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Holy Crusades

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLER DEFEND ACRE IN THE HOLY LAND

THE KNIGHTS HOSPITALLER DEFEND ACRE IN THE HOLY LAND

Why Did the Crusades Start

The Twelfth Century is one of the most exciting and fascinating periods in the History of Christianity. When I was a boy, the Crusaders were presented to me in history books and on film as great heroes undertaking great adventures. Today, under modern historical revision, the Crusaders are denigrated as war mongering imperialists who had no business in the Middle East. The Truth lies right in the middle.

The Holy Crusades were not an attack; they were a counterattack. Christians had set out to conquer lands that had been seized from them a few hundred years earlier by Muslims from Arabia, and the Muslim offensive was continuing. Rome had come under their assault three times; half of Spain had been taken; France, Greece, Sicily and Italy had been repeatedly attacked.

Modern readers who are not history buffs may not realize that all of Northern Africa, including Egypt; as well as modern Turkey, Syria, Armenia, and the Holy Land were Christian lands until the Arabian swarms attacked and established Islam by force. The Holy Crusades were a response to Muslim aggression.

POPE URBAN II

POPE URBAN II

Pope Urban Ii

Pope Urban II—tall, handsome, courteous and eloquent—called a church council to Clermont, France, November 27, 1095. In attendance were bishops, knights and peasants. The Byzantine Patriarch had begged for help to stop the Turks, who were advancing toward Constantinople in force. Urban proceeded to give one of the best sermons of all time.

The Turks had captured Jerusalem in 1076, and ever since had been robbing and murdering Christians living there. No one was safe, not even those making the most sacred pilgrimage to the Holy City. I will only quote part of the sermon:

"From the borders of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople evil tidings have come to my ears. An accursed race has invaded the lands of Christians and depopulated them by fire and steel. These Turks are raping, torturing and mutilating Christian women; have led away many Christians, as slaves, to their own country; they defecate on our most holy places and have torn down the churches of Christ. Who will avenge these wrongs? Take up your arms valiant sons and go!" The crowd rose as one and chanted, "God wills it!"

Christian pilgrims had been making the journey to the Holy Land in relative peace for 1,000 years before the Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) in 1071. Modern readers may not realize that these lands were populated entirely by Christians at the time. Rumors spread around Europe about the mistreatment of Christians, which made the kings, knights and peasants of France, Germany and Italy ripe to respond to Urban's call for what became the First Crusade (War of the Cross). This fight would go on for 200 years encompassing seven major Holy Crusades—and numerous minor ones.

THE MUSLIM KINGDOMS BEFORE THE TWELFTH CENTURY

THE MUSLIM KINGDOMS BEFORE THE TWELFTH CENTURY

The Peoples Crusade

Before the official First Crusade began, 40,000 people followed a hermit named Peter toward the Holy Land. They butchered some Jews along the way—possibly beginning the centuries of persecution of Jews in Europe as Christ Killers. The peasants only made it as far as Hungary, where they made such pests of themselves through pillaging that they were all killed.

Peter himself escaped, and led a new band that ransacked Belgrade and made it to Constantinople. The Byzantine emperor quickly sent them on to Asia Minor where they killed Muslims and Christians alike before being exterminated by the Turks.

THE ROUTE OF THE FIRST CRUSADE

THE ROUTE OF THE FIRST CRUSADE

MASSACRE AT ANTIOCH ENGRAVING BY GUSTAVE DORE

MASSACRE AT ANTIOCH ENGRAVING BY GUSTAVE DORE

THE CRUSADER ATTACK TO RECAPTURE JERUSALEM

THE CRUSADER ATTACK TO RECAPTURE JERUSALEM

FIRST CRUSADE RECONQUEST OF JERUSALEM FEATURING KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

FIRST CRUSADE RECONQUEST OF JERUSALEM FEATURING KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

KINGDOMS ESTABLISHED BY THE FIRST CRUSADE

KINGDOMS ESTABLISHED BY THE FIRST CRUSADE

First Crusade

The First Crusade (1096-1099) recaptured Jerusalem for Christendom. 12,000 starving, thirsty, and exhausted men, fresh from a 2,000 mile walk over three years—faced 60,000 well fed, well rested defenders behind 44 foot high walls; they regained the Holy City.

This stupendous victory, achieved after three days of fasting and prayer, was marred by the massacre of Jerusalem's 70,000 inhabitants. The next day, the Crusaders gathered in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to beg God for forgiveness for the slaughter of the innocents.

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