The Crusades seem to be provoke many (mostly non believers with an existing dislike for Catholicism) to anger. Whenever there is unrest with fundamentalism in the Islamic world from groups such as Isis, westerners are always quick to remind Christians that Crusaders done many terrible things to Muslims in the name of Christ. In this post I will demonstrate some of the myths surrounding the Crusades. I will own up to horrible acts done in Christs name, but also show my readers of all creeds and none that we need to honor these Crusaders.
There are lots of popular myths about the Crusades. One of the greatest myths is it was done merely for money and political power. The Crusades were a spontaneous grab at land and gold from a country not their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Crusades were not so much a religious response as they were a cultural one against a barbaric Islamic tribe with world domination in its sights.
The Seljuks ( a pagan tribe converted to Sunni Islam) didn’t even own the land they inhabited, yet they invaded it. The Crusaders didn’t own it either but defeating the Turks was not about simply getting back Jerusalem but creating a peaceful society free of beheadings and Jihad fundamentalist nonsense. Even the Muslims who lived in Jerusalem preferred to be ruled by Christians than the Turks.
Put it this way, if there was no such thing as Christianity and western Europe was pagan or godless in the year 1095, there would still have been a war against the Seljuk Turks. Therefore, the idea that it was only a war of religions is horse feathers because when it comes to survival, whether you believe in God or not, you’re going to do what it takes to defend your country and ensure the survival of your culture.
Even though many Crusaders did horrible things in the name of God, that does not mean God was somehow behind those acts. The Gospel clearly demonstrates that their actions of killing innocents were contradictory to their religion. The same cannot be said of Islam whose alleged holy books endorse their behaviour to rape and pillage in the name of Allah. If there is anything Catholics should be embarrassed by it’s the unnecessary slaughter of Islamic civilians after the Capture of Jerusalem (1099) or the one against Orthodox Christians in Constantinople (1204). Then there is the persecution of Jews in Frankish lands and the Cathars (Christian heretical sect) that we should also be embarrassed by.
Yet, with all the troubling stories we hear by groups of Crusaders or Muslims and their barbaric acts towards each other, without the Crusades Europe would look very different today. You have to remember that the Turks reached all the way to the walls of Venice. If it were not for the many brave peasants and nobles of that time, Europe would surely have fallen to Islam and the trappings of its barbarous culture.
While we need to recognize the dishonorable actions of many lay people and clerics, it’s important to honor the many people who fought to preserve the European democratic culture we have today. They are the reason why we have a culture founded on Christian ideals. If we are willing to honor the soldiers of world war II who fought against a barbaric regime under Hitler, why not those who risked their lives against the Turks in Europe? But simply because they flew the Christian symbol and we now live in a post Christian Europe, we’ve decided they no longer matter, going as far as to label them scum of the earth, depicting them as villains.
One does not have to look far to see how the modern Islamic countries are doing today. Saudi Arabia where it’s illegal to have a bible, continuing to cut off peoples heads or treating women like second class citizens, are enjoying modern technology. Yet without the Crusades, we too would be enjoying the trappings of a modern world, but under Sunni Islam and Sharia Law as they do in Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, while I think many should acknowledge some of what the Crusades got wrong, we shouldn’t neglect to acknowledge what they got right. The Crusaders were the first to practice a polyglot multicultural society, a Christian trait still prevalent in Europe to this day. They responded to an aggressive religion intent on world domination in defense of their own religious culture.
I find it disgusting that Europeans constantly call these simple hard working Kings, nobles and peasants out to protect their future generations from Islamic rule right wing fundamentalists. The historian on the Crusades Dan Jones called them an “Alt right response” in one of his interviews on Youtube. Oh yes Dan, would that be the alt right army who are the reason why you have books sales and be able to freely speak in a democratic society? Even biased historians need to appeal to a post Christian culture in order to sell their books while forgetting they wouldn’t even be able to enjoy a democratic society if it were not for the Crusades.
There are other revisionist historians who like to discuss the Crusades as being a campaign for money and power, themselves falling victim to the same intent. By appealing to a post Christian culture to make money and grow in prestige through sales of their books they’re hypocrisy becomes all the more obvious. Oh come on! Of course Crusaders need to make money, what are they going to eat to survive? But it’s popular in a socialist society to see the acquiring of money as something to be embarrassed by so I’m not surprised.
My point is, while numbered among crusaders were ex prisoners and murderers with a lust for excessive wealth, killing and raping, the majority of them were citizens concerned about the survival of their Christian culture. It is thanks to the good kings, nobles and peasants of that era that I can sit here in a democratic society and not get my head chopped off or hand shredded for owning a Bible.
While I recognize the wrongs of those who took part, I refuse to remember the Crusades as an embarrassing part of Catholic history, and I look upon them as I do the men who fought against Hitler over 70 years ago which included my grandfather. Many shameful acts were committed by those who took part in world war II (like the Russians who raped the women of Berlin), but my grandfather wasn’t one of them. Without him and many others Europe would be a different continent today, just as it would have been without the crusades.
It’s time to stop being embarrassed by the Crusades, and give the good people who took part the honor they deserve regardless of whether or not they flew a Christian symbol.