Skip to comments.The Real History of the Crusades
Posted on 08/16/2013 12:04:25 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
With the possible exception of Umberto Eco, medieval scholars are not used to getting much media attention. We tend to be a quiet lot (except during the annual bacchanalia we call the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, of all places), poring over musty chronicles and writing dull yet meticulous studies that few will read. Imagine, then, my surprise when within days of the September 11 attacks, the Middle Ages suddenly became relevant.
As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. When were they? Just how insensitive was President George W. Bush for using the word crusade in his remarks? With a few of my callers I had the distinct impression that they already knew the answers to their questions, or at least thought they did. What they really wanted was an expert to say it all back to them. For example, I was frequently asked to comment on the fact that Islamic world has a just grievance against the West. Doesn't present violence, they persisted, have its roots in the Crusades' brutal, unprovoked attacks against a sophisticated and tolerant Muslim world? In other words, aren't the Crusades really to blame?
Osama bin Laden certainly thinks so. In his various video performances, he never fails to describe the American war against terrorism as a new Crusade against Islam. Ex-president Bill Clinton has also fingered the Crusades as the root cause of the present conflict. In a speech at Georgetown University, he recounted (and embellished) a massacre of Jews after the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 and informed his audience that the episode was still bitterly remembered in the Middle East.
(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...
Here’s a helpful article describing the real history of the Crusades.
For those who feel that the article is too long, Here are some key facts:
* They were a defensive response to centuries of Muslim aggression.
* Attacking Jews was condemned by the Pope and never the purpose of a Crusade
* Crusaders for the most part were pious men who sacrificed a great deal to go on a crusade
* The real history of the crusades isn’t clean, and it’s a lot more complicated than the common misconception.
Historian Thomas Madden summarizes:
“So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggressionan attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.”
I also found Bruce Shelley's article on the Crusades an interesting examination of the motivations behind the Crusades: the Crusades were defensive to start, the papacy was aggressive militarily, and Europe was entering an era of self-conscious unity. Shelley examines the historical context, but also raises some questions worth asking in any era.
"The Crusades raise deep questions about the human heart. What is the nature of a "good" society? How do we restrain evil? Can "good" be defined by Christian doctrine? If so, how shall destructive ideas (called "heresy") be eliminated from society? Such questions are not buried in the twelfth century. Thoughtful Christians today, concerned about the moral decline in our own society, are asking essentially the same questions."
Without the Crusades Europe would’ve been a Caliphate. Period.
I have a copy of Desmond Sewards “Monks of War”
Also covers what really helped contribute to the fall of the Roman Empire..
Three years after Italy removed the last Islamic base out of Sicily ending the +450 year Islamic reign the first crusade started. Similar with Spain in 1492 the year celebrated as the last year of the 781-year Islamic law in Spain.
Instead of an obnoxious black bird, in this writer's case, it even more obnoxious and presumptive 'journalists' mining and minting guilt for daring to disrupt those halcyon days of Islamic Conquest and rule.
The Crusaders ransacked and slaughtered non-Moslems all the way to Jerusalem and back..
especially the Jews and locals in Germany and other low country areas they passed through..
sometimes it was the strange new language, or a misunderstanding or just plain ruthlessness..
many “crusaders” never reached Jerusalem but decided they had already arrived when they got to an area somewhat different from their own...
and in Jerusalem anyone dressed starngly were identified as Sarasans and attacked accordingly...
and then there was that “Christ killers” thingy..
OTOH, knights were a pretty brutal bunch. Their attacks on the locals in Hungary and elsewhere weren’t greatly different from how they behaved at home.
“Private war,” which consisted mostly of ravaging the neighbor’s lands, was endemic in the feudal areas. Ravaging, in this case, being a euphemism for destroying the enemy’s resources by raping and killing his serfs and burning his buildings and crops.
The Muslim Sack of Rome never actually got into the city. They raided outlying churches, mostly.
The guys who finally reconquered S. Italy and Sicily weren't Vikings. Their ancestors had been, but in the previous century or so they'd intermarried extensively with the pre-Viking inhabitants of Normandy and become the Normans, a peculiarly aggressive sub-species of French nobility.
My wife made extensive use of this book researching a paper for her Church History class last year. It is a really good read!
bump for later
That did happen one time there is no record of Richard the lionheart giving those orders and the men were punished for their acts.
The Muslims had attempted a conquest of Europe long before the launching of the Crusades. Charles Martel defeated them at Tours in 732 AD.
Tours is just barely in the northern half of France and just barely in the western half of France. So the Muslims had advanced well into the heart of Europe at the time.
Ping for later.
Makes no difference the attack came from Italy it didn't come from a far away base. The vikings were loyal to Italy as proven when those same troops that removed Islam from Sicily joined the first crusade.
Thomas F. Madden crusades site:freerepublic.com
Oh, boy! Here we go.
