|Christian Crusaders Fought Long Hard Battles For Many Years At A Time,|
Some Left England, France and Spain as Young Men and Returned Many Years Later
In this ongoing saga of the Crusades, I will only touch base on a few of the many myths that have grown. The facts bear out that too many stories were fabricated by the Muslims long after the Crusades were over. The reasons behind these fabrications, no one knows for sure. In essence the was no reason to fabricate anything, as it was the Muslims under their leader Saladin who were ultimately victorious.
MYTH #3: When the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred every man, woman and child in the city until the streets ran ankle deep in blood.
This is a favorite 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. However, this needs to be looked at in and understood in historical context. The accepted moral standard in all pre-modern European and Asia civilizations 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 Muslim 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 Muslim cities 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.
The lost history of the Crusades: Western guilt over, and apologies for, the Crusades ignores one crucial fact: The West actually lost!
The Crusades were a response to more than four hundred years of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world.
Here is a point to ponder: In the year 1453, Muslims captured the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople (Istanbul Turkey today). In the late 15th century, Rome was evacuated when Muslim armies landed at Otranto in an unsuccessful invasion of Italy. By the 16th century, the Ottoman Turk empire stretched from North Africa and Arabia to the Near East and Asia Minor. They penetrated deep into Europe, conquering Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Albania, Croatia and Serbia. In 1529, the Ottomans (Muslims) laid siege to Vienna, Austria. Fortunately for Europe, the siege failed; otherwise the door to Germany would have opened. It wasn't until 1572, when the Catholic Holy League defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto, that Islam's threat to the West finally ended. Or was it? Not really... In the late 20th century, that's here and now my friends, the doors to Europe are once again open to Muslims. I wonder, who will stop them this time?
God Help Us
(Acknowledgements and Sources: Author, Thomas Madden and Robert Sibley of the Ottawa Citizen)