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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.



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—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 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.











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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The Latin Crusaders of the West established a Kingdom in the Holy Land, but their conduct rendered reconciliation impossible with the Church of the East, the Orthodox Greeks. The Crusades also cemented the hatred between the Christians and Muslims that is still ever-present today.

The conduct of the Crusaders is as shocking now as it was then. On their way to the Holy Land they ravaged Bohemia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Byzantium. They started their violence by killing 8,000 Jews in Germany. Each and every port in which the navy stopped was devastated by their conduct. Murder and massacre—even amongst themselves—was common. Most Crusaders never made it home, although more of them died from disease and starvation than in battle.

Five thousand knights, with infantry and support personnel numbering 200,000, set out for the Holy Land. This was at great personal sacrifice for all but the vagabonds. Many of the wealthy ended up selling or mortgaging everything they had in order to purchase horses, weapons and provisions.

Most men left their farms, shops, and families behind. Some took their families with them, leaving their homes behind. Taking up the Cross (the words Crusade and Crusader had not yet been invented), was considered the highest duty of a European man. Only 40,000 out of the 200,000 made it to the Holy Land.

Constantinople dazzled the Crusaders. It was a magnificent city of 500,000 with stunning architecture and massive wealth. Paris, by comparison, only had a population of 30,000.

Their first major victory was scored by recapturing the city of Nicea; the city where the famous First Church Council had taken place in 325. The next major conquest was Antioch, Syria, which had been the first major Christian city a millennium before; where the Apostle Peter had been the first bishop.

The Muslims had taken the city only 12 years earlier. It was considered an impregnable fortress, with walls sixty feet high—and the Crusaders were outnumbered twelve to one. They bribed a Muslim guard into opening a city gate and in they charged. They then massacred the inhabitants. Soon a large army of Turks arrived, and the Crusaders found themselves besieged inside of the city.

Running out of food, the Crusaders resorted to drinking horse blood—and cannibalism in order to survive. After three days of fasting and prayer, eight hundred Christian knights charged out of the city and broke the siege. The Crusaders emerged with a miraculous victory.

When the First Crusade reconquered Jerusalem, they did not behave well. Afterwards, they all went home save the 2,300 left behind to defend Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s defense was put under the command of the newly crowned (Christmas Day, 1100) King of Jerusalem, Baldwin I. Still, all of Europe rejoiced that the Holy City was back in Christian hands.



Who Was El Cid

El Cid of Spain was a knight named Rodrigo Diaz, who died in Valencia in 1099. He is the national hero of Castile, and the forerunner of other national heroes such as William Wallace, the Braveheart of Scotland, and Joan of Arc of France. All European nations eventually made historical figures into national heroes.

The re-Christianization of Spain, known as the Reconquista, was an 800-year process. The population of northern Christian Spain grew at a much faster rate after 1000—than did southern Muslim Spain—largely because of immigration from France and Italy. In the north, agriculture boomed and new towns and monasteries sprung up. Even the key city of Toledo was recaptured by the Christians in 1085.

Unfortunately, African Almoravid Muslims, a devout warlike people who glorified jihad, soon invaded Spain. They not only hated Christians—they also hated the type of Muslims those in Spain had become. They viewed them as pleasure-lovers living in luxury with their poets, artists and musicians. To the Almoravids, the sultans of Spain lived in sin, with homosexuality, adultery, prostitution, and alcohol running rampant.

The Historian Gabriel Jackson, in his book The Making of Medieval Spain wrote: "Once cannot help but sensing among the literate ruling class a widespread boredom and cynicism, an appetite for novel sexual sensations, and a striving after verbal cleverness for its own sake."

The Almoravids conquered Muslim Spain, and took Valencia from the Christians. But soon there came from Africa another group of Muslims, an even stricter fundamentalist group known as the Almohads, who destroyed wine shops and brutalized unveiled women. In 1149, they attacked Spain and terrorized everybody—the Muslims, the Christians, and the Jews.



Knights Templar

The Knights Templar was founded by Hugues de Payens in 1118 as a military organization to protect Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. These were monk warriors, known for spiritual purity as well as extraordinary fighting skills and valor. The Knights Templar were objects of admiration to Europeans; greatly feared by Muslims. They would one day number 20,000 members, including 2,000 knights.



Knights Hospitaller

The Knights Hospitaller began as a Benedictine organization, founded by one Brother Gerard, to care for poor, sick or injured Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. They built a hospital with a capacity of 2,000 patients in Jerusalem. Eventually, 8,000 of the Knights Hospitaller were soldiers.



The Second Crusade

The entire nobility of France participated in the Second Crusade under King Louis VII. St. Bernard went on tour through the heart of Europe to drum up support. He personally persuaded King Conrad III of Germany to commit his forces to the Second Crusade. Soon thereafter, the Jews were to be persecuted by Germans, supposedly upon rumors they had collaborated with the Muslims in the Holy Land.

Christmas Eve, 1144, found the Turks had reconquering Edessa amid yet another slaughter—a slaughter of Christian non-combatants by Muslims. A year later, Pope Eugene III called for another Crusade. Five armies—a much larger force than in the First Crusade—set out for the Holy Land.

