Friday, July 19, 2013

( 6 ) " The Great Crusades (1095-1272) "

By Sodium

From the very beginning of the chapter of this topic, Graham Fuller, author of the book entitled, " A World Without Islam," attracts the curiosity of the reader by asking the following two questions:

Question One:
" Could there even have been crusades in the absence of Islam in the Holy Land? "

Question Two:
" In a way, what historical event could be more about religion than the Crusades?

Answering the Two Questions:
The answer to the first question can " apparently " be found in the speech through which Pope Urban II called on all Christians in Western Europe to wage wars against the Muslims in the Holy Land to make sure the Holy City of Jerusalem would not remain in Muslim hands but Western Christian hands. Please notice that the world, " apparently " has been used as part of the answer given. In other words, the real reasons for such a call for crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land extend further than what the " apparent " answer that was given. In fact some of the reasons can be deduced from the speech itself given by Pope Urban II himself. No need is necessary to quote the entire speech to comprehend some of the reasons, but the following two quotations from Urban's speech will suffice:

Quotation One:
    "O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race ( the Pope meant Arabs and Turks by the word, "race" ) which worship demons, should conquer a people which has the faiths of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ."

Quotation Two:
" Let those who for a long time have been robbers, now become Knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and sisters now fight in a proper way against the barbarians."

Based on those two quotations, one can deduce the following points:

~  Pope Urban II had clearly called for violence, violating one of the most important tenets of Christianity, which Jesus Christ had taught and preached.

~  Quotation One, as quoted above, clearly shows the depth of hatred Pope Urban II had held towards the Muslims and their religion, ( calling their religion, demons ), in spite of the recorded fact that Jesus preached: " Love your enemy."
~  Quotation Two, as quoted above, has clearly revealed that Pope Urban II had other non-Islamic and non-religious reasons to call for wars against the " Barbarians," by changing suddenly and immediately the status of robbers into Knights so that they could join in the Crusades and fight as Knights, not as robbers. The Pope sounded as having very serious and difficult social problems within the realm of Christianity in Western Europe and found calling for Crusades might help him overcome his serious social and probably economic problems. Why did robbers exist, in the first place, in his realm of Christianity, if there were no serious economic problems beside the social ones?

The two quotations quoted above, plus the discussion that followed them, have answered the first question that has been raised by Graham fuller, author of, " A World Without Islam."

The answer to the second  question, as raised by Graham Fuller, and I repeat it, here, as a reminder:  " In a way, what historical event could be more about religion than the Crusades ? " is as follows: The answer to this question is obviously and most likely there is none. Almost 200 years of Crusades, in the name of Christianity against Islam and Muslims were waged; and yet at the end the Crusaders were expelled out, not only from the Holy Land, but also from the entire Middle East region in which they established their own City-States, across the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, even deeper than the Mediterranean coast line, like their ruined huge castle in the town of Karak, in southern Jordan.

The author has given detailed accounts, or rather detailed descriptions of what the Crusaders had done after Pope Urban II made his speech, calling for Crusades against Muslims and Islam. Anyone who is interested in reading the atrocities and criminalities of the Crusaders, during the entire period of Crusades, from 1095-1272 A.D, can find them in history books or in the Internet. I personally prefer reading the history books, since what has been published on the Internet is subject to deletions. The books remain as they were published, as long as they existed. However, the following recorded criminal acts are worth mentioning, here, to show that the hidden and unannounced agenda for the Crusades was fundamentally geopolitical whose big prize was hegemony of the West over the East which at the end had failed:

*  The first act of criminality committed by the former robbers whose status was changed by Pope Urban II from Robbers to Knights was killing of Jews who were living in the Rhineland of Germany. The Crusaders' threat to the Jews was: " Christianize or Death. "  As a results, many Jews had committed suicide. The hatred of Jews in Western Christianity stems from some people's mind-set that the Jews were the ones who killed Jesus Christ. In my opinion, what is in the mind-set of those Christians who hate Jews is a myth. I may tackle that issue in a future essay which may, indeed, show it was ( and still is ) a myth.

*  In their way to the Holy Land in Palestine, Crusaders stopped by Constantinople killed their fellow Christians and destroyed the city in the process.

*  In another Crusades, the Crusaders stopped by Greece and killed their fellow Christians who followed the Greek Orthodox Church, not the Papacy in Rome.

