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The Truth about the Crusades: Historian reviews of "Kingdom of Heaven"
RedState.org ^ | 5/24/2005 | Thomas Woods

Posted on 05/27/2005 6:04:41 PM PDT by Claud

Not quite three weeks after the film's release we can say one thing for sure: the First Crusade was much more successful than Ridley Scott's movie.

I was stunned to hear Islamic anti-defamation groups condemn Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven." The Muslims appear much nobler than the Christians in the film, and on the Christian side the only remotely sympathetic characters are at best agnostic. Jonathan Riley-Smith, an expert on the Crusades, described the movie as "rubbish" for just this reason - the film, he says, is "not historically accurate at all" in its depiction of "the Muslims as sophisticated and civilized, and the Crusaders are all brutes and barbarians. It has nothing to do with reality." More important than the film itself, though, is the history behind the Crusades themselves. Moviegoers who knew little of the period walked away with a distorted understanding of the Crusades that played into politically correct stereotypes.

Proper context for the Crusades must begin at the beginning, with the First Crusade (1096-1099). Yet - and here is the point - even the First Crusade was not the real beginning of the story. The real beginning came in the century following the death of Muhammad in 632. During that incredible hundred years, Muslims spread their religion by force throughout Arabia, and into the modern Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, as well as into Egypt, north Africa, and Spain. Further progress into Western Europe was stopped cold by Charles Martel and his Frankish warriors at the battle of Poitiers/Tours in 732.

It is easily forgotten that some of these territories had been heavily Christian when the Muslims took them over. No one today thinks of Syria and Egypt as Christian centers, but in the seventh century they certainly were. The ancient city of Antioch had been home to a school of Christian thought second only to that of Alexandria, and Egypt had been the birthplace of Christian monasticism.

At the battle of Manzikert in 1071 much of Byzantine Asia Minor was lost to the Seljuk Turks, a group of non-Arab Muslims who were influential in the Middle East during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Alarmed, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus issued an appeal to the Pope in Rome, from whom the Eastern world had been estranged since the Great Schism of 1054. That pope, Gregory VII, much as he wanted to help, wound up having other fish to fry. It was Pope Urban II who issued the call for the crusade in 1095.

When the Seljuk Turks conquered Palestine in the early eleventh century they at first carried out atrocities against Christians, destroying churches and killing some of the faithful. Although this approach was soon abandoned, the internal divisions of the Seljuk Turks translated into instability in the Holy Land, where Christian pilgrimages to the city's holy places became perilous. Thus the crusade called by Urban would try to ease some of the pressure from the troubled Byzantines, but also set its sights on liberating the once-Christian Holy Land from the hands of the Muslims.

At no time did the crusaders come anywhere near Arabia, the heart of Islam, and yet most people seem to think that the Crusades were an attempt by wicked Christians to invade the Muslim world and convert its inhabitants to Christianity. To the contrary, the Christians engaged in no such forced conversion of Muslims - which would explain why, during the years following the First Crusade in which the Christians occupied Jerusalem, Muslims remained the overwhelming majority of the population.

In fact, if you had asked a Muslim as recently as the eighteenth century what the Crusades were, he would have had no idea what you were talking about. From the Muslim point of view the Crusades were such a minor affair that they were scarcely worth noting. It is largely thanks to historically recent Western guilt and hand-wringing that modern Muslims have become conscious of the Crusades at all.

None of this is an attempt to whitewash the truly despicable and inexcusable aspects of the Crusades. There were plenty of atrocities on all sides, though that is a wartime phenomenon that is not exactly unknown to the modern world. But to focus on these incidents, however cruel and however contrary to the Christian Gospel they were, in the absence of this contextual material is to miss the forest for the trees.

Thus it was that in 1095, with the assistance of no secular ruler, Pope Urban II called upon Western Christians to assist their Eastern brethren. Over the past two millennia, the Church's influence on our civilization - as I show in my new book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization - has typically involved the pursuits of peace: the university system, the sciences, international law, economic thought, charitable work, the arts and architecture, and much more besides. But it also meant encouraging the Spaniards to wage a just war against their Islamic conquerors, and in the case of the Crusades to lend assistance to fellow Christians in the East who found themselves under a similar threat.

