The Crusades.

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The Crusades.

Postby RedPlums » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:01 am

This is for you Sstavix and ArcticFox...

In a previous debate the question of the crusaders and whether their actions were justified came up.
So, my question is, would you say the crusades were a justified and holy expedition(s) or were they just a mission fueled by mans own desire?

It is of my own personal opinion, from what I have read and heard and learned, that the crusades were nothing more than a reason to go to war.
If you look pretty closely into the life of an average crusade knight, they weren't really Godly people. Of course at that time everyone was a "Christian" because that was the cool thing to do in those days. Everyone knew about God and Jesus and went to Church and they gave and were good little Christians, but many people probably were not saved, the words and deeds and philosophies of that day seemed to all nice and Godly but really it was just sorta white noise, everyone knew about God and the Bible but few people seemed to truly believe that Jesus Christ died for them.
Also, there was a massive feeling of anti-Semitism (dislike or hatred of the Jews) in the Europeans because they followed Judaism and not Christianity. The "Christians" of that day seemed to overlook the part(s) in the Bible where God says the Jews are HIS people and treated them horribly. Kicking them out of their own land and treating them as garbage really. They were pretty much the lowest of the low in European social class. Simply because they were not "Christians" who cares if God says they are His chosen and special people?
Also, many of the knights took things from the "Holy Sepulchre" Taking gold and jewels and ornaments from the temple and Jerusalem, the crusades, while yes they did sorta work in clearing the Muslims out of Israel, they also seemed to be a ransacking mission.
To me it just seems like the crusades were driven by greed and a personal hatred towards the muslims and jews.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:04 am

I am... overjoyed that someone has brought this topic up. THANK YOU. I will give a detailed reply tomorrow. This is one of my favorite topics of study in Medieval history.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:15 pm

I'mma also plug (Though it has little to do with justification for the crusades, just interesting tidbits) the Extra History series on The First Crusade.


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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:19 pm

I'mma also plug (Though it has little to do with justification for the crusades, just interesting tidbits) the Extra History series on The First Crusade.
Man you beat me to it... I was gonna post that. Just watched those over the weekend and they're good-ish. They left out a few things but their facts are mostly correct.
So, my question is, would you say the crusades were a justified and holy expedition(s) or were they just a mission fueled by mans own desire?
Yes to both.
It is of my own personal opinion, from what I have read and heard and learned, that the crusades were nothing more than a reason to go to war.
This is exactly what we're meant to think. Whenever we hear about the Crusades, whether it be from a History Channel Documentary, a teacher, or when they're used top show an example of Christian misdeeds, there are always two very common errors made.

First, the Crusades weren't a single set of wars that you can lump together in to one group in any meaningful way. Saying "The Crusades" as a way of making a point about anything is like saying "My favorite food is lunch." To have a meaningful discussion we have to be specific. Are we talking about the People's Crusade? The First Crusade? And even within a given Crusade there may be multiple armies doing their own thing.

Second, The First Crusade is not the beginning of the story. By the time the Crusades were beginning, Christian Europe had already been fighting a long, aggressive and losing war against the Turks and Moors for Centuries. The First Crusade is like Star Wars Episode IV... People like to start there, but there was already a lot going on and a lot of the story had already taken place.

So to have any kind of useful discussion about the propriety and goals of the various Crusades, it is necessary to understand the actual history and setting. To do that, we have to begin our discussion with the rise of Islam.

Reasonable?
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:49 pm

... This is exactly what we're meant to think. Whenever we hear about the Crusades, whether it be from a History Channel Documentary, a teacher, or when they're used top show an example of Christian misdeeds, there are always two very common errors made.

First, the Crusades weren't a single set of wars that you can lump together in to one group in any meaningful way. Saying "The Crusades" as a way of making a point about anything is like saying "My favorite food is lunch." To have a meaningful discussion we have to be specific. Are we talking about the People's Crusade? The First Crusade? And even within a given Crusade there may be multiple armies doing their own thing.

Second, The First Crusade is not the beginning of the story. By the time the Crusades were beginning, Christian Europe had already been fighting a long, aggressive and losing war against the Turks and Moors for Centuries. The First Crusade is like Star Wars Episode IV... People like to start there, but there was already a lot going on and a lot of the story had already taken place.

So to have any kind of useful discussion about the propriety and goals of the various Crusades, it is necessary to understand the actual history and setting. To do that, we have to begin our discussion with the rise of Islam.