* Still in another Crusades, the Crusaders stopped by the Balkans and killed their fellow Christians who followed the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, not the Papacy in Rome.

The above examples related to the murderous nature of the Crusaders against the Jews, and their own fellows Christians in Constantinople, Greece and the Balkans, clearly shows that geopolitics for hegemony was deeply amalgamated with the Western Christianity which wanted to save the Holy City of Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslims " infidels."

And I would leave the rest of the atrocities and criminalities committed by the Crusaders at that, for this topic.

What Two Knowledgeable Experts Say About The Crusades:
At this point of the topic, it is worth quoting one important quote the author of the book has quoted.  The following quote is by Carol Hillenbrand, a specialist in the History of the Crusades:

" Contact with the Muslim world gave the Europeans a taste for all kinds of commodities, including ivory, inlaid, metalwork and other luxury goods that came from the Arab World. Of these the most important were textiles: damask, fustian, muslin, organdie, satin and taffeta."

" Crusaders returning home from the Holy Land speak of the exotic countries they had left behind. The phenomenon of Orientalism from the 18th century onward and its manifestations in Western art and literature, so powerfully described in recent times by (the late) Edward Said fed on the heritage of the Crusades. The Muslim world was the place of deserts, walled cities, veiled women, harems, eunuchs, bathhouses, intrigues, outlandish animals, clothing, languages, luxuries and an alien religion; in short, a land of romantic mystery and danger "

And finally, Graham Fuller, author of the book, " A World Without Islam, " has expressed some of his own views,  as follows;  and I quote him below:

" Islam today is a convenient shorthand to characterize the immense geopolitical complexities that made the saga of the Crusades. The Crusades are now part of the pantheon of the East-West tensions. Yet, we noted some of the early foundation of this struggle well before the appearance of Islam in the regional rebellions inside the Byzantium Empire against Constantinople; these movements embraced various religious banners (heresies) as vehicles and symbols for what was basically a contest for territory and power. These tensions preexisted Islam, ran parallel to Islam and still exist within the Middle East today. Could have been Crusades without Islam?  Perhaps not in quite same form, but a restless and ambitious Europe would probably found its way quickly enough to the East, in any case. It had already launched war against other border areas of Europe. If the distracting factor of Islam had never existed, the tensions between Rome and Constantinople would likely have been far more direct and confrontational than they were even at the time."

Final words From The Writer Of This Review:
If I refrain from pointing out that I have one single disagreement, however small, in this topic, I will be less than an honest man. My disagreement has to do with semantics, not with the substance of the chapter of this topic:

Calling the Crusades as " The Great Crusades " is totally unacceptable to me.. On the contrary, I would call them " The Murderous Crusades, " or " The Horrible Crusades, " or some other similar descriptions as these two descriptions I have just mentioned, but never " The Great Crusades."

I repeat that my disagreement is in semantics, not in the substance of the chapter of this topic.


Next topic will be topic ( 7 ) Shared Ecoes: The Protestant Reformation and Islam.


  1. Two comments.

    First, in answer to the question " Could there even have been crusades in the absence of Islam in the Holy Land? " you need look no further than the Crusade of the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic or the one against the Cathari of Provence, France.

    Second, I have read the book as well--like you I came across it by mere accident--and I have found it extremely interesting and thought-provoking.

  2. Crisp,

    I am glad that I have followed Google's advice in which they have suggested to check occasionally the comment sections, to watch for sham. Otherwise, I would not have the pleasure of reading your informative comments.

    Well, Crisp, it seems to me that you and I have four things in common"
    ~ Came across the book, " A World Without Islam " by utter accident.
    ~ Read the book.
    ~ Found it extremely interesting.
    ~ Found it thought-provoking.

    I really cannot ask for more from the readers of this website, even from those readers who have been following what has been published on day one,on this website, more than six years ago. This may give you an idea, as to how much I have appreciated reading your comments.

    Thank you, Crisp. And I hope that you will make it a habit to pay visits to this website whenever your time allows you to do so. It is such a delight reading intelligent comments from readers who connect with me, in thoughts and a touch of common ground. Much appreciated.

  3. Crisp,

    Correction: please read " more than three years ago " instead of " more than six years ago," as it was wrongly written in my last comment addressed to you, Crisp.

    My apology for getting mixed up between the year in which this website was started and the year in which I started posting occasionally at other website, more than six years ago. Sorry.