A man named Zengi led the Turkish army in their conquering of Edessa. He was a sadistic savage, who frightened even his own men, and was known to crucify them if they so much as marched out of time. He taught that Muslims had a duty to conduct perpetual jihad—the taking up of arms against any and all non-Muslims.

The Second Crusaders reached Edessa, but were slaughtered by the Turks. The Crusaders regrouped in order to attack Damascus, where they lost again. They had expected the Byzantine army to help them, but this never materialized. In fact, it was discovered that the Byzantine Christians were secretly assisting the Muslims under a pact that they in turn would be left unbothered in Constantinople. The Byzantines also attacked some of the Crusaders as they tried to go home.

The Second Crusade achieved little outside the liberation of Lisbon, Portugal, from the Muslims, en route to the Holy Land. The survivors limped back home. Europe was devastated by this loss. It had believed that its heavily armored Knights were invincible, and the Muslims had learned that the Europeans could be driven out. They determined to cleanse the Middle East of all Christians.



Holy Crusades

The Twelfth Century was a time of renaissance in Europe. Paper-making first appeared in 1144, followed by an explosion of books, literacy and libraries. The Latin language was markedly improved. Law had begun to be systematized. Many authors turned to writing history. Translators blossomed, and books translated from Greek and Arabic spread. Prosperous cities emerged and Europe as a whole enjoyed a population boom. Universities were established, the most famous of which was at Bologna, Italy. Averroes of Cordoba, Spain (1126-1198), a Muslim scholar, sparked interest in studying Aristotle across the continent.The first known secret society was formed, the League of the Holy Court. A code of behavior gradually took shape, later known as chivalry.



Holy Crusades

The sources used for research include: The Christians by the Christian History Project (highly recommended); Europe by Norman Davies; The One Year Book of Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten; A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins; and numerous internet sites.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 25, 2019:

Cynthia Taggart ~ I must apologize for not responding sooner to your comments. I only noticed you had left them today. I am so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for saying so.

Cynthia Taggart from New York, NY on April 14, 2013:

This is such a wonderful and captivating bit of history that you wrote here. I was glued from start to finish. Magnificent.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 06, 2012:

Dolores Monet— It is great to "see" you here. Thank you for coming.

The comments on this article prompted me to write a Hub about Margaret Thatcher and it got six times the comments this one did!

I very much enjoyed your insightful and thoughtful remarks. You made outstanding points that are thought-provoking as well. I appreciate that.

Thanks again for the accolades and the Voted Up!


Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 04, 2012:

As often happens here, I have totally lost what I was going to say, taken off topic by the Margaret Thatcher discussion. I love it. Anyway, it amazes me how they moved so many men so far without the technologies of modern warfare. The loss of human life, and the brutality were awful, yet, as in so many wars, new concepts were introduced, concepts that advanced and changed Europe for the better. Your article was interesting, well written, and informative, so voted up!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 28, 2010:

tracykarl99— Welcome to HubPages! It was my pleasure to answer your questions. You're welcome. Thank you for your gracious compliments. I'm coming over to read your Hubs now. :-)

Tracy from San Francisco on April 27, 2010:

James - This is an awe-inspiring hub! I will want to come back and read more. I want to thank you for your help - I decided to stop worrying and go for it! Now I have contributed four hubs; thanks, in part, to you for your help in answering all of my crazy questions. I can only hope to reach a fraction of your accomplishments in one year! Please keep up the incredible work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 19, 2009:

stars439— I am so happy you found this educational. I have no degrees. I never even graduated from high school!! But I am thrilled to read your accolades. You have put new wind in my sails! Thank you, my brother.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on December 19, 2009:

I learned a lot here about the Crusades. In fact I will have to continue reading this over and over for some of it to sink in. So much knowledge and presented in and interesting manner that makes history come alive. Your work belongs in Universities as well, and you should be receiving and Honorary degree if you do not already have degrees and I suspect you may have degrees because of your perfection in your work. God Bless you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 14, 2009:

Coolmon2009— I am very glad that you tuned in. I haven't seen the movie but I want to. Thank you for the compliment.

Coolmon2009 from Texas, USA on December 14, 2009:

I have always wanted to know more about the Crusades but never took the time to research it. On El Cid, I saw the movie years ago with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren really enjoyed it. Good Hub

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 12, 2009:

reddog1027— I am pleased that my little article was appreciated and enjoyed by you. Thank you for letting me know this is the case. That makes it worthwhile for me.

reddog1027 from Atlanta, GA on December 12, 2009:

Learned things I didn't know about the Crusades. Very interesting and well put together. Your hub makes me want to learn more about the many people you discussed.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2009:

opinion duck— Thank you very much. Whew! I got approval from my harshest critic. This is a day I won't soon forget. :)

opinion duck on December 09, 2009:

Bravo James another well done hub presentation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2009:

ecoggins— Well, I am thrilled to read your laudatory comments. Thank you so much for the affirmation. You've made my day.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2009:

Silverbonds— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! I look forward to reading some of your Hubs. Thanks for the compliments and you are welcome, too.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 09, 2009:

itakins— Oh! I see. The secret archives will be unveiled. OK. I hadn't seen that "DV" before. I like it. I can learn a lot from you.

I will go and read about the hunger strikes.

