“What about the Crusades?” If you’ve ever criticised the unprovoked brutality of Islam, you’ve probably been asked that question. What’s implied is that Christianity was just as cruel as Islam, if not worse. This, however, is merely a twentieth-century creation, prompted in part by post-World War I British and French imperialism and the post-World War II creation of the state of Israel.
In his book, God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, Rodney Stark summarized the current understanding of the Crusades as follows: “During the Crusades, an expansionist, imperialistic Christendom brutalized, looted, and colonized a tolerant and peaceful Islam.” But that’s just not the case, according to Stark.
The Crusades were precipitated by Islamic provocations: by centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West and by sudden new attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places. Although the Crusades were initiated by a plea from the pope, this had nothing to do with hopes of converting Islam. Nor were the Crusades organized and led by surplus sons, but by the heads of great families who were fully aware that the costs of crusading would far exceed the very modest material rewards that could be expected; most went at immense personal cost, some of them knowingly bankrupting themselves to go…
Many critics of the Crusades would seem to suppose that after the Muslims had overrun a major portion of Christendom, they should have been ignored or forgiven; suggestions have been made about turning the other cheek. This outlook is certainly unrealistic and probably insincere. Not only had the Byzantines lost most of their empire; the enemy was at their gates and the loss of Spain, Sicily, and southern Italy, as well as a host of Mediterranean islands, was bitterly resented in Europe. Hence, as British historian Derek Lomax (1933-1992) explained, ‘The popes, like most Christians, believed war against the Muslims to be justified partly because the latter had usurped by force lands which once belonged to Christians and partly because they abused the Christians over whom they ruled and such Christian lands as they could raid for slaves, plunder and the joys of destruction.’ It was time to strike back.
In the following video, the folks at Verum Media explain how the Crusades saved Europe, Western civilisation and Christianity. “They begun as a defensive war in response to centuries long Islamic aggression and conquest – not a random imperialist land grab in the Holy Land.”
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