Skip to comments.The Crusades in the Checkout Aisle
Posted on 12/01/2002 1:36:12 PM PST by Forgiven_Sinner
When I spied the U.S. News & World Report with the Crusades splashed across its cover, I braced for the worst. As a crusade historian, I long ago learned not to expect accuracy on this subject from the popular media. In fact, I usually avoid newspaper and magazine articles on the Crusades altogether, if only to keep my blood pressure under control. But there it was, staring me in the face. I had to read it.
First, the good news. The article, written by Andrew Curry, was not dreadful. Curry did take the time to phone two distinguished crusade scholars, Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University and Benjamin Kedar of Hebrew University, who helped him to avoid a few common errors. For example, Curry correctly reports that although scholars once believed that Crusaders were motivated by a mixture of greed and bigotry, we now know that most were led by devout piety and a sincere desire for eternal salvation. He also rightly explains that the modern view of the Crusades in the Middle East is itself modern, the product of Western historians who incorrectly equated medieval Crusades with modern imperialism. So, in these important respects Curry has done a public service by setting the record straight in a mass-market periodical.
Unfortunately, the rest of the article has a number of errors that Riley-Smith and Kedar could have helped him to avoid. It appears that, while Curry was willing to chat with crusade scholars, he was not interested in reading their books. Instead he relies heavily on Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades, a book now half a century out of date, as well as a few popular histories written by non-specialists. The latter include Karen Armstrong's Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World and James Reston, Jr.'s Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade -- both of which are highly readable but not well acquainted with either current research or medieval sources.
It is not necessary to go through all of the errors in this rather rambling piece. It might be instructive to mention a few of the most important, though. On several occasions, Curry refers to the Church's "revolutionary (and doomed) theology" of salvation by violence, which he believes underpinned the idea of Crusade. Riley-Smith is even quoted in such a way that he seems to confirm this contention. But it is not so. The theological innovation of the Crusades was the definition of warfare undertaken selflessly, in good faith, and in the service of Christ and His people as a penitential act. Although new, this was in keeping with other Christian principles such as the spiritually beneficial practice of pilgrimage and almsgiving. In the case of the Crusades, the warriors were undergoing extreme hardships (like a pilgrim) to save the lives of their neighbors oppressed by foreign conquerors. Salvation, therefore, was achieved by self-sacrifice and right intentions, not by violence, which the Church saw only as a necessary precursor to turning back Muslim conquests.
Curry also reports massacres in Jerusalem after the Crusader conquest in 1099 so drastic that the streets ran knee-deep in the blood. He then contrasts that with the Muslim conquest of the city in 1187, when good and sophisticated Saladin killed no one, allowing the inhabitants to leave freely after paying a token ransom. However, no scholars now accept the grossly exaggerated reports of the massacres at Jerusalem in 1099. None of them are from eyewitnesses. The stories of piled -up bodies and rivers of blood come from European chroniclers eager to portray a ritual [NB: and apocalyptic, I'd add] purification of the city. Muslim sources, although lamenting the deaths, number the dead at only a few thousand. In any case, the killing of defenders who refused to surrender was the accepted standard for both Muslims and Christians in the Middle Ages. Someone at U.S. News & World Report should really take a look at a map of Jerusalem and then calculate how much blood would be necessary to fill the entire city to knee depth. All of the people in the region could not bleed that much.
It is also not true that Saladin spared the lives of the Christians in Jerusalem because he was more tolerant or wise. Saladin actually planned to massacre the Christians in retaliation for 1099. But the defenders negotiated a surrender in which they promised not to harm the Muslim population or the Muslim holy sites in the city in return for the lives of the Christians. In other words, quite unlike 1099, in 1187 the Christians surrendered the city peacefully and thereby saved their lives. Like the Crusaders in 1099, Saladin acted within the accepted standards of his time.