Thank you for this interesting conversation. I have enjoyed it thoroughly.

ecoggins from Corona, California on December 09, 2009:

James, as always this hub is masterful. You take so much care to present readers with well-researched treatises. I have listened to a few presenters from the Middle East who still cry foul when discussing the crusades. However, as your hub points out, the crusades were more about survival than conquest.

Silverbonds on December 09, 2009:

Nicely written gonna fan up thanks for the information download james.

itakins from Irl on December 08, 2009:

Ha ! No -Not 2012 as in that!!! In 2012 the 'embargo' will(hopefully ) be lifted on all the details pertaining to that war.

DV-well it's simply 'If God wills it'-in latin !

All men ,to the best of my knowledge,check out NI hunger strikes-B Sands.

Thank you for being a most gracious host-and allowing me reduce your black-tie article to a less well attired one-Well,I hope not really,but sometimes ,some things have to be said.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

Kebennett1— I just noticed that! Isn't that something!? Your comments are absolutely lovely! Thank you very much. Now, I'll go to bed with a smile on my face. :)

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on December 08, 2009:

James, 100 finally! Keep it up! Your Historical pieces are always so fascinating, and written with such an ease for understanding what was really happening at the time. I love the fact that you try to stay neutral. That way there is nothing left out! You always spark a bit of debate which brings out even more information! You handle those who do not agree with you very respectfully and are always willing to take what they have to say and cross research your information when necessary. Even recant when needed. You are a true gentleman as well as a true writer! Congratulations for another fine work of written art!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

itakins— 2012? Is that like the end of the world or something? DV? DV. hmmm . . . I don't know what they means.

I'll have to check out that hunger strike. Who were those folks? Do women are go on hunger strikes?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— Your comments are uplifting to me. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article and leave such gracious words for me to savor.

Yes, those European Christians took their pilgrimages to the Holy Land to stand where Jesus stood very seriously. Muslims still today take very seriously their pilgrimage to Mecca. Imagine if another country went over there, conquered Arabia—which would be easy as pie—and denied Muslims the right to visit Mecca. Needless to say this would cause conflict. They were not native to the Holy Land. They took it by force and the Christians tried to take it back—but somehow they are now portrayed as the bad guys. This is postmodern historical blame-the-West for the ills of the world revisionism.

Oh yes, spiritual warfare is going on all around us. And man has been cruel to man in unbelievable ways. The 20th Century, when much of the world turned their collective backs on God in big numbers for the first time, is by far the worst killing times ever. Hundreds of millions dead at the hands of Atheists. As bad as they were, this kinda makes the Crusades look mild. But they weren't mild. Men were flat out brutal in those days. I suppose they still are.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

Gina's Junk— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! No, I'm no professor. I'm not even a high school graduate. I just like to read. I have over 1,000 non-fiction books right behind me—though I haven't read a couple hundred of them yet.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments. You've made my day!

itakins from Irl on December 08, 2009:


The point I am making with regard to the 'Belgrano' is -it was outside the exclusion zone -Mrs T claimed 'the rules ' were changed!!Any way ,all will be revealed in 2012-DV.

The hunger strike-well!-I am anti terrorism/warfare etc,but the people who chose 'not to eat'-were doing so on a matter of principle-I lived there,I saw how life was for some and not for others ,I nursed them-the good ,the bad and the ugly.I do not want to go into those aspects of history -it would be difficult to do justice to both sides-on a comment box!

The poll tax was the straw that broke the camel's back.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

Sufidreamer— You're welcome. I agree with you that the moderate Muslims should clean up their brethren. I think they are fearful of them—and rightly so. Agreed, too, that greatAmerican made a fine comment. Thanks for coming back.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on December 08, 2009:

James A Watkins, Once again Professor this is an exceptional narrative of the Crusades. It never ceases to amaze me of the enormous aggressive violence and bloodshed which has been shed all “in the name of the Lord.” Much of It has served to bring bad press to “Christianity.” However it is persecution that forced the Christians out of Jerusalem thus subsequently scattering it throughout the rest of the world. This is how the “Great Commission,” Go ye therefore commenced to become fulfilled…. This also tells us of the magnitude of spiritual warfare that took place and continues to do so!

From a historical standpoint it amazes me. All the battles that have been waged under the sun! The avid thirst for power aggravates man to the point some will do anything to acquire it! Ultimately Power belongs to God we only momentarily access it. Of course there are many levels but still it is all under God the Creator of the Universe. Yet, He is all often totally disregarded. No wonder we have and have had such chaotic pandemonium!

We have come a long way from the peaceful life in the Garden of Eden! God’s children have been disobeying Him ever since…… I studied Comparative Religions & Church History during my Seminary Studies. This served to give me a broader understanding of persecution, famine, economic crisis, division and rivalry that has been happening from the very beginning! God truly is patient with us! This is why I say “If you are not subject to God you are subject to anything.” It is in Him one will only find “True security and significance!” No doubt the Lord has gifted you with the pen to scribe such thorough interesting research! Wonderful of you to put forth the effort to present such a well offered synopsis. I will refer to it often. Again well done! Thank you for sharing, In His Love & Blessings!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 08, 2009:

itakins— I greatly appreciate your excellent, rational and well balanced commentary. Weren't the Argentinians the aggressors in that short war? I do not recall the hunger strike you refer to to but if I refuse to eat, whose fault is that? Mine!

