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Religious Wars

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
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Rowan
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Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
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Postby Rowan » Mon February 25th, 2013, 9:21 pm

I counted on the Wikipedia entry on Crusades and there were a lot.

First Crusade (1095-99)
Second Crusade (1147-49)
Third Crusade (1187-92)
Fourth Crusade (1202-04)
Albigensian Crusade
Children's Crusade of 1212
Fifth Crusade (1217-21)
Sixth Crusade (1228-29)
Seventh Crusade (1248-54)
Eighth Crusade (1270)
Ninth Crusade (1271-72)

Northern Crusades:

Crusades of the Teutonic Order
Swedish Crusades

Other:

Wendish Crusade
Stedinger Crusade
Aragonese Crusade
Alexandrian Crusade
Norwich Crusade
Mahdian Crusade
Crusades in the Balkans
Crusade against the Tartars
Hussite Crusade


I guess it all depends on how you want to define THE Crusades. Do you take this broad list as a whole or only focus on the ones not listed as 'Other' or 'Northern'? My guess is most people go with the latter.

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Helen_Davis
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Postby Helen_Davis » Mon February 25th, 2013, 11:06 pm

"Rowan" wrote:I counted on the Wikipedia entry on Crusades and there were a lot.

First Crusade (1095-99)
Second Crusade (1147-49)
Third Crusade (1187-92)
Fourth Crusade (1202-04)
Albigensian Crusade
Children's Crusade of 1212
Fifth Crusade (1217-21)
Sixth Crusade (1228-29)
Seventh Crusade (1248-54)
Eighth Crusade (1270)
Ninth Crusade (1271-72)

Northern Crusades:

Crusades of the Teutonic Order
Swedish Crusades

Other:

Wendish Crusade
Stedinger Crusade
Aragonese Crusade
Alexandrian Crusade
Norwich Crusade
Mahdian Crusade
Crusades in the Balkans
Crusade against the Tartars
Hussite Crusade


I guess it all depends on how you want to define THE Crusades. Do you take this broad list as a whole or only focus on the ones not listed as 'Other' or 'Northern'? My guess is most people go with the latter.

Wow! I didn't know the Swedes had their own Crusade! Will have to read about that one. The Children's Crusade breaks my heart. Unfortunately, medieval people of all religions lived in a world very different from ours. If I'm not mistaken, our ideas of individual accomplishments and identity did not exist and no one was separate and independent, not even the king.
Last edited by Helen_Davis on Mon February 25th, 2013, 11:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Margaret
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Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Postby Margaret » Tue February 26th, 2013, 1:55 am

I believe most historians now consider the Children's Crusade, or at least many of the stories told about it, to be legendary rather than factual. There's an interesting Wikipedia article about this which sorts out what is probably legend from what may be fact.

It's interesting to note the extent to which even people of today are susceptible to apocalyptic mass delusions. Just last year, the world was supposed to end because the ancient Mayan calendar didn't go farther than 2012!
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Justin Swanton
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Postby Justin Swanton » Tue February 26th, 2013, 5:50 am

The Crusades are unique in the sense that they were - or at least the first one was - a mass popular movement rather than a politically organised campaign with religious overtones. It is significant that the upper rank of the mediaeval hierarchy, the emperor and kings, did not take part in it (the emperor and king of France were excommunicated at that time).

The army raised for the first crusade was immense - about 150 000 men according to Hilaire Belloc. Consider that Hastings was fought with about 5000 - 6000 men on each side. The nature and scale of this army demonstrates that the First Crusade was primarily in its motivation a religious undertaking.

The big question is what caused this popular desire to reconquer the holy places in Palestine? Bear in mind that this was the motivation, not a desire to kill Muslims or take lucrative territory. It wasn't simply the influence of the Pope. Papal prestige reached its apogee in the 13th century under Innocent III, not in the 11th when it was still recovering from the anarchy of the Dark Ages and the often murderous domination of the mafia-like Crescentius and Theophylact families. Yet in the 13th century the Crusade as a popular movement was nearly dead. It had become a political undertaking, with the impetus coming from the men in power, not the common people.
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annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Wed February 27th, 2013, 3:10 am

My understanding is that the First Crusade was never intended as a popular movement. A combination of factors - an Islamic expansion of concern to the Christian West (for political and economic reasons as well as religious), an excess of restless, combative warriors rampaging around Europe without enough campaigns to keep them occupied, and a Pope bent on preventing Christian knights from killing each other who put the two together and came up with the perfect solution - a military expedition in response to a timely request for aid against marauding Seljuks sent by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I . Reclaiming Jerusalem for Christendom, initially seen only as an optional extra, was the goal that fired the public imagination and ended up becoming the primary motivation.

What no one expected or wanted was a great mob of common people tagging along - it was meant to be a knightly endeavour. Pope Urban’s call to take up the crusade was preached throughout France, but to his dismay it wasn't just the aristocracy who became filled with pious zeal and answered the call, but peasants with no money, means of support or fighting skills, stirred up by charismatic preachers like Peter the Hermit. It was one of those strange occasions of spontaneous mass mob hysteria, rather like the outpouring of emotion seen in more recent times following Princess Diana’s death. They were in fact a liability - a horde of human locusts stripping the lands of friendly countries they passed through and prone to murdering people along the way who looked suspiciously foreign (or even worse Jewish) well before they reached the Holy Land.

As you can imagine, Emperor Alexios was horrified when this ragged, rapacious army appeared at his gates, and wasn’t the least bit inclined to let them into Constantinople. He probably felt on reflection that he would have been better off with the Turks!

