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The Truth About the Crusades

The Crusades, Gerry Embleton
The Christian Crusades were attempts by Christians to save other Christian nations from the sword and dominance of Islam. It is a historical fact that sometimes Christian crusaders became opportunistic and even pillaged other Christians, but the original intent of the Crusades was to take back what Islam had taken from Christianity.
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August 15, 1096
First Christian Crusade begins

The Christian Crusades against Muslims began nearly 470 years after the first Muslim Crusades against Christians were initiated in 630, when Muhammad himself led the way. From late in the eleventh century until the middle of the thirteenth century, waves of Christian crusaders attempted to recover lands lost to the Muslims after 630. Nearly 470 years passed from the time that Muslims began to crusade against Christian lands until Christians responded with the First Crusade, beginning on August 15, 1096! It should be noted that originally Christians did not conquer these lands with the sword, but with the life changing influence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During the lifetime of Muhammad, Islam began a bloody campaign of conquest that has continued to the present era. A map of the progress of Islam will demonstrate the way in which Islam put to the sword Christian nation after Christian nation.

The Christian Crusades were attempts by Christians to save other Christian nations from the sword and dominance of Islam. It is a historical fact that sometimes Christian crusaders became opportunistic and even pillaged other Christians, but the original intent of the Crusades was to take back what Islam had taken from Christianity. The following is a brief summary of the Muslim and Christian Crusades.

Table of Contents

* Click headings to navigate; click headings to return.

Muslim Crusades Against Christians

Muhammad Begins Crusades

The Progress of Muslim Crusades

Muslims Destroy Christian Capitol

Muslim Brutality Toward Christians

Christian Crusades Against Muslims

First Crusade (1096-1099)

Second Crusade (1147-1148)

Third Crusade (1189-1192)

Fourth Crusade (1200-1204)

Fifth Crusade (Children’s Crusade, 1212)

Sixth Crusade (1219-1221)

Seventh Crusade (1229)

Eighth Crusade (1248-1264)

Final Attempts (1291-1464)

Conclusion

Related Articles

Sources of Information

Muslim Crusades Against Christians

The fact that the originating cause of the Crusades was Muslim aggression against Christians can hardly be overstated. The Christian Crusades were attempts to retake lands stolen by the Muslim invaders centuries earlier. To truly understand what precipitated the Christian Crusades, one must understand the rise and progress of Islam.

Muhammad Begins Crusades

The beginning of Islamic aggression against Christian lands may be dated at 630––during Muhammad’s lifetime––but particularly 638 when the first major city, Jerusalem, fell to the Muslims. After being forced to flee from Mecca in 622 because of his beliefs, Muhammad spent the next ten years in conflict with Jews, Christians, and his fellow Arabs. Finally in 630, his military might had sufficiently grown to capture Mecca and begin the conquest of territories to the north and outside of the Arabian Peninsula. This militaristic advocacy of Islam was not the efforts of “radical Islam” as espoused by liberal Americans, but commonplace Islam as taught by Muhammad in his Koran:

And fight with them [unbelievers] until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors (2:193).

…slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them (9:5).[1]

The Progress of Muslim Crusades

The Muslim crusades against Christians began during the life of Muhammad and continue into the present. In a well-written timeline documenting Muslim imperialism, James Arlandson, recounts Islam’s aggression against Christians. Two years before Muhammad died, he launched the Tabuk Crusades against Eastern or Byzantine Christians. Being ill-informed that the Byzantines were amassing a large army against him, Muhammad led 30,000 jihadists against an army that did not exist. Before returning home, he subjected non-Muslim areas to heavy taxation––the “privilege” of living under Muslim “protection.” After Muhammad’s death two years later, crusades against Christians continued. In 635, Muslim Crusaders besiege and conquer Damascus. James Arlandson lists nearly 70 incidents of major acts of aggression against Christians by Muslims from 630 to 1094––just prior to the First Christian Crusade against Muslims. What prompted the Christian Crusades were the numerous crusades of the Muslims.[2]

Islam owes its character to its founder, Muhammad. Following the tradition of Arab people groups who were constantly at war with each other, Muhammad initiated his followers into the blood-letting that quickly came to characterize Islam by beginning to raid caravans, then making war against his home city of Mecca, and finally warring against the world beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Muhammad shaped the character of Islam. His disciples only continued to follow his example.

