The Crusades

Some common misperceptions about the Crusades: That Christians violently attacked Islamic land in an unprovoked conquest, or greedy Christians wanted to get rich from plunder, or the Christians had ulterior motives (rather than fighting for Christ and risking their lives and family fortune), or finally, that the hateful Christians provoked Muslims to become religious fighters.

First let us establish some basic facts about Islam: The Quran teaches that if you are not with us you are against us (Quran 8:12) "(I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them)" , while the Christian bible teaches us to try to save every soul and to forgive sinners, lead them to Christ, live in peace together, and practice non-violence even when attacked.

Next, the territories taken by Muslim rule do not in general, allow non Muslims to live with equal rights to the Muslims. Some examples of non-equality between Muslims and Non-Muslims (in the context of cities taken by Islamic conquest during the Crusades):

  • Non Muslims pay a religious tax that could be up to half of a persons wages
  • Non-Muslims can not bear arms -- Muslims can
  • Non-Muslims can not ride horses -- Muslims can
  • Non-Muslims need permission to build -- Muslims did not
  • Non-Muslims had to pay certain taxes which Muslims did not
  • Non-Muslims can not proselytize -- Muslims can
  • Non-Muslims had to bow to their Muslim masters when they paid their taxes
  • Non-Muslims had to live under the law set forth in the Koran, not under either their own religious or secular law

Yet, Christians who cohabitate with Muslims never impose a religious tax, and still treat Muslims equal. The initial spread of Islam was also violent: the Islamic forces had no mercy, they raped, pillaged, and occupied coastal towns, implemented unfair rules for non-Muslim citizens, and continued to plunder and expand by taking slaves (it is estimated Muslim forces took 200 million slaves).

The first myth we cover, that Christians attacked in Crusade #1 for a land grab offensively, is shown to be false. Christians watched Islam take over Christian cities for 350 years until they feared the collapse of their religion.

By the end of the eleventh century the forces of Islam had captured two-thirds of the Christian world. Palestine, the home of Jesus Christ; Egypt, the birthplace of Christian monasticism; Asia Minor, where St. Paul planted the seeds of the first Christian communities: These were not the periphery of Christianity but its very core.

And the Muslim empires were not finished yet.

So the first Crusade was a defensive response to Muslims raping and pillaging by force, and then finally seizing back control of the Holy Land (Jerusalem).

One fundamental difference within the Islamic Quran is that Jesus was not the son of God, but a Slave to Allah, sent to earth to put people on the Islamic track. (Other differences are Muslims believe that in the end-times, a new updated version of Christianity will emerge that includes elements of Islam, to form the True Religion, and when Jesus returns during Armageddon, he will kill all Christians who do not follow the new Christian-Islamic religion. According to the Quran, Jesus did not die on the cross - it was a psychological event that fooled the Jews.)

Because Muslims do not accept living equally with non-Quran religions, they force Non-Muslims to pay the Jizayah tax, and those people find themselves subdued.

About the Crusades

The crusades refer to 9 distinct campaigns over 150 years (1099 AD - 1254), enacted to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control.

The birth of islam was approx 700 AD, when violence became the Standard Operating Procedure for Religious Muslims.

After 3 centuries of Conquest, Islam had spread to North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor and Spain.

By the 11th century, the Turks had taken control of Palestine and closed Jerusalem to Jews and Christians.

The Muslim invaders attacked Constantinople (the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Church), and were headed into Europe before the first Christian crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095 to defend the Christian West.

Regarding the treatment of Muslims during cohabitation with Christians, at the end of Crusade #1, after recapturing Jerusalem, the Christians killed approx. 3000 Muslims. Muslim cities who surrendered were left untouched, people retained their property and were allowed to worship freely.

Regarding the motivation of taking plunder to get rich: Becoming a soldier was expensive, deadly and noble. The casualty rate was 75% and most lost significant funds. The motivation was clearly love.

Excellent video on Jihad vs. the Crusades by Bill Warner

Jihad has been ongoing since the inception of Islam, with over 548 incited violent Muslim wars, while the Crusades were a defensive reaction (in response to invading forces) involving 9 crusades.

