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DeathFog
Temporally-Displaced Fossil

Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2003 9:20 am
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:53 am 
 

What is your opinion on the causes of crusades, the goals "participants" strived to achieve and the consequences ?

Dark_Gnat wrote:
There is a lot of flack about the crusades concerning forced conversion, plundering, looting, etc. It seems to me that these things have been heavily exaggerated. The crusades were a military reaction to conquest of Christian territories by Muslims. Also, the northern crusades (to Sweden and Finland) were typically to areas that were already mostly Christian.


I would not call it a military reaction, rather an ambitious rush. Most (not all) crusades were spontaneous and not well-planned. And the initiators of crusades were in most cases religious leaders, not someone else.

Were Scandinavia, Finland and Baltic states mostly Christian by 10th/11th century ? Hell no. The officials in Scandinavia were predominantly Christian by that time, but the same cannot be said about the masses. As for the territories of modern Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania they were the last major pagan lands in the whole Europe. They did not even have states as such, just tribal communities. Had they been christian by that time, they would have had some kind of a state/governing system. They had none.
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Acrobat
Eric Olthwaite

Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:53 am
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Location: Fortress Northallerton/Napoli, Terronia
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:49 am 
 

I think the children's crusade was one of most bizarre events in history, fascinating though.

From a lapsed Catholic perspective I think trying to recapture Jerusalem was a perfectly acceptable thing, in fact the anti-Zionist in me wishes to do the same thing!

Some the Northern Crusades make no sense from a religious view point at least, especially the ones against German Catholics.

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thomash
Metal Philosopher

Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:31 pm
Posts: 1855
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:49 pm 
 

DeathFog wrote:
Were Scandinavia, Finland and Baltic states mostly Christian by 10th/11th century ? Hell no. The officials in Scandinavia were predominantly Christian by that time, but the same cannot be said about the masses. As for the territories of modern Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania they were the last major pagan lands in the whole Europe. They did not even have states as such, just tribal communities. Had they been christian by that time, they would have had some kind of a state/governing system. They had none.

You're absolutely right about that. In fact, the Teutonic Order didn't really profit from converting them; it was much better to organize periodic campaigns into their territory, attracting the nobles of Europe to contribute to their coffers.

However, I feel like a lot of people try to distort the meaning of the crusades; they were not as vicious (in theory) as people believe. Initially, there was a reasonable justification, from a religious point of view of course, for the crusades. Jerusalem was an important pilgrimage site for obvious reasons in late antiquity and the early middle ages. When it was taken by the Turks, it was cut off from Christendom. Many Christian pilgrims were robbed and killed on the road to Jerusalem without any protection whatsoever from local rulers. Thus, the First Crusade was reasonably well-supported ideologically, particularly since the near east had formerly been Christian (albeit, Orthodox). The modern equivalent would be if someone conquered Europe and refused to let Americans in. Nobody would then fault America if they invaded.

The problem with the Crusades wasn't the original intent, although it was perhaps a bit more comfortable with violence than we might like, but, rather, that it led inevitably to "Unchristian" acts. Crusaders were surrounded by pressures that led them to rape, pillage, murder, and visit prostitutes (this really pissed off the clergy). Crusaders ended up antagonizing prospective allies in the east in their rush to take land for themselves; many were lesser nobles and had few other opportunities to make a living. Thus, the Crusaders pissed off the Egyptians and the Byzantines, both of whom, at least initially, were initially also interested in fighting the Turks.

Generally speaking, though, the worst crimes the church has committed have been directed against Christians. The Inquisition, the Albigensian Crusades, and witch trials were all examples of cases where the church would attack people who were often Christians. By contrast, in areas where the Christians were fighting Muslims in close proximity (as in Spain), the environment was much more tolerant. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Christian Spanish Kings tolerated large Muslim and Jewish communities, allowing them freedom of worship. Those communities didn't seem to upset at the time about being ruled by a member of a different religious community. Only when Spain had been completely reconquered did the Papacy get the idea that Spain was a "Christian Realm" and they should therefore root out all traces of heresy and other religions. Thus, we get the Spanish Inquisition.

