Author Topic: Crusades: 460 years of Islamist invasions before Crusade I. Mary saves in 1571.  (Read 538 times)

Offline Xavier

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Let us review briefly the actual history of the Crusades, which has suffered so much modernist distortion especially of late; studying in detail the Islamist invasions that preceded it for nearly 5 centuries, the First Crusade finally at long last being called in 1095, 463 years after Mahomet's death; the Islamist invasion of Constantinople in 1453. The Islamist invasion of 1571 in Lepanto, Greece; intended to destroy Christendom, kill Christian men, rape Christian women, and take all who remain as slaves on the Islamist fleet.

Then Jesus sent His Mother to guard and protect Christendom, and the rest is history. Like God raised up Judith to save Israel from Holofernes' invasions, the Almighty send Our Lady, the new Judith, to deliver us from the evil of Islamism. On Oct 7th, with grateful hearts we remember the day a Woman saved Christendom, as of old Judith (meaning: Jewess) saved Israel. All Catholic Europe united in the Rosary, though Protestants stayed back and some to their shame had cheered on the invading infidel Turkish fleets, in the hopes of destroying the hated Papacy. At any rate, only Catholic nations answered the Pope and Chief among them was Heroic and Young Don Juan of Austria. Pope St. Pius V prophesied his victory and urged him on to courage and valor admirably. Heaven showed its signal favour for this Saintly Pontiff of the Council of Trent by giving him a vision of the victory before it took place in the Vatican Gardens. Our Lord seeming to want to show by this, that as of old He had delivered Jerusalem for the High Priest Onias sake, so now He had delivered all Europe for the sake of His Sovereign Pontiff, Pope St. Pius VTH The Great.

For those who wish to read the history with the greatest possible brevity:

"The Crusades

The Game: Muslims love talking about the Crusades... and Christians love apologizing for them.  To hear both parties tell the story, one would think that Muslims were just peacefully minding their own business in lands that were legitimately Muslim when Christian armies decided to wage holy war and "kill millions."

The Truth:Every part of this myth is a lie.  By the rules that Muslims claim for themselves, the Crusades were justified.  The excesses (though well beneath Christian standards) pale in comparison with the historical treatment of conquered populations at the hands of Muslims.

Here are some quick facts...

The first Crusade began in 1095… 460 years after the first Christian city was overrun by Muslim armies, 457 years after Jerusalem was conquered by Muslim armies, 453 years after Egypt was taken by Muslim armies, 443 after Muslims first plundered Italy, 427 years after Muslim armies first laid siege to the Christian capital of Constantinople, 380 years afterSpain was conquered by Muslim armies, 363 years after France was first attacked by Muslim armies, 249 years after the capital of the Christian world, Romeitself, was attacked by a Muslim army, and only after centuries of church burnings, killings, enslavement and forced conversions of Christians.

By the time the Crusades finally began, Muslim armies had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world. 

Europe had been harassed by Muslims since the first few years following Muhammad’s death.  As early as 652, Muhammad’s followers launched raids on the island of Sicily, waging a full-scale occupation 200 years later that lasted almost a century and was punctuated by massacres, such as that at the town of Castrogiovanni, in which 8,000 Christians were put to death. [ In 1084, ten years before the first crusade, Muslims staged another devastating Sicilian raid, burning churches in Reggio, enslaving monks and raping an abbey of nuns before carrying them into captivity.

In 1095, Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comneus began begging the pope in Rome for help in turning back the Muslim armies which were overrunning what is now Turkey, grabbing property as they went and turning churches into mosques.   Several hundred thousand Christians had been killed in Anatolia alone in the decades following 1050 by Seljuk invaders interested in 'converting' the survivors to Islam.

Not only were Christians losing their lives in their own lands to the Muslim advance, but pilgrims to the Holy Land from other parts of Europe were being harassed, kidnapped, molested, forcibly converted to Islam and occasionally murdered." https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/games/crusades.aspx
« Last Edit: July 19, 2019, 06:18:49 AM by Xavier »
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Offline Xavier

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For a more detailed history: https://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Stenhouse/crusades.01.htm

THE CRUSADES IN CONTEXT
By Dr. Paul Stenhouse © 2007 Chevalier Press. Used by permission.