I do understand that poll tax did her in and did not work they way she hoped it would.

Gina's Junk from California on December 08, 2009:

Well I am amazed. Are you a Theology Professor? After reading your hubs, I think I'll stick to just reading. I'm sure anything I would attempt, would appear to be chicken scratch.

How do you get and remember all of that information? You have a true gift.

Bless You,


Sufidreamer from Sparti, Greece on December 08, 2009:

Thanks, James - this Hub has covered many different topics and looks set to run and run.

Glad that we could educate you a little about British social history - we have learned a lot about US history, culture and politics, so everybody wins :)

The Muslims - there certainly is some truth in what you say. Whilst much of the extremist problem is exaggerated by the media, you are right that there is a hardcore of fanatics. To use a parallel story: in England, we used to have a huge problem with soccer hooligans - whilst a police 'no-tolerance' policy helped to stop the problem, it was ultimately the majority of decent fans who brought about change. I think that the same must happen with the Western Muslims - the peaceful majority has to drive these idiots out.

Final thought, before I write a Hub length comment! What a comment from greatAmerican - true words of wisdom :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

peacenhim— Thank you! It means a lot to me to have your approval.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

Coeur de Leon.

Berengaria. A noble woman in my estimation. You'd be perfect for the part. That would be exciting! ;)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

greatAmerican— Your comments are certainly a sober assessment of the crossroads at which we stand, gA. Maybe these little history lessons of mine—which I love to write—will further the purpose of the general good. That is my hope. Thank you for coming by and sharing your wisdom with us.

itakins from Irl on December 07, 2009:


I see that Paraglider and sufidreamer have answered your question, very eloquently; also as they are from the UK-I would regard their opinions with the utmost respect. I speak as an Irish person, who lived in Northern Ireland, during her Premiership.

Mrs Thatcher was perhaps the most controversial Prime Minister of the last century; inevitably, she arouses strong feelings. The manner in which she seized the Premiership demonstrated courage and a capacity to ’seize the moment’. All biographers will recall her standing outside of Downing Street for the first time and reading the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. It didn’t turn out that way unfortunately!

I agree with you that she demonstrated courage in tackling Trade Unions , who had acquired a disproportionate amount of political power. But it was a struggle in which she deployed the full power of the state. In the case of the Miners’ strike they deserved better. They had helped build Britain’s industrial base and they were out manoeuvred and treated with contempt. Whole communities were decimated, with no regard for what they had contributed.

There is no doubt that she transformed the face of Britain-its industrial base transformed into a service –and selfish-economy. At the same time, she always put ‘her vision’of Britain’s interests first- not least in her titanic battles with the EU and Jacques Delors.

But who can forget the war with the Falklands, and in particular the sinking of the Belgrano: it took a British housewife on a TV programme to hold her to account: ‘But Prime Minister, the Belgrano was sailing out of the Exclusion zone’. There are reasons to believe that she would have used tactical nuclear weapons.

In Ireland, despite her initial efforts to achieve Peace through a series of Secretaries of State, -0her lasting legacy will be her willingness to allow 12 hunger strikers to die: that did her reputation great damage world –wide-including in Europe. Being strongly principled herself, she could, at least, have sufficiently recognised, that those who hold different views, deserve to have them regarded with the same respect.

In the end her proposal to introduce a ‘Poll Tax’, in the teeth of what was opposition, showed how far out of touch she was with the British people. Millions marched and it became apparent that her time had passed.

She divided Cabinets, Europe, and her own people. Her departure from Downing Street poignant- she did have great personal courage-iron courage- and great tenacity-but like I said earlier, I’m left with the impression that, her principles transformed into political intransigence.

The Iron Lady-indeed!

peacenhim on December 07, 2009:

Hey James, Great Hub! Well researched and documented, thoroughly enjoyed the read!

GPAGE from California on December 07, 2009:

King Richard the Lionheart......Sounds nice! ; Looking forward to it...; I would love to play "Berengaria" in the film..... She sounds very "tragic!!" ha

I will stop now! ; Best, G

greatAmerican on December 07, 2009:

James I was caught up in Mezos remarks and your response to

her, It is always nice to hear from those who live in Islamic nations. I only wish all people of all faiths from all lands on this earth would stop blaming the past, but at the same time learn from the past. Today we are supposed to be civilized, we should admit that all Religions and nations have made some terrible decisions about war in the past. We can learn from the past, or we can continue down this road to nuklear holocaust.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

GPAGE— There is certainly grist for much movie making in this history. I'll be pleased to play King Richard the Lionheart, to whom I'll in the next episode. :D

Thank you and you are welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

Paraglider— I have heard of that movie. I think I have seen it actually. Wasn't Prime Minister Major also responsible for many closings of coal mines?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

prettydarkhorse— Hi Maita! You are welcome. Thanks for coming. I appreciate the wisdom in your comments. You have a great day yourself. I'll do my best. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

Sufidreamer— Thank you for the compliments. I have always known you to be the opposite of a flamethrower so I will take your comments at face value.