Saladin gets a lot of play in this article since it focuses so heavily on the Third Crusade. The real Superbowl of Crusades, it was the Third Crusade that pitted Saladin against Richard the Lionheart of England. Curry believes that Saladin is ignored by the history books in favor of Richard -- which only demonstrates that Curry needs to read more history books. He also contends that Muslims still remember Saladin well for "his generosity in the face of Christian aggression and hatred." Here Curry has fallen into the trap that he warns his reader about. Modern Muslims learned about the Crusades from Western, not Muslim, historians. The truth is that it is in the West that Saladin has been extolled as a paragon of chivalry since the Middle Ages. Some medieval Europeans even named their children after him! However, in the Muslim world Saladin has always taken a back seat to two other medieval rulers: Baybars and Kalavun. These Egyptian sultans successfully led their slave armies against the Christians of the Crusader Kingdom, brutally crushing all resistance, massacring entire cities after promising to spare their lives, and finally eradicating all traces of the Crusaders in Palestine and Syria. Those are the exploits that are still celebrated in the Middle East, although they are oddly missing from this article.
Following poorly informed popular historians, Curry also gets the legacy of the Crusades wrong. He reports that although the military operations against the Muslims failed, they did give the Europeans a taste of the splendid and sophisticated culture of the East. Soon new luxuries began flowing into Europe and new ideas from well-stocked Arab libraries. Therefore, by peeling back the veil on the wider world the Crusades led directly to Europe leaving the "Dark Ages" and entering the modern world.
All of that is wrong. There was virtually no intellectual or cultural interaction between Muslims and Christians in the Crusader Kingdom. The Christians in the Levant saw themselves as transplants. They were manning an outpost of Christendom in order to defend Christian access to the holy sites. They had no interest in Arab libraries, nor did the Muslims have much interest in the ways of the infidels. While it is true that Aristotle came to the West through Arab translations, those were acquired in Spain where Christians and Muslims did interact. As for the eastern Eastern luxury goods, they arrived in Europe via Egypt or Constantinople -- not the Holy Land. The rise and fall of the Crusader Kingdom had almost no effect on Mediterranean trade between Christians and Muslims. The rise in demand for luxury goods in western Europe was fed by an equivalent internal rise in commerce and towns during the eleventh century. It had little to do with the Crusades.
Curry ends his article by lamenting the Crusade's "legacy of misunderstanding and animosity" that is "still with us today." There was and is animosity between Islam and the West, to be sure. But it predates the Crusades by many centuries. As for misunderstanding, this article, although clearing up a few things, serves to keep that unfortunate tradition alive.
Thomas F. Madden is Chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University and the author of numerous studies on the Crusades. His most recent book is A Concise History of the Crusades (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999).
THE JEWS AND THE CRUSADERS: MEDIEVAL SHOAH? by Vince Ryan
Popular historical works are frequent recipients of academic sniping and snootiness. Envious of the broad readership of these works, certain professional historians will usually dismiss these books outright--and often rightfully so, for these histories are regularly riddled with errors. An even bigger problem, however, is the widespread effect that these popular narratives have on the historical consciousness of the reading public.
One recent error is the claim that the Jewish massacres during the Crusades foreshadowed the Nazi Holocaust. Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, the duo behind the widely viewed and wildly inaccurate A&E Crusades documentary, hold that the Jewish pogroms witnessed the systematic persecution and elimination of the Hebrew minority, much like the Holocaust of the twentieth century. Arno Mayer makes explicit the connection hinted at by Jones and Ereira: "There is no denying the striking homologies between the slaughter of the Jews accompanying the original crusades and the extermination of the Jews attendant on Operation Barbarossa."
In his recent controversial study, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, James Carroll concurs with such assessments, describing these attacks as "Europe's rehearsal for the extermination of Jews that would not conform." However, the Carroll interpretation adds a new twist, for the author sees the Crusades as inherently anti-Semitic. The attacks upon the Jews were a natural outgrowth of the new movement.1
A Call to Arms
To assess the claims of these popular works, a closer examination of the Jewish pogroms during the First Crusade is in order. At the Council of Clermont in 1095, Urban II called for an armed expedition to the East to aid fellow Christians and liberate Jerusalem, promising the remission of sins for any participant. It is likely that the pope himself did not anticipate the overwhelming response to his call. Crusading bands arose throughout Christendom and many clerics took it upon themselves to preach the crusade. The problem was that these unsanctioned recruiters would sometimes put their own spin on the nature of the ensuing expedition, imbuing it with radical elements that might have severe repercussions. In this case, radical preachers contributed to the outbreak of the Rhineland pogroms.
