Debated even today, the Crusades were the ultimate expression of medieval adventure. Legend and literature may have idealized this kind of thing in some ways, but there's no doubt that the Crusades left their mark on history - even if scholars can't quite agree about what that mark is. Despite what some people think, the campaigns themselves did little to alter the course of European history generally. There's little to suggest that life in Europe would have developed much differently had the Crusades never taken place.
They were really little more than a violent side show, but they did touch Sicily in the person of such colorful characters as Richard Lionheart, Frederick II and Saint Louis. Read about them in our article on the Crusades and Sicily in the November Magazine now online.