RE: The Muslims in the West, I agree that "drive them out" would never be tolerated when speaking of Jews or the Irish. And I think that a poor choice of words said in emotion. Don is a good guy but his feelings are strong, particularly after this Ft. Hood massacre.

I see a subtle difference in the analogy, though. Word keeps reaching my ears of fiery Imams preaching death to the West—in the West. Preaching basically the overthrow of Western Civilization in mosques and schools in countries where they have been received as immigrants. The Jews don't do that. And the Irish are not immigrants. They have lived in that land since time immemorial. What would happen if I moved to Saudi Arabia, built a church, and started preaching from the pulpit "Death to Saudi Arabia!" I think we both know the answer to that one.

That said, I have a couple Muslim friends and they are great Americans and fine people. I certainly don't want them driven out. So, I appreciate and agree with your umbrage.

I, personally, would never put Lady Thatcher in the pantheon with Churchill, either. I admire him greatly, though he too made serious mistakes (Gallipoli) as all humans do.

I have become aware of Ms. Thatcher's shortcomings and I know that communities were destroyed. Hayek may say that is "creative destruction" such as the destruction of the horse and buggy industry when automobiles came along. But it is devastating for horse and buggy workers, of course.

I'll backtrack on Thatcher and maintain a neutral stance. I appreciate the education on these issues. As always, it's a pleasure to converse with you.

GPAGE from California on December 07, 2009:

Professor seems that I have fallen a bit behind....ha

JAMES! Smooth, enlightening and educational read. I thank you for these "virtual lessons." Some of these ancient heros make me visualize very cool scenes. I love the pic of the Knights Templar. Awesome. Best, G

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

Pamela99— I so appreciate your words because to provoke thought is one of my major aims. Thank you for your comments and you are welcome.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 07, 2009:

Thanks James, and if you think I am overstating the case, take stock also of Sufi's comments, as he is among the most forgiving and balanced commentators on the boards, and yet..

Oh, and as you are a film buff, download and watch "Brassed Off", a story of a colliery band in that era. It will give you a feeling for what it was like, along with some excellent music.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 07, 2009:

Paraglider— Well, this is a pretty damning indictment. I may have to reassess my thoughts about the Iron Lady. I do appreciate you illuminating my thinking about her regarding angles of which I was not aware.

prettydarkhorse from US on December 07, 2009:

Hi James, thnaks for the well informed and well researched topic about the crusaders. It is a good take on the history during those times, I learn a lot from this hub. In every time in the past or now, there are just rulers who are greedy too.

Have a good day, Maita

Sufidreamer from Sparti, Greece on December 07, 2009:

Hi James

Fascinating discussion here - a little tangential to the Hub, but sometimes that is the best thing about Hubpages; it is a place where people can meet and share their thoughts. Kudos to you for being a gracious host!

The Muslims: I am certainly not against talking about the sensitive issues surrounding western Muslims, because sweeping it under the carpet creates a vacuum for extremists, at both ends of the scale, to exploit and fill.

My point was with the language - I went to school with Muslims and worked with Muslims. I don't see them as Muslims but as my friends, so talk of 'driving them out' is extremely offensive. I try not to lose my temper in HP comments, but that vile statement managed it - it is only the fact that I have a deep respect for you, as the host, that prevented me from using stronger language. This is not 'typical liberal' name-calling, but a man defending his friends.

Put it this way, if I made a statement saying 'lets drive the Jews out of Britain,' I am pretty sure that people would, quite correctly, start painting swastikas on my profile. In the UK, the IRA set off bombs and killed people, but nobody (other then the racist National Front) suggested driving out the Irish. The same goes for the Muslims - my friends were born in the UK and they are as British as I am.

As for Thatcher, it is quite difficult to describe to somebody who never lived here. Whilst I try to stay out of the Obama debate, maybe there are parallels. From what I have read, many Americans feel that your way of life is under threat and that he is stripping away what it means to be an American; liberty, vitality and justice.

Thatcher managed that - in her quest to attack Socialism, she went too far and destroyed society, as Paraglider said. She stripped away the sense of community, resilience and fairness that shaped Britain. She is not fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Churchill - he understood the British mentality and tapped into that to keep the light burning during the dark days of the 1940's. The British survived the Nazi bombing raids and drew strength from adversity.

Under Thatcher, towns in the provinces, once thriving communities where everybody knew everybody and looked after their neighbours, became broken, derelict graveyards. I have seen young men throw themselves to their death because she crushed them beneath her feet. Nothing to do with left vs right or ideology - when you don't have food to feed your children, politics suddenly becomes unimportant.