Granted, crusades directed against other faiths could be destructive, but the atrocities were not primarily committed by one side or the other. Saladin systematically tried to exterminate Christian crusading orders, for example. Generally, such atrocities were committed because they were the most rational, strategic action; Richard the Lionhearted executed hundreds of Muslim prisoners at one point when it became clear that Saladin was intentionally stalling ransom negotiations to allow reinforcements to arrive from elsewhere in his empire. Unless they felt it was necessary, generals much preferred to ransom prisoners of war. Simply put, extermination was not profitable. (A notable exception is in the Balkans, where the Teutonic Order was basically just organizing pagan hunts for nobles who wanted to get a crusading indulgence while having a good old medieval-style party: lots of feasts and lots of fighting.)


Last edited by thomash on Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kruel
Veteran

Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:56 pm
Posts: 3426
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:26 pm 
 

There would have been both religious reasons and economic/political reasons (get goods from Middle East/kings empowering themselves). In my opinion, both types of reasons (religious/secular) were essential; if there were no secular reasons, people wouldn't have felt compelled to invade it, and if there were no religious reasons, the unification of various states would have been hard and they wouldn't have had a clear cause.
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eternal_sin666
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 10:30 am
Posts: 232
Location: Canada
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:11 pm 
 

ANationalAcrobat wrote:
I think the children's crusade was one of most bizarre events in history, fascinating though.

From a lapsed Catholic perspective I think trying to recapture Jerusalem was a perfectly acceptable thing, in fact the anti-Zionist in me wishes to do the same thing!

Some the Northern Crusades make no sense from a religious view point at least, especially the ones against German Catholics.


You do realize the Children's Crusade is pretty much completely rubbish right? A study done in 1977 proved that it really is far from being what people thought and that it's not really a crusade and it was in fact two different movements. Still weird and interesting but it's mostly completely false (what most people believe is true anyways).

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Marinos
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:00 am
Posts: 48
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:17 am 
 

I've always been fascinated by the Nights Templar.


I feel the crusades laid the final nail in the coffin of Pagan Europe.
Also, they severely weakened the Byzantine Empire, which allowed the Turkish to run amuck in the Balkans for over half a millennium. The social, religious and ethnic consequences of Muslim expansion into south-east Europe will never disapear.

So yea, not a big fan of the Crusades, or the similar American tyranny in Iraq, Afghanistan and now possibly Iran.

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The_Count
Village Idiot

Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:04 pm
Posts: 407
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:02 am 
 

Marinos wrote:
I've always been fascinated by the Nights Templar.


I feel the crusades laid the final nail in the coffin of Pagan Europe.
Also, they severely weakened the Byzantine Empire, which allowed the Turkish to run amuck in the Balkans for over half a millennium. The social, religious and ethnic consequences of Muslim expansion into south-east Europe will never disapear.

So yea, not a big fan of the Crusades, or the similar American tyranny in Iraq, Afghanistan and now possibly Iran.


Similar American tyranny? Yes a counter war to stop the pillaging of Christian lands sure was tyranny.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3724/is_200001/ai_n8902196 wrote:
The Prophet Muhammad himself had led raids on rival tribes in Arabia and after his death his father-in-law, Umar. had led the armies of Islam in a lightning campaign of conquest against the Christian Byzantine Empire. Islamic armies conquered the Christian territories of Palestine, Syria, the whole of North Africa, and most of the Iberian peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia and southern Italy. A Muslim base was established on the coast of France in the modern La Garde-Freinet, and in 846 a Muslim expeditionary force made a move on Rome itself. sacking St Peter's basilica. then outside the city walls.

Islamic expansion into Christian Europe was only stopped in the West when a MUSlim army was defeated by Charles Martel at Poitiers in 732; and in the East with the raising of the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. Far from being instances of aggression, the Crusades were seen by Christians at the time as wars both in defence of Christendom and for the liberation of fellow Christians Linder Muslim rule.
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Marinos
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:00 am
Posts: 48
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 2:04 am 
 

The_Count wrote:
Similar American tyranny? Yes a counter war to stop the pillaging of Christian lands sure was tyranny.


