The Crusader Clans were those Clans who supported the Crusader ideology in Clan politics. The essence of the Crusader philosophy was that the Clans would return to the Inner Sphere and reestablish the Star League under the ideals of Nicholas Kerensky. Opposed by the Wardens, the Crusaders succeeded in carrying out an assault upon the Successor States in 3050, but ultimately failed to achieve their goal. After the Great Refusal in 3060, the Crusader cause became moribund, replaced by the growing divide between Invading Clans and Home Clans.
The Crusader ideology first arose during the mid- to late thirtieth century. Their argument revolved around Aleksandr Kerensky's Hidden Hope Doctrine, namely that the descendants of the Star League in Exile were to one day return to the Inner Sphere to conquer it and thus save it from itself. Support for the Crusader philosophy was especially strong within the Clans' civilian castes, who contrasted the harsh lives they lived in the Clan Homeworlds with the perceived paradises of the Inner Sphere worlds. Several Clans, particularly the poorer and weaker ones, also saw conquest within the Inner Sphere as their only hope of improving their position. Clan merchants were eager to open new markets. Many of the Crusaders also used Kerensky's Hidden Hope Doctrine as an excuse for their desire for battle and conquest.
Opposing the Crusaders were the Wardens, who believed that the Kerenskys had never intended for the Clans to conquer the Inner Sphere. Rather, they were to develop their own culture in isolation, but remain able and willing to aid the Inner Sphere against any threatening "outside forces".
The Grand Council remained neutral for several years, but by 2980 the issue could no longer be ignored. Clan Jade Falcon, who had emerged as the leader of the Crusader movement, presented a formal proposal for an invasion of the Inner Sphere.
The Drive to War
Attempting to stall the Crusaders, the Wardens successfully prevented an immediate invasion by sponsoring a series of intelligence gathering operations. Intelser, a network of spies posing as merchants, was created for this purpose, with members infiltrating various Periphery realms. However, the secondhand information gathered was often unreliable, resulting in an incomplete picture of the Inner Sphere.
By the year 3000, the Crusaders almost held the upper hand and an invasion of the Inner Sphere seemed imminent. Hoping to buy more time, Khan Kerlin Ward of Clan Wolf proposed the formation of a new intelligence gathering force - a mercenary unit that would travel through the Inner Sphere and report on all five of the Great Houses. Despite vocal opposition from the Khans of Clans Jade Falcon and Smoke Jaguar, the other Clans agreed with Ward's proposal and authorized the formation of Wolf's Dragoons. Only once the unit was ready did Ward drop his bombshell: to be of any value, the Dragoons' mission would need several years to complete, thus preventing any invasion from taking place before 3030 at least. Though elements within Clan Ice Hellion attempted to launch a solo invasion of the Inner Sphere, the Wardens had successfully stalled the Crusader drive.
The Crusader-Warden debate raged on for the next half-century. Despite the Dragoons' apparent abandonment of their mission, and the rising power of the Federated Commonwealth over the rest of the Inner Sphere, the Crusaders were unable to get the invasion vote approved by the Grand Council. It took the intervention of an outside force to achieve the Crusaders' goal for them.
On September 27th, 3048, the ComStar Explorer Corps vessel Outbound Light jumped into the Huntress system, the primary stronghold of Clan Smoke Jaguar. Taken completely by surprise, the ship and its crew were captured by the Jaguars. Khan Leo Showers, who had become the spokesman of the Crusader movement throughout the Clan Homeworlds, held the crew in isolation for several weeks before finally presenting the news to the Grand Council. Showers manipulated everything he had learned from the Outbound Light's crew to persuade his fellow Khans that the Inner Sphere was on the brink of unification under the Steiner-Davions, and that an invasion of the Clan Homeworlds could not be far off.