Ultimately, she destroyed hope. For that, I will never forgive her.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2009:

James, This was very interesting and I learned a lot. Your hubs usually make me do a lot of thinking which is a good thing. Thanks.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 06, 2009:

Many were prosecuted. There was extreme provocation, with 'flying squad' riot police being moved around the country like military units. The local police forces in the mining districts were sidelined and were deeply offended. Margaret Thatcher ran the campaign almost as if she was fighting a civil war. For an elected government to treat communities in this way was a disgrace. And of course she played the divide and conquer game to a T. Because she could. She knew that in time she could starve people back to work, if they had young children. Nice lady.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Paraglider— Check. I think over 11,000 were prosecuted for criminal behavior, from assault to vandalism.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 06, 2009:

There was fault on both sides in the miners' strike. But 30,000 miners don't kill a taxi driver. The one or two who did that were prosecuted.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Paragliders— Were not those miners perpetuating manifold violence? I know they killed a taxi driver who delivered a "scab" to work. Well, you would know better, being from the UK. I will read your Hub. I bookmarked it just now. Thanks for your perspective.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 06, 2009:

James and any other Margaret Thatcher fans - she was the one who said 'there is no such thing as society'. She is also the one who sanctioned the use of the police as her own personal cavalry, to baton-charge the miners whom she described as 'the enemy within'. Miners whose grandfathers had died in Flanders Field, and whose fathers had died in WW2. She destroyed communities and damaged Britain's reputation in Europe, for a time. By all means write a hub about her, but first please read mine: and please try to accept that perfectly reasonable people exist on the left of the political spectrum. We don't shout about 'driving out the muslims', for example.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Duchess OBlunt— Great to see your name among my visitors! It was not pretty. Thank you very much for your compliments. That makes it all worthwhile. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Jane Grey— While we do not know for sure, one estimate is that 1.5M people died on all sides during the 200 years over maybe a dozen Crusades. As I noted, more died from disease and starvation that in battle. This in no way compares with six million exterminated Jews; 100 million dead in WWII; and certainly not the 20 million or more killed EACH by the two great Atheists of the 20th Century: Stalin and Mao.

Thank you very much for the laudations and the fine question. I appreciate encouragement especially from such a fine writer as yourself. You are welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Sufidreamer— I see that you've not been writing much. I hope this means you have been making a steady revenue stream over there.

Thank you very much for your kind compliments and thoughtful commentary.

I don't want to drive anybody out but I do sometimes wonder if Muslims are our (the West) friends or not.

The next installment is done. I wrote about the entire 12th Century but when I was done editing it was still over 5,000 words and 43 photographs; so I thought it best to split it into two. The next part will be 500 words longer than this one. And have twice as many photos because of the Cathedral building that started about then. I think I'll hold off until Tuesday to release it to give this one a clear playing field for a few days.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

infonaturale— Thank you! You are welcome. I appreciate your laudatory remarks. It is gratifying to read them.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

cameciob— I must say, I admire your style of making comments. I of course appreciate the accolades but your comments are also very thoughtful and insightful. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.

Duchess OBlunt on December 06, 2009:

James, you continue to provide an excellent read, and very thought provoking material. This is a pretty clear look at some of the hard questions we pose looking back. It's not all pretty is it?

You did a a great job.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

itakins— Well, I don't want to tangle with you. You're one of my favorite Hubbers. Maybe you can tell me why Ms. Thatcher sticks in your craw so?

I know that she is quite an accomplished lady, having served longer as Prime Minister longer than anyone in nearly 200 years—not to mention the first woman. The Gross Domestic Product in Britain went up 33% during her years in office. I was pleased she squelched the power of the unions since they had called 4,583 work stoppages the year she was elected costing Britain 29 million man hours of lost productivity. In the miners strike, over 11,000 strikers were convicted of committing crimes related to the strike.

Her privatization program produced a great increase in worker productivity by all accounts. It seems she streamlined governmental bureaucracy which increased efficiency. In 1988 Brits said they thought her policies were good for the future of the Country by 60% to 30%; and 74% of Brits said they were satisfied with their standard of living versus 18% who were not. 61% said they trusted Lady Thatcher.

She appears to have played a hand in the ending of communism in Eastern Europe, which freed hundreds of millions of people from soul-crushing totalitarian tyranny.

Her last statement as Prime Minister was this:

"Eleven years ago we rescued Britain from the parlous state to which socialism had brought it. Once again Britain stands tall in the councils of Europe and of the world. Over the last decade, we have given power back to the people on an unprecedented scale. We have given back control to people over their own lives and over their livelihoods, over the decisions that matter most to them and their families. We have done it by curbing the monopoly power of trade unions to control, even victimize the individual worker."

I have always thought that this statement was the truth.

She said this is 1987:

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand "I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!" or "I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!" "I am homeless, the Government must house me!" and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations."

That rings true to me.

In 2008 a poll in Britain who was the best Prime Minister after WWII and Thatcher trounced the field, garnering 34% versus Winston Churchill, in second place, with 15%. Here in America, she was voted the 18th most widely admired person of the entire 20th Century.

I've never lived over there so I am not an expert by any means. Her name has somehow come up in several different Hubs of mine and it is immediately met with derision by folks in the UK. Maybe you can help me understand this phenomena?

Ann Leavitt from Oregon on December 06, 2009:

Well researched and clearly explained, as always! I thank you for your tactful and truthful presentation of this.

I have a question for you: often I've heard Christianity and Atheism/Nihilism compared and contrasted by number of "killings" in their histories, with the Crusades being compared to Hitler's slaughtering of innocents. I wonder if you know the total deaths during the Crusades, and if so, how many of those were part of a just and righteous war against evil, and how many were committed out of pure vindictiveness and personal hatred or getting "carried away" with a lust for slaughter. Does it have any comparison at all to the thousands murdered by Hitler's armies? I guess the real question many people are wanting to know is, "Is Christianity good for the world?" I know where I stand on this issue, but I'd like to hear your discussion of this.