Current wisdom would have it that 'five centuries of peaceful co-existence' between Muslims and Christians were brought to an end by 'political events and an imperial-papal power play,' that was to lead to a centuries-long series of so-called "holy-wars" that pitted Christendom against Islam, and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and mistrust.'[1]

A school textbook, Humanities Alive 2, for Year 8 students in the Australian State of Victoria, carries the anti-Christian/anti Western argument further:

Those who destroyed the World Trade Centre are regarded as terrorists. Might it be fair to say that the Crusaders who attacked the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem were also terrorists?[2]

Muhammad died in Medina on June 8, 632 AD. The first of the eight Crusades to free the Holy Places in Palestine from Muslim control, and offer safe passage to the Holy Land for Christian pilgrims, was called only in 1095. At the risk of sounding pedantic, the period in question is not 'five centuries,' but four-hundred and sixty-three years; and those years, we contend, were not characterized by 'peaceful coexistence'.[3]

Islam's attack on Christianity

For the Christian states bordering the Mediterranean, it was a four-hundred and sixty-three year period of regular, disorganized [and occasionally organized] bloody incursions by Muslim mainly Arab and Berber land and sea forces. These came intent on booty - gold, silver, precious stones and slaves - on destroying churches, convents and shrines of the 'infidels,' and on the spread of politico-religious Islam throughout Europe from their bases in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.

At the time of Muhammad's death there were flourishing Christian and Jewish communities in Arabia, and throughout the major centres of the Persian Empire. The whole of the Mediterranean world on its European, Asian and African sides, was predominantly Christian.

It had taken only a few years for Muslim tribesmen from Arabia, inspired by Muhammad's revelations and example, to invade the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire whose emperors devoted more time to religious disputation than to defending their empire. In 633 Mesopotamia fell. After a few years the entire Persian Empire fell to the marauding Arab tribesmen who drove the young Persian emperor Yazdagird into the farthest reaches of his empire, to Sogdiana [Uzbekistan], where he was eventually murdered by his Tartar bodyguard in a miller's hut.

Damascus fell in 635, and Jerusalem capitulated five years after Muhammad died, in February 638.

The fall of Alexandria in 643 sounded the death knell of more than thousand years of Hellenic civilization that once enriched the whole of the Near East with its scholarship and culture. Henri Daniel-Rops claims that from the point of view of the history of civilization, Alexandria's fall was as significant as the fall of Constantinople to the Turks eight-hundred years later.[4]

Cyprus fell in 648-9 and Rhodes in 653. By 698 the whole of North Africa was lost.

Spain invaded

Less than eighty years after Muhammad's death, in 711, Muslims from Tangiers poured across the 13 km wide strait of Gibraltar into Spain. By 721 this Arab-Berber horde had overthrown the ruling Catholic Visigoths and, with the fall of Saragossa, set their sights on southern France.

By 720 Narbonne had fallen. Bordeaux was stormed and its churches burnt down by 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abdullah al-Ghafiqi in early spring 732. A basilica outside the walls of Poitiers was razed, and 'Abd al-Rahman headed for Tours which held the body of St Martin [who died in 397] apostle and patron saint of the Franks.

He was to be defeated and killed by Charles Martel and his Frankish army on a Saturday in October, 732, one hundred years after Muhammad's death, on the road from Poitiers to Tours a defeat that was hailed by Gibbon and others as decisive in turning back the Muslim tide from Europe.

Attacks on France, however, continued, and in 734 Avignon was captured by an Arab force. Lyons was sacked in 743. It wasn't until 759 that the Arabs were driven out of Narbonne. Marseilles was plundered by them in 838.

Muslim incursions into Italy had been a feature of life from the early 800s. The islands of Ponza [off Gaeta] and Ischia [off Naples] had been plundered, and then, in 813 Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, whose harbour had been constructed by Trajan, was sacked by the Arabs.

In 826 the island of Crete fell to Muslim forces which retained it as their base until 961. From around 827 they then began nibbling at Sicily. They captured Messina and controlled the Strait of Messina by 842, and finally took the whole island in 859, after Enna fell to them.

In 836 the Neapolitans self-interestedly invited the Muslim forces to help them against the Lombards and set the stage for more than a century of Muslims raids along the Adriatic, involving the destruction of Ancona, and Muslim progress as far as the mouth of the Po. 'Saracen Towers'[5] south of Naples, built in the ninth century to warn locals of the approach of Arab fleets from Sicily and Africa still charm visitors to the Neapolitan coast.

Bari, now home to the relics of St Nicholas of Myra, the original 'Father Christmas,' fell to Khalfun, a Berber chieftan, by another act of treachery in 840. From 853-871 the notorious Muslim brigand al- Mufarraj bin Sallam, and his successor, another Berber named Sawdan, controlled all the coast from Bari down to Reggio Calabria, and terrorized Southern Italy. They even plundered the Abbey of St Michael on Mt Gargano. They claimed the title of Emir, and independence of the Emir in Palermo.

Sacking of St Peter's

Naples herself had to beat off a Muslim attack in 837. But in 846 Rome was not to be so fortunate. On August 23rd 846, Arab squadrons from Africa arrived at Ostia, at the Tiber's mouth. There were 73 ships. The Saracen force numbered 11,000 warriors, with 500 horses.[6]

The most revered Christian shrines outside the Holy Land, the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul, were desecrated and their respective Basilicas were sacked, as was the Lateran Basilica along with numerous other churches and public buildings.

