Skip to comments.The Battle over the Crusades: Myths, legends and anti-Catholic "histories"
Posted on 09/05/2001 10:49:29 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
The Battle over the Crusades
By Robert P. Lockwood
One reason for the persistence of anti-Catholicism is the historical legacy of the post-Reformation world. Myths, legends and anti-Catholic "histories" created in the bitterness of theological, national and cultural divisions in the centuries after the Reformation have colored our understanding of the past, and are often used in the present as a club against the Church.
With the Crusades, the assumption is of a ruthless Church driving Europe into a barbaric war of aggression and plunder against a peaceful Islamic population in the Holy Land. As the common portrait paints it, led by mad preachers and manipulating popes, the Crusades were a Church-sponsored invasion and slaughter.
Narrowly and traditionally defined, the Crusades involved a military attempt under a vow of faith to regain the Holy Land containing the sites of the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus from its Islamic conquerors. The goal as defined by the Church was to allow safe pilgrimage to these sites and to protect and maintain a Christian presence in the Holy Land.
This narrow papal purpose, however, would become caught up in dynastic feuds, schism and heresies, economic warfare over Mediterranean trade, the reunification and rise of an aggressive Islamic military movement, and the final destruction of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The Church in the Near East would take its liturgy and characteristics from Constantinople. As relations between the Eastern Church under imperial leadership and the Western Church under papal leadership became more strained over the centuries, the future of the Holy Land would be tied directly to the politics of Constantinople than Rome.
In 638 Jerusalem was taken by invading Arabian forces under the sword of the new Islam only six years after the death of the prophet Mohammed. Egypt was lost to the Moslem forces and by 700 AD Roman Africa was conquered. In 711 Spain was occupied and it was not until the victory of Charles Martel at Tours and Potier in 732 that the Moslem advance in the West ended. Constantinople was able to hold off an invasion and the remnant Eastern Roman Empire, stripped of Syria, Palestine and North Africa, continued to exist.
The Eastern Church, seeing itself as the intellectual and cultural center of the world, resented the juridical authority of Rome. While consenting to Rome as a court of last resort in doctrinal concerns, it did not accept Roman leadership over its daily affairs. Additionally, thorny theological issues would divide the Church in the East far more than the West. Schisms and heresies would breakdown the unity of the Church in the East even before the major break between East and West in the schism of 1054 that created the Orthodox churches and provided the backdrop to the Crusades.
Unity in the Islamic world had also begun to break down in the generations after Mohammeds death. By the 11th century there were three different centers of Arab rule in Spain, Egypt and Iran\Iraq with the Fatmid dynasty of Egypt exercising control over Jerusalem. At the same time, there were any number of independent Islamic states with their own military forces, dynasties, feuds and battles for power. The death of any leader seemed to immediately result in endless family battles for power. The Holy Land was certainly never a part of a peaceful united Islamic empire.
The Seljuk Turks had overrun Armenia and the entire Anatolia peninsula was threatened. Imperial forces were destroyed at the battle of Manzikert in 1071, considered the greatest defeat in the history of the Eastern Empire. Ten years later, Alexius Commenus would take over the imperial throne when it appeared that the entire Empire was on the verge of collapse.
In November 1095 at a Church council in Clermont, France, Pope Urban II issued the formal call for a Crusade to rescue eastern Christendom and recover the Holy Land to make it safe for pilgrimage.
Why did Urban support the idea of a Crusade to the Holy Land and put the weight of the Church behind it? Clearly, the return of the Holy Land and the defense of the Christian communities in the Near East were the first objectives. But there were additional concerns. There was the clear threat of the Islamic advance into Europe that threatened the entire Christian community. If Constantinople fell, the victory at Tours could be rendered in vain and all Eastern Europe would be wide open to Islamic advance. Additionally, the pope certainly believed that allying with Constantinople and rescuing the ancient sees of Antioch and Jerusalem could heal the disunity of Christianity cause by the schism of 1054.
These were violent times and warfare was waged ruthlessly. The Frankish lords taking part in the First Crusade were among the most ruthless. These men viewed the Crusade as a holy venture that could save their souls. But they also saw an opportunity for conquest and new lands to rule. At the same time, the Emperor Alexius in Constantinople viewed the Crusaders as a means to preserve the Empire by assisting him in destroying the Turks and recapturing the ancient lands of the Empire now dominated by Islam. These contrary expectations would increase the bad blood between East and West.
