Many Muslims and Christians alike think that the Crusades started in the name of religion, but it was on the contrary. The initial purpose of the Crusades were to save the Byzantine Empire. At the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuks’ overwhelming show of force against the Byzantines raised fear on the survivability of the Empire.
Emperor Alexios came to power in 1081 and faced further wrath of the mighty Seljuks. The powerful and feared Turks easily overran Asia Minor, got too close for comfort and threatened Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). In a desperate attempt to save his beleaguered state, Alexios seeked help from the Pope.
Finally, in 1095 Pope Urban II agreed to help Alexios. Henceforth, on his orders the Crusaders marched from Western Europe to save the Empire on the East. Ravaging through Rhineland, the Crusaders massacred Jews on the way to their destination.
They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex … Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised.
The Jews then, became victims of live practice and savagery of the Crusaders, a frolic later to be revived by Adolf Hitler after he took over Germany. The entirety of the epoch lasted almost two centuries until 1291.
Something that started as an act to save a besieged kingdom, ended as a holy war in the name of Jesus. All because religion adds fuel to war, increasing morale and justifying any barbaric action. Though Jerusalem was only held by the Crusaders for a brief period, the brutality was astounding. Humanity was a word that was absent from the religious thought for a long time.
Jerusalem was seized for a brief period that began on the July 15, 1099. Later, the Christian territories expanded only to be taken back shortly after. This year would mark 918 years since everything began.
In 1204, the Catholics turned against the Orthodox and ransacked Constantinople. Perhaps, it is due to this betrayal that the rivalry between Orthodoxy and Catholicism still exists to this day. Evident with the ban of evangelism in Russia. It would be safe to say that belief in this case helped the war effort to gain traction.
Though in reality, minor crusades were organised by the church up to the 16th century, the fall of Granada in 1492 signalled a crucial turn in history. The beginning of the Spanish inquisition led to the massacre of millions of non-Christians. Jews and Muslims would be the first to bear the brunt of uncivilised brutes named Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille.
The Crusades failed in the middle east and the mighty Ottomans held the Mediterranean, Spaniards and the Portuguese had no choice but to venture further out to the East and the West. Reaching Americas and using syphilis as a biological agent to annihilate the locals. In the east, the Portuguese plundered India, Yemen, Melaka and various other coastal towns and cities.
Virtually, it seems that the Crusades never ended, there was an attempt to hold a Jerusalem Jubilee in Melaka, and the evangelical efforts in Muslim lands are a cause for concern.
Now the wars have changed facade, European states no longer export Christianity, but now promote other ‘values’ that are just as despised in some nations, gay rights, same sex marriages, revolutions and the likes.
Perhaps, the beginning of the Crusades in the middle east was a signal of the beginning of the end of times. We await the temple mount to be built on the ruins of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Till then, may we all live together in peace.