The very altar over the body of St Peter was smashed to pieces, and the great door of St Peter's Basilica was stripped of its silver plates. Romans were desolated and Christendom was shocked at the barbarism of the Muslim forces.

Three years later Pope Leo IV [847-855] formed an alliance with Naples, Amalfi and Gaeta, and when a Saracen fleet again appeared at the mouth of the Tiber in 849, the Papal fleet joined forces with its allies and they repelled the Muslim fleet which turned, and ran into a violent wind-storm that destroyed it, like Pharaoh's army long before.

Survivors were brought to Rome and put to work helping to build the Leonine Wall around the Vatican. Twelve feet thick, nearly forty feet in height and defended by forty-four towers, most of this wall, and two of the round towers, can be seen still by visitors to the Vatican. These defensive walls were finished and blessed by Pope Leo IV in 852.

Taranto in Apulia was conquered by Arab forces in 846. They held it until 880.

In 870 Malta was captured by the Muslims. In 871 Bari, the Saracens' capital on mainland Italy, was recaptured from the Muslims by Emperor Louis II, who in 872 was to defeat a Saracen fleet off Capua.

223 years from the First Crusade

At this point in our examination of the 'peaceful coexistence,' which is made much of by Muslim apologists, we are still two-hundred and twenty-three years away from the calling of the first Crusade. Perhaps readers may better understand, now, why Emperor Louis II, grandson of Charlemagne was absolutely convinced, in the ninth century, of the need for a Crusade. 'He was quite sure that Islam must be driven right out of Europe.'[7] But still there was no call for a Crusade.

I haven't spoken of Muslim attacks against the Byzantine Empire even though these, too, played a part in setting the stage for the Crusades. The much vaunted military might and political power of the Eastern Roman Empire carried with it responsibility for protecting the West from Muslim invaders. This it generally failed to do.

Constantinople had been attacked in 673, and then for the next five years Arab armies and fleets attempted unsuccessfully to break through the Byzantine defences. 'Greek Fire,' that mysterious substance that burned on water, destroyed the Muslim fleets and won the day for the defenders.

Then, in 717, the Muslims returned to the attack, emboldened by their successes in Spain.

Fate intervened, and like Charles Martel and his Franks at Poitiers in 732, emperor Leo the Isaurian [717-740] turned back the Muslim tide. Constantinople was saved - for a time. Leo, for all his military skills, was a usurper, and an iconoclast. Despite defeating the Muslims, his policies ultimately further weakened both the Western and Eastern Roman Empires.

In 870, when Bernard the Wise from Brittany wanted to visit Palestine he had to obtain a laissez-passer from Muslim authorities in Bari, on the Adriatic Coast.[8]

In 873 the Muslim forces devastated Calabria in southern Italy to the point that it was reduced to the state 'in which it had been left by the Great Flood' and the Saracens expressed their intention of destroying Rome, the city of the 'Petrulus senex,' 'the ineffective old man, Peter'.[9]

In 874 Pope John VIII did all he could to dissuade Amalfi, Naples, Benevento, Capua, Salerno, and Spoleto from forming a pragmatic alliance with the Saracens. Amalfi, Capua and Salerno alone heeded his pleas for Christian solidarity.

From the close of 876 Pope John VIII had been sending letters in all directions to obtain help against the Arab forces which were devastating southern Italy and even threatening Rome itself. He sought the aid of Duke Bosone of Milan whom Emperor Charles the Bald had appointed his legate in Northern Italy - to no avail. He wrote for cavalry horses to Alfonso III, king of Galicia in Spain; and for warships to the Byzantines, and from 876 until May 877 he sent numerous letters to the Frankish Emperor begging him to aid the Catholics in Italy.

The Emperor proved to be a frail reed, and in 879, upon his death, the Duke of Spoleto turned on the Pope. John VIII, unable to cope with both Saracens and Spoleto, at once, had to pay tribute of 25,000 mancuses annually to the Arabs. A silver mancus was worth roughly AUD$25. This situation lasted for two years.

In 881 the Muslim allies of the Neapolitans captured the fortress on the Garigliano [the ancient Liris] 14 km east of Gaeta close to Anzio, just north of Naples, and plundered the surrounding countryside with impunity for forty years.

Returning from a synod at Ravenna [February 882] Pope John VIII found, as he put it, that 'the Saracens are as much at home in Fundi [close to Rome, in Latium] and Terracina' [80 km SE of Rome] as in Africa. 'Though we were seriously unwell,' wrote the Pope, we went forth to battle with our forces, captured eighteen of the enemy's ships, and slew a great many of their men'.[10] Six hundred captives of the Saracens were liberated.

