Correcting the Crusades Canard

Map of the Byzantine Empire and Crusader States after the First Crusade in the 1090s

Map of the Byzantine Empire and Crusader States after the First Crusade in the 1090s (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I heard about a good writeup on the myths about the Crusades that are often thrown in the face of Christians.

If you’ve ever presented Christianity to many secularists, atheists, Muslim sympathizers or people who otherwise bear animus toward Christianity to begin with, sooner or later you’ve heard the argument against Christianity that those evil Christians made war on the poor, peace-loving Muslims during the Middle Ages.

I’m enough of a student of history to have long known this is just another revisionist lie, but one doesn’t often come across a comprehensive yet relatively brief treatise debunking this lie.  On yesterday’s podcast of Wretched Radio, Todd Friel talked about “Four Myths about the Crusades” written by Paul F. Crawford and published in The Intercollegiate Review. You can find the article at First Principles, a great publication and website for those who want to dig deeper into the truths of things.

Here is just a tease of the truth you’ll learn about the Crusades:

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion…

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
Again, not true. One version of Pope Urban II’s speech at Clermont in 1095 urging French warriors to embark on what would become known as the First Crusade does note that they might “make spoil of [the enemy’s] treasures,”8 but this was no more than an observation on the usual way of financing war in ancient and medieval society…

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
This has been a very popular argument, at least from Voltaire on. It seems credible and even compelling to modern people, steeped as they are in materialist worldviews…However, like the first two myths, this statement is generally untrue, and demonstrably so. For one thing, the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high…crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death…

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.
Part of the answer to this myth may be found above, under Myth #1. Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. But there is a more complicated answer here, as well…

There is a lot of good information here. As an amateur student of history, I remember a great deal of this from my readings in high school. I read the first four volumes of Will Durant’s history series on my own during that time, and one of these went into great detail about the Byzantine Empire (Roman history has always been my favorite) and the wars with Islam it faced until Islam finally won in 1453.  The Crusades were fought over the Holy Land, which had been a part of the Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire for centuries until conquered by Islamic forces.

Sadly, historical revisionism concerning the Crusades and this period of time has been through the same “recycling” machine that the Left wants to take most of history through. Evil has a way of attacking others, then playing the victim later on. That story is played over and over and over, almost daily in the headlines today, and it’s been going on for years.

The Left (which, in spiritual terms, is simply a political term for describing evil) understands that if you can successfully rewrite history, you can successfully hijack the future and take it to an illegitimate destination by undermining the foundational underpinnings of the present.

It’s about time the Right figured this out…and pushed back-hard.

1 Comment

  1. retiredday says:

    Bravo!  It is about time Christians stopped feeling guilty and assuming responsibility for the Crusades.  There were many “Crusades” over a long period of time, so there is a lot of anecdotal information to wade through.  But in general, the Crusades were the European response to the brutal Islamic jihad that was threatening to conquer much of “Christendom”.  And at that time the Holy Roman Empire was very much a theocracy, under the rule of a Pope, who was as much a military leader as a true spiritual leader. 

    So, the Crusades were just as much political as any war.  Because of the ignorance of many Europeans, Jews suffered needlessly, being falsely identified with Muslims.  However, the European Christians were motivated out of a desire to preserve and protect the Holy lands.  They were responding to the Muslim practice of following the Koran by wiping out entire towns of non-Muslims who refused to convert to Islam.  Yes, mistakes were made, as in all wars, but there is no reason for Christians to feel ashamed that the Crusaders fought against Islamic extremism to preserve their faith. 

    Yes, there were specific instances of cruelty, as in all wars, but in general, the Crusaders were not the hateful, bigoted murderers they are portrayed to be, by Christian haters.  Specifically, it wasn’t genuine Christianity that caused the Crusades.  It was Islam, pushing to establish a Caliphate across the entire known world.  The Crusades stopped that, and that’s why they hate Christians.