Not that I am defending Islam in anyway (as they were equally terrible), but the Christian 'crusades' were an attempt by the catholic church to STEAL land they never owned simply to profit from it.

If it was simply a 'counter war', why did the crusaders slice the head off every muslim (including women and children) in Jerusalem? Why did the crusaders go into countries like Finnland which had nothing to do with the middle east? Why did they force many Germans, Scandanavians and other north east Europeans to convert to Christianity? Why did they betray the Byzantine empire and sack Constantinople? Not to mention all the money and wealth that was sent to Europe. Sounds like cruel and calculated expansionism to me, especially considering many of the people living in the Levant were not catholics by any means, and most probably objected to being ruled over by corrupt money hungry western Europeans.

Lets not forget how filthy rich alot the nightly orders became, modern banking has its roots in the crusades, it was all about profit at the expense of others.

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thomash
Metal Philosopher

Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:31 pm
Posts: 1855
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:16 am 
 

Marinos wrote:
If it was simply a 'counter war', why did the crusaders slice the head off every muslim (including women and children) in Jerusalem? Why did the crusaders go into countries like Finnland which had nothing to do with the middle east? Why did they force many Germans, Scandanavians and other north east Europeans to convert to Christianity? Why did they betray the Byzantine empire and sack Constantinople? Not to mention all the money and wealth that was sent to Europe. Sounds like cruel and calculated expansionism to me, especially considering many of the people living in the Levant were not catholics by any means, and most probably objected to being ruled over by corrupt money hungry western Europeans.

Lets not forget how filthy rich alot the nightly orders became, modern banking has its roots in the crusades, it was all about profit at the expense of others.

DOES NOBODY READ MY FUCKING POSTS? YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT EVENTS SEPARATED BY DECADES IF NOT CENTURIES (with some factual inaccuracies) AND PERFORMED BY MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PEOPLE AS THOUGH THEY WERE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WILL OF A SINGLE ENTITY. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Factual Errors:
- The Church itself actually did not force Scandinavians to convert to Christianity. They can thank their own Kings for that.
- The crusaders in the Baltic were generally not the same people as the crusaders in the Holy Land.
- The Byzantine Empire wasn't a whole lot friendlier to the crusaders than they were to the Empire.
- Most of the Byzantine Empire's problems and decline is generally attributed by historians to internal corruption. It's ironic that you describe the Western Europeans as corrupt when the Byzantines were the textbook case of corrupt, unnecessarily complex bureaucracy. The Byzantines weren't saints, people!
- The Knights Templar were originally founded as an extremely poor order intended to protect pilgrims. Conflating the later history of the institution with some sort of original intent (cruel and calculated expansionism) is kind of like saying that the modern U.S. government is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended.

I swear, sometimes historical analysis seems to presuppose that the medieval church was some sort of hive-mind. The_Count, I've got my eye on you.

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DGYDP
Leather Lion

Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:19 pm
Posts: 1244
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 6:34 am 
 

Easy now Scooter, he aint hurting nobody. Anyway, yeah you're right except that Marinos was probably talking about the later-era templars and not the first generation.
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Marinos
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:00 am
Posts: 48
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:07 pm 
 

thomash wrote:
DOES NOBODY READ MY FUCKING POSTS? YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT EVENTS SEPARATED BY DECADES IF NOT CENTURIES (with some factual inaccuracies)



Events separated by decades and centuries? Yep, Sounds like the crusades to me, considering the 1st crusade began in 1904ish, and the 9th towards the middle of the 13th century, by definition the crusades spanned over many decades and centuries, what is your point? Why should events over long periods of time not be considered relevant when discussing the crusades?

Quote:
AND PERFORMED BY MULTIPLE DIFFERENT PEOPLE AS THOUGH THEY WERE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WILL OF A SINGLE ENTITY. WHAT. THE. FUCK.


