Were the Crusades good or bad?

please post!

It is not a question of good/bad.
One must look at the Crusades in the context of the times in which they happened and not through the lens of what we know now.

ok so then mayi ask were they necessary at the time? i am not condemning, them… i just want to know the position of other cathoics, because its been mixed, which i dont like… i am reading about the glory of the cruades at thme moment , yet the author says that father barrons opinion on them is no good… if we are one community, twe should have one consensus on them shouldnt wwe?

Useful youtube site…I don’t know if the creator of the videos is Catholic. But it is reliable info.


My impression is that they were pretty varied. I understand the initiating event was the closing of Jerusalem and the other holy sites to Christian pilgrims by the Seljuk Turks, and the persecution of Christians. Previously, the Arab caliphate had been pretty accommodating and tolerant, at least reasonably so, but the Turks weren’t either of those things.

Along the way, recapture of the Holy Land became intermixed with the desire of the Byzantines to recapture Christian lands that had been taken by the Turks. And some of that did happen. The Byzantines did not take part in the war for the Holy Land itself. Even though they once ruled it, it was a “bridge too far” for them.

Nevertheless, robberies, rapes and killings of innocents did happen at the hands of some. That’s kind of how war was at the time.

At the time, European rulers had little “model” for governance other than feudal tenure, so they set that up wherever they conquered. It was of little consequence to most of the Arabs, both Christian and Muslim, who lived there, because late Arabic rule was feudal too. At times, Arab Muslim feudal lords joined with Crusaders to fight other feudal lords. A lot of Arab rulers were glad to be rid of the Seljuks, who were a warlike and cruel bunch.

The end of the Crusades really came at the accession of yet another group of Turks; this time the Mamluks. Interestingly, at about the same time, the partially Mongol, partially Turkic hordes of the Mongol Empire invaded the Middle East. The Crusaders offered to ally with the Mamluks to repel them, but the Mamluks wouldn’t do it and drove the Crusaders out before defeating the Mongols.

Later, of course, the Turkic Timur invaded and devasted the area, and finally ended up in a standstill with the Ottoman Turks who had taken over most of the remnants of the Byzantine Empire, and what was left of the Mamluk empire. Timur died, his army left, and the Ottomans inherited all but what the revived Persians were able to control.

Catholics do not have to have one uniform opinion on every topic under the sun. That’s more typical of cults following charismatic leaders, not the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.

There were something like 8 Crusades fought over the course of centuries in different places by different people for different reasons. Most tend to agree that the first Crusade was necessary and successful (to reclaim the rights of Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land). But opinions tend to branch off from there with regards to the later Crusades.

This should not be a source of scandal for us. Catholics are a very diverse group. We are not carbon copy cookie cutter images of each other. As the old saying goes, “In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.” A little disagreement does not make the whole edifice crumble. The Church is stronger than that.

Self-defense cannot be describe simply as “good” or “bad”. It is just and necessary, and a fact of life to defend one’s self. The Crusades were wars of self defense.

it depends on who you ask. If in those days you were a Muslim intent on destroying everyone that didn’t share your beliefs then they were bad. If you were Christian and didn’t particularly care about converting to another belief system they were probably good.

can anyone please give me a good book i can read about them, where i can develop a good catholic opiion of them…

You may find The New Concise History of the Crusades by Thomas F. Madden a good start.

That depends on how you define the crusades. If you define them as Church-supported armed expeditions to Israel, I think there are fewer than eight. If you define them as Church-supported armed expeditions against Islamic aggressors, there are many hundreds of crusades, going at least as far back as Charles Martel in the early 700s. I think it is reasonable to define a crusade as any armed expedition after 1095 A.D. whose commanders intentionally tried to carry forward the tradition of prior crusades and which were supported by the Church. By that definition, the Church’s crusader orders continued to launch and plan crusades against Muslim aggressors until at least 1823.

There may have been some good intentions behind the ones we commonly think of as “the Crusades”, but I think they were corrupted by greed and lust for power fairly early on.

The Glory of the Crusades
writtem by a Catholic historian. I read it a week ago and enjoyed. I had already read several other books, but I would recommend this one over the others.


Some probably were from the beginning, and some undoubtedly were not even at the very end.

Some people gained by them, and some gave up a lot, including their lives.

One of the interesting aspects of it is the military organization and tactics. Initially, the Muslims were overwhelmed by the power of Christian knights on horseback, followed by mailed foot soldiers. One Arab chronicler of the time said a fully armed Christian knight on horseback could charge right through the walls of Babylon. That was an exaggeration, of course, but there was at least one occasion in which Crusader knights opened a passageway through Muslim cavalry for the foot soldiers by simply trampling the lighter Arab cavalry underfoot. European horses were not as fast or nimble, but they were huge and trained to be fighters themselves. The maneuvers of the Spanish Riding School reflect some of the things those horses did to be part of the battle themselves. Look at them on YouTube and you can see that. Knights were “lifetime warriors” and had some remarkable successes despite always being greatly outnumbered. They were both the Armor and the Delta Force of their day.

It’s also interesting that what really destroyed Arab rule in the Middle East for centuries were the vast, more or less “national armies” of the various Turkic invaders. It’s ironic that Arabs today blame Crusaders for destroying the “golden age” of the Arab Caliphate. It wasn’t them at all. It was invaders from Central Asia who ruined not only the Arab civilization but that of Persia besides.

No, or not in my opinion anyway. There is in nearly every instance those on one side of an issue and those on the other. Is there consensus among the bishops attending the current Synod of Bishops? No. Views are most often close to evenly divided, as we see for instance in most political elections in the US. This yin and yang, so to speak, is the dynamic that propels history, and my guess is that it will continue until the end of time and history. There is even a physiological basis for it, and if that is so, and it seems it is, then it is part of God’s plan for His Creation.

Saint Augustine, a Father of the Church, is perhaps the first person to introduce the concept of “just war” to the Western world. I’m thinking the concept was explained most fully in his ‘City of God’.

I am not sure there is any such thing as a “Catholic” opinion of them.

Part of the issue is that there opinions floating around which attempt to use “20-20 hindsight” rather than judging them on the basis of what was actually happening at the time, and what was accepted as a moral point of view not only on those who joined the Crusades, but the various societies at that time.

Another part of the issue is the (sometimes rabid) anti Catholicism that still goes on today - and that is not necessarily engendered from Protestant positions. Some of it is from the secular world, and in particular secular professors and historians.

And some of it is simply from poor research.

I am no historian, and have never (well, maybe since grade school in the 1950’s) been interested in the Crusades. I have no clue as to the holiness or lack thereof of oany of the popes involved in starting crusades, or for that matter, any of the main characters involved with them.

That, however, can be a factor.

Also, what needs to be kept in mind is that the world view in general, and in particular of the Church, was shaped by the political realities at the time. There were times in which the Church was intimately involved in the politics of countries, and that may have been at least in part due to a vacuum of other stability, but would not be considered acceptable today. The Church has a duty to have a voice in the political process; but that is a bit different from having political control. Centuries ago, that was not necessarily the case.

What is needed is not a “Catholic” view, so much as a historically accurate view which is not prejudiced to find in favor of, or against one side or group or another. If the truth in some instances is not favorable to some of the players (such as popes), then the truth needs to be told, but not over weighted due to prejudice.

This question is so very easy to answer: yes, the Crusades were good or bad!

Agee with you Otjm and what you say in your statement. I know at least my father had relatives in Germany who fought in the Crusades.For them it was a choice they freely made and felt was the right thing to do at time. We can’t judge people of the past by the actions of those today.Society is different in many ways,and yet the same.

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