Thank you!


Sufidreamer from Sparti, Greece on December 06, 2009:

Another well researched and well written Hub - a good synopsis of a very complex period of history. I am very glad that you did not gloss over the dark side of the Crusades - they committed some barbaric acts in this corner of the world. Sadly, the same political manipulations that took many young men to their deaths in the name of God/Allah still go on today. We never learn :(

Not sure what point dusa is trying to make - I used to live in Bannockburn and know the battlefield well - there is no freedom there, only the suffering and death of many young men. It is a very sad place and it should not be used to make cheap political jibes at these 'liberals,' whoever they are. 'Driving out the Muslims' - that is exceptionally offensive rhetoric. Why would anybody want to drive out their friends?

As for Thatcher......hehe

Enjoyed the writing, as always, and I look forward to the next installment :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Chris Cook— Thank you! Why, I am quite pleased with your warm words, Chris. It is gratifying to be appreciated. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

ehtel smith— Thank you! I appreciate you coming by to visit. I'll tell him. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

dusanotes— You are most welcome, Don. Oh yes, Braveheart is one of my favorite films. I haven't seen El Cid. I think that is with Charlton Heston. I tried to rent it but they didn't carry it. I've always liked Heston's movies.

Yes, I am familiar with Robert de Bruce. Perhaps a film should be made about his exploits?

I have met Lady Thatcher and I admire her greatly but I hear from many Brits that they hate her. Maybe I'll do a Hub about her someday. :-)

Thanks for coming. I appreciate your commentary.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

RevLady— I think your musings are correct. There is a lot of misunderstanding and animosity in regard to the Crusades.

I appreciate you for reading and leaving your fine comments.

infonaturale from Nigeria on December 06, 2009:

Great hub. I'm happy reading this, cos I now know some facts about the crusades I've not read from anywhere before. Thanks for good research and hard-work. The fact that you have put this together in a great style makes you a great hubber.

cameciob on December 06, 2009:

James, I admire the way you handle the complexity of the subject and the great amount of information on this hub. I also appreciate the fact that you remain impartial, as a good historian should be. So far, I think, you captured the spirit of Crusades which, in my opinion, is very important in understanding what happened and why. Your personal style makes it more enjoyable then an academic paper of the same subject. I like it.

itakins from Irl on December 06, 2009:


With all due respect,while your article was not provocative(in my opinion)comments such as that of dusanotes are extremely provocative -we are ALL children of God,regardless of religious persuasion or ethnicity.

-A return to Thatcherism!the lady who 'fractured 'British society:she strayed from much needed 'Principle'in politics to 'Intransigence'and ended up emasculating the very 'idea' of 'Society'.

The world needs to move beyond brittle and jaded politics.

Chris Cook from Key West, Florida on December 06, 2009:

Excellent work James! I found this hub to be very insightful with exquisite images depicting each setting.

Having studied history in college, you just don't get this kind of "in depth" information regarding the crusaders at University. It looks like you've hit another "home run" with this story. I give it "two thumbs up!"

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 06, 2009:

I would like to say to dusanotes that if he loves the Margaret Thatchers of this world he is welcome to them.

James interesting Hub

dusanotes from Windermere, FL on December 06, 2009:

Thanks, James, for your yearning to tell the history of the world. Well done. When you got to El Cid and William Wallace I recalled a couple of movies. But, unfortunately, historical lore and Hollywood lore sometimes are not the same. When it came to courage and a desire to be free, William Wallace had no peer. But what did he accomplish? He aroused in the hearts and minds of the Scots that they needed to overcome an unrighteous king, King Edward I. But Wallace was captured, tormented, killed, and eviscerated and if the story of the Scots ended there it would mean very little. But a man named Robert de Bruce, a far more accomplished man than Wallace, came along and organized an army of Scots that defeated Edward's son, Edward II at the most famous Scottish victory in history at Banockburn in the early fourteenth century. Robert de Bruce fought for freedom at great risk. Like American founders, he risked not only his life but his fortune. At one time he was the largest landowner in England and Scotland. He was a knight to King Edward I and he rebelled against him. On more than one occasion, de Bruce saved Wallace's life. Bruce was not only a great tactician, warrior, and fighter, he had considerable diplomatic skills. He became King of Scotland and today in Edinburgh there is a large statue of him on his horse in this city commemorating what he accomplished. Unfortunately, the Brits have gone far left liberal, and like the U.S. their money is devalued and they are gradually being taken over by the Muslims who have more people in Britain in some cities than the original Brits.

How long will it take for a great country to see the problem and rebel? It must return to Margaret Thatcher conservatism, as we must return to Ronald Reagan conservatism, to survive as a nation; and it must drive out the Muslims as Spain did in their history. Great, provocative stuff here. Thanks, James. Don White

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on December 06, 2009:

Though I studied the crusades in church history classes, most of what I learned has long since abandoned my memory. Thank you for the refresher course.