That, stated simply, is what the Crusades were about.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: catholic; crusades; dhimmi; film; history; islam; kingdomofheaven; movie; moviereview; review; ridleyscott
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1 posted on 05/27/2005 6:04:42 PM PDT by Claud
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To: Antoninus; ELS; NYer; jrny

Deus Vult PING!


2 posted on 05/27/2005 6:06:37 PM PDT by Claud
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To: Claud
Yet another movie I won't see, nor rent.

And Hollywood wonders why box office recipts are down.

3 posted on 05/27/2005 6:08:05 PM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: SkyPilot

History's told by the Winners.


4 posted on 05/27/2005 6:11:14 PM PDT by Kace
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To: Kace
History's told by the Winners.

But in Modern America, History is told by the Whiners.

5 posted on 05/27/2005 6:13:55 PM PDT by Westbrook (Having more children does not divide your love, it multiplies it!)
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To: Kace

History is twisted by revisionists.


6 posted on 05/27/2005 6:15:07 PM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: Claud

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed momini tuo da gloriam.


7 posted on 05/27/2005 6:19:04 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: ZULU

"Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed momini tuo da gloriam."

Excuse me - a typo - should read "Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam."


8 posted on 05/27/2005 6:21:57 PM PDT by ZULU (Fear the government which fears your guns. God, guts, and guns made America great.)
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To: Claud

I saw it. Not only was it bad history but it was also a bad movie. Orlando Bloom plays a good elf but not a sword swinging warrior.


9 posted on 05/27/2005 6:27:53 PM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: Claud
Why bother to even comment on a movie no one will see.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Production Cost: $115 million
Revenues after 8 days: $200.5 million

Kingdom of Heaven
Production Cost: $130 million
Revenues after 22 days: $41 million

With estimates of no more than $50 million total. KoH is one of the biggest box-office bombs in Hollywood history.

10 posted on 05/27/2005 6:33:22 PM PDT by montag813
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To: Westbrook
History's told by the Winners.

But in Modern America, History is told by the Whiners.

Very good! May I quote you?

11 posted on 05/27/2005 6:38:56 PM PDT by jonathonandjennifer
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To: Kace
History's told by the Winners.

Welcome to Free Republic. I hope your stay is a long and healthy one.

And thank you for the education. I was totally unaware that the sandmaggots had won.

12 posted on 05/27/2005 6:40:22 PM PDT by Publius6961 (The most abundant things in the universe are hydrogen, ignorance and stupidity.)
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To: jonathonandjennifer

Rather,

History is first MADE by the Winners.

Then, History is recorded by the Winners.

Now, History is retold and remade by the Whiners.


13 posted on 05/27/2005 6:43:00 PM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (-I can only contribute to FR monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS contributes to her campaign every day)
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To: Claud
There is quite a bit more to it than that. Urban preached the crusades, in part, because he thought Europe was overpopulated and needed to ship people out. Also, having had two failed attempts to control violence among knights in the "off season" (i.e., when there was no war) the Church, through the "Truce of God" (900s) and "Peace of God" (1000) sought to exert control over what was the equivalent of Medieval gunfights. Neither worked, and Urban saw an opportunity to send the more antisocial of western Europe to the Holy Land. If they were successful, terrific. If not, he had thinned out the population of knights.

A good source on all of this is anything by the historian Lynn White.

14 posted on 05/27/2005 6:47:23 PM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: LS
In truth the Mongol invasions of the Moslem world was more important than the crusades. The Mongols sacked Baghdad then one of the centers of Islam. The Mongols killed 100,000 men, women and children during the sack.
15 posted on 05/27/2005 7:06:18 PM PDT by Bombard
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To: Claud

I was eager to see this movie (and take the family) until I heard these things. I've had no trouble keeping my money in my pocket.


16 posted on 05/27/2005 7:10:24 PM PDT by The Duke
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

**Rather,**

**History is first MADE by the Winners.**

**Then, History is recorded by the Winners.**

**Now, History is retold and remade by the Whiners.**

Don't your first and fourth lines basically mean the same thing. :)


17 posted on 05/27/2005 7:11:14 PM PDT by Zuriel (Acts 2:38,39....nearly 2,000 years and still working today!)
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To: Zuriel

Was it something I said?


