Crusades are the term for when the Pope calls an assault on Hierosolyma, believing it unjust that the current sultan refuses entry for christians. During a crusade, armies from every christian nation come together to assault the holy city, and claim it for all christianity.
The Crusade has four phases.
- Initiation: During this phase, the Pope will select a christian with high renown, and send them a letter. If they come to see the pope, he will request that the Christian leads the Crusade. The player can be selected, but unless you are absolutely ready for it, its suggested that you decline the request. Accepting it instantly puts you at war with the Sarranid Sultanate, or any other Islamic faction that is in control of Hierosolyma.
- Preparation: This phase causes a Crusade Camp to appear somewhere in the world. THis camp can be accessed if you are a Christian, and you can hire expensive but high level troops, as well as buy rare and unique weapons, armor, and horses.Nobles from all over the christian countries come and garrison the camp, showing how many will join the Crusade.
- Transit: This phase is fast, and occurs after the time shown in the camp is over. The armies head towards the holy city, most of the time by boat, and siege the city itself.
- Siege: NOTE: Be SURE to wait until the crusaders siege the city, do not attempt to siege it yourself, or you will end up sieging it alone! After the siege ends, the ownership of the city transfers to the leader of the crusade, be it you or someone else. If you were named leader of the crusade, you get the city, and instantly gain your own kingdom, no matter who joined the crusade!
As such, the Crusade is an excellent way to get your kingdom started, or even claim and then name yourself a vassal of someone else. However, just note that eventually, a Jihad will be called, and when this happens, you will have to face the combined might of the Islamic peoples to defend your new lands. This is why you should make sure that you are absolutely ready before beginning such a large undertaking.