The Crusades were an attempt by Christians to forcibly spread and impose their religion on others.
Usually in an effort to give religion (especially Christianity) a black eye the go to example of the Crusades is usually referenced as supposed evidence as to why Christianity is no better than any other religion and in many instances worse. The Crusades is the example commonly used to showcase why religion is evil and why it should be kept out of everything except our homes. There are some who even believe that it should not exist even within the confines of our homes.
There are a couple of reasons for this behavior.
1. Many are simply ignorant to the history of the Crusades and are just perpetuating associated myths.
2. There are those who are at odds with Christianity or religion in general and feel the need to put religious followers in their place.
We’re going to look at some myths concerning the Crusades and dispel them. Our source, which lists plenty of other sources will be from Paul F. Crawford. He is the author of an Article entitled: Four Myths of the Crusades. Albeit there are more myths, the four mentioned are enough to hold a proper defense against the myths and or lies concerning the Crusades. However, this does not mean that none of the crusaders carried out ill acts of violence at times. But these ill acts of violence by a few within the period of the crusades can not be used as an argument against all of Christianity.
1. The Crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim World.
Simply untrue. In A.D. 632 (Death of Mohammed) Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, Islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica were all Christian territories. It was the official majority religion. Christianity was everywhere even outside of these countries. Most of the Persian population claimed to be Christian. 100 yrs later (732) Christians lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, Most of Asia Minor, Southern France, Italy and the Islands under threat to become under Islamic rule. Christian communities of Arabia were destroyed. Shortly after in 633 when Jews and Christians were expelled from the Peninsula, Christians in Persia were under threat. Two-thirds of the formally Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims. (See the Hadith; Expelling Christians from Arabian Peninsula).
In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews.
It was the Muslims who initiated their campaign to expand Islam at the expense of their Christian neighbors. It was not until after almost five centuries of Muslim attacks did the Christians defend themselves and fight back with the Crusades (1090 A.D.).
2. Western Christians went on a crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.
Again, not true. Very, very few people became rich due to crusading. Most of the early crusaders sold off all they owned in order to finance the crusade. Many were peasants. This act caused wide spread inflation across western Europe. Very few people became rich by crusading. The few that did were dwarfed by those who were bankrupt. Most medieval people were well aware that crusading was not a way to become rich.
One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the 4th Crusade was the fact it ran out of money before it had gotten started. Louis IX’s 7th Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown.
The popes of the time became more and more desperate in seeking ways to raise money to finance crusades. This ranged from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther.
Despite the chance of losing everything, including their lives, crusaders still carried on with the fight. They fought, because they believed defending themselves was the right thing to do.
3. Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.
This is just utter nonsense. For one, the casualty rates were so high that most crusaders left for battle never expecting to make it back home. It’s reported that the estimated casualty rate for the First Crusade was 75 percent. Secondly, considering the casualty rate, crusaders signed up voluntarily. They were not drafted. They were motivated to volunteer by crusade sermons. These sermons were replete with warnings about the high possibility of death, maiming and potential hardships left upon a crusaders family. However most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins (wrongly) and put their lives at the service of their Christian neighbors.
4. The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.
Again, simply not true. In fact the Muslims had been attacking and hating Christians for over 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade.
The truth is, the crusades were a Christian response against Muslim invaders who had been violently terrorizing Christian countries for almost 500 years. The fact remains that after 500 years of attacks, the crusades that followed, and the current persecution of Christians by Muslims, Christianity still widely exists. It is a testament to God’s desire for every man to turn to Him. The Christian resiliency is unmatched and speaks volumes about this desire which is for every man and woman to repent and put their trust in Christ in order to be saved.
1. Four Myths about the Crusades – Paul F. Crawford