The crusades were unchristian

health : Unthristian bloodlust - religious hatred made its way during the crusades

"God wants it!" Shouted the western crusaders before they went east to "liberate" Jerusalem from the Turks. God wants it - but Pope Urban II wanted it in particular. In a fiery appeal on November 27, 1095 in Clermont, he called on Western Christianity to wrest the Holy Land from the "unbelievers".

The new Christian fundamentalism fell on fertile ground, especially in France, Spain and the regions in what is now Italy. For one thing, it was really religious rapture and the feeling of responsibility for the fellow believers in Byzantium and Jerusalem. Because as a result of the conquest of Anatolia by the Muslim Seljuks since 1071, the Greek-Byzantine Church came under pressure. In addition, this Turkish tribe threatened the land route used by Western pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.

It was precisely these pilgrims who brought with them more and more atrocity reports of abuse of Christians and the holy places in Jerusalem, which the Islamic lords of the city allegedly committed. The medieval historian Michael Borgolte believes that it is pure propaganda: "The Muslims tolerated the Christians as well as the Jews in their religious practice."

In addition to the religious motives of the crusaders, there were also tough economic and political motives: The Pope was concerned with the supremacy of the Roman Church for all of Christianity. The Italian trading cities, which made their ships available to the crusaders at a profit, sought gold and new trading bases. And the group that mainly carried the crusades, the knights, hoped for fame, honor and a fief. Because of the inner peace decreed by the Church in Europe in the High Middle Ages, the knights were suddenly "unemployed". "For the knights, the crusades represented an outlet: they found new, warlike tasks and a new chance of a life appropriate to their class," says Borgolte.

In 1096 the crusaders set out. These were not compact military units, but often smaller knightly associations under the leadership of noble lords. Baldwin of Boulogne moved into Edessa in Asia Minor with only 80 knights and was able to found the first crusader state here.

In 1099 the time had finally come: after years of marching, constant fighting with the Turks and a five-week siege, the remaining 1,500 fighters of the crusader army conquered Jerusalem. And they caused one of the worst massacres of the Middle Ages: 70,000 people were massacred, Jews and Muslims, children and women. Chroniclers reported that the blood was ankle-deep in the streets.

As a result, five crusader states emerged on the east coast of the Mediterranean. But the crusaders could not hold out permanently. The Muslim fighters struck again and again and took parts of their property from the Christians. The West responded with more and more crusades - a total of seven have been handed down. In the fourth crusade (1202 to 1204) the Western Christians even attacked their Orthodox fellow believers and plundered Byzantium. But their sphere of influence steadily dwindled. After the Sultan Saladin had won Jerusalem as early as 1187, their last base, Acre, fell in 1291.

The balance of the crusades is bleak. It was only then that the fanatical rejection of Christianity in Islam arose. "One of the cruelest events of the Middle Ages," say even conservative theologians. The Catholic author August Franzen speaks of an "unchristian bloodlust" in his church history.

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