conflicts are always marked by the most vicious and appalling extremes
of cruelty and depravity. Religious war is never justified, how can it
be in an enlightened and advanced society of logic and scientific
We all seek spiritual salvation in our own way and we all follow a path that has
only one destination. What right does one person have to insist
that their path is the correct one, and that if you do not follow that
path too, they will torture you and kill you and any other
non-believers, in a variety of sickening ways?
In the modern world there are still those who cannot abide a differing system of belief, they use religious dogma as an excuse for the most vile crimes against their fellow human beings. At any point in time there have been a variety of belief systems that have spilled over into fanaticism and radicalism. Today, in most parts of the word, such religious fanaticism has ebbed, but all too often sadly, has been replaced by other forms of oppression and tyranny. Sadly too, in the 21st century, religious fanaticism does still exist in certain regions of our world, and its poisonous doctrines are exported to infect many other nations who are in themselves advanced, tolerant and peaceful entities.
A Knight of the Temple of Jerusalem
the current politically correct times in which we live, the implication,
if not the assertion, that the First Crusade was an act of fanatical
Christian aggression, is so blatantly at odds with historical reality as
to be nothing short of the attempted re-writing of history. It is in its
own way excusing the barbarity of people who cannot abide other faiths
or systems of belief, but seek to destroy them by violence and
To understand the root causes of the First Crusade, and Western Europe’s invasion and occupation of the Holy Land, one must first understand the origin and growth of the Islamic faith.
in 570 AD, Mohammed's early life included periods as a merchant and
diplomat. By 622 AD having established the Islamic faith; he was the
war-lord of Medina, leading a force of several thousand warriors in the
conquest/conversion of the Arabian Peninsula; a ten year campaign which
included the massacre of the Bany Qurayza Jews in 627 AD, and which
culminated in the capture of Mecca in 632 AD. Within months of this
victory he died.
invincible however, by the Heaven sent commands of a now revered
Prophet, and believing Paradise awaited the fallen; between the years
622 AD and 750 AD, Islamic armies attacked and took Palestine, Egypt,
Syria, North Africa, Armenia, Sicily and Southern Italy from the
Byzantine Romans; conquered the Visigoths of the Iberian Peninsula; took
Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan and the Indus Valley from the Sassanid Persian
Empire; attacked Constantinople, fought their way up into France, and
even took a large slice of central Asia from the Chinese.
result of this Jihad/Holy War was the sacking of innumerable
towns/cities, the utter destruction of the earlier cultures, and the
death of possibly millions of the predominantly Christian previous
inhabitants. This steel tipped religious whirlwind terrified but also
weakened the neighbouring Christian cultures; and response was both
muted and fragmented. In 718 AD the Spanish Reconquesta began an eight
hundred year struggle which finally ended in 1492 AD; the year Columbus
discovered America! Despite that victory, Islamic naval forces dominated
the Mediterranean until the battle of Lepanto 1571 AD.
26th August 1071 the Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV deployed
his army near the city of Manzikert, intent on preventing the
conquest/invasion of his Anatolian provinces by the Seljuk Turks. It was
a crushing Christian defeat, from which the Byzantine Empire never
recovered. Within a decade, the one thousand year old Christian
Anatolian culture had been given its deathblow, as the victorious hosts
of Sultan Alp Arslan slaughtered their way to the walls of
Constantinople. Behind their scimitars, a mass migration by the Children
of the Prophet established the Islamic Sultanate now known as Turkey.
Byzantium lost 20,000 dead, with another 40,000 wounded/captured at the battle of Manzikert alone, after which came 10/20 years of 'ethnic cleansing' during which the Byzantine population/culture of Anatolia was eradicated. The fate of the 40,000 Christian captives was particularly grim. Most had their right hand and left foot cut off as per Koranic doctrine; while huge numbers of the general Anatolian population were deliberately blinded. Thus mutilated, hundreds of thousands of these unfortunates were driven toward Constantinople, to beg or starve.
The First Crusade
This wave of human misery spread steadily north and west across Europe, begging at roadsides and church gates for a generation, rousing Europe's people to fury as they did so. Two pub names 'The Blind Beggar' and the 'Saracen's Head' still recall memories of this time. The first is self-explanatory, the second remembers the places where Christendom's warrior class, outraged by the wanton cruelty, swore on oath to 'cut off a Saracen's head' as they answered the Pope's call to "avenge the bleeding frontier crimes!" in what became known as The First Crusade.
Krak de Chevaliers in modern day Syria - the finest of Crusader castles
call to arms came at Clermont, in November 1095 AD when Pope Urban II,
fearing the loss of Constantinople and the Islamic invasion/conquest of
Europe, launched Christendom's belated response to more than 350 years
of Islamic Jihad. A 'Crusade' with the aim of liberating Jerusalem,
which prior to its capture by Muslim armies in 638 AD, had been the
Christian city of Aelia since Roman times.
these historic realities in mind, how the politically correct apologists
of radical Islam can suggest the First Crusade was anything other than a
fully justified counter-attack against a mortal threat to
European/Christian civilization and culture, is astounding. No people on
earth would submit themselves willingly to such atrocities and threat
without fighting back.
course, this is not to say that Christian rule in what became the
Crusader States was a paragon of virtuous and tolerant government, far
from it. The long swords of the Crusaders were often steeped in blood.
All of this relentless killing is directly related to religious
intolerance and fundamentalism, and we should be thankful that we live
in a more enlightened world today. However, as previously mentioned, there are still areas of our
world where the lights of tolerance have still not been switched on, and where reason
and logic remain prisoners to fanatical religious dogma. We can only
sincerely hope, even if it is a vain hope, that this will begin to
change and that we can live in peace and believe what we choose to
©Copyright - James of Glencarr