18 posted on 05/27/2005 7:15:10 PM PDT by Kace
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To: LS
There is quite a bit more to it than that. Urban preached the crusades, in part, because he thought Europe was overpopulated and needed to ship people out.

Yeah, that's the cynical view offered by many medieval studies professors of the "critical theory" bent. Can you cite for me some hard evidence (a quote or two from Urban would do) that support this idea?

If this truly was the case, you'd think the Popes would have tried it before 1095. I find it hard to believe that the Popes really thought that squabbling knights in Europe were a more dangerous threat than militant, jihadist Islam.
19 posted on 05/27/2005 7:15:46 PM PDT by Antoninus (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis!)
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To: Kace

No, I was equating (Dan)'Rather' with 'History retold and remade by the whiners' :)


20 posted on 05/27/2005 7:48:54 PM PDT by Zuriel (Acts 2:38,39....nearly 2,000 years and still working today!)
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To: Claud

bookmark


21 posted on 05/27/2005 8:18:41 PM PDT by chaosagent (It's all right to be crazy. Just don't let it drive you nuts.)
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To: jonathonandjennifer
Very good! May I quote you?

By all means, please feel free to do so!

:)

22 posted on 05/27/2005 8:39:49 PM PDT by Westbrook (Having more children does not divide your love, it multiplies it!)
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To: Bombard
They wiped out the Abassid Caliphate, as well as the Assassins, and took Antioch. They sought an alliance with the Crusader states,but were rebuffed (an act of stupidity that went a long way to facilitating their eventual destruction. The Mongols were stopped south of the Dead Sea around 1260, when Kedbuga, or Kit Boga, was defeated by the Mamelukes of Egypt. Interestingly enough, dynastic succession issues to the Kha Khanate, between Kubilai and his younger brother. Arik Boka, coupled with a war between the Golden Horde (converted to Islam under Berke Khan) and Kubilai's other brother, Hulegu (Buddhist) prevented the Mongols from renewing their attack on the Muslims.
23 posted on 05/27/2005 8:44:25 PM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: LS

Very creative, but having the faint whiff of equine excrement...


24 posted on 05/27/2005 9:38:28 PM PDT by Publius6961 (The most abundant things in the universe are hydrogen, ignorance and stupidity.)
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To: LS

Pope Urban sought to unite Europes rulers in the name of religion. Rulers sought their own political/economic opportunities that would come with Islams defeat.


25 posted on 05/27/2005 10:17:17 PM PDT by dznutz
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To: PzLdr

It is a little known fact that a sizable number of Mongols were Nestorian Christians. As far as the Crusader states by the time the Mongols arrived on the scene the Christian states were in severe decline. They were in no real shape to take advantage of the Mongol presence.


26 posted on 05/28/2005 5:01:45 AM PDT by Bombard
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To: Bombard

bttt


27 posted on 05/28/2005 5:05:32 AM PDT by expatguy (http://laotze.blogspot.com/)
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To: montag813
With estimates of no more than $50 million total. KoH is one of the biggest box-office bombs in Hollywood history.

That IS good news.
28 posted on 05/28/2005 5:10:10 AM PDT by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: montag813

What about revenues from markets outside the US? Also, where did you get those statistics please? I would like to see that for other movies


29 posted on 05/28/2005 5:10:55 AM PDT by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: Bombard
In truth the Mongol invasions of the Moslem world was more important than the crusades

Quite correct -- Hulagu decimated Baghdad -- it was THE center of Islam under the Abbassids or Ummayyads (not sure) Caliphs. After the Mongol invasion it never truly recovered. The Mongols conquered Iran and large chunks of Turkey, Syria etc. before being defeated by the Mameluks of Egypt (the first time they were ever defeated)
30 posted on 05/28/2005 5:13:07 AM PDT by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: Claud
"...and in the case of the Crusades to lend assistance to fellow Christians in the East who found themselves under a similar threat..."

It seems Mr. Woods is also quilty of historical revisionism despite getting many of the facts correct. Western Christians stabbed the Byzantium in the back during the Crusades, for example, with the ransacking of Constantinople from which the city never really recovered.