The image of the Jew as Christ-killer was a staple of popular belief long before the events of 1096, intermittently provoking violent acts of "retribution" against Hebrew communities in Europe. When the call was made for a crusade to free the Holy Land from Muslim rule, some Christians wondered why they should not rid Europe of unbelievers before trekking east. The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson captures this sentiment:
"Now it came to pass that as they passed through the towns where the Jews dwelled, they said to one another: 'Look now, we are going a long way to seek out the profane shrine and to avenge ourselves on the Ishmaelites, when here, in our very midst, are the Jews--they whose forefathers murdered and crucified him for no reason. Let us avenge ourselves on them . . .'"2
Inflammatory preaching, though, was not the sole seed that produced the massacres. The pogroms were motivated by a combination of vendetta and greed. Jewish communities were abundant in northern Germany. Financing a crusading expedition could be a costly venture. The lure of Jewish riches was a temptation for many of these would-be crusaders--but not only for those heading to Palestine. The chronicles are quite explicit in emphasizing the complicity of many burghers in the attacked cities. The Mainz Anonymous Chronicle recounts how whenever the crusaders would arrive at a city "the local burghers would harass us, for they were at one with them in their intention to destroy vine and root all along their way to Jerusalem."3 In fact, the assistance of the burghers was critical to the slaughter of the Jews in Mainz, for they unlocked the city gates for the crusaders.
Secular and ecclesiastical leaders had encouraged Jewish migration to northern Germany during the tenth and eleventh centuries, believing that they would enhance the economic prestige of their respective cities. To entice them, lords and bishops often offered benefits such as a high degree of self-rule. These privileges ignited the jealousy of the Christian burghers, their financial competitors in the communities. The economic envy of the burghers was undoubtedly augmented by the inflammatory rhetoric of the anti-Jewish crusading bands.
Why Only in the Rhineland?
And yet, if this sort of anti-Semitic outlook was inherent to the movement, as some argue, why did the pogroms occur only in the Rhineland? In fact, the pogroms were not due to an intrinsic anti-Jewish attitude among crusaders, but at least partly due to the breakdown in secular authority in the region. The Investiture Contest of the 1070s had seriously weakened royal authority in the region, while current aristocratic rebellion further hampered the power of the German crown at the local level. The monarch had guaranteed Jewish protection, but with the recent political developments Henry IV was unable to quell the pogroms. Whereas the Holocaust succeeded because it was promoted and implemented by the Nazi state, the 1096s attacks occurred because the authority of the state (the crown) had been weakened.