The Birth of Islam

In 630 AD, Two years before Muhammad's death by fever, he launched the Tabuk Crusades, in which he led 30,000 jihadists against the Byzantine Christians.

Khalid, Muhammad's bloodthirsty commander, starts by attacking Iraqis in the Blood Canal. 70,000 Iraqis captured, beheading of Iraqis lasts for 3 days, river runs blood red.

Khalid says: “Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizya, and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life."

Islam burst out of the Arabian peninsula and atacked the Middle East, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Southern France, Spain, Egypt, Tunisia, various Middle East outer islands, with the Islamic Navy attacking coastal towns, in order to kill, rob, rape and take slaves.

Over a million slaves were taken out of europe into the Islamic world.

Over 200 battles were fought in Spain alone. With Islam trying to break into Europe in 1400ad, Constantinople fallen, Jihad coming to Eastern Europe, and Middle East completely converted to Islam.

The Caliphate Policy

One key strategy used to force conversion to Islam is the imposed Jizayah tax.

If the city will pay the Jizayah, they will enjoy the 'privilege' of living under Islamic 'protection' (read: not be attacked by Islam).

This tax sets the stage for Muhammad's Caliphate policies.

If the attacked city or region did not want to convert to Islam, then they paid a Jizayah tax. If they converted, then they paid a Zakat tax. Either way, money flowed back to the Islamic treasury in Arabia or to the local Muslim governor.

The Islamic Conquests and the Crusades

The Conquests and Crusades Timeline
YearDescription of EventsIslamic/Christian
635 Muslim Crusaders conquer Damascus, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, North Africa, Cyprus, Tripoli, Afghanistan, Sind, Constantinople and annex Jerusalem (Battle of Yarmuk against the Byzantines). Islamic
691 Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad's death. Islamic
710 Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley, Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus., Kufah and rise in Morocco Islamic
807 Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non—Muslim prayer houses and of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, Muslim Crusaders conquer Sardinia, Italy Islamic
813 Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country, Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy Islamic
850 Matawakkil orders the destruction of non—Muslim houses of prayer, (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France Islamic
937 The Church of the Resurrection (known as Church of Holy Sepulcher in Latin West) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked. Ikhshid (a harsh Muslim ruler) writes to Emperor Romanus boasting of his control over the holy places. Islamic
960 Conversion of Turks to Islam, Anti—Christian riots in Jerusalem Islamic
969 Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt and found Cairo, Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Muslim crusaders Islamic
1003 The church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed, Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection, al—Hakim's oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians begin Islamic
1071 (Muslim Crusaders-Turks) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia, Conquest of Jerusalem, capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia and conquer western Ghana Islamic
1090 (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands Islamic
1095 Pope Urban II orders the First Crusade; Jerusalem has been under Muslim control for 461 years; Crusaders launch an assault on the city and capture Jerusalem in 1099. The success of the first crusade inspired literary and artistic imagination, and bolstered confidence for future campaigns. Christian
1144 Muslim Rulers capture Edessa prompting Pope Eugenius III to issue an appeal for the Second Crusade (1145-49). Two Kings backed the crusade, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, with help from a number of other European nobles. The armies of the two kings marched separately across Europe. After crossing Byzantine territory into Anatolia, both armies were separately defeated by the Seljuk Turks. The failed seiges caused each of the Kings forces to distrust each other weakening the effort. Relations between the Roman Empire and the French government were badly damaged. Disastrous consequences resulted in Jerusalem, with Damascus and most areas no longer trusting the crusaders. Christian
1189 The Third Crusade (1189–1192), also known as The Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin. The campaign was largely successful in capturing the important cities of Acre and Jaffa, and reversing most of Saladin's conquests, but it failed to capture Jerusalem, the emotional and spiritual motivation of the Crusade. Christian
1202 The Fourth Crusade (1202–04) was a Western European armed expedition called by Pope Innocent III, originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, a sequence of events culminated in the Crusaders sacking the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Christian-controlled Byzantine Empire. Christian
1213 The Fifth Crusade (1213–1221) was an attempt by Western Europeans to reacquire Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land by first conquering the powerful Ayyubid state in Egypt. Pope Innocent III and his successor Pope Honorius III organized crusading armies led by King Andrew II of Hungary and Leopold VI, Duke of Austria, and an attack against Jerusalem ultimately left the city in Muslim hands. Later in 1218, a German army led by Oliver of Cologne, and a mixed army of Dutch, Flemish and Frisian soldiers led by William I, Count of Holland joined the crusade. In order to attack Damietta in Egypt, they allied in Anatolia with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm which attacked the Ayyubids in Syria in an attempt to free the Crusaders from fighting on two fronts. The Fifth crusade failed to reacquire Jerusalem, but Al-Kamil agreed to an eight-year peace agreement with Europe and to return a piece of the True Cross (The cross was never returned as he did not have it). Christian
1228 The Sixth Crusade started in 1228 as an attempt to regain Jerusalem. It began seven years after the failure of the Fifth Crusade and involved very little actual fighting. The diplomatic maneuvering of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, resulted in the Kingdom of Jerusalem regaining some control over Jerusalem for much of the ensuing fifteen years (1229–39, 1241–44) as well as over other areas of the Holy Land. Christian
1248 The Seventh Crusade was a crusade led by Louis IX of France from 1248 to 1254. His troops were defeated by the Egyptian army led by the Ayyubid Sultan Turanshah supported by the Bahariyya Mamluks led by Faris ad-Din Aktai, Baibars al-Bunduqdari, Qutuz, Aybak and Qalawun and Louis was captured. Approximately 800,000 bezants were paid in ransom for his return. Christian
1270 The Eighth Crusade was a crusade launched by Louis IX of France against the city of Tunis in 1270. The crusade is considered a failure after Louis died shortly after arriving on the shores of Tunisia, with his disease-ridden army dispersing back to Europe shortly afterwards. Christian
1271 The Ninth Crusade, the last medieval effort for the Holy Land, with King Louis IX of France's failure to capture Tunis in the Eighth Crusade led Henry III of England's son Edward to sail to Acre. At first, there were several impressive victories for Edward over Baibars, but ultimately the Crusaders were forced to withdraw, since Edward had pressing concerns at home and felt unable to resolve the internal conflicts within the remnant Outremer territories.