Only Clan Wolf opposed the invasion vote, and on November 21st, 3048, the Crusaders at last received authorization for their long desired invasion of the Inner Sphere. The Crusader cause was further bolstered when Leo Showers was elected as the first ilKhan in a century, and when three of the invasion corridors outlined in Operation Revival were won by Crusader Clans: Smoke Jaguar, Jade Falcon, and Ghost Bear. In what would prove to be a grave miscalculation, however, the Falcon and Jaguar Khans ensured that Clan Wolf was also forced to participate in the invasion; intended as a not-so-subtle punishment for the primary Warden Clan, this opportunity would instead allow the Wolves to take a leading role in halting the Crusaders' drive toward Terra.
The Crusaders' long dreamed-of assault upon the Inner Sphere began in March 3050. While the initial flurry of one-sided triumphs over Periphery bandit kingdoms and Successor State border defenses seemed to vindicate the Crusaders' assertions of Clan superiority, the other Clans soon fell behind the Wolves' rate of advance. The Crusader Khans and ilKhan Showers did their best to slow the Wolves down, to no avail, and it appeared that Wolf Khan Ulric Kerensky, a devout Warden, would beat the Crusaders at their own game in the drive toward Terra.
The Crusader cause was dealt a further blow on October 31st, 3050. IlKhan Showers had ordered a Grand Kurultai to convene at Radstadt, presumably as part of his efforts to stall Clan Wolf. His intentions never became known, however, as the Rasalhagian convoy carrying their Elected Prince blundered into the Clan fleet at Radstadt, and Showers was killed when Tyra Miraborg rammed her fighter into the Dire Wolf's bridge.
Forced to withdraw to the Clan Homeworlds to elect a new ilKhan, the Crusaders hoped to make the best of this unfortunate turn of events by engineering Ulric Kerensky's election as ilKhan. By "promoting" Kerensky to this post, the Crusaders hoped to replace him as Wolf Khan with one of the Crusader Wolves; they also enjoyed the irony of a lifelong Warden champion being forced to implement the Grand Council's Crusader agenda. Instead, Kerensky outmaneuvered the Crusaders by replacing himself as Wolf Khan with Natasha Kerensky, a fellow Warden, and activating three more Clans to join the invasion force. By forcing the two most fervent Crusader Clans to each share their invasion corridors with a historical rival, Kerensky ensured that the Steel Vipers and Nova Cats would hinder the Jade Falcons' and Smoke Jaguars' efforts.
The invasion resumed in late 3051, but this time the Inner Sphere had established stronger defenses and the Clans' rate of advance slowed. In response, the Smoke Jaguars and Nova Cats attempted to decapitate the Draconis Combine by seizing its capital Luthien. Their stunning defeat dealt another blow to the Crusader cause, but worse was to come.
When Ulric Kerensky presented ComStar's offer of a proxy battle for Terra at Tukayyid, many Crusader Khans eagerly seized the prospect of a swift victory. The resulting battle saw the Crusaders' final hopes for victory in Operation Revival completely shattered. While the Ghost Bears achieved a marginal victory, and the Jade Falcons attained a draw, the Nova Cat and Diamond Shark forces were almost completely obliterated without achieving any objective, while the Smoke Jaguars suffered a somewhat less costly defeat. To make matters worse, the Warden-led Wolves achieved the only Clan triumph in the battle.
Bound to the fifteen-year Truce of Tukayyid, the Crusaders seethed at the prospect of three generations of peace for their warriors. It was not long before Crusader elements within Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon began working to undermine the truce.
Home vs. Invader
As the Invading Clans were carving into the Inner Sphere, the Home Clans were growing jealous over the amounts of wealth that their brethren were getting in the Inner Sphere. Both Crusaders and Wardens in the Clan Homeworlds would band together to find ways to be included into the Inner Sphere. This group would become known as the Home Crusaders, as their goal was to either replace the Invading Clans or find ways to be included into the Sphere. Hellion Khan, Asa Taney's Home Clan Coalition is the best example of this alliance. On the other side of the coin, the Clans who took part in the Operation Revival saw their occupation zones as a step closer to reviving the Star League and wanted to keep their wealth and resources for themselves. So they would come together and call themselves the Invading Crusaders, whose goal was to keep the Home Clans out of the Inner Sphere. As the decades grew, these viewpoints would become permanent and erupt into a Clan Civil War that would make those views a reality.