In the spring of 1096 several crusading bands made their way through the Rhineland, the most notorious of which was led by Count Emicho of Leiningen. In Speyer, the bishop was able to shelter the Jews from the crusaders. Only eleven lost their lives. In the subsequent cities, resistance was much weaker. The local prelates tried to protect the Jewish communities but they succumbed to the pressure of the anti-Jewish forces. Massacres occurred in Worms, Trier, Mainz, and Cologne. The attackers offered the Jews the option of conversion. Few opted for this, choosing suicide or martyrdom instead. The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson gives a vivid description of the carnage in Mainz:
"The enemy arose against them, killing little children and women, youth and old men--all on one day. The priests were not accorded honor nor the elders grace; the enemy showed no mercy for babes and sucklings, no pity for women about to give birth."4
The pogroms of 1096 were perversions of crusading zeal; they were definitely not the normal response. Emicho's contingent and the other anti-Jewish crusading bands did not comprise the major armies, which advanced east in the summer of that year. The anti-Jewish crusaders either dissolved after perpetrating these heinous acts or were destroyed during their march through Hungary. Robert Chazan, one of the foremost scholars on the medieval Jewish experience--particularly the massacres of 1096--believes that "the combination of radical thinking and weak discipline accounts for both the eventual failures of these bands and their anti-Jewish excesses."5
A Telling Silence
Most Christian sources for our information on the First Crusade are silent about the pogroms. If anti-Jewish activity was inherent to or championed by the crusading movement, it would stand to reason that these writers would include it in their histories. Albert of Aachen, one of the few Christian chroniclers to mention the Rhineland massacres, describes the perpetrators negatively, commenting how they rose "in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy." As Robert Chazan reminds us, "Most crusaders, including those who savored the victory in Jerusalem in 1099, made no connection between crusading and the Jews and thus indulged in no anti-Jewish attacks."6
Some proponents who hold that the Crusades were inherently anti-Semitic or who draw parallels to the Holocaust, have cited the experience of the Jews in Palestine after the conquests of the First Crusade. The slaughter that erupted after the Christian capture of Jerusalem in 1099 is highlighted to support their outlook. After a five-week siege, the crusaders successfully stormed the Holy City and killed every occupant inside, including the Jews who assisted the Muslims in defending Jerusalem. Many fled to the synagogue and met their end when crusaders set fire to the building. That the Jews were singled out in the butchering is hard to prove--for all the inhabitants were slaughtered indiscriminately. Aware of these arguments, the noted Crusades historian Jonathan Riley-Smith has recently said, "We know it to be a myth that the crusaders targeted the Jewish community in Jerusalem."7 The Hebrew populations of Acre, Hebron, and Haifa met with a fate similar to the community in Jerusalem. Again, the brutality was the result of the resistance by these cities to the crusader forces--not because there were Jews in these places. Such tactics were brutal, but typical of both Muslim and Christian armies in the region. The Jewish communities in Tyre and Ascalon, on the other hand, were not harmed when these cities were taken since the leaders chose surrender instead of resistance.
In fact, the Jews of Palestine were treated well by their new overlords. Continuing the prior Muslim practice, the Latins required the Jews, along with other non-Christian inhabitants, to pay a religious tax. Jews were barred only from residing in Jerusalem itself. Moreover, the crusaders did not employ dress regulations like the Muslims had or the Fourth Lateran Council recommended. Ironically, the success of the First Crusade actually facilitated wide scale Jewish migration from Europe to the East. Most importantly, there were no anti-Jewish pogroms in the Levant during almost two hundred years of crusader rule. While life in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem was certainly no utopia for the Jews, these examples contradict the notion that the Crusades were inherently anti-Semitic. The evidence indicates that the Latin rulers in the Levant were more lenient than their European counterparts, and in some instances, than the previous Muslim rulers (who were well known for their tolerance). When Jews were on the receiving end of crusader brutality--as at Jerusalem in 1099 or Acre in 1104--it was within the context of total warfare directed at the resisting population as a whole, of which the Jews were a minor element.8
A Facile and Fallacious Link
The evidence firmly contradicts the charges that violent anti-Semitism was ingrained in the crusading movement, yet contrary claims persist. The Mayer interpretation is representative of those who try to make tidy, direct links between these historical events. In this case, the Holocaust is the central event and the pogroms of 1096 are cited as activities that foreshadowed it and paved the way for the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s. This is sheer historical reductionism. The Jones/Ereira view is an even more blatant example of this flaw. The work as a whole seeks to relate the Crusades to the dynamics and intricacies of the present situation in the Holy Land, forcing the authors to make naïve, anachronistic, or inaccurate statements about the impact of medieval events.9 Certainly the most ridiculous of these is that the Crusades are the cause of current Islamic fanaticism.10
From a Catholic perspective, the Carroll book is probably the most intriguing. It is indicative of some recent historical assessments by "progressive" Catholics who desire to justify their criticisms of or dissent from Church teaching by writing exposes of Church misconduct over the past two thousand years.11 In Carroll's case, he argues that there has been an inherent anti-Semitism present in Catholicism since the time of Constantine. The Crusades are just one manifestation of this intolerance.