Syracuse fell to the Muslims in 878 after a nine-month siege from which few escaped alive. The Byzantine city was pillaged and destroyed. Its collapse freed-up more numerous bands of marauding Muslims to harry the Italian towns and cities.

880 saw victory over Saracen forces at Naples by Byzantine Commanders and also the arrival in waters off Rome of warships sent by the emperor Basil to give the Pope the means of defending 'the territory of St Peter'.[11]

Meanwhile, the Saracens had turned their attention again to southern France and northern Italy. They had taken Avignon in 734 and Marseilles in 838 and they were ravaging Provence and North Italy from their bases in the Alps. The most important of these bases was Fraxineto or Frejus, not far from Toulon, which they captured in 889.

They were displaced temporarily from their base in 942 by Hugh of Arles who had a Byzantine fleet harry them from the sea, while he attacked from land. Horace Mann comments[12] that it is symptomatic of the kind of pragmatic leaders who controlled the destiny of Europe at that time, that instead of wiping out this bloodthirsty band of Muslim invaders, Hugh allowed them to stay where they were on condition that they did all they could to prevent his rival as 'king of Italy,' Berengerius Marquis of Ivrea, from returning to Italy.

The latter managed to return from Germany to Italy in 945, and the Muslims were not to be expelled completely from their lair until 972 - almost one-hundred years after capturing Fraxineto - by a league of Italian and Provencal princes.

In the meantime they infested the passes of the Alps, robbing and murdering pilgrims on their way to Rome. In 921 a large band of Englishmen, on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles in Rome, were crushed to death under rocks rolled down on them by Saracens in the passes of the Alps.[13]

174 years from the First Crusade

At this point in the alleged peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians, we are still one-hundred and seventy-four years away from the calling of the first Crusade to free the Holy Places.

Meanwhile, Muslim fleets sacked and destroyed Demetrias in Thessaly, Central Greece, in 902, and Thessalonica the second city of the Byzantine Empire fell to them in 904. Muslim armies took Hysela in Carsiana in 887, and Amasia, the metropolitan city of Pontus in Asia Minor.

The bishop of Amasia named Malecenus wanted to ransom those of his people who had been captured but knew that the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI would not help; so he appealed to Pope Benedict IV in Rome.

The Pope received him kindly, and gave him an encyclical letter addressed to all bishops, abbots, counts and judges and to all orthodox professors of the Christian faith asking them to show Malacenus every consideration, and to see him safely from one city to the next.

In 905 Pope Sergius III helped Bishop Hildebrand of Silva Candida restore some of the damage done to his See by the ravaging Saracens who had devastated the Church of Silva Candida in the neighbourhood of Rome.

In 915 Pope John X successfully created a Christian League with the help of Byzantine Admiral Picingli and his fleet. Even the bickering princes of southern Italy joined forces against the Saracens, along with King Berengarius and his armies from North Italy. The enemy were holed-up in their fortresses on the Garigliano near Gaeta, north of Naples. After three months of blockade, they tried to fight their way out only to be repelled by a victorious Christian force.

In 934 the Fatimid imam al-Ka'im planned an audacious invasion of Liguria led by Ya'kub bin Ishaq. The latter attacked Genoa that year, and took it in 935.

It wasn't until 972 that Duke William of Provence succeeded in driving the Saracens finally from the fastnesses of Faxineto. In 976 the Fatimid Caliphs of Egypt had sent fresh Muslim expeditions into southern Italy. Initially the German emperor Otho II , who had set up his headquarters in Rome, successfully defeated these Saracen forces, but in July 982 he was ambushed and his army was almost cut to pieces.

In 977 Sergius, Archbishop of Damascus, was expelled from his See by the Muslims. Pope Benedict VII gave him the ancient church of St Alexius on Rome's Aventine hill, and he founded a monastery there and placed it under Benedictine rule, with himself its first abbot.

The pontificate of Pope John XVIII [1003-1009] was marred by famine and plague and by marauding bands of Saracens who plundered the Italian coast from Pisa to Rome from bases on Sardinia.

By 1010 they had seized Cosenza in southern Italy. Then Sardinia fell to the Arabs in 1015, led by a certain Abu Hosein Mogehid [thus the Latin Chronicles]. I take this person to be Mujahid bin 'Abd Allah whom Arab sources credit with the invasion. The Saracen force based on Sardinia, over the next few years, torched Pisa, seized Luna in northern Tuscany, and ravaged the land. Pope Benedict VIII managed to assemble a fleet and challenged the Saracen chief who turned tail and fled to Sardinia, leaving his fleet at the mercy of the papal force which was victorious.

