The Crusades.

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Deepfreeze32
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby Deepfreeze32 » Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:02 pm

And that's the thing... the study of the Crusades is a huge, complex and nuanced thing...
Brother, you have just described the study of history as a whole. I'd almost venture to say that nothing can be easily distilled into simple categories, but I cannot say that with certainty. Even issues that seem black and white have layers of complexity that makes the discussion a whole lot less simple than "Obviously <statement>." I went to the British Museum on Monday, and one thing that strikes me is how we often tend to think of historical events in terms of abstraction. "The Ancient Romans." "The Holocaust." "World War II." "The English Civil War."

Very rarely do we associate the events with the people and events behind them and when we do, it's often skewed. We look at the Nazis and see the faceless stormtroopers marching against the forces of "good" (Please bear with me here, these quotes are meant to indicate that there is a discussion to be had, and the discussion could take days). But do we think about how many Germans signed up for the War Effort because they thought they were defending their country? That, for better or worse, their intentions were roughly (Again, bear with the generalization here) the same as the soldiers on any other side? The situation of the Weimar Republic is barely covered in school (Well, it was for me, maybe you youngsters are getting a more comprehensive history class these days). The circumstances leading to the Nazi's rise to power are glossed over. Because of this, I know people (Thankfully not many...) who still think that Germans have secret Nazi tendencies (And those Neo-Nazi movements don't help matters...).

I guess my point is, the moment you try to summarize history into a single statement or view, you lose something. This is not always bad or inappropriate (Because no book can ever show the full picture), but it's farcical to say "All Germans were Nazis" or "The Crusades were about Christians killing wantonly" and pass that off as a good historical argument. Please do not misunderstand me when I say that Germany from 1932-1945 is a very misunderstood country. I am not trying to imply that the Holocaust was justified. I just think hasty conclusions about that period do more harm than good. To apply a wide label to such a large swath of history is not something to be done lightly.


Anyway, tangent, but point being: Rarely, if ever, is history clear cut. A wise man seeks many views to construct what likely happened. A fool accepts what fits with his beliefs and agendas. The lazy just accepts what they heard first.

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:56 am

I guess my point is, the moment you try to summarize history into a single statement or view, you lose something. This is not always bad or inappropriate (Because no book can ever show the full picture), but it's farcical to say "All Germans were Nazis" or "The Crusades were about Christians killing wantonly" and pass that off as a good historical argument.
...
Anyway, tangent, but point being: Rarely, if ever, is history clear cut. A wise man seeks many views to construct what likely happened. A fool accepts what fits with his beliefs and agendas. The lazy just accepts what they heard first.
This is what it sounds like when the nail is hit on the head.

This is especially evident when someone is trying to use a historical event to push an agenda. You see it every time someone trots out the Crusades as a way to attack Christianity. I don't mean to sound like a broken record here, but it's bad enough when I see non-Christians doing it... but when Christians are doing it that means they've fallen for the hype.

Were the Crusaders all noble, perfect Godly people? Of course they weren't, but many were. The more you study the Crusades as well as the world around them, the more you realize how typical they were of Medieval warfare in general. "They ransacked villages!" Yep, welcome to the Middle Ages. "They burned cities." Middle age warfare. "Innocent civilians were killed on purpose!" Yeah, and that's absolutely typical of human warfare right up to, and including, World War II. Think the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo were about damaging industry? No. They were about attacking civilian populations DIRECTLY to shatter morale.

War is ugly. Always has been. The Crusades are not in any way atypical of that.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:05 pm

I'm sad to see the thread peter out before we even got discussing the details of the first Crusades... but it occurs to me that I don't know that we answered the OP's original questions...
So, my question is, would you say the crusades were a justified and holy expedition(s) or were they just a mission fueled by mans own desire?"
Justified? Depends on which Crusade you mean. I think the First Crusade was, in that it halted Islamic conquest before it could really get going into Europe.

Holy? Not particularly.

A mission fueled by mans own desire? Well isn't every undertaking of man fueled by mans desire? Whether it was motivated by a desire to please God, a desire for war, money or land... it's always about a desire, isn't it? If by that question you're asking if it was fueled by man's desire for war... well again, which Crusade? Which army? Which person?
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby dwarf_bunny » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:02 pm

I find that The Crusades are always used against Christians as a way to say that it is bad, but like the conversation above lumping everyone involved in the Crusades into one group is too general. The actions of each individual would determine if what they were doing was holy. I find it a very hard topic to learn in school because it deals with morals alot and teachers tend to be very vague and teach what we need to know for the test and then move on never mentioning it again. Depending on your point of view and optinions The Crusades could be interpreted many ways.