I wonder if the the legacy of misunderstanding and animosity surrounding the crusades are not still haunting us today.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Tom Whitworth— I am so pleased to read your words, Tom. It brings me joy to hear that my work is appreciated. Thank you for reading this Hub and letting me know you liked it. I love history, that's for sure. :-)

Tom Whitworth from Moundsville, WV on December 06, 2009:


Once again I must congratulate you on your work of bringing history alive. You should be a history book writer; many could learn much from your unique style of retelling history.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

itakins— Why, I am humbled by your generous assessment of my talents. Thank you very much for your affirmation. It is uplifting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Mezo— If Islam truly states freedom of religion, why is a death sentence pronounced on any apostates? And why is it illegal to build a church in Saudi Arabia?

I am familiar with the Coptics in your country. Thank you for the compliments and you are welcome, too.

Your comments are excellent and I largely agree with them. I thank you very much for them. It is great to have the perspective from Egypt represented on this page.

itakins from Irl on December 06, 2009:


Genius!-a thorough and fluid article;you are a very gifted writer and teacher.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

lightning john— You sure look familiar. :) Thank you for visiting and for the compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Hello, hello,— You are welcome. You ask one of the greatest and most puzzling questions of humankind. Why all the killing? Most is over land or honor. And when your womenfolk are being raped and killed, along with your children, men feel duty to arise and defend. Thank you for your excellent comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Paraglider— I am not familiar with the Cante Jondo but I absolutely love Flamenco guitar music. I am going to try to find samples of this on the net. Thanks for that tip.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Truth From Truth— Hello my fellow Michigander! Yes, they did. I truly appreciate your visitation and your warm words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Nemingha— You are surely welcome. Thank you so much for the accolades.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

Quilligrapher— I am gratified to have your eminent presence here. I sincerely appreciate your laudations. And you are most welcome.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 06, 2009:

H P Roychoudhury— Your comments are quite interesting. I appreciate your perspective from India. Thank you very much for visiting and commenting.

Motaz from Egypt on December 06, 2009:

My country (Egypt) was christian before Islam..and there are christians living among us as Islam states freedom of religion as you know.

However, the nations in north africa, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, thank God that Islam entered these areas..When Omar Ibn Al Khattab entered Jerusalem and established an Islamic country, no one was killed..

but as you stated:

"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. "

So, the crusades are perceived in these areas as brutal, barbaric attacks, not Holy wars..Because Holy wars should have ethics and rules (that's what people here see them as). Also, in Al-Andalus (Spain) non Muslims were treated much better than many parts in christian europe, for more information:

I don't know what westerners nowadays think about the crusades, but as for my knowledge, Muslims, and Arabs see it as brutal attacks.....I dunno if westerners look at it as Holy wars or not, but :

"They started their violence by killing 8,000 Jews in Germany. Each port in which their navy stopped was devastated by them. Murder and massacre—even amongst themselves—was common."

I really respect hubs that were written after extensive research, with order and of course, images !

Thanks for the perfect hub. I also enjoyed your hub about the origins of christianity and orthodox (most christians here are orthodox).

lightning john from Florida on December 06, 2009:

Once again, great writing! Thanks James!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 06, 2009:

Thank you, James, for an allways perfect and most informative hub. About the bloodshed on both and always in the name of one God or another, I am glad you didn't without these informations as many history books or lessons do. Why is it when man uses God for a reason to go to war that they are all out in killing. Look at those huge massacres and they were huge because of the much smaller population Yet it is in any religion - Thy shall not kill - Thy shall love thy neighbor. What is it that man can't listen to the teaching no matter what religion? I'll never understand that.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 06, 2009:

Strangely enough, I think the deepest surviving expression of the sheer horror and grief of these times can be found in the Andalusian Cante Jondo (deep song) music that is still part of the Flamenco tradition. At its 'best' it is almost unbearable to listen to.

Truth From Truth from Michigan on December 06, 2009:

Great Hub. I learned a great deal of information. Did the Knights Hospitaller , start the first large scale hospitals?

Nemingha on December 05, 2009:

Great work and a fantastic read, thanks so much James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 05, 2009:

Paraglider— I fully understand your feelings. Thank you for your appreciation of my work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 05, 2009:

gusripper— Thank you for your visitation and your comments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 05, 2009:

habee— Thank you, dear. I, too am a big aficionado of the Middle Ages. What I wrote about this period proved too large for one Hub, so I will continue on with my next Hub covering from 1150-1200.

Quilligrapher from New York on December 05, 2009:

Great hub, James. Very well done. Good research, great planning, and unbeatable execution. Thank you.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 05, 2009:

William R. Wilson— I am well pleased that you tacitly approve. Thank you for reading.

H P Roychoudhury from Guwahati, India on December 05, 2009:

Hi James,

The hub has presented a detailed historical background of Crusade. The feeling of past is always absorbing and thrilling. By the last hundred years the crusade has turned to a new invasion of secret aggression of few nations to exert the challenge for the cause of frustration of own failure out of jealousy.

Dave McClure from Worcester, UK on December 05, 2009:

This is well researched and well written, even though it is depressing to read about the exploitation of people's worst traits by cynical self-serving rulers, whether in the name of one god or another. The worst of times.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 05, 2009:

advisor4qb— Thank you for your kind comments! I am a modern day miracle I guess. :D

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