The Refusal War
The Crusader elements within Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon made their first attempt to undermine the truce during the Red Corsair incident of 3054-3055. The failure of this conspiracy only galvanized the Crusaders further, and would lead to the Refusal War of 3057.
Ulric Kerensky was charged by Crusaders within his own Clan of conspiring to destroy the Clans' genetic heritage; by denying them three generations of conflict, the Clans' warriors would be untested and easy prey for the Inner Sphere's armies when the truce finally ended. Ulric directed the charges to the Grand Council, where he was narrowly voted guilty and deposed as ilKhan. The Crusaders then expected that the truce would simply be repudiated, but Kerensky instead orchestrated a Trial of Refusal - not on an individual basis, but pitting the entirely of Clan Wolf against Clan Jade Falcon, the strongest of the Crusaders. His plan was for the Crusader Wolves and the Jade Falcons to destroy one another in battle while the Warden Wolves under Khan Phelan Kell would move to Arc-Royal and continue protecting the Inner Sphere. In the end, the Crusaders would be deprived of their most powerful fighting force.
The Refusal War became a pyrrhic victory for the Crusader cause. Clan Jade Falcon effectively won the conflict, killing both Ulric and Natasha Kerensky, and driving the Wolves' most fervent Wardens into exile. The surviving Wolves were forged as a "new" Clan Wolf, this time dominated by Vlad Ward and fellow minded Crusaders. But the Falcons' own touman suffered such heavy losses that it was in no state to resume the invasion, and their Khan Elias Crichell's election to ilKhan was swiftly followed with his death at the hands of Vlad Ward. In any case, other Warden Khans argued successfully in favor of maintaining the truce, and the Crusaders agreed that the time was not yet right to resume the invasion.
The Great Refusal
In November 3058 another fervent Crusader, Smoke Jaguar Khan Lincoln Osis, was elected to the ilKhanship with a mandate to resume the invasion. Osis ordered a six month period of preparations for the new assault, a delay that would prevent the invasion from occurring and cost Osis both his Clan and his life.
The Jade Falcon incursion into the Lyran Alliance galvanized the Inner Sphere's leaders into ending the Clan threat once and for all. Re-forming the Star League, they set about planning the destruction of one Crusader Clan in the hope of shifting the balance of power toward the Wardens. As the strongest Crusader Clan and the most aggressive of all the Clans, the Smoke Jaguars were selected for what was effectively a Trial of Annihilation.
In 3059 and 3060, Clan Smoke Jaguar was destroyed by the combined might of the Inner Sphere. Operation Bulldog saw their occupation zone reclaimed for the Draconis Combine, while Task Force Serpent assaulted the Smoke Jaguar capital of Huntress. After crushing the Jaguars, the Star League task force then proceeded to Strana Mechty, where Victor Steiner-Davion challenged the assembled Clans to a Trial of Refusal over the invasion. The Warden Clans opted out, while a series of combats were organized between warriors from the Crusader Clans and those of the Star League. This Great Refusal, as it became known, saw most of the Crusader forces beaten by their Spheroid opponents. The invasion had been refuted, according to Clan law, and the Crusader cause appeared to have been dealt a death blow.
Post–Wars of Reaving
By the time the Wars of Reaving engulfed the Clan Homeworlds, the old Crusader-Warden divide had grown moribund. While the demise of the Second Star League and the Word of Blake Jihad led many Home Clans to push for a new invasion, the main political divide was now between the Invading Clans and those remaining in the Homeworlds. With the election of Steel Viper Khan Brett Andrews to the ilKhanship, with a mandate to resume the assault upon the Inner Sphere, the Crusader cause seemed to undergo a brief revival. Instead, the Wars of Reaving gutted the Home Clans and saw the replacement of the Crusader ideology with the Bastion and Aggressor movements.
Meanwhile, the Invading Clans who resided in the Inner Sphere would keep the philosophy with the creation of the Council of Six.
While the Clans of the thirty-second century do not seem to explicitly describe themselves as Crusaders, the Jade Falcons and Wolves have not abandoned their goal of conquering Terra and establishing themselves as ilClan, proving that the Crusader cause is alive in spirit if not name.
