded against by the Teutonic Order, being relentless in eastern Europe's paganism many minor crusades were launched throughout Europe as well.

During Medieval 2 Total War the Pope will launch crusades against a province that either has a large Christian population under non catholic rule, is controlled by a nation he has ill will towards or if the seeds of heresy are being sown. The Holy Land in the Middle East is often a continuous target for crusades and the Jihads of Islam which will strive to take the provinces from the crusaders. A King or Emperor whom the Pope holds highly can also request a crusade in a location of their choice and hope that he agrees.

A crusade is a massive event that is likely to see many Christian factions join its banner or face the displeasure of the Pope. It is up to a Catholic general to join a crusade any general can join so long as an eight unit card army is under his control outside a settlement. Generals that join a crusade will see chivalric benefits and can also gain powerful members to their retinue. A general and faction that takes the indicated settlement will have large benefits and favour from the Pope.

Reasons for a Crusade being calledEdit

  • A Christian population within the province who are under Islamic, Pagan or Rebel rule.
  • A high amount of Heresy (50%) within the settlement. This also makes the chance of a request against the settlement much more likely.
  • If the settlement is in the Holy Land (Could also be caused by the large Christian population).
  • If the settlement is owned by a nation who the pope has excommunicated or dislikes, crusades can be called against them.

Armies that are crusading have a number of significant benefits and advantages if utilized correctly due to the religious furvour of the troops they are capable of moving at twice their normal movement speed, decreasing the time taken to reach a target significantly. Economically there is also no upkeep to pay for the force, so a long crusade could allow a nations financial situation to improve due to having to pay no upkeep for a entire armed force or multiple if more than one general is sent. A crusading general is also able to recruit special mercenaries for a very cheap price. These units tend to be quite powerful and always make a good addition to crusading armies. Mounted and dismounted Crusader Knights being examples of the powerful crusader mercenaries.

Generals who merely join a campaign will usually gain a few chivalric traits and will sometimes gain powerful additions to their retinue. A general who takes the crusade target will gain very beneficial traits for example: the "Grand Crusader" trait gives a significant boosts to the general's chivalry. Holy relics such as the Holy Lance can also be gained. More importantly, the Pope will be thrilled with the successful crusader's faction(s), which will increase relations with the Pope, giving some opportunities to gain territory off of other Catholics before a threat of excommunication. All units that participate in a successful crusade also automatically gain one experience point, significantly increasing their abilities in combat. It can be worth forming crusading armies just before a targeted settlement falls simply to get the free experience bonus that is gained.

However, there are some delicate disadvantages to crusading. If an army makes insufficient progress towards the target they can suffer devastating desertions that weaken the army. Also the distance to the target should be considered as a powerful army is effectively taken away from where they could be of most useful, a crusade to Jerusalem can take 20 turns to get there, in that space of time the army could be sunk and/or destroyed or the factions territories can be attacked. The faction then also has to hold the newly captured territories. A unit that is moved from a crusading army will also desert in fury and disgust, losing the unit unless it was sent to garrison a city.

Calling a Crusade Edit

Crusades can only be successfully called if you have a perfect or near-perfect relationship with the pope and if there has not been a crusade called for a long time. A crusade also must have finished for the next one to be called. It also makes it unlikely for the crusade to be successfully called if the pope has a good relationship with the target of the crusade.

Benefit SummaryEdit

  • Doubles Movement speed.
  • No army upkeep has to be paid.
  • Special Mercenary units available at a very cheap price.
  • Chivalric and other positive traits gained.
  • Rare ancillary's gained.
  • Large boost to the popes opinion of crusading faction.
  • Experience given to all participating units.

Disadvantage of a CrusadeEdit

  • Often a crusade can be a significant distance away, meaning sending a powerful force is sent where it will may be of most use.
  • Desertions rampant if insufficient movement is made.
  • A unit moved from an army (excluding garrisons) will desert next turn.

Having crusades called against you is very undesirable as it can array every Catholic faction against you at a stroke and this can mean a very large, extremely rapid catholic horde constantly attacking unless relations can be restored or improved with the Papacy. It is also a strong reason to keep an eye on heresy and religion levels if playing as a Catholic faction. Islamic factions are particularly exposed to crusades but conversely can launch Jihads if needed, in fact it can be easier to launch Jihad as their is no need for the equivalent of Papal Sanction.

Crusader MercenariesEdit

Medieval II Total War: KingdomsEdit

During the Crusades campaign for the Medieval II Total War: Kingdoms expansion pack, the main focus is on the historically based crusades in the Holy Land. This involves some unique game play conditions, for example: the addition of power centers can mean the eventual death or survival of factions and a victory can not be gained without the power centre. If a faction's power center is taken, reinforcements will arrive to help re-capture it. Faction specific Heroes also arrive during the Crusades campaign. They are powerful generals with unique battlefield powers:

Faction - Hero - Special Ability - Ability Description

  • The Turks - Nur ad-Din- Light of Faith - Increases attack speed and morale of troops for a limited time. Can be used more than once per battle, but also requires a period of time before it can be used again.
  • The Byzantine Empire - Manuel Comnenus - Byzantine Politics - Several enemy units succumb to infighting and refuse to move for a limited time. No range limit, but can only be used once per battle.
  • Egypt- Saladin - Righteousness of Faith - sets all units that have not broken to maximum morale for a limited time. Can be used more than once per battle, but needs a period of time before it can be used again.
  • Kingdom of Jerusalem - Richard the Lionheart - Heart of the Lion - Immediately rallies all troops who are fleeing and returns their morale to normal. Can be used more than once per battle but needs a period of time before it can be used again.
  • Principality of Antioch - Phillip II - Flower of Chivalry - Increases attack power and stamina of his troops for a limited time. Can be used more than once per battle, but requires a period of time before it can be used again.