Reasonable?
I've got two words to toss into this conversation. Two words that, from the very beginning of time, have caused great concern for those who would answer the Biblical question, "What is truth?"
Those two words are: Historical Revisionism.
We have no choice but to be VERY careful what we believe, deeply interested in where the information comes from, highly concerned about facts behind what we learn and constantly be in prayer knowing God's Truth is NOT our truth most of the time when it comes to history.
Now please don't think I'm trying to say "All we learn is false", Heaven forbid! All I'm saying is most of the time (80-90% maybe more) information we get about any part of our past has a flaw somewhere, somehow.
That's one of many reasons to be discerning. Just saying.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:59 pm

I've got two words to toss into this conversation. Two words that, from the very beginning of time, have caused great concern for those who would answer the Biblical question, "What is truth?"
Those two words are: Historical Revisionism.
Let me stop you there.

Which kind of historical revisionism do you mean? It sounds like you mean Negationism, but there is also a variety with a more positive spin to it.

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby Sstavix » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:09 pm

This is for you Sstavix and ArcticFox...
... why are you bringing me into this? I'm not a historian by any means, and any attempts to look at this will likely be tainted by my own personal, modern-day beliefs and interpretations.

I can tell you that King Richard's Crusade can give a nice bonus to production tiles in Civilization II, though. It really doesn't last too long, though, being obsolete with Industrialization, so it's only a Wonder to pursue if you need a boost to generating an army in a short amount of time.

Hey, I write what I know. ;)

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:11 pm

I've got two words to toss into this conversation. Two words that, from the very beginning of time, have caused great concern for those who would answer the Biblical question, "What is truth?"
Those two words are: Historical Revisionism.
Let me stop you there.

Which kind of historical revisionism do you mean? It sounds like you mean Negationism, but there is also a variety with a more positive spin to it.
Honestly it don't matter much either way. Anything taken out of it's original context is false, be it to the positive or negative.
Take for example Jesus Himself. Was He a Good Man? Obviously so, but is that ALL he was? If I just said "He was a good man." I would be partially right for He was more than that. If I explain He was, is and always will be good, I'm closer to the Truth. The first way limits how we understand what's been said, unless we know more truth behind the statement.
Hope that clarifies my statement some.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Fri Feb 19, 2016 6:07 pm

Without further ado, allow me to take you back in time...

It is the year AD 632. Mohammed, the man who launched the religion of Islam, has just died. He was a uniter, and a man who maintained peaceful relations between Islam and Christianity as well as Judaism. He had been friends with, and sheltered by, Jewish and Christian communities. He warred with the pagans of the Arabian peninsula, but got along well with the other monotheistic religions for the most part. While there did seem to have been battles with these groups, it appears to have had more to do with local politics than religious conflict.

Mohammed's legacy was a united Arabia, which had before always been fragmented. It had not been integrated into the Roman Empire and thus was not only many separate tribes, but also pagan since it was never converted to Christianity as much of the rest of North Africa and western Asia had been. This was an impressive achievement, and it was looking like Islam would stand peacefully alongside Christianity and Judiasm.

And then, one day, along comes a man by the name of Abu Bakr. He became the first Caliph, and started wars of conquest to completely unite not only Arabia, but the regions around it. Before his death, he sent General Khalid ibn al-Walid to conquer the Sasanian Empire to the east (Religion: Zoroastrianism), and the Byzantine Empire (Religion: Christianity)to the north.

That was the first time an Islamic nation and a Christian nation went to war. Just 5 years after the death of Mohammed, Jerusalem itself was under siege.

I'll pause the story here for comments.

Notes:
  • Mohammed himself did not move against other nations in wars of conquest. We have no way of knowing if he ever intended to, or if he would have maintained peaceful relations with neighboring empires.

    The wars of conquest launched after his death were aggressive and ambitious. It's not clear to me whether the motive was religious or territorial, but either way this is where war between the cultures truly began, not in 1098.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby RedPlums » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:25 pm

First and foremost, this is not, nor will it be, a debate about who's idea of some peoples thoughts and beliefs hundreds of years ago are right. I simply brought this up because it interested some of us and I wanted to here other people's ideas on this subject.
This is for you Sstavix and ArcticFox...
... why are you bringing me into this?
Sorry Sstavix, I may have misrepresented you. I was sure you and Arctic had talked previously of starting a convo. on the crusades. My apologies.

