2083 A European Declaration of Independence

August 2, 2011

1.11 What the Crusades Were Really Like

Filed under: Uncategorized — sitamnesty @ 12:10

A people not willing to embrace its past, ultimately forfeits its future.
Alexander Von Humboldt

The Crusaders were not unprovoked aggressors, greedy marauders or medieval colonialists, as portrayed in some history books.

In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis University’s history department and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades," contests that the Crusaders were a defensive force that did not profit from their ventures by earthly riches or land.

In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of St. Louis University’s history department and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades," contests that the Crusaders were defensive wars, not wars of conquest.

Madden shared the most popular myths about the Crusades and the modern findings that prove them wrong.

Q: What are some common misconceptions about the Crusades? the Crusaders?

Madden: The following are some of the most common myths and why they are wrong.


Myth 1: The Crusades were wars of unprovoked aggression against a peaceful Muslim world.

This is as wrong as wrong can be. From the time of Mohammed, Muslims had sought to conquer the Christian world. They did a pretty good job of it, too. After a few centuries of steady conquests, Muslim armies had taken all of North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor and most of Spain.

In other words, by the end of the 11th century the forces of Islam had captured two-thirds of the Christian world. Palestine, the home of Jesus Christ; Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism; Asia Minor, where St. Paul planted the seeds of the first Christian communities — these were not the periphery of Christianity but its very core.

And the Muslim empires were not finished yet. They continued to press westward toward Constantinople, ultimately passing it and entering Europe itself. As far as unprovoked aggression goes, it was all on the Muslim side. At some point what was left of the Christian world would have to defend itself or simply succumb to Islamic conquest.


Myth 2: The Crusaders wore crosses, but they were really only interested in capturing booty and land. Their pious platitudes were just a cover for rapacious greed.

Historians used to believe that a rise in Europe’s population led to a crisis of too many noble "second sons," those who were trained in chivalric warfare but who had no feudal lands to inherit. The Crusades, therefore, were seen as a safety valve, sending these belligerent men far from Europe where they could carve out lands for themselves at someone else’s expense.

Modern scholarship, assisted by the advent of computer databases, has exploded this myth. We now know that it was the "first sons" of Europe that answered the Pope’s call in 1095, as well as in subsequent Crusades.

Crusading was an enormously expensive operation. Lords were forced to sell off or mortgage their lands to gather the necessary funds. Most were also not interested in an overseas kingdom. Much like a soldier today, the medieval Crusader was proud to do his duty but longed to return home.

After the spectacular successes of the First Crusade, with Jerusalem and much of Palestine in Crusader hands, virtually all of the Crusaders went home. Only a tiny handful remained behind to consolidate and govern the newly won territories.

Booty was also scarce. In fact, although Crusaders no doubt dreamed of vast wealth in opulent Eastern cities, virtually none of them ever even recouped their expenses. But money and land were not the reasons that they went on Crusade in the first place. They went to atone for their sins and to win salvation by doing good works in a faraway land.

They underwent such expense and hardship because they believed that by coming to the aid of their Christian brothers and sisters in the East they were storing up treasure where rust and moth cannot corrupt.

They were very mindful of Christ’s exhortation that he who will not take up his cross is not worthy of Christ. They also remembered that "Greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends."


Myth 3: When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred every man, woman and child in the city until the streets ran ankle deep with the blood.

This is a favourite used to demonstrate the evil nature of the Crusades.

It is certainly true that many people in Jerusalem were killed after the Crusaders captured the city. But this must be understood in historical context.

The accepted moral standard in all pre-modern European and Asian civilisations was that a city that resisted capture and was taken by force belonged to the victorious forces. That included not just the buildings and goods, but the people as well. That is why every city or fortress had to weigh carefully whether it could hold out against besiegers. If not, it was wise to negotiate terms of surrender.

In the case of Jerusalem, the defenders had resisted right up to the end. They calculated that the formidable walls of the city would keep the Crusaders at bay until a relief force from Egypt could arrive. They were wrong. When the city fell, therefore, it was put to the sack. Many were killed, yet many others were ransomed or allowed to go free.

By modern standards this may seem brutal. Yet a medieval knight would point out that many more innocent men, women and children are killed in modern bombing warfare than could possibly be put to the sword in one or two days. It is worth noting that in those cities occupied by Muslims and that surrendered to the Crusaders the people were left unmolested, retained their property and were allowed to worship freely.

