The Crusades:

Pope responds to attacks on papal interests abroad

When the Turkish knights, fighting under the banner of Islamic unity, began to upset papal interests in the Middle East towards the end of the eleventh century, the Pope agreed to reinforce the expeditionary forces of Christian Constantinople with a volunteer army from Europe. In the words of the 1911 edition of Catholic history, "The Crusades were expeditions undertaken, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Mohammedan tyranny." However, since the lands involved were outside of Europe, the Pope's European armies were, in fact, themselves invaders. So the native Mohammedans were therefore obliged to, in fulfilment of a solemn vow, deliver the Holy Places from Catholic tyranny.

...from the history of the Crusades, which include information on the following:
I. Origin of the Crusades; II. Foundation of Christian states in the East; III. First destruction of the Christian states (1144-87); IV. Attempts to restore the Christian states and the crusade against Saint-Jean d'Acre (1192-98); V. The crusade against Constantinople (1204); VI. The thirteenth-century crusades (1217-52); VII. Final loss of the Christian colonies of the East (1254-91); VIII. The fourteenth-century crusade and the Ottoman invasion; IX. The crusade in the fifteenth century; X. Modifications and survival of the idea of the crusade.

The Crusades were a series of enormously costly undertakings, each of which ended more or less in failure. Those who live by the sword are a living arsenal which once unleashed will take off in unpredictable directions, and any military leadership is capable of inflicting great horrors upon civilian populations through the sloppy application of military orders. The first Crusade, involving Godfrey of Bulloigne, was the only one to achieve its military objective, although at a shocking cost of lives. While the European professional warriors, who had sailed to the Middle East to disembark with their horse and weapons, were busily fighting, there was a contingent of thousands of enthusiastic crusader civilians who had walked all the way from their homes in Western Europe to Constantinople. Once there, they slaughtered a townfull of Christians whose language they could not understand. Later, as they made their way south, the crusader civilians were surrounded on the open road by the Turks and all were killed there, no prisoners were taken.

Meanwhile, Godfrey of Bulloigne secured Jerusalem for the Pope, and set up a Norman regency there, with himself as King. However, the European Kingdom of Jerusalem did not survive long, surrounded as it was by enemies bent upon its destruction, and basically cut off from resupply and reinforcements.

Godfrey of Bulloigne .....

Subsequent Crusades were not so well led, and so achieved nothing beyond murder. Usually the leaders of the expedition would declare some sort of victory after a campaign had reached its end, and go home, leaving others to hold the ground taken for as long as they could. Just as often, the European kings and princes who started the crusade became discouraged by the difficulty of managing it, and after losing too many fighting men to dysentry and plague, or a military disaster, they went home with their household staff and left the remaining soldiers to make their own way home. Each crusade was a wasteful and brutal enterprise.

The longest lasting legacy of the Crusades may have been the rise of the Knights Templar and their trans-national banking and paramilitary operations, but they were eventually suppressed by a King of France after they grew too powerful for the liking of the landholding nobility. Some say the Knights Templar carried on under the mantle of Free Masonry, which is an interesting story but not exactly history, being speculative rather than documented.

An intelligent examination of the Crusades, written by Terry Jones, is sold on videotape, and is also available at most large city libraries.


[ Main Page | Previous Page | Next Page ]