Good article on the history of the Crusades

The Real History of the Crusades

[quote]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 aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.[/quote]

This would be a lot more believable if it weren’t put out by a magazine affiliated with the Catholic Church. This is from their website:

[i]CRISIS Magazine

The mission of CRISIS Magazine is to interpret and shape the direction of contemporary culture from a standpoint of Catholic tradition. We are dedicated to the proposition that the crisis of modernity can be answered by a Christian humanism rooted in the teachings of the Catholic Church. We bring the wisdom of the Catholic tradition into direct dialogue with contemporary politics and culture.[/i]

Hmmm, interpretation…just like how the bible was compiled and interpreted?

So what about that article is factually untrue, Indiana? Everything in the excerpt above jibes with what I’ve read from history. The Muslims did conquer half the Christian world - North Africa, Iberia, and the remains of the Eastern Roman Empire. They reached the outskirts of Prague, the heart of Europe, before their expansion was finally halted in 1683.

Indiana -

This view is not quite a parochial one. A study if the events prior to and during the times of the “Christian Crusades” shows that it was quite rightly a response to centuries of Moslem expansionism and conquest via the sword and subjugation of the …‘infidels’.

For further reference:

Fordham University on the Crusades background.

The OP’s original article from The Association of Renaissance Martial Arts By Prof. Thomas F. Madden

A good & relevant book - The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) - Spencer, Robert

Transcript of a conference including Dr. Madden - again, quite relevant and interesting. [url=]CROSS PURPOSES: The Crusades
Filmed on April 22, 2002

The Crusades happened almost a thousand years ago—why do they still provoke an argument? Osama bin Laden has used them to attempt to rally the Islamic world to his cause; President Bush has called the war on terrorism a “crusade.” But what is the truth about the Crusades? Were they motivated by savage greed and intolerance or by pious idealism? Were they an unprovoked attack by the West on the Islamic world or a reaction to centuries of Islamic incursions? How should we understand the legacy of the Crusades today, in a time of conflict between the West and radical Islamic terrorists?
*William Hamblin, Professor of History, Brigham Young University.
*Thomas Madden, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair, Saint Louis University; Author, A Concise History of the Crusades.[/url]

The popular misconceptions about the crusades are that these were aggressive wars of expansion fought by religious fanatics in order to evict Muslims from their homeland, and force conversions to Christianity. Those who really believe any of that betray their ignorance of history.


The crusaders were reacting to over four centuries of relentless Islamic Jihad, which had wiped out over 50% of all the Christians in the world and conquered over 60% of all the Christian lands on earth – before the crusades even began. Many of the towns liberated by the crusaders were still over 90% Christian when the crusaders arrived. The Middle East was the birthplace of the Christian Church. It was the Christians who had been conquered and oppressed by the Seljuk Turks. So many of the towns in the Middle East welcomed the crusaders as liberators.

Far from the crusaders being the aggressors, it was the Muslim armies which had spread Islam from Saudi Arabia across the whole of Christian North Africa into Spain and even France within the first century after the death of Muhammad. Muslim armies sacked and slaughtered their way across some of the greatest Christian cities in the world, including Alexandria, Carthage, Antioch and Constantinople. These Muslim invaders destroyed over 3,200 Christian churches just in the first 100 years of Islam.[/url]

As shown, this conclusion as to the real history of the Crusades is one that has evolved with increased historical perspective of the time periods prior to and inclusive of the era - circa 1095 - 1250.
It has been shown to be a response to the ruthless expansion by the sword of jihadist Moslems.

You might also review the definition of ‘dhimmi’ and dhimmitude.’

This will help -

I am very aware of the history of the Crusades. In fact, I have recently become more interested in this era and have been doing mush more reading on it. I don’t doubt any of the historical facts given on the initial post at all. I think I worded myself poorly; what I meant is that I don’t believe much that comes from the church. While they may have some of their facts straight, their interpretation of history is usually biased and subjective.

Seems that Christianity and Islam have even more in common …

Seems that Christianity and Islam have even more in common …[/quote]

With one major difference. Christianity spread almost entirely peacefully for its first three centuries, despite the fact it was punishable by death to even be a Christian in the Roman Empire for 250 years between the reign of Nero and Constantine. Islam spread by military conquest.

