Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Crusades

I have some interest in studying about the Crusades, because they are considered to be a black spot on the Church. However, I tend to believe that most of the individuals who participated in the Crusades were likely not true born-again Christians at all. The Crusades were something generated by the Medieval Catholic Church, and I tend to believe that most of them were not a part of the true Body of Christ (i.e., the ‘invisible church’). In fact, the Catholic Church at that time was responsible for martyring some who were, in fact, true followers of Christ. Part of my interest in studying a bit more about the Crusades is to attempt to find out how correct my theory is. The following is a brief, overall review of the Crusades:


In part, the call for a crusade must be viewed as connected with the investiture struggle. At the Council of Clermont in 1095, in the midst of the contest with Henry IV, Urban II proclaimed a Crusade. This was evidently a show of force in his struggle with the emperor. By this means Rome could direct the energies of Europe in a way that would bring her great advantages.

Although many went on the Crusades for economic reasons, or for adventure, or for other lesser reasons, the primary and official motive of the Crusades was religious. In fact Urban promised remission of sins to those who marched under the banner of the cross.

The event that sparked the Crusades was the advance of the Seljuk Turks in the East and the call for help from the Byzantine emperor Alexis I. Tales of the sufferings pilgrims endured at the hands of the Turks in the Holy Land provided emotional appeal for many to engage in holy war. And, in fact, Urban’s professed goal was to deliver the shrines of the Holy Land from Muslim control and return them to Christian supervision.

In response to Urban’s call a great host gathered from Western Europe, especially from France, the Lowlands, and Italy, and finally took Jerusalem in 1099. The Crusaders then set up the kingdom of Jerusalem and a series of Crusader states along the coast of Syria and Palestine.

Estimates of the number participating in this Crusade vary greatly. About 40,000 arrived at Nicaea (northwestern Turkey) in June of 1097; of these less than 5,000 were nobles and knights. The rest were wives, sisters, relatives, friends, retainers, and assortment of pilgrims, and even prostitutes.


The burden of arousing enthusiasm for the Second Crusade (1147) fell on the famous Bernard of Clairvaux. Europeans were concerned with meeting the Muslim threat to the northern borders of the kingdom of Jerusalem. The king of France and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire led the Crusade, but it was completely unsuccessful, leaving Jerusalem in greater danger than before. The crusading movement ground to a standstill until 1187, when Saladin captured Jerusalem and all Christendom was again aroused.


The Third Crusade (1189-1192) is known as the Crusade of the Three Kings: Richard I of England, Philip II of France, and Frederick I of Germany. Frederick drowned on the way to Palestine; Philip stayed in Palestine for only a very short time, leaving Richard to carry on the struggle alone. Although he was unsuccessful in taking Jerusalem, he recovered territory along the coast of Palestine and won permission for pilgrims to enter the Holy City for a few years.

The Fourth Crusade began in 1202 under the leadership of Pope Innocent III. He urged the capture of Egypt as a base of operations against Palestine. When the army gathered, it found itself without sufficient funds to pay for shipping. In return for financial guarantees it agreed with Venice to recapture nearby Zara from the Hungarians. For the same reason, it subsequently decided to support the deposed Byzantine emperor in his bid to regain the throne of the empire. The attack on Byzantium was more fiercely opposed than the Crusaders had expected, however.

The result was a prolonged struggle there, permanent sidetracking of the Crusade, the sacking of Constantinople and destruction of the power of the Eastern empire, and establishment of a Latin kingdom in its place. Innocent was able to have some indirect influence in this Latin kingdom and over the Eastern Orthodox church.

The last Crusade of any significance was the sixth, led by Frederick II of Germany in 1228-1229. By diplomacy he acquired for ten years Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and a corridor connecting Acre and Jerusalem.


The Crusades ended in failure, with Jerusalem falling to the Egyptians in 1244 and remaining in Muslim hands until 1917, when the British General Allenby captured the Holy City from the Turks. Yet it must be said that while the Crusades lasted, the Roman church enjoyed wave after wave of popular enthusiasm in support of her causes.

Moreover, while the church directed the energies of Europeans in fighting an external foe, she provided a safety valve that spared her a great deal of internal stress.