31 posted on 05/28/2005 5:18:28 AM PDT by Truthsayer20
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To: Cronos

you can try www.boxofficemojo.com for a lot of movie receipts info...


32 posted on 05/28/2005 5:22:04 AM PDT by RobFromGa (Send Bolton to the UN!)
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To: Truthsayer20
That was in the 4th Crusade and it was twisted by the Doge of Venice who made the Crusaders attack Constantinople (could it be because the Doge had had his eyes gouged out by the Byzantines?)

And the Crusaders had been pretty much treated like country bumpkins by the Byzantines who played, well, Byzantine politics with them.
33 posted on 05/28/2005 5:34:14 AM PDT by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: montag813
However,

Domestic: $42,824,231 (24.9%)
+ Overseas: $129,482,270 (75.1%)

= Worldwide: $172,306,501
34 posted on 05/28/2005 5:42:06 AM PDT by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: Bombard

Hulegu's principal wife was a Nestorian Christian


35 posted on 05/28/2005 5:52:48 AM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: dznutz

Yes, he sought that too, but his motives were certainly not entirely "holy" or wholesome, and many of them were misguided (i.e., overpopulation).


36 posted on 05/28/2005 5:56:21 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: Publius6961

Read any history of the period. These were the same popes who had mistresses and illegitimate kids, so their motives were not entirely pure and holy, if at all.


37 posted on 05/28/2005 5:57:11 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: Antoninus

I can cite for you the "Truce of God" and the "Peace of God," which are anything but "revisionist." And Lynn White is pretty respectable---hardly a cynical revisionist. The fact is, the common view was that the knights had gotten out of hand, and shipping a lot of them on a mission far away would bring peace to the land.


38 posted on 05/28/2005 5:58:25 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: Cronos
Baghdad was the Abbasid Caliphate. I believe the Ummayids were centered in Cairo, where they bought Kipchak slaves fro the Mongols. The slaves became the Mamelukes, who followed the Muslim practice of starting as military units, moving to being the power behind the throne (the Ummayid Caliph), to usurping the throne and the power.
39 posted on 05/28/2005 5:58:28 AM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: Bombard

I agree. But that doesn't change the fact that IN ADDITION to "rescuing" the holy lands from the infidels, there were other, very powerful reasons for wanting large numbers of violent armed men OUT of Europe and off on a mission.


40 posted on 05/28/2005 5:59:19 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: LS
The thing is that after the First Crusade most of the knights went home. They had done their religious duty and it was time to return to Europe and the wife. The ones who stayed behind wanted a piece of the action and for the most part were second or third sons of nobles who had nothing to return to. The Crusader states were always short of manpower. Part to the reason for the creation of the Templars and Hospitaliers was to provide a stable source of warriors to defend the Holy Land. In fact the Crusader states were never a high priority for the kings and nobles of Europe who were always busy fighting their fellow Christians at home.
41 posted on 05/28/2005 6:20:18 AM PDT by Bombard
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To: Bombard
Again, this is all correct. But is kind of begs the question as to why the crusades were preached in the first place. I'm no Medieval historian, but as I recall, there was no immediate threat to pilgrims in the Christian sites. Perhaps Manzikert was viewed as a significant change, but I doubt it. Urban saw an opportunity to lump together religious fervor, the problem of population pressures (in his view), the problem (genuine) of violent knights engaging in street brawls, and a Muslim enemy that everyone wanted "rolled back."

The Church provided pilgrim status for all who went, further increasing the chances that people would join up, because the Church would guarantee their lands. I'm not saying the Crusade was necessarily wrong---just that to portray it as ONLY a religious episode misses much of what was going on in Europe itself, and does not explain the timing. As you point out, other crusades were disasters.

42 posted on 05/28/2005 8:37:57 AM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: Claud
"None of this is an attempt to whitewash the truly despicable and inexcusable aspects of the Crusades. There were plenty of atrocities on all sides, though that is a wartime phenomenon that is not exactly unknown to the modern world."

There is NOTHING to whitewash. Our modern definition of "what" an atrocity is would clearly be different one thousand years ago. Sorry, burning people alive, ripping their limbs from their bodies was the normal course of punishment. These would not have been considered atrocities.