Mujahid bin 'Abd Allah then sent the Pope a bag of chestnuts and a message that he would arrive in the following summer with as many soldiers as there were nuts in the bag. Benedict accepted the chestnuts and sent back a bag of rice: 'If your master,' he said to the astonished messenger, 'isn't satisfied with the damage he has done to the dowry of the Apostle, let him come again and he will find an armed warrior for every grain of rice'.

The Pope did not wait for an answer but carried the war into the enemy's territory. He co-opted the combined fleets of Pisa and Genoa and they sailed for Sardinia in 1017 only to find Mujahid in the act of crucifying Christians on Sardinia. The Muslim leader fled to Africa, and Sardinia was occupied by the Pisans. Mujahid kept trying to re-take Sardinia until 1050 when he was captured by the Pisans and the island was made over to them by the Pope.

Muslims from Spain sacked Antibes in 1003. They sacked Pisa in 1005 and 1016, and Narbonne in 1020.

Sometime around 1025 Pope John XIX granted the pallium [sign of Ecclesiastical jurisdiction] to Archbishop Peter of Gerona in northeast Spain, on condition that he redeemed Christian captives of the Saracens as he had promised the Pope when he had come on his 'ad limina' visit.

The First Crusade what made it a reality

The four-hundred and sixty-three years that elapsed between Muhammad's death in 632 and the calling of a Crusade to free the Holy Places in 1095 was not a time of 'peaceful co-existence' between Muslims and European or Byzantine Christians. Nor was it, for Christians living in Muslim-occupied territories. They enjoyed 'peace' only by keeping the lowest possible profile, paying the jizya, or head-tax, and accepting nonperson status in lands that had been Christian before the Muslim invaders arrived.

The new millennium saw the situation go from bad to worse. In 1009 the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, abu-'Ali Mansur al-Hakim, ordered the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The edict of destruction was signed by his Christian secretary ibn-'Abdun. The Muslims destroyed the Tomb of Jesus, the Dome and the upper parts of the Church until their demolition was halted by the great mound of debris at their feet. For eleven years Christians were forbidden even to visit the rubble or to pray in the ruins.

Shocked by the destruction of Christendom's holiest Shrine, Pope Sergius IV appealed for help to go to Palestine to rebuild it. His appeal fell on deaf ears.

At the beginning of the fifth century, two hundred years before Muhammad appeared, there were seven-hundred Catholic bishops in Africa.[14] Two hundred of them attended the Council of Carthage in 535 AD. By the middle of the 900s there were forty left. By 1050, as a result of 'peaceful coexistence,' there were only five left. In 1076 there were two. We learn this from a letter that Pope Gregory VII, 'Hildebrand,' wrote to Cyriacus, Archbishop of Carthage in June 1076. As three bishops are needed for the valid consecration of another bishop Gregory asked him to send a suitable priest to Rome who could be consecrated assistant bishop, so that he [Cyriacus] and Servandus, bishop of Buzea in Mauritania, and the new bishop could consecrate other bishops for the African Catholics.[15]

Gregory VII, on his deathbed in 1085, dreamt of forming a Christian League against Islam and said, 'I would rather risk my life to deliver the Holy Places, than govern the Universe'.[16]

It seems to have been the Seljuk Turkish capture of Jerusalem in 1076 that finally swung the balance, exhausted the patience of the European Christians, and fulfilled Gregory's wish. Pilgrimage to the Holy Places had became more difficult; a poll-tax was imposed on visitors. Those who dared journey there were harassed, robbed and some even enslaved.

At the Council of Piacenza summoned by Pope Urban II and held in March 1095, Byzantine delegates emphasized the danger facing Christendom from Muslim expansion, and the hardship facing Eastern Christians until the infidel be driven back.[17] They repeated an appeal made by Emperor Alexius to Robert of Flanders asking him to return to the East with some knights to assist the Byzantines in their struggle with the Muslims.

Towards the end of that same year, Urban II, at another Council held at Claremont in France, took up the suggestion, and urged Europe's Christians to 'Take the road to the Holy Sepulchre ... let each one deny himself and take up the Cross'. The Assembly rose to its feet and shouted 'God wills it'.

Muhammad died on June 8, 632 AD. It had taken four hundred and sixty three years for Europe's Christians to combine their forces and rise up in defence of themselves and of their Faith.