In the Holy Land itself, various Islamic dynasties would see the Crusaders as much as potential allies than enemies. The "kingdoms" established after the First Crusade would be caught up in the regional power disputes of the Islamic leaders, as well as their own dynastic ambitions. There was also the ambition of the Italian cities to extend their rising commercial power. They saw the Crusade as an opportunity to end both Islamic domination of trade in the Eastern Mediterranean and the power of Constantinople. The commercial ambitions of Venice would lead to the devastating sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade.
The First Crusade began out of papal control when virtual leaderless mobs of the poor began to assemble and "march" toward Constantinople. In the Rhineland these disparate mobs of peasants and townsfolk began to launch attacks on the Jews. In many cases, the Church provided the only protection for the Jews though even at Trier, where they were sheltered in the archbishops palace, the mobs broke-in and slaughtered them. Eventually, Christians and Turks destroyed these peasant armies and most of western Christendom viewed it as just penalty for their anti-Jewish atrocities. When the Second Crusade was preached, St. Bernard of Clairvaux went to the Rhineland to stamp out anti-Jewish riots, and they effectively ceased as part of the crusading movement.
The Crusaders first captured Nicea, capital of the Seljuk Turks, then defeated the major Seljuk force at Dorylaeum which left a clear passage across Asia Minor. On June 3, 1098, Antioch was captured and a large Turkish contingent defeated in front of its walls. On July 15, 1099, the Crusaders took Jerusalem. The papal legate, however, had died. Without his restraint, the crusading army now reduced to about 12,000 stormed the walls and engaged in a horrific slaughter of the Islamic and Jewish population. Though the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was then established, that slaughter would help to reunify Islamic resistance to the new conquerors.
The Crusaders, for the most part, were not colonizers. Most fought, then returned to their homelands. As a result, the Latin kingdoms established in the Holy Land were in incessant need of reinforcement for defense. The famous crusading orders of vowed knights would develop from this need. But it would also necessitate calls to Europe whenever the situation grew threatening.
In 1144, Edessa was retaken and the Islamic leader Nur-ur-din emerged as the principal enemy of the Crusader kingdoms. It was these events that led to a call for a Second Crusade. Emperor Conrad of Germany and King Louis VII of France led their armies into what became essentially a debacle. Convinced that the emperor had betrayed them to the Turks, the Second Crusade collapsed in a failed attempt to conquer Damascus.
In 1187, after a large caravan was attacked by one of the Frankish knights, Saladin launched his war of conquest. At the Horns of Hattin, Saladin defeated the Christian armies and by October he had taken the city of Jerusalem. Only Tyre, Antioch and Tripoli remained as the Christian-held outposts. The Third Crusade was launched in response to Saladins successes.
It was in the Third Crusade that Richard the Lion Heart of England would engage Saladin in a ritual of attacks and counterattacks, as well as chivalrous courtesies. The French king had come to Acre before him, but it was Richards arrival in June 1191 after taking the island of Cyprus that energized the Christian army. In July the stalemate was broken and the port of Acre seized from Saladin. The French king soon departed for home while Richard planned to take back Jerusalem. He defeated Saladin at the battle of Arsuf and moved to secure the port of Jaffa. But this delay in approaching Jerusalem allowed Saladin to reinforce the citys defenses. A treaty was eventually negotiated between Richard and Saladin. The Christians regained the coastal cities and pilgrims would be allowed to visit the holy shrines in Jerusalem peacefully. Richard left the Holy Land in 1192, ending the Third Crusade.
The Fourth Crusade, the dream of Pope Innocent III, collapsed in the sack of Constantinople that resulted from the manipulations of the Doge of Venice. A Western empire was set up that would last a short time and Innocent, seeing in it the hope of reunification of Christendom, accepted it at first is a fait accompli. However, he became more enraged as stories of the savagery waged against Constantinople reached Rome. Innocent wrote angrily to the Westerners in Constantinople denouncing the sack of the city.
The sack of Constantinople ended the Fourth Crusade and effectively determined that the Crusades would never succeed in its original purpose. The Empire was effectively destroyed and would be of no assistance in future crusades. The Church was not reunified, as the Greeks would never forgive the West for the atrocities at Constantinople. The schism of 1054 would become permanent.