The effects of the Crusades were destined to be mainly political, social, and economic rather than religious. They contributed to the commercial revolution and its accompanying rise of the middle class, the demise of feudalism, and the decline of provincialism in Western Europe. It is hard to measure fully the impact on Western Europe of the travel of hundreds of thousands of people to strange lands where they discovered new foods, new modes of dress, and new ways of doing things. All this ferment also helped to pave the way for the coming of the Renaissance. And since profits from commerce usually do not flow in one direction, rising commercial activity also stimulated a new prosperity in Muslim lands, notably Egypt. Moreover, the Fourth Crusade helped to bring about the fall of the Byzantine Empire.”

(pp. 66-67, “Exploring Church History,” by Howard F. Vos)


satire and theology said...

A gentleman and new Christian at church was going to do a public talk on God's support of the Crusades. Thankfully, I gave him some advice to approach the topic differently.

However, I tend to believe that most of the individuals who participated in the Crusades were likely not true born-again Christians at all.

Good point, although I reason that some Christians have done terrible things in the past. If we look at some of the sins we have faced from Christians today, and factor in the hostile environment of the ancient world, perhaps some Christians were involved in the Crusades.

Jeff said...


You're right. Christians are not perfect; only forgiven. And, once a person becomes a Christian, Satan does his best to attack that believer, in an attempt to try to dishonor God. Plus, since humans across the globe are widely varied in knowledge, experiences, temperament, education, etc., not to mention everyone having different opinions about things, as well as the fact that none of us are perfect, then there are bound to be those Christians who do the wrong thing or believe wrong things. All of us do the wrong thing at some time or other, and all of us do things at times that we later regret.

For the Christian, there is a very real spiritual battle raging, and there are very real casualties. This world is also drenched in sin, and sin taints and affects even those who are Christians.

So, you're right. Especially in a time of such ignorance, superstition, and lack of truth, there could have been some misguided Christians who joined in the Crusades.

However, I still believe that most of them were not true Christians. The fact that some of them joined for the purpose of getting their sins forgiven is proof of that. A true Christian knows that only Christ can forgive sins, and that you can't be forgiven just because you join a Crusade, or because a Pope tells you that your sins are forgiven.

On the other hand, the emotions involved when enthusiasm was aroused could have spurred some true Christians to fight, maybe in a similar way to Bush sending American troops to fight in Iraq after 9/11. Even in America today, there are some Christians who are for the war in Iraq, and other Christians who are against it.

thekingpin68 said...

However, I still believe that most of them were not true Christians.

I tend to agree.

Jeff said...

Islam portrays the Crusades as evil. But the Crusaders went to an Arabian, Muslim Middle East to help the Christians who cried out for help. That's how it all started. It wasn't a band of Europeans who saddled up their horses and went over just to kill Muslims. They went there in response to a plea for help, because of the suffering of the Christians in the Middle East. We must remember how Islam spread to the Middle East. Islam came to the Middle East and conquered with a sword---a sword wielded by Umar, the second Caliph. There was great destruction. So the Crusades are one of the few times that kafirs turned to help other kafirs, which were being attacked through jihad.

The main reason that the Crusades originally started was a good reason, and that was to answer a cry for help. But in any case, the Crusades lasted less than 200 years. Islamic Jihad has been responsible for the killing of 270 MILLION kafirs over a period of 1400 years, and Islam has played the key role in slavery for 1400 years.

The Crusades were defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression---an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. They were a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world.

"How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? ...Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?" (Urban II)

At some point, Christianity (or at least the Medieval Catholic Church, which I personally do not consider to be representative of true Christianity; and I suspect that many of the Crusaders were probably not true Christians, but were likely 'Christian' in name only, just as some are today, especially in the U.S.) had to defend itself or be subdued by Islam. The Crusades were that defense. Actually, the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing. The Crusades were wars, so it would be a mistake to characterize them as nothing but piety and good intentions. Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes.

Jeff said...

Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Muhammad, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Islamic ideology divides the world into two spheres: the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. 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.

