A Defense of the Crusades

For a thread defending the crusades see the link below.

Thank God for the Crusades

The basic outline was this.

-The crusades are today misunderstood
-The Crusades Were a Defensive Action Against Muslim Aggressors

  • The crusades were to help Christian’s Traveling to the Holy Land and Christians Suffering Under Islamic Rule and were seen as Spiritual Journey of Self Sacrifice
    -Liberate Jerusalem was also a goal

What they were not

-a Conquest
-for Wealth
-A War Between Religions/ A Religious war/A war of Conversion

Great books i recommend all Catholics read interested in the crusades.

-The Glory of the Crusades Steve Weidenkopf Catholic Answers press 2014
-The First Crusade A New History The Roots of conflict Between Christianity and Islam Thomas Asbridge Oxford university Press 2004
-The New Concise history of the crusades Thomas Madden Rowman and Litterfeild Publishing inc Lanham/Boulder/New York/ Toronto/Oxford 2006

Thank you for the resources. The Crusades are frequently misunderstood. However, we should be wary of white washing them.

The Crusades represented a Catholic orientation to the life and the world (as I believe Catholicism to be, not everybody agrees of course).
First, there was an expectation of unity of purpose among all the nations of Catholic Europe. The pope and religious leaders expected Catholics to participate and some, even the wealthiest, made great sacrifices of time, money and their own lives in battle.
Second, the goal of the Crusades was not only to liberate captives, but some would say primarily to protect the religious sites of the Holy Land, and most importantly, protect relics (and the land where Jesus died itself was a relic) of the Faith. Protecting the tomb of Christ, for example, is part of the incarnational view. The things that Jesus touched were sacred forever. The places he walked communicated grace. They could not be left in the hands of unbelievers.
Thirdly, there was an active effort and belief that Muslims should be converted. The Crusades had a missionary component. We think of how St. Francis actually tried to convert the Sultan himself.

However, the Crusades failed in part because of rivalry and in-fighting between Catholics, the interests of nationalism and other selfish interests took hold.

We know from there, it has been a very common Protestant (and other non-Catholic) criticism of the Catholic Church that the Crusades were a failure and showed the supposed evil of the Church.

Many Catholics today (not me) agree with that. So we see a great victory for the Protestant idea that each man is really for himself. There is no visible Church to defend in that view. Most importantly, relics and sacred sites have no real interest for the average Catholic today. Most put nationalism and interest in their own country’s politics ahead of the welfare of the universal Church. So, as I see it, the Catholic Church has entirely absorbed the Protestant criticism and now calls it its own.

The Crusades are generally condemned. Catholics tend to agree that the Church was basically evil back then. Most don’t believe there is any need to convert anyone. Jews, Protestants, Muslims - are all good enough as they are.

I am astounded that you are making the claim that the Church (you put an uppercase C) was evil at any time. I suggest you better understand the crusades.

Parenthetical …

Many Catholics today (not me) agree with that.

I must have read it wrong, your evil comment was after your “not me”.

From the Jimmy Akin article:

Many today in the self-reflective West view the Crusades as acts of unjustified aggression toward the peaceful inhabitants of the East and the Holy Land.

Yes, that’s what I said. :tiphat:

Far from being embarrassed by what the crusaders did, contemporary Christians should be proud that–despite their own internecine struggles in the Middle Ages–prior generations of Christians found the wherewithal to do precisely what Muslims would do in the same situation.

Wow, Jimmy. We should be proud that Catholics of prior generations acted just like Muslims would act in the same situation.

The things I read here every day on CAF make me want stress-management therapy.

Yes, right after where I said “the supposed evil of the Church”.

You can’t treat them as a single event! Each crusade was a seperate endeavor. Some were noble, some, not so much…

The Normans from southern Italy were, indeed, all about abandoning their operations there and heading to the Levant for the express purpose of 1) conquest and 2) wealth, though not exactly in that order. Richard the Lionheart executed 6,000 prisoners (an act unheard of at that time) for the simple fact that the sultan’s ransom payment hadn’t arrived by the deadline.

One should be very careful about portraying the crusades as some grand, noble endeavor for the greater glory of God. I somehow doubt that God was very pleased when the streets of Jerusalem ran red with the blood of Muslims, Jews and even the native Christians who had been there for centuries, especially when it was all done in His name.