Bypassing the problem of that general thesis for the sake of our present discussion, let us consider the faulty use of terminology in both the Carroll outlook and the "First Holocaust" camp, namely, the confusion of anti-Judaism with anti-Semitism. The latter is a nineteenth century ideology rooted in racial theory. Edith Stein was sent to Auschwitz because of her Jewish heritage. That she was a practicing Catholic was of no consequence to the Nazis. Her Jewish "flaw" could only be rectified through annihilation. Anti-Judaism, on the other hand, encompasses discrimination or persecution directed against Jews on the basis of their religious distinction. Those behind the 1096 assaults offered their victims the option of conversion. Many Jews in Regensburg converted and were not harmed. The majority in the other cities did not and suffered atrocious consequences.
The Rhineland massacres resulted from the mixture of various factors: anti-Judaism in distorted crusading zeal by radical, poorly disciplined bands combined with local burgher hostility and the weakness of higher authorities in the region. To be sure, the heritage of medieval anti-Judaism was critical to the acceptance of nineteenth century anti-Semitism. However, efforts to link directly the 1096 pogroms to the Holocaust ignore the specifics that enabled the former to occur or the motivations that propelled the latter. The charge that the Crusades produced widespread anti-Judaism or were by their nature anti-Jewish has, as we have seen, little basis in historical fact. Furthermore, the claim that the Crusades were a rehearsal for the anti-Semitic genocide of the Holocaust is without foundation. Those who promote such a view do so to further their agendas, ideologies, and book sales.
Vince Ryan is a graduate student in history at Saint Louis University.
1 Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, Crusades (New York: Facts on File Inc., 1995), p. 28; Arno Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The"Final Solution" in History (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988), p. 226; James Carroll, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), p. 248.
2 "The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson," in Shlomo Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders: The Hebrew Chronicles of the First and Second Crusades (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977), p. 22.
3 "Mainz Anonymous" in Eidelberg, p. 100.
4 "The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson," p. 34.
5 Robert Chazan, In the Year 1096: the First Crusade and the Jews (Philadelphia: Jerusalem Publication Society, 1996), p. 55.
6 August C. Krey, The First Crusade: the Accounts of Eye-Witnesses and Participants (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1921), p. 54; Chazan, p. 24.
7 Jonathan Riley-Smith, "Rethinking the Crusades," First Things (March 2000), pp. 20-23.
8 Details concerning the Jewish experience under crusader rule can be found in many of the works by the late Israeli scholar Joshua Prawer. For the most thorough examination see his The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).
9 No doubt to capitalize on recent events, Doubleday has reissued Karen Armstrong's Holy War: the Crusades and their Impact on Today's World -- a work with the same flawed goal as Jones and Ereira but with less preposterous assertions.
10 Jones and Ereira, p. 240.
11 Gary Wills' Papal Sin is another prominent example that falls in this category.
This was published last spring, but it's still applicable to a correct understanding of the crusades.
This one has always irritated me. From any logical Muslim perspective at the time, the Crusades were a minor border skirmish compared to the Mongol invasions, which almost destroyed Islam in its heartland.
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Wow! Whoda' thunk, that dedicated professionals such as universities scholars and journalists could be driven by greed or agenda. I'm sorry, I just can't accept this conclusion. (/sarcasm)
Take away the Crusades (a blip in Islamic Jihad history), and the Islamaphiles go positively dumb...
As if the events of 300 years previous and 600 years afterwards never happened.
I had no idea that there is a "correct" understanding of anything. This word was only used by the Church and the communists instead of "approved."
When getting modern, revisionist, politically correct history shoved down our throats (I was a History major) it is painfully funny to realize the writers dishing this trash out have absolutley no clue about what they are writing.
Isn't this the same, word for word, as what supporters of communism say about it's history? You see, people have perverted the otherwise great system. Well, it's funny to hear this from an American who hears from his childhood about checks and balances. No checks and balances --- the system is at fault. But don't take it from me: the authors says so himself in the very next sentence:
The image of the Jew as Christ-killer was a staple of popular belief long before the events of 1096, intermittently provoking violent acts of "retribution" against Hebrew communities in Europe.