The definition of the crusades has never been limited to a single individual, why can't I use different people as examples to expose the crusades for the terror that was committed?

Quote:
Factual Errors:
- The Church itself actually did not force Scandinavians to convert to Christianity. They can thank their own Kings for that.


Right, because Pope Celestine III's call for a crusade against the pagans of Finnland, the baltic, old Prussia and the Eastern slav areas had nothing to do with Christian conquering of north east europe.

As for your comment on Scandanavian kings, its common knoweledge that many pagans lived side by side christians in these mixed communities who were mostly ruled by Christian kings. It was only under pressure from the Catholic Church and Crusade happy kings of the Holy roman empire who pressured them into totally destroying pagan Europe.

If it wasn't for the crusades or the Catholic church's empirical attitude, we could of well seen large untouched pagans communities in Scandinavia today.

Quote:
- The crusaders in the Baltic were generally not the same people as the crusaders in the Holy Land.


But they were undeniably a core part of the Crusades, no less real then what happened in the middle east. Crusades into north Eastern Europe where still under papal sanction with 'religious justification'.

Quote:
- The Byzantine Empire wasn't a whole lot friendlier to the crusaders than they were to the Empire.
The Byzantines weren't saints, people!


So because they weren't "friendly", they deserved to be betrayed, conquered and divided amongst crusader warlords? There is no honour in what the crusaders did in Constantinople.

The Catholic crusaders, just like the muslims, had no right to the levant which was overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian for a long time

Quote:
- Most of the Byzantine Empire's problems and decline is generally attributed by historians to internal corruption. It's ironic that you describe the Western Europeans as corrupt when the Byzantines were the textbook case of corrupt, unnecessarily complex bureaucracy.


Right, internal corruption, im sure having your capital state betrayed then sacked and having your entire empire overrun by catholic crusader zealots for a couple of years isn't what coincidently led to there annexation by the ottoman empire shortly after. The Byzantines where to busy recovering from the crusaders to defend against the ottomans.

The balkans where the gateway into Europe, by fucking the east over the west Christian europeans only made it harder for themselves, and it took the Austrians, Polish and Hungarian people quite some time to drive back the ottomans. Only the muslims profited from the west taking advantage of the east.


Quote:
- The Knights Templar were originally founded as an extremely poor order intended to protect pilgrims. Conflating the later history of the institution with some sort of original intent (cruel and calculated expansionism) is kind of like saying that the modern U.S. government is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended.


I never specifically accused the Knights Templar of anything, as I feel they as an order began with good intentions, but calculated expansion in practice was what we saw from the Catholic church who fueled these militant campaigns into the middle east. King Philip burning the Templars at the stake after he became jealous of there wealth is a perfect example of just how corrupt the church's influence was.

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The_Count
Village Idiot

Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:04 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:35 pm 
 

Marinos I am still interested to hear your opinion on the first Crusade. I have not seen you comment directly on it but rather events after it. You seem to completely ignore the fact that if left unchecked Muslims would continued into Western Europe with military force.

The entire event started AFTER Muslims had pillaged two thirds of the old Christian world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Clermont


That is not to say they did not have other objections during the Crusades, However Islams expansion by the sword gave a great excuse.
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thomash
Metal Philosopher

Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:31 pm
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Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:38 pm 
 

All I'm trying to say is that it's nonsensical to ascribe a sort of censure to the crusades, as a historical phenomenon on the whole, when it was not that simple. The Crusades were a number of different phenomena, not a directed, sinister plot. Thus, a blanket moral judgment about the Crusades obscures or marginalizes the facts. Furthermore, I think that you're exaggerating the damages that the crusades caused because you haven't kept enough context in mind.

