I found the reading interesting on this opening thread. I’m not sure what your previous dialogues with James were about, but because of the open invitation to hear others thoughts on the crusades I find it appropriate to take you up on the offer.
You really caught my attention as you compared the Crusades with America and our war on terrorism. In both cases the wrong people have been attacked. It was UBL who attacked the WTC, the threat to America is in Afghanistan, yet 150,000 of our American troops are in Iraq. We have entered into a misguided war on terrorism where the focus on the real criminal has been ignored.
In the self-same way—even though some good will come out of the war in Iraq—the Crusaders were misguided as well. I shuttered when I read your post in stating, “The Crusades were completely justified.” I am not sure if you are aware of the atrocities that took place against the Jews, but I would like to share a bit of history regarding the Inquisitions and the Crusades—something that I do not find justifying at all.
During the Spanish Inquisition there was a witch hunt against baptized Jews who maintained any vestige of Jewishness! These Catholic Jews (called Marranos) were violently forced to convert, and were watched to see if the practiced any Jewish customs of any kind. If those sentenced to die would renounce their “heresies” (failure to eat pork; failure to work on Saturday; keeping the biblical feasts; associated with non-baptized Jews) and publicly confess the Faith, then the Church would show mercy: They would be strangled and then put to the flame, burned dead instead of alive!
Spain’s sins against the Jewish people are great. It is estimated that 30,000 Marranos were burned at the stake in the Spanish Inquisitions from the fifteenth century until 1808. In addition to this, in 1492, all non-baptized Jews were expelled from the country. Those who ‘converted” did not fare much better—they were treated as second-class citizens by the other Catholics.
Baptized Jews who wavered but then wanted to be reconciled to the Church were subjected to an act of penance called the “verguenza” (shame). They were paraded through the streets, men and women alike, bareheaded, barefooted, and naked to the waist. The procession was headed by a group of monks. They held unlit candles in their hands (indicating that they were yet in spiritual darkness), and they marched through the city until they arrived at the Cathedral. After this a sermon would be preached, and the sentence would be announced: They were to be whipped in procession on each of the following six Fridays. When their six-week penance was completed, they had to give alms “to the extent of one-fifth of the value of their property.”
The Crusades that took place in the eleventh thru the thirteenth centuries started off with the right intent, yet large, often fanatical, “Christian” armies, sometimes at the bidding of the Pope, marched through to “cleanse the land of unbelievers.”
Three major Crusades were carried out, and each time the story was the same: they committed atrocities against the Jews. On one occasion they set a synagogue on fire and then marched around it singing “Christ We Adore Thee” while the Jews burned to death within.
There are many, many more documented accounts of the tragic deeds of the Crusaders. I am not saying that no good had come out of their efforts, but to ignore the anti-Semitism is not just in any manner of speaking, nor is it to be praised.