After the ilClan Trial concluded, the philosophy was fulfilled by Clan Wolf after their victory against Clan Jade Falcon. As a way to heal the wounds between their former enemies, Clan Smoke Jaguar and Clan Jade Falcon would share power and Terra as protectors of the Star League as special forces and bodyguards respectively. With the rest of the Spheroid Clans uninterested in claiming Terra (save for the Hell's Horses) and the three Clans as the new protectors of the Star League, it is likely that they have abandoned their Crusader ways to defend Terra and mend relations.
The Crusader philosophy was known to have an effect on those who supported it. First, it was made as a way to oppose the Warden Clans, then it divided further between the Invaders and Home Clans (as the Home Crusaders and Invading Crusaders). After the Wars of Reaving, the Home Crusader Clans became the Aggressors. While both Crusaders and Aggressors pushed for an invasion, both had different views. The Crusaders believed in subjugating the Inner Sphere as a way to re-form the Star League, while the Aggressors advocate annihilation to wipe out Spheroid taint.
Though members have changed over the years, Clan Jade Falcon consistently led the Crusader bloc along with the Smoke Jaguars before their Annihilation in 3060. Clans Blood Spirit, Ice Hellion and Star Adder were also historically dominated by Crusaders.
Other Clans, while pro-Crusader, were not as committed to the cause for various reasons. Clan Burrock, while drifting toward the Crusader ideology, was more of an opportunist and considered an unreliable member of the Crusader cause. The majority of Clan Fire Mandrill's Kindraa were pro-Crusader, but some were dominated by Wardens. The Hell's Horses were often divided between Crusaders and Wardens, or simply chose neutrality.
At the time of the Clan Invasion, the Ghosts Bears, Nova Cats and Diamond Sharks were also counted as Crusader Clans. However in the years after Tukayyid all three shifted to the Warden camp. Clan Wolf, in contrast, abandoned its position as leader of the Warden cause after it was gutted in the Refusal War, becoming a fervent Crusader Clan under Khan Vladimir Ward.
While the Steel Vipers were counted as Wardens, their ideology agreed with the Crusaders' call for a return to the Inner Sphere and the restoration of the Star League. Within the Cloud Cobras the Ka'an and Josian Cloisters favored the Crusader cause. Clan Snow Raven, derided as opportunists, backed Crusader motions in the Grand Council when it suited their purposes.
Clan Coyote was once split between the two ideologies. However The Blood Scandal of 2967 saw its most prominent Crusader-minded warriors Reaved and ensured that the Coyotes would shift irrevocably into the Warden camp, becoming its co-leader with the Wolves.
List of Crusader Clans from c. 3050 to c. 3067
- Clan Blood Spirit (Annihilated in 3084 by Clan Star Adder)
- Clan Burrock (Absorbed by Clan Star Adder in 3059)
- Clan Diamond Shark (became Warden after Tukayyid)
- Clan Fire Mandrill (fragmented and destroyed piecemeal during the Wars of Reaving)
- Clan Ghost Bear (declared themselves Wardens during the Great Refusal)
- Clan Hell's Horses (became pro-Warden after Khan Malavai Fletcher's death in 3065)
- Clan Ice Hellion (Absorbed by Clan Goliath Scorpion in 3072 after the failed Operation Ice Storm incursion)
- Clan Jade Falcon (abandoned 3151)
- Clan Nova Cat (became Warden after Tukayyid)
- Clan Smoke Jaguar (annihilated in 3060, re-formed, abandoned 3151)
- Clan Snow Raven (officially Warden, opportunistic supporter of Crusader policies)
- Clan Star Adder (became a Bastion in 3075 after the Wars of Reaving)
- Clan Wolf (following the Refusal War of 3057, abandoned 3151)
- Jade Falcon Sourcebook, p. 17
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 16
- Wolf Clan Sourcebook, p. 24
- Jade Falcon Sourcebook, p. 18
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 77
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 17
- Invading Clans, pp. 52–53
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 20
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 65
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 123
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 79
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 84
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 25