PDA

View Full Version : The Real History of the Crusades



rickusn
24 Nov 07,, 13:08
www.crisismagazine.com/ap.../cover.htm

Once again I find yet another article that puts the lie to so many efforts to blame the West and the US in particular for all the worlds conflicts and troubles.

Im sure it wont get much consideration on this grotesquely, unrepententedly Anti-American Forum but at this point who cares.

Kansas Bear
24 Nov 07,, 19:28
Sir,

Have you read this??



The Crusades in the Checkout Aisle

Thomas F. Madden

When I spied the U.S. News & World Report with the Crusades splashed across its cover, I braced for the worst. As a crusade historian, I long ago learned not to expect accuracy on this subject from the popular media. In fact, I usually avoid newspaper and magazine articles on the Crusades altogether, if only to keep my blood pressure under control. But there it was, staring me in the face. I had to read it.

First, the good news. The article, written by Andrew Curry, was not dreadful. Curry did take the time to phone two distinguished crusade scholars, Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University and Benjamin Kedar of Hebrew University, who helped him to avoid a few common errors. For example, Curry correctly reports that although scholars once believed that Crusaders were motivated by a mixture of greed and bigotry, we now know that most were led by devout piety and a sincere desire for eternal salvation. He also rightly explains that the modern view of the Crusades in the Middle East is itself modern, the product of wWestern historians who incorrectly equated medieval Crusades with modern imperialism. So, in these important respects Curry has done a public service by setting the record straight in a mass-market periodical.


Unfortunately, the rest of the article has a number of errors that Riley-Smith and Kedar could have helped him to avoid. It appears that, while Curry was willing to chat with crusade scholars, he was not interested in reading their books. Instead he relies heavily on Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades, a book now half a century out of date, as well as a few popular histories written by non-specialists. The latter include Karen Armstrong's Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World and James Reston, Jr.'s Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade -- both of which are highly readable but not well acquainted with either current research or medieval sources.


It is not necessary to go through all of the errors in this rather rambling piece. It might be instructive to mention a few of the most important, though. On several occasions, Curry refers to the Church's "revolutionary (and doomed) theology" of salvation by violence, which he believes underpinned the idea of Crusade. Riley-Smith is even quoted in such a way that he seems to confirm this contention. But it is not so. The theological innovation of the Crusades was the definition of warfare undertaken selflessly, in good faith, and in the service of Christ and His people as a penitential act. Although new, this was in keeping with other Christian principles such as the spiritually beneficial practice of pilgrimage and almsgiving. In the case of the Crusades, the warriors were undergoing extreme hardships (like a pilgrim) to save the lives of their neighbors oppressed by foreign conquerors. Salvation, therefore, was achieved by self-sacrifice and right intentions, not by violence, which the Church saw only as a necessary precursor to turning back Muslim conquests.


Curry also reports massacres in Jerusalem after the Crusader conquest in 1099 so drastic that the streets ran knee-deep in the blood. He then contrasts that with the Muslim conquest of the city in 1187, when good and sophisticated Saladin killed no one, allowing the inhabitants to leave freely after paying a token ransom. However, no scholars now accept the grossly exaggerated reports of the massacres at Jerusalem in 1099. None of them are from eyewitnesses. The stories of piled -up bodies and rivers of blood come from European chroniclers eager to portray a ritual purification of the city. Muslim sources, although lamenting the deaths, number the dead at only a few thousand. In any case, the killing of defenders who refused to surrender was the accepted standard for both Muslims and Christians in the Middle Ages. Someone at U.S. News & World Report should really take a look at a map of Jerusalem and then calculate how much blood would be necessary to fill the entire city to knee depth. All of the people in the region could not bleed that much.


It is also not true that Saladin spared the lives of the Christians in Jerusalem because he was more tolerant or wise. Saladin actually planned to massacre the Christians in retaliation for 1099. But the defenders negotiated a surrender in which they promised not to harm the Muslim population or the Muslim holy sites in the city in return for the lives of the Christians. In other words, quite unlike 1099, in 1187 the Christians surrendered the city peacefully and thereby saved their lives. Like the Crusaders in 1099, Saladin acted within the accepted standards of his time.