As for those streets of blood, no historian accepts them as anything other than a literary convention. Jerusalem is a big town. The amount of blood necessary to fill the streets to a continuous and running three-inch depth would require many more people than lived in the region, let alone the city.


Myth 4: The Crusades were just medieval colonialism dressed up in religious finery.

It is important to remember that in the Middle Ages the West was not a powerful, dominant culture venturing into a primitive or backward region. It was the Muslim East that was powerful, wealthy and opulent. Europe was the Third World.

The Crusader States, founded in the wake of the First Crusade, were not new plantations of Catholics in a Muslim world akin to the British colonisation of America. Catholic presence in the Crusader states was always tiny, easily less than 10% of the population. These were the rulers and magistrates, as well as Italian merchants and members of the military orders. The overwhelming majority of the population in the Crusader states was Muslim.

They were not colonies, therefore, in the sense of plantations or even factories, as in the case of India. They were outposts. The ultimate purpose of the Crusader states was to defend the holy places in Palestine, especially Jerusalem, and to provide a safe environment for Christian pilgrims to visit those places.

There was no mother country with which the Crusader states had an economic relationship, nor did Europeans economically benefit from them. Quite the contrary, the expense of Crusades to maintain the Latin East was a serious drain on European resources. As an outpost, the Crusader states kept a military focus.

While the Muslims warred against each other the Crusader states were safe, but once the Muslims united, they were able to dismantle the strongholds, capture the cities, and in 1291 expel the Christians completely.

Myth 5: The Crusades were also waged against the Jews.

No pope ever called a Crusade against Jews. During the First Crusade a large band of riffraff, not associated with the main army, descended on the towns of the Rhineland and decided to rob and kill the Jews they found there. In part this was pure greed. In part it also stemmed from the incorrect belief that the Jews, as the crucifiers of Christ, were legitimate targets of the war.

Pope Urban II and subsequent popes strongly condemned these attacks on Jews. Local bishops and other clergy and laity attempted to defend the Jews, although with limited success. Similarly, during the opening phase of the Second Crusade a group of renegades killed many Jews in Germany before St. Bernard was able to catch up to them and put a stop to it.

These misfires of the movement were an unfortunate by-product of Crusade enthusiasm, but they were not the purpose of the Crusades. To use a modern analogy, during the Second World War some American soldiers committed crimes while overseas. They were arrested and punished for those crimes. But the purpose of the Second World War was not to commit crimes.

1.12 The Crusades and today

Present-day tension between the West and Muslim countries has very little to do with the Crusades, says a historian.

In fact, Thomas Madden, chair of the history department at St. Louis University and author of "A Concise History of the Crusades," contends that, from the Muslim perspective, the Crusades were not worth noticing. That changed when 19th-century revisionists started to recast the Crusades as imperialist wars, he says.

Q: Do you think the struggle between the West and the Muslim world is in any way a reaction to the Crusades?

Madden: No. That may seem a strange answer when you consider that Osama bin Laden and other Islamists often refer to Americans as "Crusaders."

It’s important to remember, though, that during the Middle Ages — really up until the late 16th century — the superpower of the Western world was Islam. Muslim civilisations were wealthy, sophisticated and immensely powerful. The West was backward and relatively weak.

It is noteworthy that with the exception of the First Crusade virtually every other Crusade launched by the West — and there were hundreds — was unsuccessful.

The Crusades may have slowed Muslim expansionism, but they in no way stopped it. Muslim empires would continue to expand into Christian territories, conquering the Balkans, much of Eastern Europe and even the greatest Christian city in the world, Constantinople.

From the Muslim perspective the Crusades were not worth noticing. If you had asked someone in the Muslim world about the Crusades in the 18th century he or she would have known nothing about them. They were important to Europeans because they were massive efforts that failed.

However, during the 19th century, when Europeans began conquering and colonising Middle Eastern countries, many historians — in particular nationalist or royalist French writers — began to cast the Crusades as Europe’s first attempt to bring the fruits of Western civilisation to the backward Muslim world. In other words, the Crusades were morphed into imperialist wars.

Those histories were taught in the colonial schools and became the accepted view in the Middle East and beyond. In the 20th century, imperialism was discredited. Islamists and some Arab nationalists then seized on the colonial construction of the Crusades, claiming that the West was responsible for their woes because they had preyed on Muslims ever since the Crusades.