It was decided that if Egypt could be captured the entire balance of power could change in the Holy Land. The Fifth Crusade of 1217 captured Damietta in Egypt. The sultan of Egypt and Syria offered the surrender of Jerusalem, but the crusaders refused believing that the conquering of Egypt and the Holy Land was at hand. But their moment had gone and they eventually withdrew from Egypt when promised reinforcements under Frederick II of Germany never came.
Frederick II, excommunicated for his constant delays in undertaking a crusade, set out on the Sixth Crusade in 1228. Arriving in the Holy Land, he sent emissaries to the sultan and arranged a treaty that returned Jerusalem to Christian control. But after Frederick departed, the Christian rulers of Jerusalem allied with the Muslim ruler of Damascus against the sultan. By 1244, Jerusalem would be back under the control of Islam.
The Sixth Crusade under Louis IX of France once again captured Damietta but failed to take Egypt. The king was eventually captured and released for ransom. He returned to France in 1254. After his departure, a series of civil wars among the Venetians and the Genoese in the Holy Land further weakened the kingdoms there. The new sultan of Egypt marched up the coast and took one city after another, including Antioch in 1268.
Louis attempted another crusade but died shortly after arriving on the African coast in 1270. In 1291, the kingdom of Acre was sacked and the Latin kingdom in the Holy Land came to an end.
The rising power of the Islamic Ottoman Turks soon threatened Eastern Europe, as well as Constantinople. A crusade was assembled in Hungry but was defeated by the Turks at the battle of Nicopolis in 1396. It would only be a matter of time before Constantinople would fall. In 1439, the eastern emperor agreed to end the schism at the Council of Florence to obtain western aid. But his own subjects rejected the union and in 1453 the Turks would capture Constantinople.
The fall of Constantinople did not come as a great shock in Europe. But Pope Pius II, elected in 1458 would labor toward one last crusade to throw back the Turks from Constantinople. The threatened king of Hungary facing the Turkish onslaught readily agreed but little other support was engendered before the ailing pontiff died in 1464. From this point on, the Crusades as a narrowly defined holy war of a united Christendom supported by the popes essentially disappeared. In Church histories, the crusade of King Louis of France in 1270 marked the last of the traditional international crusades made under vow.32 Certainly from the 15th Century on, battles against the Islamic forces were national enterprises for limited national goals, the most well known being the Reconquista of Spain completed by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.
The negative caricatures of the Crusades that are used as a contemporary club against the Church have little to do with their reality. The Crusades were far from colonizing efforts. The Holy Land and its environs were also far from a peaceful Islamic enclave invading by vicious European knights. The Islamic peoples spent far greater time and energy fighting among themselves than they would fighting crusading forces.
The Church supported the ideal of the Crusade, but rarely controlled events and was often at direct odds with the Crusaders themselves. The horrors of warfare as fought at the time and the ruthlessness of the slaughter that often followed victory was neither caused by the Church, or was the Church capable of limiting it in any great fashion. The means used by the Franks in particular in warfare were hardly surprising for the time, or subject to control by the Church. There was no Church presence to mitigate the sack of Jerusalem in the First Crusade.
In the Fourth Crusade, the responsibility for the destruction of Constantinople must be placed on the Doge of Venice and the schemes of the pretender to the imperial throne, rather than at the foot of Pope Innocent III who was horrified at the Christian slaughter of Christians that made a crusade to the Holy Land impossible.
The attacks on the Jews in the Rhineland that took place on the eve of the First Crusade were in direct contradiction to Church teaching and the local hierarchy would be the only physical defenders of the Jewish population.
It is difficult to argue that the Crusades for the Holy Land had any real positive impact on Western culture and the Church. They certainly did nothing to improve relations between Islam and Christianity, though they also certainly did not cause what had already been a violent confrontation between East and West since the Islamic emergence under Mohammed centuries earlier. The persistent division of Western Christianity in the Orthodox schism was hardened by the Fourth Crusade, but the schism itself and the causes of it pre-existed the Crusades.
As long as we're recommending rabidly anti-Catholic, hateful, and lie filled books, how about throwing in Lorraine Boettnor's "Roman Cathilicism" too?
