The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Levantine Catholic Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns on the continent of Sarpedon aimed at restoring the Levantine Catholic Church's primacy from Orthodox Catholicism and Islam but the term "Crusades" is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Levantine Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage.
In Sarpedon (1095–1291)
One of the first to answer the call of arms was the Emperor of the Levantines, Carles II. His recruiting and campaigning efforts resulted in his canonization and veneration as a Catholic saint in 1297.
Following the primary campaigns in Sarpedon, the Crusades next turned to taking Halfway, an Istroyan island acquired by adventurers from the Oduniyyad Caliphate alongside what would become Dorhaven in the 7th century, though the latter was retaken by Caphiria within a century. The island loosely connected to the Caliphate but largely existed as an independent principality with religious toleration ruled over by a tiny Islamic governing class, though many historians and scholars consider it to be a glorified pirate-oriented state. Nonetheless, the rulers of Halfway did use religious justification to harass Christian merchants and enslaving Christians in coastal areas. Consequently, a Crusade was launched to take the island in 1144. The first wave of Crusaders were largely unprepared and were defeated, but in subsequent attempts, combined fleets of galleys from Southern Dericania overwhelmed Halfway's pirate fleet. Crusaders landed on the island in 1148 and entirely subdued it by 1149, establishing the Principality of Halfway. This Crusader state would far outlast nearly all the others; despite being inherited by House de Weluta of Urcea in 1474, the Principality was mostly left to govern its own affairs until it was folded into the Kingdom of Crotona in 1660. Existing for nearly half a millennia, the Principality's legacy survives through today; the title of the heir to the Apostolic King of Urcea is Prince of Halfway, indicating the high esteem placed on the long lasting Crusader state.
In Audonia (1167–1428)
Many scholars consider the Audonian Crusades as a continuation of the Crusades in Sarpedon, as its driving power was following up on the successes of the Levantine Catholic forces against Islamic holdings in southern Sarpedon. While largely ineffective, a remaining legacy was the establishment of a Catholic Crusader state in Antilles.
Bergendii Crusaders in Audonia
Northern Crusades (1396–1574)
Conquest of Joanusterre (1458-1574)
In the mid 15th century the Knights of the Order of the Obsidian Sparrow, having missed its opportunity to prove itself as an order in the Audonian Crusades, sought their fortune in Northern Levantia. They convened in western Culfra with 1,800 knights under Knight Commander Joanus de Martigueux the third son of the Count of Estia. de Martigueux's army crossed into Ultmar, the general name for Northern Levantia that was not incorporated into the Holy Levantine Empire, and began a campaign to convert by "the Book or by their blood" the conquest and conversion of modern Yonderre. By 1464 they had established a minor crusader kingdom on the southern coast of the Vandrach. They established trade with the Kingdom of Magnia-Gabben in 1475 and solidified its position as an autonomous marcher kingdom in a treaty with the Holy Levantine Empire in 1494, known as the Treaty for the guarantee of Joanus' Land. Due to the varieties of languages spoken by the Knights of the Order of the Obsidian Sparrow, a variety of spellings of each name were utilized by the scribes of the Order. A common spelling of the Knight Commander's name was Yoanus and the Latin Joanusterrium used in the treaty language was later shortened to Yoansterre. In 1497, de Martigueux was made Knight Grand Cross and given the title Grand Officer-Count of Joanusterrium. Upon his death the title was given to his second in command, Knight Commander Mattius-Arnuald Egide d'Houicourt. This investiture of the appointed deputy of the Grand Officer-Count was observed by the order until the county was raised to a duchy by the Pope in 1574 both for having increased in size but also for its proselytizing efforts in the region.
d'Houicourt sought not only to expand the order's influence in the region but also to administer the conquered land. He established knights in fiefdoms and supported them in the construction of keeps. His rule was supported by an influx of additional knights and general adventurers in the mid 16th century. He also supported the admission of local Gothian leaders joining the order and promoting them equitably. The ranks of the Order of the Obsidian Sparrow swelled and eventually the Grand Magisterium was concerned that the "northern knights" were becoming more loyal to d'Houicourt than the order and threatened to expel him and seek his excommunication if he did not resign. He resigned but wrote the Pope to implore that the "vainglorious ineptitude of the leadership of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John, that established the Order of the Obsidian Sparrow has infected the Sparrows and threatens Christ's work in Joanusterrium." The Pope came to d'Houicourt's aid and had him reinstated and further conferred on him and the County the titles of Most Serene.
With its elevation to Most Serene Duchy in 1574, the Most Serene Grand-Officer Duke Marcus Antonius was also elected as the Grand Master of the Order. This, lead to an almost 150 period of "northern knights" leading the Order. This also formally ended the "crusading" era in Joanusterrium and started the era of "administration".
Considered a proto-Crusade, the Tonsure Wars were a series of doctrinal and military conflicts between Latinic Alvarians and the Gaelians in Northern Levantia in the 8th century. It was named for the style of monastic tonsure worn by the clergy of each ethnic group. Alvarians monks wearing the coronal tonsure espousing a direct and puritanical application of Catholic rites and the Gaelians monks wearing the Celtic tonsure and embracing a more colloquial form of Catholicism. At the insistence of the clergy in Alvaria, in 738 an edict was passed that all monastic orders in Gaelia must conform to the "regular traditions and trappings of the Papal orders" with specific language regarding the cutting of hair and the wearing of plain robes, not to be colored in the "patterns of the forest". The edict was largely ignored as the Alvarians had no interest in enforcing the ruling and the clerics had no jurisdiction. In 754, a group of monks and mercenaries set out from Marialanus to "implore" Gaelian monks along the border to conform to the edict. The mercenaries looted the monasteries and got drunk on the beer and wine causing havoc and the venture was called off. In 768, another party was formed, this time with the blessing of the Archbishop of Rabascall, and the monks themselves had been given dispensation to take up arms. Additionally, the Pope had declared Celtic Christianity a pagan and blasphemous church the year before. This gave the monks dispensation to convert or "dispatch to God's judgment" the monks of Gaelia. The warrior monks descended upon the border regions and attacked a number of churches. The King of Gaelia formed and army and dispatched the Alvarian monks quickly. The Pope saw this as the temporal kingdom taking arms against Levantine Catholic Church and the Alvarian and Kistani armies were called to bring the Gaelians back into the fold. A series of battles ensued and Gaelia was greatly diminished to the benefit of Alvaria and Kistan. In 783, the edict of 738 was adopted across Gaelia and the practice of shaving the Celtic tonsure ended as a common practice. Some remote monasteries continued the practice into the 1200s but it eventually fell out of style. The practice reemerged in the 1830s after the Northern Levantine Mediatization War and continues in some places to this day.