Exactly. If there is no condemnation for these acts, and there is a call to fight the infidel, why not kill the infidel Jews on the way to killing the infidel Muslims? Would you not think this way? Actually, you should then start with the Jews: Muslims did not kill the Son of God.
It is rather telling that the author speaks in incomplete sentences: Urban II called for an armed expedition to the East to aid fellow Christians and liberate Jerusalem. Expedition against whom? Liberate Jerusalem from what?
Ah, if he were to complete the annunciation of the call, he would have to concede the aforementioned point: the call was to liberate the Holly Land from the infidel, and you cannot blame a poor Christian soldier for doing what he was called to do; that is, uphold Christianity against infidels.
The author seems to suffer a complete loss of memory when analyzing the issue at hand. He seems to abstract away from the notion of fiduciary duty, such as that of an expert to a novice and that of a leader to the followers. If the Church has issues a call to arms, it was its duty to spell out the goal. If it failed to do so, don't blame the results on some poor and undedicated soldiers that merely answered the call.
The article gets worse to the point of being funny:
The pogroms were motivated by a combination of vendetta and greed [emphasis mine -TQ].
Background information: vendetta:
1. A feud between two families or clans that arises out of a slaying and is perpetuated by retaliatory acts of revenge; a blood feud.
2. A bitter, destructive feud.
If, as the author claims, it was a vendetta, what specific acts did the Jewish community commit as part of that feud? Which "acts of revenge" by the Jews were recorded in 900 years of history of German anti-Semitism? Unless, of course, you believe that Jews poisoned wells in Europe and thereby causes the Plague; that they kill Christian children to use their blood for matzos, etc. I am sure that the author does not believe this nonsense, yet he perpetuates the favorite escape of anti-Semites that "the Jews get themselves in trouble." See, they perpetuated a feud, no wonder there was vendetta.
IS HE JOKING when he refers to continual persecution of the Jews as vendetta? A more precise question is, where he has hidden his shame?
Look at the second of the aforementioned "reasons" --- greed. This, too, perpetuates the anti-Semitic claim of "Jewish wealth." Just like any other community, the Jewish community consisted, at all times, mostly of poor folk; of the recent pop-culture sources, The Fiddler on the Roof depicts that fairly accurately. Even in our own, the most wealthy of countries, as recently as in 1910-20s, there were discussions in American newspapers on whether the "uneducated, poor, backward Jews with poor hygiene and their Oriental mind" can even grasp the notions of western civilization.
To say that Gentiles attacking Jews were motivated by greed, whether in Rhineland during the Crusades or in Ukraine during Khmelnitsky's massacres, is to claim implicitly that the Jews as a whole where more wealthy than their neighbors. This is an outright falsehood, at variance with facts. Is this supported even by the author's own facts? The slaughter of Jewish babies --- was that an estate tax on the wealthy? The wombs of pregnant women open with knives sticks --- was that done only to the wealthy women? Total nonsense, of course. Today, the one who wants money robs a gas station but the one who hates Koreans burns the whole neighborhood. This was true then also. If the Crusaders had wanted the money they would ask for ransom; they would have burned the houses of the wealthy. Instead, they wiped out the whole communities. Greed, you say?
Thus, in one sentence, the author not only serves as a subtle apologist, he manages to promulgate two of the anti-Semites' favorite myths. He may not be such himself, but he is surely not discrete in choosing his friends.
Nor is he capable of even making up his mind:
Massacres occurred in Worms, Trier, Mainz, and Cologne. The attackers offered the Jews the option of conversion. Few opted for this, choosing suicide or martyrdom instead.
You've got to admit that this is really confusing: since when could conversion ameliorate someone's thirst for money? If the crusaders are motivated by greed, why would they find satisfaction in conversion? Similarly, if this is a part of the ongoing "feud," as also alleged by the author, why would they find satisfaction in conversion? Typically, vendetta consists of revengeful acts, such as "you killed my uncle I will kill yours." This is different from "you killed my uncle, now you've got to convert." This point is besides what I already mentioed earlier: there were no "uncles" killed by the Jews. The violence of the crusaders against the Jews was as much vendetta or feud as the violence of a rapist against a woman he just met in a park.