Endnotes


[1] John Esposito, Islam: the Straight Path, 3rd ed. OUP, 1998, p. 58.
[2] See 'Civilizing influence of previous wars fought between East and West', The Weekend Australian, March 18-19, 2006.
[3] This article restricts itself to a brief discussion of these claims and counter claims. We plan future articles that will discuss other controverted issues like the collaboration, in the initial phase of Islamic expansionism after the death of Muhammad, with Muslim military forces, by Christians and others, for political and sometimes religious reasons. We will also look at the claim that the Crusades were anti-Islamic, put relations between the Crusaders and the Byzantines, and the sacking of Jerusalem and Constantinople in context. We will consider the degree to which ongoing anti-Catholic polemic since the 16th century has now become a weapon in the hands of radical Islamists.
[4] The Church in the Dark Ages, J.M. Dent and Sons, London, 1959, p.336.
[5] The term 'Saracen' is sometimes mistakenly derived from the Arabic Sharqi or 'Easterner'. St Jerome considered it to be the name the Arabs gave themselves, deriving their origins from Sarah, Abraham's free wife, rather than from Hagar, his slave. In many of the sources we have used, the term 'Agareni', or'Hagarines,' is found.
[6] Letter from Adelbert, Marquis of Tuscany and protector of the Papal territory of Corsica, to Pope Sergius II in Liber Pontificalis, n.xliv, ed. Farnesiana.
[7] Henri Daniel-Rops, The Church in the Dark Ages, ed. cit., p. 472.
[8] Quoted Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Cambridge University Press, 1951, vol. i, p. 43.
[9] See Horace Mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, 12 vols. Kegan Paul, London, 1906, vol. iii, p. 321.
[10] Epistle 334 fragment of a letter to the Emperor.
[11] Epistle 296 to the Byzantine Emperor Basil, August 12, 880 AD.
[12] op. cit., vol. 4, p. 10.
[13] Flodoard [894-966] Chronique de France 919-966, entry for 921.
[14] H. Daniel-Rops, The Church in the Dark Ages, ed. cit., pp. 340, 344.
[15] Register of Gregory VII, III, 19.
[16] H. Daniel-Rops, Cathedral and Crusade, J.M.Dent and Sons, London, 1957, p. 434.
[17] Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, ed. cit., vol. i, p. 105.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2019, 06:18:16 AM by Xavier »
To understand God's Plan for Humanity, and how He has provided the means by which we can minimize the Coming Great Tribulation, read: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/

Offer your Life to Jesus and Mary: TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Roman Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 6000+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; for all the 1.35 Billion Members of the Church, the Millions of Catholic Catechumens and Children to be born and baptized in this Decade; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, for All Lay Apostolates, and All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

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Offline Xavier

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The Real History of the CrusadesTHOMAS F. MADDEN

Many historians had been trying for some time to set the record straight on the Crusades—misconceptions are all too common. For them, current interest is an opportunity to explain the Crusades while people are actually listening. With the possible exception of Umberto Eco, medieval scholars are not used to getting much media attention. We tend to be a quiet lot (except during the annual bacchanalia we call the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, of all places), poring over musty chronicles and writing dull yet meticulous studies that few will read. Imagine, then, my surprise when within days of the September 11 attacks, the Middle Ages suddenly became relevant.

As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. When were they? Just how insensitive was President George W. Bush for using the word “crusade” in his remarks? With a few of my callers I had the distinct impression that they already knew the answers to their questions, or at least thought they did. What they really wanted was an expert to say it all back to them. For example, I was frequently asked to comment on the fact that the Islamic world has a just grievance against the West. Doesn’t the present violence, they persisted, have its roots in the Crusades’ brutal and unprovoked attacks against a sophisticated and tolerant Muslim world? In other words, aren’t the Crusades really to blame?

Osama bin Laden certainly thinks so. In his various video performances, he never fails to describe the American war against terrorism as a new Crusade against Islam. Ex-president Bill Clinton has also fingered the Crusades as the root cause of the present conflict. In a speech at Georgetown University, he recounted (and embellished) a massacre of Jews after the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 and informed his audience that the episode was still bitterly remembered in the Middle East. (Why Islamist terrorists should be upset about the killing of Jews was not explained.) Clinton took a beating on the nation’s editorial pages for wanting so much to blame the United States that he was willing to reach back to the Middle Ages. Yet no one disputed the ex-president’s fundamental premise.

Well, almost no one. Many historians had been trying to set the record straight on the Crusades long before Clinton discovered them. They are not revisionists, like the American historians who manufactured the Enola Gay exhibit, but mainstream scholars offering the fruit of several decades of very careful, very serious scholarship. For them, this is a “teaching moment,” an opportunity to explain the Crusades while people are actually listening. It won’t last long, so here goes.

Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.

During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:

How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? …Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?

“Crusading,” Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an “an act of love”—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, “You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.'”

he second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ. The word crusade is modern. Medieval Crusaders saw themselves as pilgrims, performing acts of righteousness on their way to the Holy Sepulcher. The Crusade indulgence they received was canonically related to the pilgrimage indulgence. This goal was frequently described in feudal terms. When calling the Fifth Crusade in 1215, Innocent III wrote:

Consider most dear sons, consider carefully that if any temporal king was thrown out of his domain and perhaps captured, would he not, when he was restored to his pristine liberty and the time had come for dispensing justice look on his vassals as unfaithful and traitors…unless they had committed not only their property but also their persons to the task of freeing him? …And similarly will not Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords, whose servant you cannot deny being, who joined your soul to your body, who redeemed you with the Precious Blood…condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you neglect to help Him?