What is done to Christians is also done to Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists. Islam does not discriminate. All ‘kafirs’ must submit. In every case, once Islam rises to political power in a country, the original civilization is annihilated. This is the potential problem we are facing today.

Jihad is incumbent upon all Muslims. It is obligatory for all devout Muslims. It almost became the 6th pillar of Islam. Dying in jihad is the only guaranteed way to Paradise for a Muslim, and the ultimate purpose of jihad is to impose Shari'a law on the entire world. However, jihad does not necessarily have to be by the sword. It can also be done by the pen, mouth, or with money. Muslims use da'wa (Muslim missionary activity), including al-taquiyya (lying to protect Islam) and kitman (lying by omission), which is all part of jihad by the pen or mouth. America buys gas at the gas pump, which pays Saudi Arabia, who is the biggest financiers of global jihad. The same oil money is also used to buy endowed chairs at American and Western universities, so that Muslims in Comparative Religion departments can teach positive messages about Islam. American textbooks in public schools that talk about Islam are only allowed to say positive things about Islam. This is jihad by money, as well as by the pen and mouth. It is all for the purpose of bringing about Shari'a law and for converting more people to Islam.

Regarding Islamic jihad vs. the Crusades vs. the cities that God told the Jews to destroy in the Old Testament, the argument of moral equivalency is erroneous. In Judaism and Christianity, there is no command to go out and spread the religion by force into the entire world. Yes, the Jews were commanded to conquer a particular land area and dwell in it. They were NOT commanded to conquer the entire world and force their religion on the unwilling. There is no open-ended command in the Torah to do this. Christians were commanded to preach the Gospel throughout the entire world, but never were they commanded to spread the religion by force. Only Muslims have been commanded to convert the entire world by any means necessary, including violence. There is NO moral equivalence here.

Jeff said...

Clay Jones Interview: The Crusades - part 2

Downloadable audio: Clay Jones Interview on the Crusades - part 2 (14 min)

Jeff said...

Islamic Holy Wars V The Crusades
by Vin Sback on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 1:43pm

This note is in two sections. The first gives some figures on the amount of people slaughtered during the Islamic holy wars. The second will touch on the Crusades.

♦ These figures are a rough estimate of the death of non-Muslims by the political act of jihad.


Thomas Sowell [Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture, BasicBooks, 1994, p. 188] estimates that 11 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic and 14 million were sent to the Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East. For every slave captured many others died. Estimates of this collateral damage vary. The renowned missionary David Livingstone estimated that for every slave who reached a plantation, five others were killed in the initial raid or died of illness and privation on the forced march.[Woman’s Presbyterian Board of Missions, David Livingstone, p. 62, 1888] Those who were left behind were the very young, the weak, the sick and the old. These soon died since the main providers had been killed or enslaved. So, for 25 million slaves delivered to the market, we have an estimated death of about 120 million people. Islam ran the wholesale slave trade in Africa. 120 million Africans


The number of Christians martyred by Islam is 9 million [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-10]. A rough estimate by Raphael Moore in History of Asia Minor is that another 50 million died in wars by jihad. So counting the million African Christians killed in the 20th century we have: 60 million Christians


Koenard Elst in Negationism in India gives an estimate of 80 million Hindus killed in the total jihad against India. [Koenard Elst, Negationism in India, Voice of India, New Delhi, 2002, pg. 34.] The country of India today is only half the size of ancient India, due to jihad. The mountains near India are called the Hindu Kush, meaning the “funeral pyre of the Hindus.” 80 million Hindus


Buddhists do not keep up with the history of war. Keep in mind that in jihad only Christians and Jews were allowed to survive as dhimmis (servants to Islam); everyone else had to convert or die. Jihad killed the Buddhists in Turkey, Afghanistan, along the Silk Route, and in India. The total is roughly 10 million. [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-1.] 10 million Buddhists


Oddly enough there were not enough Jews killed in jihad to significantly affect the totals of the Great Annihilation. The jihad in Arabia was 100 percent effective, but the numbers were in the thousands, not millions. After that, the Jews submitted and became the dhimmis (servants and second class citizens) of Islam and did not have geographic political power.

This gives a rough estimate of 270 million killed by jihad.
(Source: freerepublic.com)

Jeff said...