Before responding to anti-Catholics who use the Crusades to slur the Church, we should first consider the actual logic of their argument: “The Catholic Church did something evil, therefore the Catholic Church is not the true Church.” It’s a form of the ancient heresies about Church purity. “Where there is sin, the Church cannot be.” So people perceived the Church as impure and went off to find their own, more pure “church.” Only it never ends well, because eventually the new “church” will itself splinter over the same purity arguments.

We must recall the Parable of the Weeds:

24 Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants** said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

There will be wheat and weeds, saints and sinners, within the Church until Christ’s parousia. The men in the Church will not be pure. This doesn’t lessen the ministry that Christ entrusted to it, or make its sacraments and teachings invalid. So when an anti-Catholic throws the sex-abuse scandal, the inquisition, or the crusades in your face, you shouldn’t respond by tacitly agreeing their purity argument by defending every evil done by men and women in the Church. We don’t need to write a hagiography. We can acknowledge dark times caused by the men in the Church.

But neither should we rush to judgment without context. Richard did execute 6,000 prisoners. He was anxious to continue his campaign, but sound military strategy would not let him march with them, he could not afford to leave them behind under guard, and he could not afford to let them go. Perhaps he could have sold them into slavery instead. He chose to execute them. Why? We can’t deny that Saladin was *intentionally *stalling as a military tactic to allow additional forces to march up from Egypt. By not paying the ransom, he thought he could keep Richard’s campaign from continuing. Saladin could get his reinforcements and keep Richard pinned down. The executions Richard ordered were themselves a military response to Saladin’s strategic, military choice to delay.

Perhaps we should still rightly judge Richard’s action here as intrinsically evil. But we shouldn’t ignore both the military context and the context of the twelfth century.**

I think that the Crusades are a lot more nuanced than any one explanation can provide. There were too many of them, too many big players among the different Crusades, and too many individuals involved.

I’ve heard people say that the Crusades were an excuse for second and third sons to go cut a kingdom out for themselves. But for the most part, Crusader lords were heirs already so that doesn’t hold water. Yet the Crusader lords started infighting and bickering over territory as soon as they started taking cities.

I’ve heard people talk about them as a defensive war. But the Caliphate had control of the Levant for a good 300 or so years before the start of the first Crusade in 1095 - Christian pilgrimages were allowed and encouraged. On the other hand, Turkish tribes were putting pressure on Constantinople and threatening Christian travelers and making things difficult for them to peacefully visit the Holy Land.

I’m fairly certain Raymond, Godfrey, Baldwin, and Bohemond all had their own reasons to crusade, which were different from, say, Peter the Hermit’s reasons. And the reasons that all the peasants tried to take up arms. The Venetians that lended support to the First Crusade were definitely out for money.

Whether or not to be proud of the Crusaders I guess is up to each individual person. There’s something admirable about joining a grand adventure for something like one’s convictions. But the massacre of Jews, Orthodox Christians, and even Levantine Latin Christians was appalling. (Though if I recall correctly, many priests and the Church as a whole tried to shield the innocents from the marauding Crusaders) And the sack of Constantinople was a mortal blow that many scholars think directly lead to the end of the Roman Empire - and thus Christianity as a true force in the East.

Yes! Crusades are frequentley understoood. Catholic Answers youtube channel did a video about it. youtube.com/watch?v=zMRLPBoZF3k

I agree with this?

agreed. I was more referring to the initial crusades and the overall goals when they started.

could you support the southern Italians [whos homeland was threatened by islam] joined the crusades for conquest. Please reconcile that with the fact most all crusaders went back home, or died. Add to that the territory was originally to be given to byzantine.

I am assuming you are referring to acre. First i never said every action of every crusader was just, but the goals of the crusades. He never killed 8,000 but 2,600, this was not unheard of but common thouout history. Saladin did worse and killed christian prisoners. The reason Richard did so was because saladin went back on the agreement and did not hand over living Christians [crusaders likely assumed they were killed] nor the true cross as was promised. Saladin was given 30 days and after 40 of saladin refusing to complete the deal, Richard executed the prisoners.

This also sent a strong message to saladin in future agreements that they must be kept. Richard was leaving acre soon and could not release thousands of enemy soldiers to attack his supply lines.

One should be very careful about portraying the crusades in any way other than historical.

I would suggest a read of my link, it responds to some of what you have said above.

Whatever you think of the Crusades, at the very least they allowed Rome to be liberated from Anti-Pope Clement III, thanks to the crusader army of the Count of Vermandois.

God has a way of orchestrating events to protect the Holy See.

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