The reconquest of Jerusalem, therefore, was not colonialism but an act of restoration and an open declaration of one’s love of God. Medieval men knew, of course, that God had the power to restore Jerusalem Himself — indeed, He had the power to restore the whole world to His rule. Yet as St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached, His refusal to do so was a blessing to His people:

Again I say, consider the Almighty’s goodness and pay heed to His plans of mercy. He puts Himself under obligation to you, or rather feigns to do so, that He can help you to satisfy your obligations toward Himself…. I call blessed the generation that can seize an opportunity of such rich indulgence as this.

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.

The Crusades were wars, so it would be a mistake to characterize them as nothing but piety and good intentions. Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes. These are usually well-remembered today. During the early days of the First Crusade in 1095, a ragtag band of Crusaders led by Count Emicho of Leiningen made its way down the Rhine, robbing and murdering all the Jews they could find. Without success, the local bishops attempted to stop the carnage. In the eyes of these warriors, the Jews, like the Muslims, were the enemies of Christ. Plundering and killing them, then, was no vice. Indeed, they believed it was a righteous deed, since the Jews’ money could be used to fund the Crusade to Jerusalem. But they were wrong, and the Church strongly condemned the anti-Jewish attacks.

Fifty years later, when the Second Crusade was gearing up, St. Bernard frequently preached that the Jews were not to be persecuted:

Ask anyone who knows the Sacred Scriptures what he finds foretold of the Jews in the Psalm. “Not for their destruction do I pray,” it says. The Jews are for us the living words of Scripture, for they remind us always of what our Lord suffered…. Under Christian princes they endure a hard captivity, but “they only wait for the time of their deliverance.”

Nevertheless, a fellow Cistercian monk named Radulf stirred up people against the Rhineland Jews, despite numerous letters from Bernard demanding that he stop. At last Bernard was forced to travel to Germany himself, where he caught up with Radulf, sent him back to his convent, and ended the massacres.

It is often said that the roots of the Holocaust can be seen in these medieval pogroms. That may be. But if so, those roots are far deeper and more widespread than the Crusades. Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Quite the contrary: Popes, bishops, and preachers made it clear that the Jews of Europe were to be left unmolested. In a modern war, we call tragic deaths like these “collateral damage.” Even with smart technologies, the United States has killed far more innocents in our wars than the Crusaders ever could. But no one would seriously argue that the purpose of American wars is to kill women and children.

By any reckoning, the First Crusade was a long shot. There was no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines, no detailed strategy. It was simply thousands of warriors marching deep into enemy territory, committed to a common cause. Many of them died, either in battle or through disease or starvation. It was a rough campaign, one that seemed always on the brink of disaster. Yet it was miraculously successful. By 1098, the Crusaders had restored Nicaea and Antioch to Christian rule. In July 1099, they conquered Jerusalem and began to build a Christian state in Palestine. The joy in Europe was unbridled. It seemed that the tide of history, which had lifted the Muslims to such heights, was now turning.

But it was not. When we think about the Middle Ages, it is easy to view Europe in light of what it became rather than what it was. The colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades are interesting largely because they were an attempt to counter that trend. But in five centuries of crusading, it was only the First Crusade that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. It was downhill from there.

When the Crusader County of Edessa fell to the Turks and Kurds in 1144, there was an enormous groundswell of support for a new Crusade in Europe. It was led by two kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, and preached by St. Bernard himself. It failed miserably. Most of the Crusaders were killed along the way. Those who made it to Jerusalem only made things worse by attacking Muslim Damascus, which formerly had been a strong ally of the Christians. In the wake of such a disaster, Christians across Europe were forced to accept not only the continued growth of Muslim power but the certainty that God was punishing the West for its sins. Lay piety movements sprouted up throughout Europe, all rooted in the desire to purify Christian society so that it might be worthy of victory in the East.

Crusading in the late twelfth century, therefore, became a total war effort. Every person, no matter how weak or poor, was called to help. Warriors were asked to sacrifice their wealth and, if need be, their lives for the defense of the Christian East. On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms. Yet still the Muslims grew in strength. Saladin, the great unifier, had forged the Muslim Near East into a single entity, all the while preaching jihad against the Christians. In 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, his forces wiped out the combined armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and captured the precious relic of the True Cross. Defenseless, the Christian cities began surrendering one by one, culminating in the surrender of Jerusalem on October 2. Only a tiny handful of ports held out.