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Kveto from Prague
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Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Wed February 27th, 2013, 4:17 am

hey Annis, yeah, Zoe Oudenbourg makes a fairly good case for in being these masses of "poor" who were responsible for the wholesale slaughter in Jerusalum after its conquest. the knights themselves would have been more interested in the ransoms to be gained from wealthy citizens and the taxes they could impose when in charge. But peter the hermit and his disciples whipped the starving poor into a religious frenzy (who had nothing to gain from ransoms). It wasn't helped by the way the Sudanese soldiers of Islam stationed in Jerusalum taunted the crusaders before the siege by urinating on crosses and using the crosses in sexually mocking poses. That just made them want to "avenge Christ" even more.

The best fiction book I've read on the "poor" from the first crusade is Oudenbourg's "Heirs of the Kingdom". Its a hard read as the reader is taken on an insane journey into religious fervor (and of course no happy endings, you get a real look at what the Christian female prisoners of the Turks were put through and it is awful)

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princess garnet
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Location: Maryland

Postby princess garnet » Wed February 27th, 2013, 5:18 pm

"Justin Swanton" wrote:The Crusades are unique in the sense that they were - or at least the first one was - a mass popular movement rather than a politically organised campaign with religious overtones. It is significant that the upper rank of the mediaeval hierarchy, the emperor and kings, did not take part in it (the emperor and king of France were excommunicated at that time).

The army raised for the first crusade was immense - about 150 000 men according to Hilaire Belloc. Consider that Hastings was fought with about 5000 - 6000 men on each side. The nature and scale of this army demonstrates that the First Crusade was primarily in its motivation a religious undertaking.

The big question is what caused this popular desire to reconquer the holy places in Palestine? Bear in mind that this was the motivation, not a desire to kill Muslims or take lucrative territory. It wasn't simply the influence of the Pope. Papal prestige reached its apogee in the 13th century under Innocent III, not in the 11th when it was still recovering from the anarchy of the Dark Ages and the often murderous domination of the mafia-like Crescentius and Theophylact families. Yet in the 13th century the Crusade as a popular movement was nearly dead. It had become a political undertaking, with the impetus coming from the men in power, not the common people.


Rodney Stark goes in depth to some of the things you've said in his book God's Battalions. I borrowed a library copy; it was an interesting and informative read!

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Helen_Davis
Compulsive Reader

Postby Helen_Davis » Wed February 27th, 2013, 11:24 pm

I want to applaud every poster in this thread! It frustrates me to hear amateurs who think the Crusades were just about Muslims peacefully minding their own business in lands that were legitimately Muslim when Christians decided to wage a holy war and kill millions. It's never that simple and the posts on this thread are all very enlightening. I can't add to them as anything I would say would be a rehash of what has already been said!
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"The first time a book has gotten us close to Evita, in all her misery and all her splendor."

Excerpt from the Spanish summary of my novel

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Justin Swanton
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Location: Durban, South Africa
Contact:

Postby Justin Swanton » Sun March 3rd, 2013, 8:50 am

"annis" wrote:My understanding is that the First Crusade was never intended as a popular movement. A combination of factors - an Islamic expansion of concern to the Christian West (for political and economic reasons as well as religious), an excess of restless, combative warriors rampaging around Europe without enough campaigns to keep them occupied, and a Pope bent on preventing Christian knights from killing each other who put the two together and came up with the perfect solution - a military expedition in response to a timely request for aid against marauding Seljuks sent by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I . Reclaiming Jerusalem for Christendom, initially seen only as an optional extra, was the goal that fired the public imagination and ended up becoming the primary motivation.

What no one expected or wanted was a great mob of common people tagging along - it was meant to be a knightly endeavour. Pope Urban’s call to take up the crusade was preached throughout France, but to his dismay it wasn't just the aristocracy who became filled with pious zeal and answered the call, but peasants with no money, means of support or fighting skills, stirred up by charismatic preachers like Peter the Hermit. It was one of those strange occasions of spontaneous mass mob hysteria, rather like the outpouring of emotion seen in more recent times following Princess Diana’s death. They were in fact a liability - a horde of human locusts stripping the lands of friendly countries they passed through and prone to murdering people along the way who looked suspiciously foreign (or even worse Jewish) well before they reached the Holy Land.

As you can imagine, Emperor Alexios was horrified when this ragged, rapacious army appeared at his gates, and wasn’t the least bit inclined to let them into Constantinople. He probably felt on reflection that he would have been better off with the Turks!


Just a couple of points. The Islamic danger had been around for over 350 years when the First Crusade took place, and it had posed a far more potent threat to the West in the eighth century than the eleventh.

The 'restless combative warriors' would have been troops under the command of local landed lords, and were no different in the eleventh century than they were in any other age. They had been fighting each other and Islam for centuries without feeling the need to go on a crusade. So how does one explain the sudden mass movement towards the Holy Land?

The Byzantine Empire was schismatic at this time and hence viewed in a very poor light in the West. Saving the Byzantines would hardly have been a primary motivator for the crusaders.

My assessment is this: for several centuries following the collapse of the Carolingian Empire western Europe had been in a state of anarchy. The upper hierarchy of society had collapsed. There was no longer an empire, nor even kingdoms, merely a quasi-independent nobility that were individually too weak to protect Europe from the depredations of the Saracens, Avars and Vikings.

By the end of the eleventh century the situation had improved. The raids had finally been beaten off and a new Empire created under the Ottonian dynasty. France was beginning to resemble a coherent state. After two centuries of devastation a sense of confidence had returned to the inhabitants of the West which, combined with a strong Faith, became the source of a desire to go on the initiative. The preaching of Pope Urban supplied the spark and the Crusades followed.
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.



Author of Centurion's Daughter



Come visit my blog


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