43 posted on 05/28/2005 9:52:01 AM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: LS
I can cite for you the "Truce of God" and the "Peace of God," which are anything but "revisionist." And Lynn White is pretty respectable---hardly a cynical revisionist.

I've never heard of Lynn White until your mention. I did some online searches for him, and it appears that he is cited on a variety of bizarre eco-Catholic websites and the odd "History from a Muslim point of view" site. While I can't rule him out as a "respectable" historian, I have my doubts. You'll have to do better than that to support your claim.

The fact is, the common view was that the knights had gotten out of hand, and shipping a lot of them on a mission far away would bring peace to the land.

Yeah, and my problem is that a lot of the "common views" I was taught in school turned out to be the anti-Catholic/pro-marxist view. Appeals to unknown authorities don't work on me anymore.
44 posted on 05/28/2005 6:24:32 PM PDT by Antoninus (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis!)
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To: Antoninus
Lynn White is not an "unknown," however or wherever you turn up his name. He is THE established medievalist, and his theory on how Charles Martel's adoption of the stirrup basically energized feudalism is a classic. Try some historians, not websites.

Although I haven't read his Medieval stuff, one of the profs at UCSB was known as nearly equal to White, Warren Hollister. Check him. And actually look at their work, not at what some moron webmaster says.

45 posted on 05/28/2005 6:34:54 PM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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To: mainepatsfan

Fortunately, Ridley Scott condemned his movie to failure when he made a "R" rated movie that kept Orlando's 13 year old fan base from seeing it. No man worth his salt would accept 120 lb Orlando as a grown-up. Failure...assured.


46 posted on 05/28/2005 6:41:40 PM PDT by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: Claud
Interesting, as my wife and I were just discussing this as to how so many people don't have a true picture of the Crusades. True to form, leftist Hollywood 'crucifies' the truth. It was the other way around.
47 posted on 05/28/2005 6:45:01 PM PDT by SeaBiscuit (God Bless all who defend America and the rest can go to hell.)
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To: Deb

I was hoping Bloom wouldn't be back for the Pirates of the Carribean sequel but unfortunately he will be.


48 posted on 05/28/2005 7:01:46 PM PDT by mainepatsfan
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To: LS
Lynn White is not an "unknown," however or wherever you turn up his name. He is THE established medievalist, and his theory on how Charles Martel's adoption of the stirrup basically energized feudalism is a classic. Try some historians, not websites.

I didn't claim he was an unknown. I just said I didn't know him. And I'm not exactly a neophyte when it comes to medieval studies, having done some research in college and independently and having been to Kalamazoo three times (albeit as a lowly vendor).

I think his theory about the stirrup is largely discredited, btw. The Byzantines knew about the stirrup in the 6th century--it was mandatory as per the Strategikon of Pseudo-Maurice (ca. AD 580). If the Byzantines were using them as early as the 6th century, it would be hard to argue that the Franks were unaware of them until 732.

Although I haven't read his Medieval stuff.

I'm confused. I though your reading of his medieval stuff was the basis for your claims about the motivations of the Popes during the Crusading period.

Btw, you still haven't come up with a single shred of primary source evidence to support your claims.
49 posted on 05/28/2005 7:11:44 PM PDT by Antoninus (Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis!)
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To: Antoninus
First, the phrase "I haven't read his medieval stuff" referred to HOLLISTER, not White.

Second, sitting here in my office, I'm not likely to come up with ANY "primary source" material from the 900s. If you can dig up that, you either are living in a castle in France, or are a fraud.

Third, White specifically did NOT say that the Europeans "had" the stirrup first---but that they first used it in shock combat, so apparently you haven't read his "critics" right or you haven't read him. I think Victor Hanson accepts White's interpretation of the Frankish use of the stirrup in this regard.

Fourth, I don't need to provide ANYTHING. The necessity for the "Peace of God" and "Truce of God" (or do you need "primary source documents" on those, too?) alone are sufficient evidence that there was widespread violence in common European cities, and that the Bishops of Aquitaine, among others, thought it necessary to do something about it from the ecclesiastical perspective.

50 posted on 05/28/2005 7:41:03 PM PDT by LS (CNN is the Amtrak of news)
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