Muslim Brutality Toward Christians

image
Muslims Behead Christian

Prior to and following the Conquest of Jerusalem (638)[3], aggression against Christians and Jews was commonplace. As Islam increased its grip on the Middle East and the Mediterranean world, brutality against Christians also increased, as the following quote demonstrates:

Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims [to the Holy Land] from Amorium were crucified [by Muslims]; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies…

Brutal subordination and violence became the rules of the day for [or against] Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a [Christian] monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople [the eastern center of Christianity] and other Christian cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.[4]

Muslims Destroy Christian Capitol

image
Muslim Attack Christian Constantinople

The fall of the greatest Christian civilization known up until that time occurred on May 29, 1453. Constantinople had thrived for more than a thousand years. The ambitious Muslim Turkish leader, Sultan Mahmud II (Mahmud the Pillager) was responsible for its destruction. After seven weeks of siege, the final battle was waged against the city. On the night of May 28, the night before the battle, the Sultan sent messengers to all parts of the camp to make this proclamation, after a trumpet blast:

By the name of Allah, by the name of Muhammad and the four thousand prophets, by the soul of his father, Sultan Murand, by the heads of his children, and by his scimitar, Mahmud swears that when the town has been taken by storm the troops will have unrestricted right to three days’ rapine. Everything within the walls-furniture, jewels and trinkets, gold and silver, men, women, and children-shall belong to the victorious soldiery, the Sultan himself renouncing any reward beyond the glory of having conquered this last bulwark of the Western Empire.[5]

The following day, May 29, the 8,000 defenders viciously struggled against the 150,000 invading Moslem Turks. For a time, it seemed that the city would be saved, but then a fateful thing happened. A few Turks at the walls of the city discovered that a small door, a kerkaporta, used by travelers who came to the city on foot during peacetime, was unlocked. Through the small door streamed hordes of Turks, overthrowing the city’s defenses. One observer reported the horror of what ensued:

Nothing will ever equal the horror of this harrowing and terrible spectacle. People frightened by the shouting ran out of their houses and were cut down by the sword before they knew what was happening. And some were massacred in their houses where they tried to hide, and some in churches where they sought refuge.

The enraged Turkish soldiers . . . gave no quarter. When they had massacred and there was no longer any resistance, they were intent on pillage and roamed through the town stealing, disrobing, pillaging, killing, raping, taking captive men, women, children, old men, young men, monks, priests, people of all sorts and conditions . . . There were virgins who awoke from troubled sleep to find those brigands standing over them with bloody hands and faces full of abject fury. This medley of all nations, these frantic brutes stormed into their houses, dragged them, tore them, forced them, dishonored them, raped them at the cross-roads and made them submit to the most terrible outrages. It is even said that at the mere sight of them many girls were so stupefied that they almost gave up the ghost.[6]

Christian Crusades Against Muslims

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First Crusade (1096)

In 1095, the ambassadors of Eastern Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118) appeared before Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza to request help against the Muslim Seljuk Turks. Prior to this, relations between the Eastern (centered at Constantinople) and Western (centered at Rome) Churches had been strained as a result of numerous disagreements. Squabbling between the two Christian centers of authority had only hurt all concerned. As a result, Islam did not confront a unified effort of resistance when it began to attack Christian lands. But all of this changed when Emperor Alexius came to power in the East and swallowed his pride, asking for help from Rome and the West. His request initiated the First Christian Crusade against the Muslim invaders. The tables below provide a quick summary of the efforts of Christians to recapture their lands, which, in the end, proved fruitless.

First Crusade (1096-1099)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Urban II, Peter the Hermit, Walter the Penniless

Notable

Participants

Walter Sansavoir, Peter the Hermit, Gottschalk, Godfrey, Tancred, Robert of Normandy

Goal

Liberation of Jerusalem from the Turks

Results

Urban II, at the request of Emperor Alexius of Constantinople, urged a crusade against the Muslims at a synod at Clermont in November 1095. Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless were also some of the chief motivators of the first crusade. This crusade experienced two waves of crusaders. The first, composed mainly of peasants, was either massacred by the Turks or taken prisoners and sold as slaves. Nobles led the second wave, which was far more organized, from France, Belgium, and Norman Italy. They were successful in capturing Nicea, Antioch, Edessa, and Jerusalem and established feudal Crusader kingdoms.

Second Crusade (1147-1148)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Bernard of Clairvaux, Eugene III

Notable

Participants

Konrad III, Louis VII

Goal

Retake Edessa from the Turks

Results

The Muslims had recaptured the feudal fief of Edessa in the twelfth century. In 1146, Bernard of Clairvaux initiated the Second Crusade to recover Edessa. The king of France and Holy Roman Emperor lead the crusade but were unsuccessful in their attempt.

Third Crusade (1189-1192)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Alexander III

Notable

Participants

Frederick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus, Richard I

Goal

Retake Jerusalem form Saladin and Saracens

Results

The Second Crusade’s failure to recapture Edessa only encouraged the Muslims toward further aggression. In 1187, Jerusalem also fell to the Muslims under the leadership of Saladin. Philip Augustus of France, Richard of England, and Emperor Frederick led the Third Crusade, known as the King’s Crusade. Frederick drowned; Philip, after quarreling with Richard, returned home; and Richard captured Acre and Joppa, but was unsuccessful in capturing Jerusalem. However, he did manage to make a treaty with Saladin to ensure pilgrims access to Jerusalem.