It is arguable that the Crusading spirit was nearly "extinct," by this period.

It also foreshadowed the imminent collapse of the last remaining crusader strongholds along the Mediterranean coast.

Christian
1289 Sultan Qalawun takes Tripoli, Libya, and Islamic forces take Acre Israel Islamic
1300 Ottomans capture parts of Turkey and move into Europe, and take control of the Balkans, Bulgaria. Islamic
1400 Islam reaches the Philippines and conquers Constantinople Islamic
1516 Ottomans conquer Syria, Egypt, Mecca, Medina Hungary and coastlands of Algeria and Tunisia. Islamic
1526 Babur (Mongolian) seizes the Delhi sultanate and takes control of northern India, dynasty founded in northern India. Islamic
1625 Java comes under rule of Muslim kingdom of Mataram. Islamic
1947 Pakistan founded as an Islamic nation. Islam becomes a minority religion in India. Islamic
1990 Taliban come to power in Afghanistan. Islamic
2001 Muslim extremists attack the United States. Islamic

Aftermath

Although from a technical standpoint, it appears only the first crusade was successful (regainging control of Jerusalem and slowing the spread of Islamic invasion), and that ultimately the crusades failed with Jerusalem being recaptured by Muslim control.

However, the crusades did enhance the culture, attitude, and worldview adopted by Western Europeans, and also, it saved Europe from being subjugated by Islam - allowing Europe to flourish in Christendom.

From this viewpoint, if the crusades never took place, we would have one religion in Europe: Islam.

Some argue the existence of the United States also benefited from the crusades (as Christopher Columbus being a Christian, had the freedom to explore and expand Christendom).