Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Many Crusade Battles Went On For Days, And Sometimes Weeks
Myth # 4:  The Crusades were just medieval colonialism dressed up in religious finery.
  It is important to remember that in the Middle Ages the West was not a powerful, dominant culture venturing into a primitive or backward region.  It was the Muslim East that was powerful, and extremely wealthy.  Europe was the "Third World" in those times.  The Crusader States, founded in the wake of the First Crusade, were not new plantations of Catholics in a Muslim world akin to the British colonization of America.  Catholic presence in the Crusader states was always tiny, easily less than 10% of the population.  These were the rulers and magistrates, as well as Italian merchants and members of the military orders.
  The overwhelming majority of the population in the Crusader states was Muslim.  They were not colonies, therefore, in the sense of  plantations or even factories, as in the case of India.  They were merely outposts.  The ultimate purpose of the Crusader states was to defend the holy places in Palestine, especially Jerusalem, and to provide a safe environment for Christian pilgrims to visit those places.  There was no mother country with which the Crusader states had an economic relationship, nor did the Europeans economically benefit from them.  Quite the contrary, the expense of Crusades to maintain the Latin East was a serious drain on European resources.  As an outpost, the Crusader states kept a military focus.  While the Muslims warred against each other the Crusader states were safe, but once the Muslims united, they were able to dismantle the strongholds, capture the cities, and in 1291 expel the Christians completely.
  Myth # 5:  The Crusades were also waged against Jews.
  No Pope ever called a Crusade against Jews.  During the First Crusade a large band of riffraff, not associated with the main army, descended on the towns of the Rhineland and decided to rob and kill the Jews they found there.  In part this was pure greed.  In part it also stemmed from the incorrect belief that the Jews, as crucifier's of Christ, were legitimate targets of war.  Pope Urban II and subsequent Popes strongly condemned these attacks on Jews.  Local Bishops and other clergy and laity attempted to defend the Jews, although with limited success.  Similarly, during the opening phase of the Second Crusade a group of renegades killed many Jews in Germany before St. Bernard was able to catch up to them and put a stop to it.  These misfires of the movement were an unfortunate by-product of Crusade enthusiasm, but they were not he purpose of the Crusades.  To use a modern analogy, during the Second World War some American soldiers committed crimes while overseas.  They were arrested and punished for those crimes.  Hut the purpose of the Second World War was not to commit crimes.
  Question:  Is the present struggle between the West and the Muslims in any way a reaction to the Crusades?
  Not necessarily, although terrorists like Osama Bin Laden many times refer to Americans as Crusaders.  It is important to note that it was Islam that was the super-power in the Middle Ages.  Muslims were extremely wealthy, sophisticated and very powerful.  The "Crusades" as far as the Muslim Empire goes were relatively insignificant.  The "Crusades" were only important to the Europeans, as it was a large and concerted effort on their part, and other than the First Crusade, the rest, (nine officially) were failed attempts to stop the Islamization of Europe.  During and after the Crusades, Muslim empires continued to expand and conquer Christian territories.  Muslims conquered the Balkans and much of Eastern Europe and even the greatest city of the time, Constantinople.  It wasn't until the 19th century when Europeans began conquering and colonizing Middle-Eastern countries that many so-called historians, not surprisingly the French royalist writers began to cast the "Crusades" as Europe's first attempt to bring the fruits of Western civilization to the backward Muslim world.  As a result of the French royalist writers, the Crusades were transformed from failed attempt at stopping Muslim expansion into Imperialist Wars.
  Unfortunately those histories were taught in the colonial schools and became the accepted view in the Middle East and beyond.  Here in the 20th and 21st centuries, imperialism has become discredited.  Ironically and using the adage that "no good deed goes unpunished" , many Islamists have seized on the colonial misrepresentation of the Crusades, and claim that the West is responsible for all their problems.  It is now the Muslim contention that the West has been preying upon Muslims ever since the Crusades.  What goes around, almost always comes around.  By this I mean that it has been said the people in the Middle East have long memories, and this may be true but in the case of the Crusades, they have a recovered memory: one that was manufactured for them by their 19th century French and European conquerors.  How Ironic!!!
  "The Muslim Brotherhood is very adept at playing the victim card to get their way in America and the the West.  We, as Christians, must not allow this false victim card to play on our sympathies.  Tolerance of the expansion of Islam is a dangerous practice, and will be a fatal blow to Christendom if left unchecked." 
God Help Us
The Watchman
(Sources and Acknowledgements:  Myths of the Crusades, Author: Thomas Madden)
( St. Bernard was actually Bernard of Clairvaux, born 1090-died 1153.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux has a very interesting history, I urge you to Google "St. Bernard of Clairvaux" and read about this remarkable Nobleman.)

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