Fourth Crusade (1200-1204)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Innocent III

Notable

Participants

Thibaut of Champagne, Lois of Blois, Baldwin of Flanders, Simon De Montfort, Henry Dandolo

Goal

Undermine Saracen power by invading Egypt

Results

Innocent III ardently preached the need for a fourth crusade. He envisioned Egypt being captured and used as a base of operation against Palestine. Transportation and supplies for the crusade were arranged with the chief magistrate (Doge) of Venice at a very high price. Crusaders arrived at Venice without sufficient funds. To compensate for the disparity, the Venetians asked the crusaders to help them recapture the city of Zara. Following the sack of Zara, the crusaders laid siege to Constantinople and finally captured it in 1204. Constantinople remained under Latin domination until 1261. The notion that the Holy Land could be secured by attacking through Egypt became a controlling force in most of the succeeding crusades.

Fifth Crusade (Children’s Crusade, 1212)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Nicholas, Stephen

Goal

Conquest of the Holy Land by those who were “pure in heart”

Results

The most pathetic crusade is the Children’s Crusade of 1212. Stephen and Nicholas, not yet in their teens, believed that the purity of their lives would provide success where the adults had failed. Children from France and Germany marched across southern Europe to Italy. Most of the children were lost at sea, sold into slavery, or slaughtered.

Sixth Crusade (1219-1221)

Chief

Motivator(s)

Honorius II

Notable

Participants

William of Holland, John Brienne

Goal

Again, undermine Saracen power by invading Egypt

Results

Under William of Holland and John of Brienne, crusaders succeeded in taking Damietta in Egypt, but soon lost it again to Muslim forces.

Seventh Crusade (1229)

Notable

Participants

Frederick II

Goal

Retake Jerusalem

Results

Fredrick II successfully negotiated a treaty that brought Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, and a corridor to the sea under Christian control until 1244.

Eighth Crusade (1248-1264)

Notable

Participants

Louis IX

Goal

Provide relief of Holy Land through invasion of Egypt

Results

In an attempt to provide relief to the Holy Land, the king of France, Louis IX, invaded Egypt. However his efforts were crushed.

Final Attempts (1291-1464)

The last remaining Christian possession, Acre, fell to the Muslims in 1291. From 1291 to 1464, a series of intermittent attempts were made by Rome to check the progress of the Ottoman power in the East.

Conclusion

What is often forgotten is the fact that the Christian Crusades were in response to the Muslim Crusades against Christians. Muhammad initiated and endorsed these Crusades against Christians as demonstrated by his own example, beginning in 630. The facts concerning Muslim aggression have been forgotten and deliberately concealed from the public by liberal pundits. The historical reality is that Christians were forced to respond to the Muslim Crusades after centuries of being terrorized by the disciples of Muhammad:

Though European Crusaders may have been sincere, they wandered off from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions. Jesus never used violence; neither did he call his disciples to use it. Given this historical fact, it is only natural that the New Testament would never endorse violence to spread the word of the true God. Textual reality matches historical reality.

In contrast, Muslims who slashed and burned and forced conversions did not wander off from the origins of Islam, but followed it closely. It is a plain and unpleasant historical fact that in the ten years that Muhammad lived in Medina (622-632), he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, expeditions, or full-scale wars, which range from small assassination hit squads to the Tabuk Crusade [630]… Sometimes the expeditions did not result in violence, but a Muslim army always lurked in the background. Later on, Muhammad could exact a terrible vengeance on an individual or tribe that double-crossed him. These ten years did not know long stretches of peace.

Therefore, it is only natural that the Quran would be filled with references to jihad and qital, the latter word meaning only fighting, killing, warring, and slaughtering. Textual reality matches historical reality.

But this means that the Church had to fight back or be swallowed up by an aggressive religion over the centuries. Thus, the Church did not go out and conquer in a mindless, bloodthirsty, and irrational way––though the Christian Crusades were far from perfect.

Islam was the aggressor in its own Crusades, long before the Europeans responded with their own.[7]



This concludes another episode from our podcast library, entitled, The Truth About the Crusades .

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Sources of Information

[1] The more “moderate” verses from the Koran (written in Mecca) are abrogated by the Verse of the Sword (9:5, written in Medina). See Spencer, Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, 24ff.

[2] James M. Arlandson, “Timeline of the Islamic Crusades; The Truth about Islamic Imperialism,” (http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/crusades_timeline.htm, August 1, 2013).

[3] This occurs only six years after the mysterious death of Muhammad.

[4] Spencer, Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, 122-23.

[5] Rushdoony, Christian Survey of World History, 96

[6] C. R. N. Routh, They Saw It Happen in Europe 1450-1600 (1965); Quoted in “The Sack of Constantinople, 1453,” EyewitnessToHistory.com (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/constantinople.htm, May 17, 2013).

[7] James M. Arlandson, “Timeline of the Islamic Crusades; The Truth about Islamic Imperialism,” (http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/crusades_timeline.htm, August 1, 2013).

Written by Dr. Stephen FlickNumber of posts: 223
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