To answer Arctic, typically when people talk about the Crusades they refer to King Richard's, which in my opinion is the most popular. I am addressing the crusades as a whole, all of them. I do realize that there were multiple ones over the years, some were successful but as they kept going on they became less and less effective in removing and defeating the Muslims in Israel.

I have read the basic history of Islam, and yes I agree, at the beginning theirs was a peaceful religion. Yet their Qu'ran has been so altered and revised and interpreted in so many ways that Islam has changed from what it once was. Please understand I do not condone Islam, it does not preach a gospel of love or salvation. But it is indeed different now than what it was at the beginning, and the Islam taught now has caused many issues with other religions around the world. The first caliph decides to go and conquer Israel as a part of his plan to unite Arabia. At this time the Church had been corrupted by the clergy and various Popes, Pope Urban II sent an army of Catholics to go and help the Byzantine Empire, his ultimate goal was to open pilgrim passages for Catholics to go to Jerusalem and therefore unite eastern and western Christendom with him as it's leader. So right there we see that the first crusade wast partially motivated by greed. Also, the church didn't return much of the land to the Byzantines but rather kept it and ransacked it. The Pope declared the crusaders forgiven of their sins of war and said they were justified in there actions because they were doing "god's will". The people's crusade, led by Peter the Hermit, caused mass persecution and slaughtering of the Jews. Now, to me it just seems that there is no way to justify the slaughter of God's chosen people. The Jews even fought against the crusaders in the first two because of how mistreated they were.

I'll post more when I have time. But right now I ought to start on supper. Life goes on...
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:57 am

To answer Arctic, typically when people talk about the Crusades they refer to King Richard's, which in my opinion is the most popular. I am addressing the crusades as a whole, all of them. I do realize that there were multiple ones over the years, some were successful but as they kept going on they became less and less effective in removing and defeating the Muslims in Israel.
A couple of things... Let's not get too far ahead here. Richard I was involved in the Third Crusade, which was almost a hundred years after the First. Also, not all of the Crusades went to the Holy Land. Some went into North Africa, and some were fought in the Iberian Peninsula to push the Moors out of Spain.
The first caliph decides to go and conquer Israel as a part of his plan to unite Arabia. At this time the Church had been corrupted by the clergy and various Popes, Pope Urban II sent an army of Catholics to go and help the Byzantine Empire, his ultimate goal was to open pilgrim passages for Catholics to go to Jerusalem and therefore unite eastern and western Christendom with him as it's leader.
Arguably. I'll go into more detail in due course, but keep in mind hat the First Crusade was the direct result of the Byzantine Emperor requesting aid. It wasn't like the Pope was sitting around planning wars.
So right there we see that the first crusade wast partially motivated by greed.
Not really. While it's true that some of the leaders were in it for the opportunities for wealth and land, this couldn't have been a very powerful motive for the Pope himself. More detail on that later.
Also, the church didn't return much of the land to the Byzantines but rather kept it and ransacked it.
No, the Church did no such thing. Individual lords kept the lands they'd won, in violation of their oaths. It's not like a Crusade was a papal army marching under the banner of the Pope and operating on behalf of the Church. The Crusades were led, financed and fought by noble lords and kings who were called upon by the Pope to go on Crusade, but were not directly answerable to him. As for ransacking, that's true. Welcome to Medieval warfare.
The Pope declared the crusaders forgiven of their sins of war and said they were justified in there actions because they were doing "god's will".
Sort of. Indulgences were given to anyone who took the cross and went on Crusade as a recruiting incentive. Indulgences were not unique to crusaders.
The people's crusade, led by Peter the Hermit, caused mass persecution and slaughtering of the Jews. Now, to me it just seems that there is no way to justify the slaughter of God's chosen people. The Jews even fought against the crusaders in the first two because of how mistreated they were.
Peter the Hermit's band weren't the ones who went around slaughtering Jews. That was the group from Germany. Those people were NOT acting on orders from the Pope to attack Jews. They did that on their own. In fact, the Pope tried to stop this madness.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:45 pm

Continuing on...

So the invasions of neighboring empires began and the conquests continued prettymuch without stopping for the next four and a half centuries. By the middle of the 8th Century, most of Spain had also fallen to Islamic expansion although from what I can tell religious freedom was maintained for the most part there. In the East, conversion by the sword was much more common.

By 1098, Most of the Byzantine Empire had been conquered by the Turks, and the Emperor was out of options.