The response was the Third Crusade. It was led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the German Empire, King Philip II Augustus of France, and King Richard I Lionheart of England. By any measure it was a grand affair, although not quite as grand as the Christians had hoped. The aged Frederick drowned while crossing a river on horseback, so his army returned home before reaching the Holy Land. Philip and Richard came by boat, but their incessant bickering only added to an already divisive situation on the ground in Palestine. After recapturing Acre, the king of France went home, where he busied himself carving up Richard’s French holdings. The Crusade, therefore, fell into Richard’s lap. A skilled warrior, gifted leader, and superb tactician, Richard led the Christian forces to victory after victory, eventually reconquering the entire coast. But Jerusalem was not on the coast, and after two abortive attempts to secure supply lines to the Holy City, Richard at last gave up. Promising to return one day, he struck a truce with Saladin that ensured peace in the region and free access to Jerusalem for unarmed pilgrims. But it was a bitter pill to swallow. The desire to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule and regain the True Cross remained intense throughout Europe.

The Crusades of the 13th century were larger, better funded, and better organized. But they too failed. The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) ran aground when it was seduced into a web of Byzantine politics, which the Westerners never fully understood. They had made a detour to Constantinople to support an imperial claimant who promised great rewards and support for the Holy Land. Yet once he was on the throne of the Caesars, their benefactor found that he could not pay what he had promised. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in 1204 the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders. But there was little else he could do. The tragic events of 1204 closed an iron door between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a door that even today Pope John Paul II has been unable to reopen. It is a terrible irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further—and perhaps irrevocably—apart.

The remainder of the 13th century’s Crusades did little better. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) managed briefly to capture Damietta in Egypt, but the Muslims eventually defeated the army and reoccupied the city. St. Louis IX of France led two Crusades in his life. The first also captured Damietta, but Louis was quickly outwitted by the Egyptians and forced to abandon the city. Although Louis was in the Holy Land for several years, spending freely on defensive works, he never achieved his fondest wish: to free Jerusalem. He was a much older man in 1270 when he led another Crusade to Tunis, where he died of a disease that ravaged the camp. After St. Louis’s death, the ruthless Muslim leaders, Baybars and Kalavun, waged a brutal jihad against the Christians in Palestine. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Despite numerous attempts and many more plans, Christian forces were never again able to gain a foothold in the region until the 19th century.

One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world. One of the great best-sellers of the time, Sebastian Brant’s The Ship of Fools, gave voice to this sentiment in a chapter titled “Of the Decline of the Faith”:

Our faith was strong in th’ Orient,
It ruled in all of Asia,
In Moorish lands and Africa.
But now for us these lands are gone
‘Twould even grieve the hardest stone….
Four sisters of our Church you find,
They’re of the patriarchic kind:
Constantinople, Alexandria,
Jerusalem, Antiochia.
But they’ve been forfeited and sacked
And soon the head will be attacked.


Of course, that is not what happened. But it very nearly did. In 1480, Sultan Mehmed II captured Otranto as a beachhead for his invasion of Italy. Rome was evacuated. Yet the sultan died shortly thereafter, and his plan died with him. In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. If not for a run of freak rainstorms that delayed his progress and forced him to leave behind much of his artillery, it is virtually certain that the Turks would have taken the city. Germany, then, would have been at their mercy.

Yet, even while these close shaves were taking place, something else was brewing in Europe—something unprecedented in human history. The Renaissance, born from a strange mixture of Roman values, medieval piety, and a unique respect for commerce and entrepreneurialism, had led to other movements like humanism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Even while fighting for its life, Europe was preparing to expand on a global scale. The Protestant Reformation, which rejected the papacy and the doctrine of indulgence, made Crusades unthinkable for many Europeans, thus leaving the fighting to the Catholics. In 1571, a Holy League, which was itself a Crusade, defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Yet military victories like that remained rare. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The “Sick Man of Europe” limped along until the 20th century, when he finally expired, leaving behind the present mess of the modern Middle East.

From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the name of political ideologies. And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves. Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction.

This article originally appeared in the March 2002 issue of Crisis Magazine.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 07:30:59 AM by Xavier »
To understand God's Plan for Humanity, and how He has provided the means by which we can minimize the Coming Great Tribulation, read: https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/

Offer your Life to Jesus and Mary: TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Roman Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 6000+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; for all the 1.35 Billion Members of the Church, the Millions of Catholic Catechumens and Children to be born and baptized in this Decade; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, for All Lay Apostolates, and All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

"Mother of God, Co-Redemptrix of the world, pray for us" [Promise: 1000 Souls from Purgatory]"This short prayer, this insistent prayer, every time it is said, sets free from Purgatory 1000 Souls, who reach the Eternal Joy, the Eternal Light"(!). http://www.jesusmariasite.org/jesus-pray-my-children-that-the-fifth-marian-dogma-be-proclaimed/
 
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Offline mikemac

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Hey Vetus Abdul, have you read this thread?  If not you should.
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