I've read all your anti-Catholic screeds you recommend here. Bigotry. Lies. Deceit. Demonic attacks on Christ's True church, all of them. Read and believe them at your own peril, and the peril or your immortal salvation.
Now that I got that off my chest...this is a thread to dispell your kind of lies, not post more of them.
Good nite, God bless. --proud 2 B R(oman) C(atholic)
I refuse to read the KJV. Do you know the history of King James, a history that all secular scholars agree upon? This is not Catholic propaganda, but established history. Maybe it will give you pause before you so pridefully quote from the KJV:
Who Was King James?
For the last three centuries Protestants have fancied themselves the heirs of the Reformation, the Puritans, the Calvinists, and the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock. This assumption is one of history's greatest ironies. Today, Protestants laboring under that assumption use the King James Bible. Most of the new Bibles such as the Revised Standard Version are simply updates of the King James.
The irony is that none of the groups named in the preceding paragraph used a King James Bible nor would they have used it if it had been given to them free. The Bible in use by those groups, until it went out of print in 1644, was the Geneva Bible. The first Geneva Bible, both Old and New Testaments, was first published in English in 1560 in what is now Geneva, Switzerland. John Bunyan, John Milton, the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, and other luminaries of that era used the Geneva Bible exclusively.
Until he had his own version named after him, so did King James I of England. James I later tried to disclaim any knowledge of the Geneva Bible, though he quoted the Geneva Bible in his own writings. As a Professor Eadie reported it:
"...his virtual disclaimer of all knowledge up to a late period of the Genevan notes and
version was simply a bold, unblushing falsehood, a clumsy attempt to sever himself
and his earlier Scottish beliefs and usages that he might win favor with his English
The irony goes further. King James did not encourage a translation of the Bible in order to enlighten the common people: his sole intent was to deny them the marginal notes of the Geneva Bible. The marginal notes of the Geneva version were what made it so popular with the common
The King James Bible was, and is for all practical purposes, a government publication. There were several reasons for the King James Bible being a government publication. First, King James I of England was a devout believer in the "divine right of kings," a philosophy
ingrained in him by his mother, Mary Stuart. Mary Stuart may have been having an affair with her Italian secretary, David Rizzio, at the time she conceived James. There is a better than even
chance that James was the product of adultery. Apparently, enough evidence of such conduct on
the part of Mary Stuart and David Rizzio existed to cause various Scot nobles, including Mary's own husband, King Henry, to drag David Rizzio from Mary's supper table and execute him. The Scot nobles hacked and slashed at the screaming Rizzio with knives and swords, and then threw him off a balcony to the courtyard below where he landed with a sickening smack. In the phrase of that day, he had been scotched.
Mary did have affairs with other men, such as the Earl of Bothwell. She later tried to execute her husband in a gunpowder explosion that shook all of Edinburgh. King Henry survived the explosion only to be suffocated later that same night. The murderers were never discovered. Mary was eventually beheaded at the order of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England.
To such individuals as James and his mother, Mary, the "divine right of kings" meant that since a king's power came from God, the king then had to answer to no one but God. This lack of responsibility extended to evil kings. The reasoning was that if a king was evil, that was a punishment sent from God. The citizens should then suffer in silence. If a king was good, that was a blessing sent from God.
This is why the Geneva Bible annoyed King James I. The Geneva Bible had marginal notes that simply didn't conform to that point of view. Those marginal notes had been, to a great extent, placed in the Geneva Bible by the leaders of the Reformation, including John Knox and John Calvin. Knox and Calvin could not and cannot be dismissed lightly or their opinions passed off to the public as the mere ditherings of dissidents.
First, notes such as, "When tyrants cannot prevail by craft they burst forth into open rage" (Note i, Exodus 1:22) really bothered King James.
Second, religion in James' time was not what it is today. In that era religion was controlled by the government.
Religious refugees from other countries in Western Europe, including the French theologian Jean Chauvin, better known as John Calvin, also settled there. In Scotland, John Knox led the Reformation. The Reformation prospered in Geneva. Many of those who had fled Bloody Mary started a congregation there. Their greatest effort and contribution to the Reformation was the first Geneva Bible.
More marginal notes were added to later editions. By the end of the 16th century, the Geneva Bible had about all the marginal notes there was space available to put them in.
