Yes, they did. But the "crusaders" were all kinds of people, religious and irreligious, and many were mercenaries. So, yes, some crusaders took the opportunity to loot Byzantium's riches on the way to liberate Jerusalem. But others were more pure, more sincere.
My point is just that these broad descriptors are not useful. As the article proves, you can no more say "the crusaders" as a whole did this or that than you can say much about "Christianity" or "Islam" that would be accurate for all those the term ostensibly embraces.
Network anchors in post-terror America bandy about the word "Muslims" as if that word embraces a monolithic group; so the argument rages back and forth whether muslims are peaceful or whether they are vicious. The truth is, some are this, some are that.
So it would be most accurate to say something like "The crusades were, in general, a defensive response to Arab military expansion -- but there were groups on both sides who used their causes as cloaks for looting and pillaging among the innocent."
Thus, we can take the writer's point and defend the crusades in general, while taking your point and condemning specific acts.
As far as defending the Crusades goes, the purpose of history is neither to defend nor justify things in the past (over which we, after all, have no control) but rather to learn from historical examples. To learn the right lesson, one must fully understand the context and the response. Modern liberals have used the Crusades as examples of bad wars, largely because of their misunderstanding of their geopolitical context. They also have an agenda to bash Christianity and Crusader atrocities give them a free shot at that. What they dont mention is the endless catalogue of Muslim atrocities: See Paul Fregosis Jihad in the West : Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries for a corrective to liberal scholarship on the Crusades.
...and were excommunicated for it (BTW, it was not mere sack and loot, but conquest of the Byzantine empire). Same for the crusaders who sacked Jerusalem during the First Crusade. So I do wonder what the pope was apologizing for, his predecessor already did what he could.
Are you also going to pound on Richard Lionheart who having defeated the Muslims in battle and then negotiated a peace treaty in which the Muslims promised not to mug Christian pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem? Will you pound on the Crusade that consisted of the German Emperor landing a huge force on the shortest road to Jerusalem and then engaging Saladin in some quick negotiation about safe passage for pilgrims and then leaving? And notice BTW that safe passage for pilgrims keeps coming up, think the Muslims should have gone unpunished for mugging them?
Are you going to pound on the Crusaders who stopped the Muslims from coming into Europe through Spain or the Church sanctioned war that saved Vienna? Or the battle of Lepanto? Or would you rather see Europe look like the Middle East? I will note the complete absence of atheists, Protestants, Lutherans and non-Catholics in general in stopping Muslim invasions (and I am Lutheran, ie non-Catholic).
Some of the Crusaders are worthy of condemnation, some should be praised, some were simply incompetent, some simply no better than anyone else of their time. A good number did us valuable historical service keeping Muslims out of Europe. Or do you actually believe the Western world would still be as it is now with Moslems ruling much of Europe?
That's a very broad brush you paint with. The Crusades (note the plural) took place over the course of two centuries. And they are not something that needs to be 'defended' anymore than Alexander the Great needs defended. They need to be understood.
That would apply more to the latter part of the Crusade era. The big mistake was when the Byzantines allowed the Crusaders into Constantinople -- and the Crusaders proceeded to plunder the city. The Eastern Roman Empire never recovered from that, which is why Constantinople became Istanbul.
Yes they were. In principle. But the sack of Constantinople was indefensible.