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Christianity- Islam and the Crusades
May 16, 2009, 8:09 am
Filed under: Religion

Christianity- Islam and the Crusades

Khalil Rahman

The First Crusade was planned by Pope Urban II and more than 200 bishops at the Council of Clermont. It was preached by Urban between AD 1095 and 1099. He assured his listeners that God himself wanted them to encourage men of all ranks, rich and poor, to go and exterminate Muslims. He said that Christ commanded it. Even robbers, he said, should now become soldiers of Christ. Assured that God wanted them to participate in Holy War, masses pressed forward to take the crusader’s oath. They looked forward to a guaranteed place in Heaven for themselves and to an assured victory for their divinely endorsed army. The pope did not appoint a secular military supreme commander, only a spiritual one, the Bishop of Le Puy. Initial expeditions were led by two churchmen, Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless. Peter was a monk from Amiens , whose credentials were a letter written by God and delivered to him by Jesus. He assured his followers that death in the Crusades provided an automatic passport to Heaven.

When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem on the 14th July 1099 , they massacred the inhabitants, Jews and Muslims alike, men, women and children. The killing continued all night and into the next day. Jews who took refuge in their synagogue were burned alive. Muslims sought refuge in the al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of a Christian banner. In the morning Crusaders forced an entry and massacred them all, 70,000 according to an Arab historian, including a large number of scholars. The Temple of Solomon was so full of blood that it came up to the horses’ bridles. The chronicler Raymond of Aguiliers described it as a just and wonderful judgment of God . Even before the killing was over the crusaders went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre “rejoicing and weeping for joy” to thank God for his assistance. Muslim prisoners were decapitated, shot with arrows, forced to jump from high towers, or burned. Some were tortured first. Neither was this an isolated incident. It was wholly typical. When the crusaders took Caesarea in 1101 many citizens fled to the Great Mosque and begged the Christians for mercy. At the end of the butchery the floor was a lake of blood. In the whole city only a few girls and infants survived. Soon afterwards, there was a similar massacre at Beirut. Such barbarity shocked the Eastern world and left an impression of the Christian West that has still not been forgotten in the third millennium.

The Second Crusade was proclaimed by Pope Eugene III in 1145. It was preached by St Bernard, a leading Cistercian theologian who declared that “The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified”.

The initial object of this second crusade was to recapture Edessa which had fallen to the Muslims in 1144. Initial contingents were lead by military commanders like the bishops of Metz and Toul. On the way, traveling by sea, the Crusaders besieged the then Muslim city of Lisbon . After four months the garrison surrendered, having been promised their lives and their property if they capitulated. They did capitulate and were then massacred. Only about a fifth of the original Crusader force got as far as Syria , where the real crusade started. It proved a failure, at least partially because tactical targets were selected for religious rather than military reasons. A military tactician might have gone for Aleppo , but the Crusade leaders agreed on mounting an attack on Damascus , apparently because they recognized its name as biblical. The leaders argued amongst themselves until the crusade collapsed in 1149, having failed to take Edessa or Damascus . The whole thing had been a disaster.

The third Crusade. Having proclaimed a jihad in 1186, Saladin re-took Jerusalem for the Muslims the following year. Once the battle was over no one was killed or injured, and not a building was looted. The captives were permitted to ransom themselves, and those who could afford to do so ransomed their vassals as well. Many thousands could not afford their ransom, and were held to be sold as slaves. The military monks, who could have used their vast wealth to save their fellow Christians from slavery, declined to do so. The head of the Church, the Patriarch Heraclius, and his clerics looked after themselves. The Muslims saw Heraclius pay his ten dinars for his own ransom and leave the city bowed with the weight of the gold that he was carrying, followed by carts laden with other valuables. As the unransomed prisoners were lead off to a life of slavery Saladin’s brother Malik al-Adil took pity. He asked his brother for a thousand of them as a reward for his services, and when he was granted them he immediately gave them their liberty. This triggered further generosity amongst the victorious commanders, culminating in Saladin offering gifts from his own treasury to the Christian widows and orphans. “His mercy and kindness were in strange contrast to the deeds of the Christian conquerors of the First Crusade”

The Fourth Crusade was preached by Pope Innocent III and lasted from 1202 to 1204. Although intended to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims by way of Egypt , the crusade was hijacked by the Venetians and directed against the Christian cities of Zara and then Constantinople , which offered a softer target and richer pickings. Constantinople was taken, the Emperor deposed, and Baldwin of Flanders was set up in his place. The victorious crusaders amused themselves in the usual way, even though this was the capital of Christendom.

The fifth Crusade. This Crusade was preached by Pope Innocent III but undertaken in the reign of Pope Honorius III. It was lead by Cardinal Pelagius of Lucia, and lasted from 1217 to 1221. Although ultimately intended to recover Jerusalem the main force was initially directed against Egypt . Damietta was besieged. Saladin proposed a deal. He would cede Jerusalem , all central Palestine , and Galilee if the crusaders would spare Damietta . This offer was rejected by Pelagius, despite military advice.

Damietta duly fell to the Christians. The surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery, and their children handed over to the Christian priests to be baptised and trained into the service of the Church. But Saladin soon recovered Damietta by force.

The Sixth Crusade was proposed by Pope Gregory IX, but found few takers, previous crusades having proved such failures. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II organized his own crusade while under sentence of excommunication, and pursued it between 1222 and 1229. Despite the pope’s machinations and much to his embarrassment Frederick’s military and strategic skill led to a negotiated settlement under which Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem came under Christian control.

The Seventh Crusade lasted from 1248 to 1254. It was initiated under Pope Innocent IV, Jerusalem having been lost to the Moslems again in 1244. It was led by King Louis IX of France ( St Louis ) who started by attacking Egypt . Once again Damietta was captured, and once again the Sultan offered to exchange it for Jerusalem . Once again the offer was rejected. And once again the Muslims won Damietta back by force of arms. Louis himself was captured, and had to be ransomed for 400,000 bezants. After his release he went to the Holy Land , but failed to recover the holy cities, and so gave up and went home.

The Eighth Crusade was proposed by Pope Gregory X, but not organized until a later reign. It lasted only from 1270 to 1271, and was initially led once again by St Louis . It collapsed after Louis died of disease while attacking Carthage (modern Tunis ).

The Ninth Crusade continued St Louis ‘s eighth crusade. It was led by Prince Edward between 1271 and 1272. Edward, the future English King Edward I, reached the Holy Land . Like earlier crusades, this one fizzled out, a total failure.

Pope Pius II was so keen to revive the Crusades that he went himself, but hardly anyone else could be coerced into going with him. He waited near the coast at Ancona in the summer of 1464, hoping for others to turn up. Sixtus IV made a couple of efforts at organizing crusades against the Turks, but nothing came of them. Leo X planned another one in 1515, but nothing ever came of it either. Clement XI hoped to launch a Crusade early in the eighteenth century but he too failed to win much backing.

[NY Sun: Islam and Muslims are expected to be a priority for Pope Benedict XVI, but he has been publicly quite muted on these topics during his first nine months in office.

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Sept. 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI

The Vatican has confirmed that it is negotiating for permission to build the first church in Saudi Arabia . Time Magazine Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2008

Sun Mar 23, 2008, The Vatican City (Reuters) – A Muslim author and critic of Islamic fundamentalism who was baptized a Catholic by Pope Benedict said on Sunday Islam is “physiologically violent”. ]


1 Comment so far
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Yeah, it’s really correct, I want to know more about Islam, Thanks.

Comment by st louis building

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