Friday, January 20, 2012


Fr Lucie-Smith recommended it and I think it is pretty good, you can watch Crusades on iplayer for the next few days.
Thomas Asbridge tries to address the violence of the Crusades in this new series, for the BBC, it seems to be relatively objective, not the normal Christians: bad, Muslims: good, that I have come to expect.
Asbridge in this first programme identifies the high devotion that inspired the First Crusade, and the reasons that the ideal soon fell  into barbaric bloodshed.


Patricius said...

"...not the normal Christians: bad, Muslims: good, that I have come to expect."

Thank you, Father. My expectations were similar and so did not watch it.
I will reconsider.

Fr William R Young said...

The programme did seem to me to put it all down to Pope Urban II's "motu proprio" sermon, as if this came out of the blue. As I understand it, the access to the holy places by Christians was being restricted, and a response was needed to open up this access. It also went almost unmentioned that the crusades were a very belated response to the islamic destructions of Jerusalem and the Christian East in the 7th century and afterwards. No Christian can fail to be deeply ashamed at the appalling atrocities (as we would now see them) committed in the name of the Church, but those were the consequences of being in a city that did not surrender when it fell after a siege.

John Nolan said...

The First Crusade resulted from the rise of the Seljuk Turks and their defeat of the Byzantine army at Manzikert in 1071. Faced with the loss of Anatolia (the main recruiting ground for the Empire) the Emperor called for military help from the West. And as Fr Young points out, the former Arab rulers of Jerusalem were accommodating to Christian pilgrims,whereas the more fanatical Turks, recent converts to Islam, were not. That the crusade was a Christian reaction to a recent Moslem invasion was not mentioned.

Urban addressed his appeal to the military classes, and the official crusade took some time to organize. Before it was ready the so-called 'people's crusade' had set off for Constantinople - Urban had not forseen such an extraordinary mass movement, and the Emperor, who was expecting disciplined Frankish knights, was horrified when this vast rabble appeared before the walls of his city. He quickly arranged for them to be shipped across to Asia Minor where they were slaughtered or enslaved by the Turks. This was glossed over in the programme.

They might also have mentioned the Christian significance of Antioch. As for 'new evidence', I won't hold my breath. The classic account is still Sir Steven Runciman's three volume History of the Crusades, published over fifty years ago and a masterpiece of historical writing.

Julianna Lees said...

Can you supply the source for the illustration? I am interested to see that the "triple-dot" motif - both with and without the stripe - is used for both Crusaders and Saracens (and their horses and shields). This is quite unusual, as the motif is normally used to differentiate different classes of people. It is most commonly used to imply grandeur, sanctity or wealth.
Julianna Lees

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think if you look up "crusades" "manuscript" you will find it.