The crusades were a series of religious wars in western Asia and Europe initiated, supported and sometimes directed by the Roman Catholic Church between the 11th and the 17th century. The crusades differed from other religious conflicts. They were a Penance by the participants and brought forgiveness for confessed sin. The definition of the term is debatable, some historians restrict it to armed pilgrimages to Jerusalem, others expand it to all Catholic military campaigns with a promise of spiritual benefits, all Catholic "holy wars" or those with the main characteristic of religious fervour. The best-known crusades are those fought against the Muslims of the eastern Mediterranean for the Holy Land in the period between 1096 and 1271. Other crusades were fought from the 12th century for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Catholic groups, against the Iberian Moors and the Ottoman Empire.