It's 1098. Your armies have been unable to hold back the advancing Turks and you need help. Badly. Who can you turn to who has enough influence to get you a LOT of help in defending Constantinople and, hopefully, push back a little?

The Pope, of course.

While you cold turn to any one of dozens of kingdoms, none of them can muster a force large enough to help you. The Pope, on the other hand, has influence enough that he could convince several nations to contribute military power to push back what is a common enemy. The answer is obvious...

So it's 1098, and you're the Pope. You've probably already been worried for a while about Islamic conquests into Europe. Pope Urban II was exiled and living in France, so with the Moors being not at all far away in Spain he probably was keenly aware of the threat to Europe. The mountains between Spain and France are difficult to attack through, so expansion from that direction had been stopped, but if the Byzantines fall then the Turks will surely start pouring into Eastern Europe and it would be too late to stop them. What do you do?

What do you do?
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:00 pm

Especially considering that the Turks did in fact pour into Eastern Europe like a Maelstrom after Constantinople centuries later fell gave it more credence in hindsight.

Of course, it didn't help that one of those crusades wound up in Constantinople to begin with. Granted that happened due to a combination of corrupt Venetians, not initially on the part of the Pope in those days. It also had to do with the horrendous mismanagement of the Byzantine Empire under the Angelois dynasty, which took power after the downfall of the tyrannical emperor Andronichos Komnemnos.

The end of the Komemnoi dynasty which had been carefully navigating the diplomacy with The Empire and the Crusaders, along with the end of a sort of Byzantine revival and renewal that was beginning to form, was in itself somewhat of a turning point. When Emperor Issac II Angelos was deposed, it was by one of the princes, Alexis IV, who briefly became Emperor with the backing of the Crusaders in the fourth crusade.

Well, the Byzantine people didn't like him very much, deposed Alexios IV, and then Issac II came back briefly. Of course, the Crusaders weren't going to get any of the promised payments for their initially temporary diversion to Constantinople now, so they said screw it and made it a more permanent one. The problem was after the brutal sacking of the city, desecration of their churches, and a breakup of the Empire that never recovered, that caused the Byzantine people and a lot of Orthodox Clergy to turn completely against them. By the time the Turks did manage to conquer Constantinople a few centuries later, when both the last Emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople tried to reunite the churches to call one last crusade to help at the council of Florence, both layman and clergy alike rejected it seeing the Turks as the lesser of the two evils at that point.

That was a big part in why later crusades after the fourth really didn't accomplish much. With the main empire that had kept Muslim conquests at bay for many centuries suddenly crushed and a shadow of its former self, it was only a matter of time.

It should also be noted that the Turks, unlike the caliphs before them, weren't anywhere near as amicable to other religions in their conquered lands, as Orthodox Churches would eventually come to find out under Ottoman rule. Many religious minorities became second class citizens under Ottoman rule, and eventually the Ottoman dynasty went from a line of strong rulers and worthy statesmen to a series of increasingly dysfunctional and inept ones instead, making matters worse.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:31 pm

And that's the thing... the study of the Crusades is a huge, complex and nuanced thing... To try and distill it down to "The Crusades were just a bunch of greedy and corrupt Catholics starting wars to gain land and wealth" isn't even accurate enough to be called an oversimplification. As this discussion continues, my goal is to show how the motives, actions and reactions of the people involved in the Crusades varied wildly, with some in it for the sincere belief that it was God's will, some were in it for wealth, some were in it for honor, some were in it to defend their homeland, etc...

Why does this matter? Because we, as a culture, have been spoonfed for a long time the notion that the Crusades were the epitome of Christian corruption and greed. Get into a debate about modern terrorism seeming to cling to Islam and people will throw the Crusades in your face, as if to silence Christians who might just have a problem with Islamic Extremism. This subject is relevant today, and if we're going to discuss it, we need to do so in an honest and informed way.

So now we've established that wars between Muslim nations and Christian nations had been going on for about 450 years before any of the Crusades even started. See what I mean about this being the middle of the story? The First Crusade is Star Wars: Episode 4 and the wars of Islamic expansion were the prequels that nobody talks about. You simply can't discuss the Crusades without understanding the events that set the stage in 1098.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby BlockHeadLewie » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:42 pm

Rather interesting that a question was brought into my "Ask the members" thread that actually directly connects to this topic.
The Canterbury Tales do have some interesting parts within them that do give some insight to The Crusades. (Emphasis on some.)
This includes how the Catholic Church fits into things.
Well worth the read, in my opinion.
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