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:50 am

My kids were taught in school that the Crusades were nothing more than Christian aggression. Period. Nothing is taught of the events leading up to them, and no details given other than the more unpleasant acts. It's become a pure propaganda tool, and even Christians often buy right into it without question.

No offense, RedPlums, but you kind of exemplified that in your OP. Hopefully you've found some interesting info in this thread.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby Sstavix » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:10 am

My kids were taught in school that the Crusades were nothing more than Christian aggression. Period. Nothing is taught of the events leading up to them, and no details given other than the more unpleasant acts. It's become a pure propaganda tool, and even Christians often buy right into it without question.

No offense, RedPlums, but you kind of exemplified that in your OP. Hopefully you've found some interesting info in this thread.
So, more or less, it's become as generalized as saying the American Civil war was all about slavery.

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:20 am

Yeah prettymuch.

I was also watching a documentary a few years ago where in the Middle East, they still talk about the Crusades as if they just happened recently. It's a huge tool for whipping up anti-Christian (and therefore anti-Western) sentiment. Talk about long-term martyr syndrome. The Crusades began almost a thousand years ago and it's still relevant for the reasons we've discussed.

Nevertheless, if someone discusses the Crusades without at least being mindful of the whole story, it's nothing but propaganda.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:23 am

Are we done?
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"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby RoosterOnAStick » Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:57 am

Context is everything.

Just tossing more opinions out here.

Each Crusade even has to be taken on a case by case basis too, which is not something that is done oftentimes. Not all Crusades were the result of just unbridled Christian aggression. As I said earlier the original intent was to assist the Byzantines against their hated foes the Turks (a hate that still sometimes exists between modern day Turks and Greeks). The Turks unlike some of the other caliphates before it, were definitely not religious minority friendly, especially as demonstrated by their later history as the Ottoman Empire. It is misleading to claim that only Christians were guilty of this in those times.

On the other hand, some of them did turn into that, notably the first and fourth. The first was sort of a partial success in that the crusaders at least, for a time, diverted some attention away from Constantinople. It didn't exactly defeat the Turks or cripple them as was the original intent of it but it gave the European Christians a foothold in the area and opened up another front. Problem was there was a lot of innocent slaughter of Muslims and Jews that did take place once Jerusalem was taken. I don't think that was the intended goal when they first set out, but then again, neither was taking Jerusalem in the first place, which I do not believe was owned by the Turks in those days anyway (it was either Saracen or Egyptian).

The fourth crusade was probably the one that many point to as well as an example of what went wrong, but unfortunately the bad rep of the fourth crusade was well deserved. Considering the backdrop where tensions between Eastern and Western Christianity were rising, particularly in the wake of an already existing schism between its leaders, the fourth crusade all but sealed it. There really was no good reason for the crusaders to just outright conquer Byzantium and more importantly the brutal sacking of Constantinople and the desecration of the Hagia Sophia along with other religious sites was not necessary. It was perceived as team killing and it took many centuries for both sides to reconcile on that.

The breakup of the Byzantine empire into a Western empire and several Byzantine successor States broke the back of the Byzantines, even after they managed to recapture it. It wound up directly contributing to the very thing the original crusade was supposed to prevent, the fall of Byzantium and the Turks running rampant all over Europe. It also convinced the Byzantine people that conquest by the Turks was the lesser of the two evils.

So on one hand there is plenty of blame to go around on all sides and the Crusades aren't just simply evil Christians going after poor innocent Muslims that never did anything wrong. On the other hand, we can't whitewash the terrible things that some of the crusaders did either, even if it started off with good intentions.
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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ArcticFox » Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:09 pm

Can't argue with that.

I think it might be fun to examine each of the Crusades individually. Since we've established that the Crusades as a whole can't really be discussed except in very general terms, it might be worthwhile to talk about the individual ones. Maybe even have a separate thread for each, in order to keep it organized.
"He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool."
—Brigham Young

"Don't take refuge in the false security of consensus."
—Christopher Hitchens

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Re: The Crusades.

Postby ChickenSoup » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:56 pm

Can't argue with that.

I think it might be fun to examine each of the Crusades individually. Since we've established that the Crusades as a whole can't really be discussed except in very general terms, it might be worthwhile to talk about the individual ones. Maybe even have a separate thread for each, in order to keep it organized.
I haven't contributed to this conversation, but I would enjoy reading the breakdown you guys are talking about!
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