Long overdue defensive measures to help Byzantium, and safeguard Christian pilgrims from Islamic jihad.
The concept of ‘holy war’ taken from the Islamic jihad invasion of Spain.
The Truth about the Crusades
Were the Crusades a reflection of the “terrible deeds [done] in the name of Christ” as U.S. President Obama recently warned, or were they a reflection of something else, namely, centuries of Islamic jihad? In the following essay, one of the top historians of the Crusades definitively answers the question.
Thomas Madden — former Chair of the History Department at Saint Louis University and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies — wrote this article in 2002 when President Bush used the word “crusade” in a positive sense, creating controversy. Its relevancy today is that Obama invoked the Crusades in a negative sense, also creating controversy.
Madden presents the most recent scholarship on the Crusades — scholarship that completely contradicts the popular image of these wars that permeates much of Hollywood, the writings of amateurs such as Karen Armstrong and, as seen, the worldview of Barack Obama.
(Due to its length (approximately 4000 words), only the most germane portions appear in the significantly shorter version below; especially relevant sentences and paragraphs are highlighted in bold, while removed text is reflected by bracketed ellipses.)
The Real History of the Crusades
By Thomas Madden
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.