Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Crusades - A Defensive Action

In response to recent comments wanting to prosecute Christianity for the Crusades, it is time to post the truth to the events.

Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far.

That is the theme the world follows to this day. Even now the extremist terrorist are spewed man love by the MSM in attempts to garner sympathy for their "cause".

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.

As I've always said, If Mecca is the muslim holy place (also a place they took by force) ... what is their fixation with Jerusalem? (Other than to conquer the Jews).

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.

I suppose the Christians were supposed to sit back and allow the muslims to continue conquering the world? Do nothing while THEIR land was taken, and the Christians put to death for not becoming muslim?

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.

Even after the Crusades through the 15th century (which had failed to re-capture many formerly Christian lands that had been taken), the muslims still fought, and even against their own to 'unify' the religion. Like the basic thought of today when terrorist bomb fellow muslims ... it is because they are not THEIR kind of muslim.

One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world.

The only reason the muslim expansion was halted was economics. It seems that it was just a pause for some extremists however, as the present day economy driven by oil has made many of them rich again ... thus terrorism was born.

So much for the arguement that 'poverty causes terrorism'.

More resources -

Fordham University

CT Library

Uncommon knowledge - a video lecture featuring William Hamblin, Professor of History, Brigham Young University, and Thomas Madden, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair, Saint Louis University; Author, A Concise History of the Crusades.

African Crisis

Womans Quarterly

I'll add more later as can when my broke hand isn't hurting so bad

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