Saladin gets a lot of play in this article since it focuses so heavily on the Third Crusade. The real Superbowl of Crusades, it was the Third Crusade that pitted Saladin against Richard the Lionheart of England. Curry believes that Saladin is ignored by the history books in favor of Richard -- which only demonstrates that Curry needs to read more history books. He also contends that Muslims still remember Saladin well for "his generosity in the face of Christian aggression and hatred." Here Curry has fallen into the trap that he warns his reader about. Modern Muslims learned about the Crusades from wWestern, not Muslim, historians. The truth is that it is in the West that Saladin has been extolled as a paragon of chivalry since the Middle Ages. Some medieval Europeans even named their children after him! However, in the Muslim world Saladin has always taken a back seat to two other medieval rulers: Baybars and Kalavun. These Egyptian sultans successfully led their slave armies against the Christians of the Crusader Kingdom, brutally crushing all resistance, massacring entire cities after promising to spare their lives, and finally eradicating all traces of the Crusaders in Palestine and Syria. Those are the exploits that are still celebrated in the Middle East, although they are oddly missing from this article.


Following poorly informed popular historians, Curry also gets the legacy of the Crusades wrong. He reports that although the military operations against the Muslims failed, they did give the Europeans a taste of the splendid and sophisticated culture of the East. Soon new luxuries began flowing into Europe and new ideas from well-stocked Arab libraries. Therefore, by peeling back the veil on the wider world the Crusades led directly to Europe leaving the "Dark Ages" and entering the modern world.


All of that is wrong. There was virtually no intellectual or cultural interaction between Muslims and Christians in the Crusader Kingdom. The Christians in the Levant saw themselves as transplants. They were manning an outpost of Christendom in order to defend Christian access to the holy sites. They had no interest in Arab libraries, nor did the Muslims have much interest in the ways of the infidels. While it is true that Aristotle came to the West through Arab translations, those were acquired in Spain where Christians and Muslims did interact. As for the eastern Eastern luxury goods, they arrived in Europe via Egypt or Constantinople -- not the Holy Land. The rise and fall of the Crusader Kingdom had almost no effect on Mediterranean trade between Christians and Muslims. The rise in demand for luxury goods in western Europe was fed by an equivalent internal rise in commerce and towns during the eleventh century. It had little to do with the Crusades.


Curry ends his article by lamenting the Crusade's "legacy of misunderstanding and animosity" that is "still with us today." There was and is animosity between Islam and the West, to be sure. But it predates the Crusades by many centuries. As for misunderstanding, this article, although clearing up a few things, serves to keep that unfortunate tradition alive.

Thomas F. Madden is Chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University and the author of numerous studies on the Crusades. His most recent book is A Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999).

Past e-Letters (http://www.crisismagazine.com/eletters/april12.htm)

hagakuré
29 Aug 08,, 22:07
After the fall of Jerusalem the inhabitants could buy their freedom, only the rich escaped, the rest were sold into slavery.
Templar Knights had no hope at all...

The start of the renaissance was triggered during the Reconquista.
Corduba was one of the most sophisticated cities of its time. Far more developed than Jerusalem ever was.

snapper
30 Aug 08,, 05:57
The start of the Renaissance was Moslem thought? Please hagakure give sources when you say such things.

Considering that the Renaisannce was based around ancient Greek learning - primarily Aristotelaon thought may not the fall of Canstantople have helped at least?

snapper
30 Aug 08,, 06:23
I read the Curry essay some time ago, most is I believe incorrect and in general I go with Madden on this. Undoubtedly there was converse between The Kingdom of Jerusalem and it's neighbours - even to the extent of alliances between religious Orders and local Moslem powers.

There also remains the question of our numerical system which is essentialy derived from the arabic system. There are different theories of when but the increase in trade with the East that the Kingdom of Jerusalem brought to Europe is a likely bet. Madden should explain this.

As to the rest he is correct, in my opinion, and alot can be proved by still existent documents; Jerusalem was surrendered, and that (in most wars) means the civilians should be left unharmed. Whether Saladin was being merciful is doubtful but we cannot know. Saladin is regarded higher here: When I went to Jerusalem two years ago I asked the locals what they thought of him - general response: "Who?".

I disposed of the Curry article fairly quick though I think there are other questions that need answering.

hagakuré
30 Aug 08,, 13:45
I read the Curry essay some time ago, most is I believe incorrect and in general I go with Madden on this. Undoubtedly there was converse between The Kingdom of Jerusalem and it's neighbours - even to the extent of alliances between religious Orders and local Moslem powers.

There also remains the question of our numerical system which is essentialy derived from the arabic system. There are different theories of when but the increase in trade with the East that the Kingdom of Jerusalem brought to Europe is a likely bet. Madden should explain this.