It is often said that people in the Middle East have long memories; it is true. But in the case of the Crusades, they have a recovered memory: one that was manufactured for them by their European conquerors.

Q: Are there any similarities between the Crusades and the war against terror today?

Madden: Aside from the fact that soldiers in both wars want to serve something greater than themselves that they hold dear and long to return home when it is over, I see no other similarities between the medieval Crusades and the war against terror. Motivations in a post-Enlightenment secular society are very different from those in the medieval world.

Q: How are the Crusades different from Islam’s Jihad, or other wars of religion?

Madden: The fundamental purpose of Jihad is to expand the Dar al-Islam — the Abode of Islam — into the Dar al-Harb — the Abode of War. In other words, jihad is expansionistic, seeking to conquer non-Muslims and place them under Muslim rule.

Those who are then conquered are given a simple choice. For those who are not People of the Book — in other words, those who are not Christians or Jews — the choice is convert to Islam or die. For those who are People of the Book, the choice is submit to Muslim rule, accept dhimmitude and Islamic law or die. The expansion of Islam, therefore, was directly linked to the military successes of Jihad.

The Crusades were something very different. From its beginnings Christianity has always forbidden coerced conversion of any kind. Conversion by the sword, therefore, was not possible for Christianity. Unlike Jihad, the purpose of the Crusades was neither to expand the Christian world nor to expand Christianity through forced conversions.

Instead, the Crusades were a direct and belated response to centuries of Muslim conquests of Christian lands. The immediate event that sparked the First Crusade was the Turkish conquest of all of Asia Minor in the 1070s through 1090s.

The First Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095 in response to an urgent plea for help from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople. Urban called the knights of Christendom to come to the aid of their Eastern brethren.

Asia Minor was Christian. …

Part of the Byzantine Empire, it had been first evangelised by St. Paul. St. Peter had been the first bishop of Antioch. Paul had written his famous letter to the Christians of Ephesus. The creed of the Church was penned at Nicaea. All of these were in Asia Minor.

The Byzantine emperor begged the Christians of the West for aid in recapturing these lands and expelling the Turks. The Crusades were that aid. Their purpose, though, was not only to re-conquer Asia Minor but also to recapture other formerly Christian lands that had been lost due to Islamic Jihads. This included the Holy Land.

In a nutshell, therefore, the major difference between Crusade and Jihad is that the former was a defence against the latter. The entire history of the Eastern Crusades is one of response to Muslim aggression.

Q: Did the Crusaders have any success at converting the Muslim world?

Madden: I would note that in the 13th century some Franciscans began a mission in the Middle East to seek to convert Muslims. It was not successful, largely because Islamic law makes conversion to another religion a capital offence.

This attempt, though, was separate from the Crusades, which had nothing at all to do with conversion. And it was by peaceful persuasion.

Q: How did Christendom rationalise its defeat in the Crusades? Were the Crusaders defeated?

Madden: The same way that the Jews of the Old Testament did. God withheld victory from his people because they were sinful. This led to a large-scale piety movement in Europe, whose aim was to purify Christian society in every way.

Q: Did Pope John Paul II in fact apologise for the Crusades? Has he actually condemned them?

Madden: This is an odd myth, given that the Pope was so roundly criticised for failing to apologise directly for the Crusades when he asked forgiveness from all those that Christians had unjustly harmed.

Our Holy Father did not condemn them, nor did he apologise for them. He apologised for the sins of Catholics. More recently it was widely reported that John Paul II apologised to the patriarch of Constantinople for the Crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204.

In truth, though, the Pope only reiterated what his predecessor Pope Innocent III [1198-1216] said. That too was a tragic misfire that Innocent had done everything he could to avoid. He apologised for the sins of Catholics who took part in the Crusades. Yet he did not apologise for the Crusades themselves or even the outcome of the Crusades.

Source:

http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=1417

http://www.zenit.org/article-11237?l=english

1.13 The factors that led to the Crusades

By Lcio Mascarenhas (formerly "Prakash"), Bombay, India

It is a historical fact that Islam began as an overtly militant and aggressive cult in its fundamental and inherent nature of being & remains so. It was Islam that attacked, without any provocation whatsoever, its Christian neighbours, overran their lands and committed genocide and enslaved the remainder.