Why are The Crusades considered an unprovoked attack on islam? Why aren't the mooselimbs 4 centuries of attacks on Christendom not discussed? Why is it OK for the mooselimbs to assume any land conquered by them will always belong to them even if re-conquered by an opposing force (say the people who originally lived there)? Why don't people understand that islam is not a live-and-let-live "religion"?
Why is it called the religion of peace, when it is really the religion of submission?
The rightful king was forced out of power the crusaders attempted to put him back into power that is why they attacked.
It would be more accurate to call it the religion of domination. All must submit to Islam, which will then dominate the world.
Well, that's one way of looking at it.
The Byzantines, like the Romans before them, never established a solid rule for succession to the throne. So it was always an open question who was the "rightful emperor."
The Angelos dynasty overthrew the Komnenoi dynasty in 1186. The first Angelos emperor (Isaac) was dethroned and blinded by his own brother, who became the second Angelos emperor.
The son of the first emperor (Alexios) fled to the west and cut a deal with the Crusaders. They'd put him back on the throne and he'd pay off their debts to the Venetians and help them retake Jerusalem.
The Crusaders captured Constantinople for him, whereupon he discovered he didn't have the resources to fulfill his pledges. Trying to do so anyway just pissed off his own people by excessive taxation, who dethroned and killed him and put an anti-crusader noble up as the new emperor.
The Crusaders attacked and took the City again, and this time divided it and as much of the Empire as they could grab between themselves and the Venetians.
IOW, the story of the Fourth Crusade is much more complex and interesting than the normal version of evil westerners attacking innocent and peaceful Byzantines.
Nice video. Leaves out the whole bit about the attack on Zara, which was a key phase in the turning of the Crusade away from the East.
What people tend to forget is how poverty-stricken, by modern standards, Europe was at the time. Getting an army of tens of thousands to the other end of the Med in a condition to fight and win was an astonishingly difficult and expensive endeavor at the time. It is quite amazing that the Crusades were as successful as they were.
Will read all later.
More than a bump .. I urge myself to read this with deliberation
Very well said. The post just before yours I posted a video of the same story.
Depends on how you define the Empire.
The western half was of course long-gone before Mo was born. The Eastern Roman Empire was severely damaged by Islam, but still managed to hang on for another 800 years or so.
Much of the rapid spread of Islam in North Africa and the Levant was due to Byzantine political and especially religious persecution of dissenters in those areas. Many of the inhabitants saw Muslim conquest as less oppressive than continued Byzantine rule. So they didn't resist very hard, or even joined the invaders.
And for a while they might very well have been right. But Islam in the long run sucks the life out of everything it touches.
“...and in Jerusalem anyone dressed strangely were identified as Saracens and attacked accordingly...”
True as it went, but the reason Jews & Christians were indistinguishable from Muslims in Jerusalem was the Muslim overlords’ forcing people of all faiths to dress according to Islamic fashions.
The Crusaders breached the walls & found (all men at least) wearing caftans & turbans & they assumed (wrongly) that all were Muslim. The slaughter that ensued was inexcusable, but war is h*** sometimes.
Very true and Bill Warner's video shows how Islam attacked the Byzantine empire economy. They didn't just attack the Byzantine's. All of Europe's trade became nearly none existent which created such a dismal life for people in Europe and why we call it the dark ages.
Islam still uses the same tactic today because that was Mo's mode of Operation as a bandit and chief.
Islam and its raiders/pirates basically destroyed trade in the Med. But to claim that this in and of itself destroyed all trade across Europe seems a bit of a stretch. Riverborne and land routes were still available, if a lot more expensive.
During the period in question, the Vikings were ravaging north and west Europe, the Saracens were attacking from the South, and the Magyars were attacking from the East.
Each of these groups penetrated so far into the Continent that it brings up the possibility of their actually bumping into each other. In fact, it's probable, since we know some of the Viking raids penetrated into the Med.
Magyar raids penetrated into central Spain, western France, and southern Italy. They really got around. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kalandozasok.jpg
IOW, the decline of trade and civilization was not due solely or even necessarily to Islamic aggression.
The narrator’s voice really puts me off. Sorry.
Really, the Jews in Arabia??
Never heard of such.
Very popular topic.
I have to point out Islam was the worst of these groups and they controlled the seas raiding at will.
When Rome controlled the seas and roads they were relatively safe for trade.
yeah in the last year he has been over acting. he is a little pompous but he present very interesting information
From my reading of history, wasn’t the LAST CRUSADE the Spanish attack on England in 1588? The Spanish tried again a few years later and again failed to conquer England.
The commonly misunderstood Crusades were used as a cudgel against Catholicism here until 9/11.
Then they disappeared, to be replaced by the commonly misunderstood Galileo affair.
This is progress.
You may be right. And Islam got started a good deal earlier than the Vikings and Magyars, whose attacks may very well have been made easier by the general decline of Europe.
And without the Crusades, Europe would have succumbed to Islam.
History can be complicated.