As to the rest he is correct, in my opinion, and alot can be proved by still existent documents; Jerusalem was surrendered, and that (in most wars) means the civilians should be left unharmed. Whether Saladin was being merciful is doubtful but we cannot know. Saladin is regarded higher here: When I went to Jerusalem two years ago I asked the locals what they thought of him - general response: "Who?".

I disposed of the Curry article fairly quick though I think there are other questions that need answering.

Saladin is ignored by the muslim world because he was a Kurd. I believe there is a statue of him in Damascus.
About the renaissance it is a well known fact that classical writings such as Plato, Aristoteles were studied by muslims a long time before Europe even knew they existed. Corduba had a large part in preserving these books (Galenus was stored in the library). And the first paper mill in Europe was founded in Spain.
I'm looking through my books to find new info:)

Oh I'm a new member and very happy to find people who have the same interests!
Thanks;)

snapper
30 Aug 08,, 16:51
Why would Saldin be ignored because he was Kurdish? (He was born in Tikrit). He was still a Muslim! I am at a loss as to why Saladin should be so little regarded in Moslem history. Perhaps it was for the same reason that we reagrd him so highly - he was 'chivalrous'.

Statue correct:
Syria - Damascus: Saladin statue - founder of the Ayyubid dynasty - born in Tikrit and educated in Damascus - photographer: M.Torres / Travel-Images.com - Travel-Images.com (http://www.travel-images.com/photo-syria334.html)

Certainly the Moslem world had Plato, Aristotle and in particular Eucclyd and Pythagoras, but so too did Europe. The debate about the Renaissance is not so much about who had what texts but what was the motivation for renewed interest in them. The Renaissance was also much more than this; an increase in trade and wealth that funded art and study and again one should ask why there was such an upturn in trade.
The Reconquista ending in 1492 hardly accounts for the growth in trade nor the renewed interest in classical texts which had long been existent in the West and perhaps even more so in Constantinople. Undoubtedly it may have played a part in the renewed interest as the fall of Constantinople may also have done. Possibly the recovery from the Plague had a greater part; when labour is short prices go up and the common man has a greater value and thus more independance.

As to Madden contra Curry (have just re-read Curry) the "legacy of misunderstanding and animosity" has nothing to do with Crusades in my opinion. Certainly Madden is correct when he argues it pre-dates the Crusades - what was the Battle of Tours (732 AD)?

No the basic 'misunderstanding' is the strict adherenceof devotees of both faiths to the absolute truth of their doctrine and their willingness to die for such. They both claim mutualy exclusive access to 'truth'/heaven etc... in short too much sticking to the letter of their gospels and not enough attention to its 'spirit'.

Don't worry hagakure I am also new here and far less learned than most here. Keep going and try to provide evidence always. I am sure that others will welcome you as I myself do.

Where was the paper mill in Spain? Was this inherited from the 'Moors'?

zraver
30 Aug 08,, 17:20
Saladin is ignored by the muslim world because he was a Kurd. I believe there is a statue of him in Damascus.
About the renaissance it is a well known fact that classical writings such as Plato, Aristoteles were studied by muslims a long time before Europe even knew they existed. Corduba had a large part in preserving these books (Galenus was stored in the library). And the first paper mill in Europe was founded in Spain.
I'm looking through my books to find new info:)

Oh I'm a new member and very happy to find people who have the same interests!
Thanks;)

That is a dangerous and common trap you've fallen into. Europe never lost them. Western Europe lost touch for a while, but not as long as you think, nor did they ever lose contact with the mode of thought of Aristotle. Aristotle, Socrates via Plato and others left a permanent mark on European thought even at the height of the middle ages when only the monks enjoyed literacy. They read from Church fathers who were roman and classically trained and absorbed the Socratic and other methods or arguments like Augustine Rhetoric this way.

Europe had also begun to climb out of the pit caused by the collapse of the Roman empire by the middle 1100's and started founding schools. Bolonga, Oxford and Paris all had them before 1150. By the 9th Crusade in 1272 just over 100 years later Western Europe had at least 8 universities-more than a 200% increase. This upswing in literacy fed the need for books and thus the importance of Cordoba and thus the wider knowledge of the classics- not their rediscovery. This is reflected in the fact that by 1492, some 200 or so years after the 9th Crusade 32 of Europe's modern universities were in operation. This is a 400% increase.