For example:
- The Scandinavians I was referring to, the Norse, Danes and Swedes, were probably never very Christian in the medieval period. Some historians have argued that their conversion was only 'skin-deep,' and that there were pagan communities in Scandinavia even after the Reformation. The crusades against pagans in the Baltic, notwithstanding, as the Teutonic Order was probably the most brutal, paganism seems to have disappeared with the advent of modern history with its centralized government and Enlightenment philosophy.
- The Byzantines had gotten the shit kicked out of them by the Turks before any crusades. In fact, that's what started the crusades: After his crushing defeat at Manzikert, the Byzantine Emperor wrote to the Pope asking for Western Knights to come east. He definitely hadn't anticipated or wanted the ridiculous showing he got, but they still recaptured Nicea for the Empire and distracted the Turks. Without the First Crusade, there's a good chance that Constantinople would have fallen to the Turks 350 years earlier than it did.
- The Church was constantly trying to stop atrocities committed as part of the Crusades. For example, the sack of Constantinople was really orchestrated by the Venetians, not the church. In fact, the crusaders had received a letter from the Pope expressly forbidding them from attacking the Byzantines. Afterwards, the Venetians were excommunicated.
- The conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans took place over 250 years after the Fourth Crusade and the establishment of the Latin Empire. In fact, the Ottomans didn't exist at the time of the sack of Constantinople: the Turks were ruled by the Seljuks. To say that the Fourth Crusade cleared the way for the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire is a gross exaggeration; even if it contributed, there's a veritable laundry list of other factors that also contributed, many much more important than the Fourth Crusade. For example: the fact that the Byzantines blatantly neglected to improve the organization and technology of their military when their system was outdated and ineffective, the repeated problems of loyalty among Byzantine generals, the fact that later Emperors didn't give a shit about the rest of the Empire outside Constantinople, the civil wars over succession, etc.

Again, the point is that you're exaggerating and, thus, ascribing blame wantonly to the Crusades rather than acknowledging the complexity of the situation. The context at the time was really complicated, as is any political situation. In historical analysis, I'm sorry, but most Church figures don't really come off as cynical, exploitative cads as much as it would be 'metal' or 'enlightened' to think so. I don't think that we can distance ourselves that easily from them or their mistakes.

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Marinos
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Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:00 am
Posts: 48
Location: Australia
PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:49 pm 
 

The_Count wrote:
Marinos I am still interested to hear your opinion on the first Crusade. I have not seen you comment directly on it but rather events after it. You seem to completely ignore the fact that if left unchecked Muslims would continued into Western Europe with military force.

The entire event started AFTER Muslims had pillaged two thirds of the old Christian world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Clermont


That is not to say they did not have other objections during the Crusades, However Islams expansion by the sword gave a great excuse.


Like anything, I have mixed opinions. The soliders may of thought they were doing good, but they were infact driven by something much more calculating and greedy, similar to what is happening in Iraq today. Then again, it was the interests of Europeans to unite during the rise of the powerful and growing seljuk turks. So therefore mixed opinions.

The first crusade seemed opportunistic to say the least, it's not a part of the Christian religion to pay homeage to Jerusalem as it is for say Muslims to visit mecca, so I see no real reason why they had to declare a 'Catholic Holy war' on the area. Both the Byzantines and the western Roman empire (before the crusades) would even fight over provinces in southern Italy, they seemed to want a piece others land and power.

Basically the West, specifically the Vatican, saw an opportunity to kick the East while it was down and begging for help. This is why they wanted more eastern land, more money from pilgrims, and more power.

Colonialism during the middle ages seemed to of evolved during the crusades, it was no longer about marauding Norse men looking for loot, it was about expansionism, the development of prominent financial institutions, and domination of the local populace through these newly formed Christian kingdoms. From memory, i do believe it was the first crusade, and the taking of Jerusalem which saw much of its native Jewish and Muslim population slaughtered. Reminds of the American Indians in face of the Spanish army.

In practice, the crusades showed more traits of brutality and colonialism, but this type of behavior was neither new or unusual during the time, my only concern is Christians today depicting the crusades as mighty Christian hermets, fighting against evil. There were atrocities on both ends, and the crusaders were far from saints, while the Vatican was simply after domination over the eastern Christians, more power, more land, and more money.

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