The pogroms of 1096 were perversions of crusading zeal; they were definitely not the normal response. If they were perversions, then why did not the Church respond to them forcefully? Surely, the Church knew how to do that: the Inquisition established shortly before the Albigensian affair and which existed for centuries dealt quite effectively with heretics. Why not with these terrible perverts of the Christian ideal?
The author is Freudian at the end of the sentence: once again speaking in incomplete sentences, he characterizes the violence against the Jews as not "the normal response." I am asking again: response to what? What was that the Jews had done to their Gentile neighbors? Name one act of violence in 1700 years.
It is scary that the person who has written this is going to teach history to our children.
Returning to the main point:
The evidence firmly contradicts the charges that violent anti-Semitism was ingrained in the crusading movement, yet contrary claims persist.
Arguing against the straw man: violent anti-Semitism was indeed NOT ingrained: a non-violent anti-Semitism was ingrained and has found a violent outlet once the leaders has urged violence and gave it rational. That very prejudice against the Jews as foreigners, as the "Christ-killers," which had been condoned by the Church, has merely found its outlet. The call to uphold Christianity against the infidel was read as it was stated, and Jews were infidels that had to be converted or killed. So much for vendetta; so much for greed; so much for the alleged Jewish wealth.
Towards the end the article deteriorated rapidly. For instance:
let us consider the faulty use of terminology in both the Carroll outlook and the "First Holocaust" camp, namely, the confusion of anti-Judaism with anti-Semitism. The latter is a nineteenth century ideology rooted in racial theory.
This is outright stupid: "anti-Semitism" is the new word for the same, old ideology invented in the XIX century. The racial theory was advance as a basis for complete extermination of the Jews and Roma and subjugation of others. In other words, the solution for the "problem" that was offered was different: whereas Crusaders offered conversion, Hitler did not.
But this is not new: the author disregards the same measures in Spain, after the complete expulsion of the Jews by Isabella the Catholic in 1492. Almost a century later, any Christian of Jewish descent was prohibited from holding office. Discrimination on the basis of bloodlines rather than religion was not invented by Hitler. Incidentally, was that persecution in the Catholic Spain an aberration, a perversion? If so, where are the papal edict and condemnation?
The author does show himself in his writing fully:
In fact, the pogroms were not due to an intrinsic anti-Jewish attitude among crusaders, note the omission of a qualifier like "entirely" or "solely:" now the author tells us that the pogroms were not AT ALL due to an intrinsic anti-Jewish attitude.
but at least partly due to the breakdown in secular authority in the region. No, silly: you confuse the cause for the action with factors that determined its success. Crusaders where motivated in their pogroms by their anti-Jewish attitude. Period. That would propel them into action, but that action would not necessarily be successful. Indeed, what made the pogroms successful was the absence of opposition, the weakening of central authority. But these are apples and oranges: had there been no anti-Jewish attitude, no central authority would be needed to stop the crusaders.
The ending of the article goes even further than the aforementioned blunders:
Those who promote such a view do so to further their agendas, ideologies, and book sales.
Firstly, to advance an accusation without a foundation is a sin. The author should no his commandments since he studies religion. Secondly, he should have known by now that it is impossible to guess the motivations of people. Even if those whom he argues against are indeed incorrect, theirs may be a sincere mistake. One has to ponder why massacres and expulsions of Jews in Europe continued for millennia while bases entirely on libel. There is clear continuity here. Of course, if someone says, literally, that Holocaust and crusades are the same thing, that is too simplistic to be true. But they clearly have a common antecedent, the continuous presence of which is clearly there throughout the last two millennia.
I do not want to make the same mistake as the author and will not therefore speculate on the author's motives. His writing, however, it that of an apologist for certain rather sinful the past. As I said earlier, in the very least he can be accused of keeping, perhaps inadvertently, a bad company: in order to explain history, he resorts to anti-Semitic myths.
I also hope that he will learn to think more clearly before he take his qualifying examinations.
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