♦ The Crusades

Here are some quick facts…

The first Crusade began in 1095… 460 years after the first Christian city was overrun by Muslim armies, 457 years after Jerusalem was conquered by Muslim armies, 453 years after Egypt was taken by Muslim armies, 443 after Muslims first plundered Italy, 427 years after Muslim armies first laid siege to the Christian capital of Constantinople, 380 years after Spain was conquered by Muslim armies, 363 years after France was first attacked by Muslim armies, 249 years after

Rome itself was sacked by a Muslim army, and only after centuries of church burnings, killings, enslavement and forced conversions of Christians.

By the time the Crusades finally began, Muslim armies had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world.

Europe had been harassed by Muslims since the first few years following Muhammad’s death. As early as 652, Muhammad’s followers launched raids on the island of Sicily, waging a full-scale occupation 200 years later that lasted almost a century and was punctuated by massacres, such as that at the town of Castrogiovanni, in which 8,000 Christians were put to death.

In 1084, ten years before the first crusade, Muslims staged another devastating Sicilian raid, burning churches in Reggio, enslaving monks and raping an abbey of nuns before carrying them into captivity.

In 1095, Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comneus began begging the pope in Rome for help in turning back the Muslim armies which were overrunning what is now Turkey, grabbing property as they went and turning churches into mosques. Several hundred thousand Christians had been killed in Anatolia alone in the decades following 1050 by Seljuk invaders interested in 'converting' the survivors to Islam.

Not only were Christians losing their lives in their own lands to the Muslim advance but pilgrims to the Holy Land from other parts of Europe were being harassed, kidnapped, molested, forcibly converted to Islam and occasionally murdered. (Compare this to Islam’s justification for slaughter on the basis of Muslims being denied access to the Meccan pilgrimage in Muhammad’s time).

The Crusaders only invaded lands that were Christian. They did not attack Saudi Arabia (other than a half-hearted expedition by a minor figure) or sack Mecca as the Muslims had done (and continued doing) to Italy and Constantinople.

Their primary goal was the recapture of Jerusalem and the security of safe passage for pilgrims. The toppling of the Muslim empire was not on the agenda.

Jeff said...


The period of Crusader “occupation” (of its own former land) was stretched over less than two centuries. (The Arab occupation is in its 1,380th year).

Despite popular depiction, the Crusades were not a titanic battle between Christianity and Islam. Although originally dispatched by papal decree, the "occupiers" quickly became part of the political and economic fabric of the Middle East without much regard for religious differences. Their arrival was largely accepted by the local population as simply another change in authority. Muslim radicals even lamented the fact that many of their coreligionists preferred to live under Frankish (Christian) rule than migrate to Muslim lands.

The Islamic world was split into warring factions, many of which allied themselves with the Frankish princes against each other at one time or another. For its part, the Byzantine (Eastern Christian) Empire preferred to have little to do with the Crusaders and went so far as to sign treaties with their rivals. Even the Muslim armies that eventually pushed out the Christian rulers spent far more energy fighting each other, both before and after the various re-takings of Jerusalem.

Another misconception is that the Crusader era was a time of constant war. In fact, very little of this overall period included significant hostilities.

In response to Muslim expansion or aggression, there were only about 20 years of actual military campaigning, much of which was spent on organization and travel.

They were from 1098-1099, 1146-1148, 1188-1192, and 1201-1204, 1218-1221, 1228-1229, and 1248-1250.

By comparison, the Muslim Jihad against the island of Sicily alone lasted 75 grinding years.

Unlike Jihad, the Crusades were never justified on the basis of New Testament teachings. This is why they are an anomaly, the brief interruption of centuries of relentless Jihad against Christianity that began long before the Crusades and continued well after they were over.

The greatest crime of the Crusaders was the sacking of Jerusalem, in which 30,000 people were said to have been massacred. This number is dwarfed by the number of Jihad victims, from India to Constantinople, Africa and Narbonne, but Muslims have never apologized for their crimes and never will.

What is called 'sin and excess' by other religions, is what Islam refers to as the will of Allah.


Jeff said...

The Truth About The Crusades