Ordinarily neither do I; I have given up religion altogether. But as you say the historical facts in the OP’s post are accurate. I have said in other threads that a very large gap exists between academia’s present understanding of the Crusades and popular but outdated notions. Cambridge’s leading historian on the Crusades, Jonathan Riley-Smith, has written several excellent books and essays on the Crusades, and I have never seen anyone question his impartiality or credentials.

Of course we have to give the devil his due. Some pretty awful things were done by Christians during the Crusades. The massacres in Antioch and Jerusalem come to mind. But that doesn’t change the fact the Crusades were not the unjustified, unprovoked proto-imperialistic nightmares we used to think they were (including academics 50 years ago). The Crusades were a delayed response to massive Islamic conquests. A very small percentage of previously Christian lands were reclaimed, and that for only 200 years (and Jerusalem less than that). Individual Crusaders were focused more on their personal salvation and the defense of Christian holy sites than “conquering” anybody.

Now let’s give the other devil his due. The Muslims not only vanquished the Latin Kingdoms by the early 14th centuries, but by the end of that century had conquered most of what remained of the Byzantine Empire, surrounded Constantinople, and were making headway into the Balkans. Constantinople fell in 1453. By the time the Iberians drive the Muslims from the peninsula in 1492 the Muslim armies had already gained complete control the Balkans, and parts of the Polish and Hungarian kingdoms too. The Christian reclamations in Palestine were peanuts compared to the Islamic conquests before and after the Crusades, both in terms of territory taken and time held.

What about the other 17 centuries? :wink:

What about the other 17 centuries? :wink:[/quote]

By the time Christianity was adopted by the Roman Empire, it was already the majority religion in the northern and northeastern parts of the Empire, despite the official persecution. The individual provinces adopted Christianity over the fourth century (not collectively, as is usually believed). There were punishments for carrying out pagan rituals in some parts of the crumbling Empire, but there were never any mass conversions (as is also commonly believed).

Having said that, there were instances of forced, mass conversions later in Christian history. During the Second Crusade, for instance, a group of German barons asked Pope Eugene III if they could fulfill their vows by fighting the Wendish peoples east of the Elbe River in Germany instead of marching to the Levant. The Pope kindly responded that yes, they could do so and still receive the standard remission from sin, but only if they killed or converted every single Wendish pagan. In the words of the Crusader historian Thomas F. Madden, that was a holy war indeed.

There are other examples. King Mindaugas brought the entire Lithuanian people into Christianity in the 13th century. Dozens of churches were built, preachers were sent to every town and village, and hidden pagans were routed out and killed. Over the next couple of centuries there were minor pagan uprisings, but eventually once-pagan Lithuania was Christianized in the same manner once-Christian Morocco was Islamicized. Are you happy now? :wink:

I’m never happy! :raspberry:

I just like to add balance. Didn’t want this thread to turn into ‘Christianity is good; Islam is bad’.

I’m a Pisces, so I don’t really believe in nonsense like religion anyway.

[quote=“Stray Dog”]I’m never happy! :raspberry:

I just like to add balance. Didn’t want this thread to turn into ‘Christianity is good; Islam is bad’.

I’m a Pisces, so I don’t really believe in nonsense like religion anyway.[/quote]

Just nonsense like astrology? :wink:

[quote=“gao_bo_han”][quote=“Stray Dog”]I’m never happy! :raspberry:

I just like to add balance. Didn’t want this thread to turn into ‘Christianity is good; Islam is bad’.

I’m a Pisces, so I don’t really believe in nonsense like religion anyway.[/quote]

Just nonsense like astrology? :wink:[/quote]

I got one! Help me reel him in, someone! :laughing:

[quote=“Stray Dog”][quote=“gao_bo_han”][quote=“Stray Dog”]I’m never happy! :raspberry:

I just like to add balance. Didn’t want this thread to turn into ‘Christianity is good; Islam is bad’.

I’m a Pisces, so I don’t really believe in nonsense like religion anyway.[/quote]

Just nonsense like astrology? :wink:[/quote]

I got one! Help me reel him in, someone! :laughing:[/quote]

You’ve got to keep a sharp eye on Stray Dog, GBH. He’s a wiley one.

Here’s an artist’s conception of the kind of thing you have to watch out for when dealing with this character :wink:

Seems that Christianity and Islam have even more in common …[/quote]

Finders keepers.