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Flags of the Crusades 1099-1291

Christian or 'Latin' States

Last modified: 2015-06-28 by rob raeside
Keywords: crusade | crusader states | christian states | latin states | little armenia | antiochia | galilee | tripoli | edessa | rohez |
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Christian or Latin States

The Crusaders established several Christian States in the conquered Holy Land.

States established after the First Crusade

  • The Kingdom of Jerusalem, later "of Jerusalem, Acre and Cyprus"
  • The Kingdom of Armenianote 1 (Little Armenia)
  • The Principality of Antiochia
  • The Principality of Galileenote 1
  • The County of Tripoli
  • The County of Edessa (or Rohez)

Santiago Dotor, 24 March 1999

Note 1: The Kingdom of Armenia (a.k.a. Little Armenia or Armenia Minor) was actually not a Crusader state - it was established in 1080, nineteen years before the launch of the First Crusade, by Armenians who had migrated to the area after Byzantine annexation of the medieval Kingdom of Armenia and later conquest of its territory by the Seljuk Turks. However, its connections with the Crusader states were co close and its history so interlaced with theirs, that it is not an error to have it listed with them, although a distinction shall be made.

The Principality of Galilee was actually a lordship within the Kingdom of Jerusalem, not a separate state.
Tomislav Todorovic, 31 December 2011

States established during the Third Crusade
During the Third Crusade, another Latin state was established: the Kingdom of Cyprus.
Tomislav Todorovic, 31 December 2011

States established after the Fourth Crusade
After the Fourth Crusade, a number of states was established on the territory previously ruled by the Byzantine Empire. For some of these, it is difficult to tell precisely if they should be considered separate states or just lordships within the other states. Also, some of the states usually listed with them were not founded as the result of the Crusade, but of earlier or later conquests. Nonetheless, a list of the undisputed Crusader states can be made and is given below:

  • the Empire of Constantinople, usually called Latin Empire of Constantinople, or simply Latin Empire, its official name having been the Empire of Romania - the meaning of this is "Roman Empire (of the East)" and shall not be confused with the modern country of Romania, which just happens to bear the same name
  • the Kingdom of Thessalonica
  • the Principality of Achaea
  • the Duchy of Athens, sometimes called the Duchy of Athens and Thebes
  • the Duchy of Naxos, also called the Duchy of Archipelago
The above list might be expanded with the following vassal domains:
  • the Margraviate of Bodonitsa - originally a vassal of Thessalonica, but having outlived it, became a vassal of Achaea
  • the County of Salona
  • another vassal of Thessalonica which outlived it, later vassal of Achaea, eventually of Athens
  • the Lordship of Negroponte - originally a vassal of Thessalonica, later of Venice (eventually became its virtual colony)
  • the Duchy of Neopatria (or Neopatras) - a later conquest by the Duchy of Athens, remained united with it (the same ruler)

As the sources below clearly show, it is really difficult to make a correct list of the states, because the nature of feudalism blurs the difference between the sovereign states and vassal lordships. The above two lists only include the states which were created as the result, direct or indirect, of the Fourth Crusade, and the lordships which, having existed under various suzerains, might be considered semi-dependent states.

[1] Wikipedia page about the Kingdom of Armenia:
[2] Wikipedia page about the Crusader states in general:
[3] Wikipedia page about the vassals of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
[4] Wikipedia page about the "Frankish" (i.e. Latin) states in previous Byzantine domains (includes some which are not listed above):
Tomislav Todorovic
, 31 December 2011

Crusader Orders

The Hospitallers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights were all originally Crusading Orders, but with the fall of Acre in 1291, effectively lost their raison-d'etre, and ended up wandering around Europe [see Religious Orders].

The Hospitallers, or Knights of St John of the Hospital, were originally a group which cared for weary pilgrims at the Hospital of St John in Jerusalem. After their incorporation as a military order, they continued to run the hospital, which gained them respect and prestige. After the fall of Acre in 1291, they moved first to Cyprus, then to the island of Rhodes (Rhodos) in 1307, then Malta in 1522-23. Their symbol was originally (1248) a white cross on black, changed in 1259 to a white cross on red.

The Templars, or Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon, were originally a group which escorted and protected pilgrims while they were travelling through the Seljuk lands. They lived in a hostel near the Temple of Solomon, thus the name Templars. They had many estates in Europe, and once Acre fell in 1291, retired to their European estates, and became involved in banking and diplomacy, which made them unpopular, to the point where King Philippe the Just of France burnt the Grand Master and two senior officers at the stake for supposed heresies. In 1312, Pope Clement V issued a decree suppressing the Order. Their symbol was a red cross on white.

As to the shapes of these crosses, the cross of the Hospitallers may have evolved into the present-day shape of the Maltese Cross, but as to the Knights Templar, and the earlier Hospitallers, I've found that the shapes can be said to be elongated Iron Crosses [i.e. crosses formy].

Georges G. Kovari, 25 June 2001

The two shapes of crosses don't present a case of evolution form one to the other. The elongated Iron Crosses, the sort of thing that in the Templar case gave rise to the St George's Cross of England, were used by both the Templars and the Hospitallers as their banners and arms. I haven't come across anything about the white-on-black to white-on-red change of the Hospitallers, but several orders with some sort of descent from the Hospitallers use the inverted English flag in some form to this day. At the same time, both then and now, the eight-pointed Maltese, or St John, Cross was used as a badge. It actually originated as the badge of the republic of Amalfi, and quite possibly was not originally a cross, but an emblem made up of four arrowheads. It was adopted by the Brotherhood of the Hospital in Jerusalem (even before the foundation of the Order) when the merchants of Amalfi re-purchased the site of the hospital established around 600AD and rebuilt it. At the formation of the Order (formally recognised in 1113), the monks wore black robes with the eight-pointed cross on the left breast. It seems correct to understand that the white cross on red was mainly used by the Knights of the Order in their military activities, and the eight-pointed cross while at the convent.

No doubt the use of the two symbols over the many years since varied, and was most likely at many times not well defined, I guess, but there is a lot of evidence of the use of both during the time when the Order of St John had one of the strongest naval fleets of the Mediterranean, when the use of the eight-pointed, or as it became known, Maltese Cross on a red background became more common as a flag. I guess the modern Maltese civil ensign can be seen as a result of this.

Jonathan Dixon, 26 June 2001

Original name of the Templars was Pauperes commilitiones Christi templique Salomonici. The order was established in 1119 by a group of eight knights led by Hugue de Payns and Godefried de St. Omer in order to give escort to pilgrims and just some years lated king Baldwin II gave them part of the royal palace which was Al-Aqsa mosque (known as Solomon's Temple by the crusaders) on the temple mount which gave the order its name.

Dov Gutterman, 28 June 2001

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