James ascended the throne of England with the "divine right of kings" firmly embedded in his mind. Unfortunately, that wasn't his only mental problem.
King James I, among his many other faults, preferred young boys to adult women. He was a flaming homosexual. His activities in that regard have been recorded in numerous books and public records; so much so, that there is no room for debate on the subject. The King was homosexual.
The very people who use the King James Bible today would be the first ones to throw such a deviant out of the congregations.
James was a sadist as well as a sodomite: he enjoyed torturing people. While King of Scotland in 1591, he personally supervised the torture of poor wretches caught up in the witchcraft trials of Scotland. James would even suggest new tortures to the examiners. One "witch," Barbara Napier, was acquitted. That event so angered James that he wrote personally to the court on May 10, 1551, ordering a sentence of death, and had the jury called into custody. To make sure they understood their particular offense, the King himself presided at a new hearing and was gracious enough to release them without punishment when they reversed their verdict.
History has it that James was also a great coward. On January 7, 1591, the king was in Edinburgh and emerged from the toll booth. A retinue followed that included the Duke of Lennox and Lord Hume. They fell into an argument with the laird of Logie and pulled their swords. James looked behind, saw the steel flashing, and fled into the nearest refuge which turned out to be a skinner's booth. There to his shame, he "fouled his breeches in fear."
In short, King James I was the kind of despicable creature honorable men loathed, Christians would not associate with, and the Bible itself orders to be put to death (Leviticus 20:13). Knowing what King James was we can easily discern his motives.
James ascended the English throne in 1603. He wasted no time in ordering a new edition of the Bible in order to deny the common people the marginal notes they so valued in the Geneva Bible. That James I wasn't going to have any marginal notes to annoy him and lead English citizens away from what he wanted them to think is a matter of public record. In an account corrected with his own hand dated February 10, 1604, he ordained:
That a translation be made of the whole Bible, as consonant as can be to the original Hebrew and Greek, and this to be set out and printed without any marginal notes, and only to be used in all churches of England in time of divine service. James then set up rules that made it impossible for anyone involved in the project to make an honest translation, some of which follow:
1. The ordinary Bible read in the church, commonly called the Bishop's Bible to be followed and as
little altered as the truth of the original will permit.
Or, since the common people preferred the Geneva Bible to the existing government publication,
let's see if we can slip a superseding government publication onto their bookshelves, altered as
little as possible.
3. The old Ecclesiastical words to be kept, viz. the word "church" not to be translated
That is, if a word should be translated a certain way, let's deliberately mistranslate it to make the
people think God still belongs to the Anglican Church exclusively.
6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words,
which cannot without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.
All excerpts from Global Insights.
***For verification of King James homosexuality, see Global Insights. You can also find more info at Otto Scott's "James I: The Fool As King" (Ross House: 1976), pp. 108, 111, 120, 194, 200, 224, 311, 353, 382; King James-VI of Scotland/I of England by Antonia Fraser (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1975)pp. 36, 37, 38; King James VI and I by David Harris Willson, pp.36, 99; James I by his Contemporaries by Robert Ashton, p114; and A History of England by Samuel Rawson Gardiner, Vol. 4, p.112. Check also A LITERARY HISTORY OF THE BIBLE by Geddes MacGregor who has devoted a whole chapter entitled "QUEEN" JAMES.
In the Beginning, by Alister McGrath, pp. 170-71
The Mammoth Book of Private Lives by Jon E. Lewis, pp. 62,65,66
James White also makes mention of it in his book, THE KING JAMES ONLY CONTROVERSY.
See also King James and the History of Homosexuality by Michael B. Young
and King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire by David Moore Bergeron, both available on amazon.com
For those people who feel that the above is a result of the attack on King James by the 17th century tobacco industry are ignorant of the fact that his behavior and personal life were quite well known to his contemporaries. " He disdained women and fawned unconscionably on his favorite men." ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA-pp. 674,675
"And shall I then like bird or beast forget
For any storms that threatening heaven can send
The object sweet, where on my heart is set
Whom for to serve my senses all I bend?..."
A poem written by King James to his homosexual love interest (pictured above, Esme Stuart). King James-VI of Scotland/I of England, by Antonia Fraser, New York 1975
mark for tomorrow....