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The Crusades

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Volgadon
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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 7:32 pm

I didn't say that there were no wars or conquests by Muslims, but was talking about a very specific segment of history, often known as the Muslim Conquests. With a few exceptions, the majority of the Muslim world had ceased expanding vigorously. Even the Seljuks were far more concerned with subjugating the rest o the Muslim world than with advancing into Europe.

Frankly, I fail to see how the Ottomans figure in to this. Several centuries ahead of the events being discussed.

And as for things such as the 8th Crusade, it can be argued quite succesfuly that it was a result OF the first one.

The Crusades were one of the catalysts of Islamic expansion in the Renaissance, they helped unite the Muslims (well, more than they had been) and practically wiped out Christianity in the East.

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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 7:34 pm

The Pope's famous address was based on reports of Caliph Haqim Bi-Amr Allah repressions against the Christians, but these had occured at the begining of the century.

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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue November 18th, 2008, 8:24 pm

None of which changes the fact that both sides were aggressors, and that the counter-offensives which are known as the crusades were just that -- counter-offensives.

The behavior of the combatants was the usual in such cases-- brutal, violent and frequently unjustified. I'm just a little weary of the litany of 'Europeans bad, Muslims good' that has replaced the reverse in literature.

Why do you separate the Ottoman expansion from all the other eras of Islamic expansion? Is there some cutoff date?

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Post by Margaret » Tue November 18th, 2008, 8:39 pm

One theory I have read about is that there was so much fighting of faction against faction within Europe that the pope saw a crusade for Christian rule over Jerusalem as a way to unite Europeans against a common enemy and reduce the amount of warfare within Europe. Jerusalem had been under Moslem rule since the 7th century, so the conquest of Jerusalem by Muslims can't be considered the triggering factor. While there were reports of attacks on Christian pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, there was no Muslim policy against allowing these pilgrims into Jerusalem; in fact, both Jews and Christians were tolerated and allowed to worship freely in Muslim Jerusalem. It was difficult in the Middle Ages to police the roads and assure that travelers would not be attacked by thieves, so there very likely were attacks on Christian pilgrams by outlaws within both Christian and Muslim territories. It's hard, in retrospect, to see outlawry against pilgrims on the road as a rational reason for making war on Jerusalem itself. And in fact, the main appeal made to potential Crusaders was that of freeing Jerusalem from rule by infidels, which did resonate strongly with European emotions (even if they'd ignored the issue for several centuries). This was the Holy City, and it rubbed medieval Christians the wrong way, once it was brought to their attention, that it should be under the rule of non-Christians.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue November 18th, 2008, 8:49 pm

Actually, the rationale for both sides was religious, but the real motive behind these wars was control of trade. Islam expanded along the trade routes until the flow of goods from the East was virtually monopolized by the vairous Muslim states. Venice made treaties with various Muslim potentates over the centuries to gain ascendancy over their archrivals, the Genoese.

It was the control of the silk road trade that eventually led to the shift in the balance of power towards the European nations, thanks to Prince Henry the Navigator. Desperate to find a way around the Mediterranean blockade, he spent his life researching the route around the horn of Africa and developed the methods and vessels that would make the world global.

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Post by Margaret » Tue November 18th, 2008, 8:51 pm

The Ottomans originated from Turkic tribes that first came to power at the western end of the Silk Road during the decline of the Mongol Empire in the late 13th century. I'm not sure when the Ottomans adopted Islam, but the impression I get is that their eagerness for conquest was an attitude they adopted from their Mongol predecessors, and had little to do with their religious views. In any case, the beginning of the Crusades could not have been triggered by Ottoman conquests, because the First Crusade took place over a century before the earliest beginnings of the Ottoman rise to power.
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Post by Margaret » Tue November 18th, 2008, 8:54 pm

I'm inclined to agree with you, MLE, that trade and economics likely had more to do with these periods of warfare than religion. Certainly that was true of the Fourth Crusade, a muddled affair from beginning to end, except from the perspective of the Venetians, whose motives were entirely economic, and who made out like bandits.
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Post by annis » Tue November 18th, 2008, 9:07 pm

As with any conflict, the search for motivation usually lies in the old saying "cui bono?". High-flying rhetoric often obscures the real desire to gain more power and/or wealth, sometimes so convincingly that the original motivators come to believe in their own words.

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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 9:30 pm

Because I am talking about events leading up to the First Crusade, that's why.
Might as well have mentioned the rise of the Wahhabis for all that it has to do with what caused the crusades.

Don't think that I hold to Crusaders bad, Muslims good, I really don't.
I've grown up surrounded by places and remains from that period, so the fascination is lifelong. The Crusades were complex, absolutely. So many shades of gray.

The Venetian motives in the 4th Crusade were not entirely economic, there was a significant revenge aspect as well.

The reason the Ottomans came to power was because conditions were ripe for someone of Osman's calibre. He was a brilliant, restless leader. The Mongol incursions both weakened the rest of the Seljuks and caused a large number of the population to flee inwards, to where Osman governed. This allowed him to raise and support larger armies and his successes and power led to more people joining him. Weak neighbours always tempt stronger, more agressive ones, hence their invasion of the Byzantine Empire. Might not have happened had not the Crusades killed off any chance of the Byzantine Empire ever recovering. When they fell, Europe was left exposed.

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Post by Volgadon » Tue November 18th, 2008, 9:50 pm

[quote=""annis""]As with any conflict, the search for motivation usually lies in the old saying "cui bono?". High-flying rhetoric often obscures the real desire to gain more power and/or wealth, sometimes so convincingly that the original motivators come to believe in their own words.[/quote]

Religion was far more than mere rhetoric back then. It permeated every aspect of life. It determined or helped shape much of your daily routine, what you ate, how you viewed the world. In the days of no TV, no radio, hardly any books, your religion provided the mental stimulus you needed.The teachers would tell stories, expound things, pose philosophical and logical questions. Its a bit of a myth that the churches (and I say this broadly, including both mosques and synagogues) demanded a blind, unquestioning obedience. Thought and inquiry were not discouraged per se, but channeled into something more useful.

What I'm saying is that they could justify their actions to themselves through their religion.

For example, the church gave up on saying that fighting is sinful. Fighting your brother is sinful, so instead of that, turn your sword to good use against God's enemies and he will bless both in Heaven and here on earth with wealth and power, and so on.

If, when contemplating your course of action, the choice benefits you yourself, then it might be harder to justify it to your conscience than when it is good both for you AND for your god.

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