Let me list the Christian lands and peoples that Islam encroached upon: Roman Arabia, Arabia Felix, Israel (Philistia), Jordan, Iraq (Chaldea, Assyria and Hadiabene), Syria (Aram), Lebanon (Phoenicia), Turkey (Bythinia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Galatia, Caria, Pontus, etc.), Thrace, Egypt (the Copts), Sudan (Nubia and Axum), Libya (Lybia, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania), Tunisia (Roman Africa Nova et Vetera & Carthage), Algeria (Roman Africa, Numidia & Gtulia), Morocco(Roman Mauretania), Spain (Roman Iberia), Portugal (Lusitania), South France ("The Muslims were at last defeated by Charles Martel at Tours, in 732, just one hundred years from the death of Mohammed"), Southern Italy (Sicilia & Neapolitania), Malta (Melita), Armenia (Hayastan), Georgia, Azerbaijan (Roman Albania, not modern Albania which was Roman Illyrica), etc.

The many nations of Iran were Zorastrian, together with the Kurds, Sogdians (Tadjiks) and the peoples of Ariana. Some Zorastrians escaped the Islamic Conquest and Genocide to India, becoming the Parsees. Today, even the fanatically Muslim Iranians look back with horror and loathing on, and denounce that original Conquest and Genocide as the grossest barbarism (Naqba).

The Turks, as the many Indophile nations of Central Asia and West India (Pakistan & Afghanistan), were Buddhists and Hindus. Again, we have that same story of unprovoked aggression, imperialism, colonialism, barbarism. The Turks were forced to become Muslim, and then went on to perpetrate those same misanthropies on others.

All these lands were subject to Islamic Imperialism, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, Colonialism and Demographic Re-Engineering in order to create Islamic majorities.

The Islamic Conquests – really a Naqba (Catastrophe), if there was ever one, began with the foundation of Islam in the sixth century. On the contrary, the Crusades began only in the eleventh century, under Pope Urban II (Otto von Lagery), who, at Clermont, France, in November, 1095 inaugurated it, proclaiming it ‘God’s Will.’

The Crusades, were thus, chronologically latter to the Islamic Aggressions and in response to them, and specifically to immediate and gross provocations.

The immediate provocation for the first crusade was the Islamic mistreatment of Christian pilgrims to Israel to Jerusalem and the sites connected to Lord Jesus Christ, together with attempts to deny Christians access to these sites.

Source:

http://www.geocities.com/prakashjm45/crusades.html

1.14 Modern Aftermath of the Crusades

By Robert Spencer


The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in the three centuries when most of them were fought, according to one expert.

Robert Spencer, author of "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", claims that the damage is not in terms of lives lost and property destroyed but is a more subtle destruction.

Spencer shared how false ideas about the Crusades are being used by extremists to foment hostility to the West today.

Q: The Crusades are often portrayed as a militarily offensive venture. Were they?

Spencer: No. Pope Urban II, who called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095, was calling for a defensive action one that was long overdue.

As he explained, he was calling the Crusade because without any defensive action, "the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked" by the Turks and other Muslim forces.

"For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George," Pope Urban II said in his address. "They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.

"If you permit them to continue thus for a while with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them."

He was right. Jihad warfare had from the seventh century to the time of Pope Urban conquered and Islamised what had been over half of Christendom. There had been no response from the Christian world until the Crusades.

Q: What are some popular misconceptions about the Crusades?

Spencer: One of the most common is the idea that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world.

In fact, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.

Early in the eighth century 60 Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies except for a small number who converted to Islam.

Muslims also demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay.

Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the tax on non-Muslims jizya that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction of their own children and fellow believers.

Early in the ninth century the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled for Constantinople and other Christian cities. In 937, Muslims went on a rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

In 1004, the Fatimid Caliph, Abu ‘Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim, ordered the destruction of churches, the burning of crosses, and the seizure of church property. Over the next 10 years 30,000 churches were destroyed, and untold numbers of Christians converted to Islam simply to save their lives.

In 1009, al-Hakim commanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem be destroyed, along with several other churches, including the Church of the Resurrection. In 1056, the Muslims expelled 300 Christians from Jerusalem and forbade European Christians from entering the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

When the Seljuk Turks took Jerusalem in 1077, the Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised not to harm the inhabitants, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000 people.

Another common misconception is that the Crusades were fought to convert Muslims to Christianity by force. Glaringly absent from every report about Pope Urban’s address at the Council of Claremont is any command to the Crusaders to convert Muslims.

It was not until over 100 years after the First Crusade, in the 13th century, that European Christians made any organised attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity, when the Franciscans began missionary work among Muslims in lands held by the Crusaders. This effort was largely unsuccessful.

Yet another misconception revolves around the Crusaders’ bloody sack of Jerusalem in 1099.

The capture of Jerusalem is often portrayed as unique in medieval history, and as the cause of Muslim mistrust of the West. It might be more accurate to say that it was the start of a millennium of anti-Western grievance mongering and propaganda.

The Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem was a heinous crime – particularly in light of the religious and moral principles they professed to uphold. However, by the military standards of the day, it was not actually anything out of the ordinary.

In those days, it was a generally accepted principle of warfare that if a city under siege resisted capture, it could be sacked, and while if it did not resist, mercy would be shown. It is a matter of record that Muslim armies frequently behaved in exactly the same way when entering a conquered city.

This is not to excuse the Crusaders’ conduct by pointing to similar actions. One atrocity does not excuse another. But it does illustrate that the Crusaders’ behaviour in Jerusalem was consistent with that of other armies of the period since all states subscribed to the same notions of siege and resistance.

In 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitate to order the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the Jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Antioch from the Crusaders, Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler had already left the city so he wrote to him bragging of his massacres of Christians.

Most notorious of all may be the Jihadists’ entry into Constantinople on May 29, 1453, when they, according to historian Steven Runciman, "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women and children without discrimination."

Finally, it is a misconception that Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades. He did not.

There is no doubt that the belief that Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades is widespread. When he died, the Washington Post reminded its readers "during his long reign, Pope John Paul II apologised to Muslims for the Crusades, to Jews for anti-Semitism, to Orthodox Christians for the sacking of Constantinople, to Italians for the Vatican’s associations with the Mafia and to scientists for the persecution of Galileo."

However, John Paul II never actually apologised for the Crusades. The closest he came was on March 12, 2000, the "Day of Pardon."

During his homily he said: "We cannot fail to recognise the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken toward the followers of other religions."

This is hardly a clear apology for the Crusades.

Q: How have Muslims perceived the Crusades then and now?

Spencer: For centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was thriving, the Crusades were not a pre-occupation of the Islamic world. They were, after all, failures from a Western standpoint.

However, with the decline of the military power and unity of the Islamic world, and the concomitant rise of the West, they have become a focal point of Muslim resentment of perceived Western encroachment and exploitation.

Q: To what extent are false ideas about the Crusades being used by extremists to foment hostility to the West today?

Spencer: The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in the three centuries when most of them were fought but not in terms of lives lost and property destroyed. Today’s is a more subtle destruction.

The Crusades have become a cardinal sin not only of the Catholic Church but also of the Western world in general.

They are Exhibit A for the case that the current strife between the Muslim world and Western, post-Christian civilisation is ultimately the responsibility of the West, which has provoked, exploited, and brutalised Muslims ever since the first Frankish warriors entered Jerusalem.

Osama bin Laden has spoken of his organisation not as al-Qaida but of a "World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders," and called in a fatwa for "Jihad against Jews and Crusaders."

Such usage is widespread. On November 8, 2002 shortly before the beginning of the Iraqi war that toppled Saddam Hussein Sheikh Bakr Abed Al-Razzaq Al-Samaraai preached in Baghdad’s Mother of All Battles mosque about "this difficult hour in which the Islamic nation [is] experiencing, an hour in which it faces the challenge of [forces] of disbelief of infidels, Jews, crusaders, Americans and Britons."

Similarly, when Islamic Jihadists bombed the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in December 2004, they explained that the attack was part of larger plan to strike back at "Crusaders": "This operation comes as part of several operations that are organised and planned by al-Qaida as part of the battle against the crusaders and the Jews, as well as part of the plan to force the unbelievers to leave the Arabian Peninsula," the Jihadists said in a statement.

They also said that Jihad warriors "managed to enter one of the crusaders’ big castles in the Arabian Peninsula and managed to enter the American consulate in Jeddah, in which they control and run the country."

In the face of this, Westerners should not be embarrassed by the Crusades. It’s time to say, "enough," and teach our children to take pride in their own heritage.

They should know that they have a culture and a history of which they can and should be grateful; that they are not the children and grandchildren of oppressors and villains; and that their homes and families are worth defending against those who want to take them away, and are willing to kill to do so.

Source:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHISTORY/zaftcrus.HTM

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: