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" width="8" height="8"/> On the *real* history of the Crusades, article by a medieval scholar
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Bar-Aram
post May 19 2004, 06:58 AM
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http://www.crisismagazine.com/april2002/cover.htm


The Real History of the Crusades
By Thomas F. Madden

With the possible exception of Umberto Eco, medieval scholars are not used to getting much media attention. We tend to be a quiet lot (except during the annual bacchanalia we call the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, of all places), poring over musty chronicles and writing dull yet meticulous studies that few will read. Imagine, then, my surprise when within days of the September 11 attacks, the Middle Ages suddenly became relevant.

As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. When were they? Just how insensitive was President George W. Bush for using the word "crusade" in his remarks? With a few of my callers I had the distinct impression that they already knew the answers to their questions, or at least thought they did. What they really wanted was an expert to say it all back to them. For example, I was frequently asked to comment on the fact that the Islamic world has a just grievance against the West. Doesn’t the present violence, they persisted, have its roots in the Crusades’ brutal and unprovoked attacks against a sophisticated and tolerant Muslim world? In other words, aren’t the Crusades really to blame?

Osama bin Laden certainly thinks so. In his various video performances, he never fails to describe the American war against terrorism as a new Crusade against Islam. Ex-president Bill Clinton has also fingered the Crusades as the root cause of the present conflict. In a speech at Georgetown University, he recounted (and embellished) a massacre of Jews after the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 and informed his audience that the episode was still bitterly remembered in the Middle East. (Why Islamist terrorists should be upset about the killing of Jews was not explained.) Clinton took a beating on the nation’s editorial pages for wanting so much to blame the United States that he was willing to reach back to the Middle Ages. Yet no one disputed the ex-president’s fundamental premise.

Well, almost no one. Many historians had been trying to set the record straight on the Crusades long before Clinton discovered them. They are not revisionists, like the American historians who manufactured the Enola Gay exhibit, but mainstream scholars offering the fruit of several decades of very careful, very serious scholarship. For them, this is a "teaching moment," an opportunity to explain the Crusades while people are actually listening. It won’t last long, so here goes.

Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman’s famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne’er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders’ expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.

During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

* * *

Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:

How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? ...Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?

"Crusading," Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an "an act of love"—in this case, the love of one’s neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, "You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, ‘Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.’"

The second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ. The word crusade is modern. Medieval Crusaders saw themselves as pilgrims, performing acts of righteousness on their way to the Holy Sepulcher. The Crusade indulgence they received was canonically related to the pilgrimage indulgence. This goal was frequently described in feudal terms. When calling the Fifth Crusade in 1215, Innocent III wrote:

Consider most dear sons, consider carefully that if any temporal king was thrown out of his domain and perhaps captured, would he not, when he was restored to his pristine liberty and the time had come for dispensing justice look on his vassals as unfaithful and traitors...unless they had committed not only their property but also their persons to the task of freeing him? ...And similarly will not Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords, whose servant you cannot deny being, who joined your soul to your body, who redeemed you with the Precious Blood...condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you neglect to help Him?

The reconquest of Jerusalem, therefore, was not colonialism but an act of restoration and an open declaration of one’s love of God. Medieval men knew, of course, that God had the power to restore Jerusalem Himself—indeed, He had the power to restore the whole world to His rule. Yet as St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached, His refusal to do so was a blessing to His people:

Again I say, consider the Almighty’s goodness and pay heed to His plans of mercy. He puts Himself under obligation to you, or rather feigns to do so, that He can help you to satisfy your obligations toward Himself.... I call blessed the generation that can seize an opportunity of such rich indulgence as this.

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders’ task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.

The Crusades were wars, so it would be a mistake to characterize them as nothing but piety and good intentions. Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes. These are usually well-remembered today. During the early days of the First Crusade in 1095, a ragtag band of Crusaders led by Count Emicho of Leiningen made its way down the Rhine, robbing and murdering all the Jews they could find. Without success, the local bishops attempted to stop the carnage. In the eyes of these warriors, the Jews, like the Muslims, were the enemies of Christ. Plundering and killing them, then, was no vice. Indeed, they believed it was a righteous deed, since the Jews’ money could be used to fund the Crusade to Jerusalem. But they were wrong, and the Church strongly condemned the anti-Jewish attacks.

Fifty years later, when the Second Crusade was gearing up, St. Bernard frequently preached that the Jews were not to be persecuted:

Ask anyone who knows the Sacred Scriptures what he finds foretold of the Jews in the Psalm. "Not for their destruction do I pray," it says. The Jews are for us the living words of Scripture, for they remind us always of what our Lord suffered.... Under Christian princes they endure a hard captivity, but "they only wait for the time of their deliverance."

Nevertheless, a fellow Cistercian monk named Radulf stirred up people against the Rhineland Jews, despite numerous letters from Bernard demanding that he stop. At last Bernard was forced to travel to Germany himself, where he caught up with Radulf, sent him back to his convent, and ended the massacres.

It is often said that the roots of the Holocaust can be seen in these medieval pogroms. That may be. But if so, those roots are far deeper and more widespread than the Crusades. Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Quite the contrary: Popes, bishops, and preachers made it clear that the Jews of Europe were to be left unmolested. In a modern war, we call tragic deaths like these "collateral damage." Even with smart technologies, the United States has killed far more innocents in our wars than the Crusaders ever could. But no one would seriously argue that the purpose of American wars is to kill women and children.

By any reckoning, the First Crusade was a long shot. There was no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines, no detailed strategy. It was simply thousands of warriors marching deep into enemy territory, committed to a common cause. Many of them died, either in battle or through disease or starvation. It was a rough campaign, one that seemed always on the brink of disaster. Yet it was miraculously successful. By 1098, the Crusaders had restored Nicaea and Antioch to Christian rule. In July 1099, they conquered Jerusalem and began to build a Christian state in Palestine. The joy in Europe was unbridled. It seemed that the tide of history, which had lifted the Muslims to such heights, was now turning.

* * *

But it was not. When we think about the Middle Ages, it is easy to view Europe in light of what it became rather than what it was. The colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades are interesting largely because they were an attempt to counter that trend. But in five centuries of crusading, it was only the First Crusade that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. It was downhill from there.

When the Crusader County of Edessa fell to the Turks and Kurds in 1144, there was an enormous groundswell of support for a new Crusade in Europe. It was led by two kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, and preached by St. Bernard himself. It failed miserably. Most of the Crusaders were killed along the way. Those who made it to Jerusalem only made things worse by attacking Muslim Damascus, which formerly had been a strong ally of the Christians. In the wake of such a disaster, Christians across Europe were forced to accept not only the continued growth of Muslim power but the certainty that God was punishing the West for its sins. Lay piety movements sprouted up throughout Europe, all rooted in the desire to purify Christian society so that it might be worthy of victory in the East.

Crusading in the late twelfth century, therefore, became a total war effort. Every person, no matter how weak or poor, was called to help. Warriors were asked to sacrifice their wealth and, if need be, their lives for the defense of the Christian East. On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms. Yet still the Muslims grew in strength. Saladin, the great unifier, had forged the Muslim Near East into a single entity, all the while preaching jihad against the Christians. In 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, his forces wiped out the combined armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and captured the precious relic of the True Cross. Defenseless, the Christian cities began surrendering one by one, culminating in the surrender of Jerusalem on October 2. Only a tiny handful of ports held out.

The response was the Third Crusade. It was led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the German Empire, King Philip II Augustus of France, and King Richard I Lionheart of England. By any measure it was a grand affair, although not quite as grand as the Christians had hoped. The aged Frederick drowned while crossing a river on horseback, so his army returned home before reaching the Holy Land. Philip and Richard came by boat, but their incessant bickering only added to an already divisive situation on the ground in Palestine. After recapturing Acre, the king of France went home, where he busied himself carving up Richard’s French holdings. The Crusade, therefore, fell into Richard’s lap. A skilled warrior, gifted leader, and superb tactician, Richard led the Christian forces to victory after victory, eventually reconquering the entire coast. But Jerusalem was not on the coast, and after two abortive attempts to secure supply lines to the Holy City, Richard at last gave up. Promising to return one day, he struck a truce with Saladin that ensured peace in the region and free access to Jerusalem for unarmed pilgrims. But it was a bitter pill to swallow. The desire to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule and regain the True Cross remained intense throughout Europe.

The Crusades of the 13th century were larger, better funded, and better organized. But they too failed. The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) ran aground when it was seduced into a web of Byzantine politics, which the Westerners never fully understood. They had made a detour to Constantinople to support an imperial claimant who promised great rewards and support for the Holy Land. Yet once he was on the throne of the Caesars, their benefactor found that he could not pay what he had promised. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in 1204 the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders. But there was little else he could do. The tragic events of 1204 closed an iron door between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a door that even today Pope John Paul II has been unable to reopen. It is a terrible irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further—and perhaps irrevocably—apart.

The remainder of the 13th century’s Crusades did little better. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) managed briefly to capture Damietta in Egypt, but the Muslims eventually defeated the army and reoccupied the city. St. Louis IX of France led two Crusades in his life. The first also captured Damietta, but Louis was quickly outwitted by the Egyptians and forced to abandon the city. Although Louis was in the Holy Land for several years, spending freely on defensive works, he never achieved his fondest wish: to free Jerusalem. He was a much older man in 1270 when he led another Crusade to Tunis, where he died of a disease that ravaged the camp. After St. Louis’s death, the ruthless Muslim leaders, Baybars and Kalavun, waged a brutal jihad against the Christians in Palestine. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Despite numerous attempts and many more plans, Christian forces were never again able to gain a foothold in the region until the 19th century.

* * *

One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world. One of the great best-sellers of the time, Sebastian Brant’s The Ship of Fools, gave voice to this sentiment in a chapter titled "Of the Decline of the Faith":

Our faith was strong in th’ Orient,

It ruled in all of Asia,

In Moorish lands and Africa.

But now for us these lands are gone

’Twould even grieve the hardest stone....

Four sisters of our Church you find,

They’re of the patriarchic kind:

Constantinople, Alexandria,

Jerusalem, Antiochia.

But they’ve been forfeited and sacked

And soon the head will be attacked.

Of course, that is not what happened. But it very nearly did. In 1480, Sultan Mehmed II captured Otranto as a beachhead for his invasion of Italy. Rome was evacuated. Yet the sultan died shortly thereafter, and his plan died with him. In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. If not for a run of freak rainstorms that delayed his progress and forced him to leave behind much of his artillery, it is virtually certain that the Turks would have taken the city. Germany, then, would have been at their mercy.

Yet, even while these close shaves were taking place, something else was brewing in Europe—something unprecedented in human history. The Renaissance, born from a strange mixture of Roman values, medieval piety, and a unique respect for commerce and entrepreneurialism, had led to other movements like humanism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Even while fighting for its life, Europe was preparing to expand on a global scale. The Protestant Reformation, which rejected the papacy and the doctrine of indulgence, made Crusades unthinkable for many Europeans, thus leaving the fighting to the Catholics. In 1571, a Holy League, which was itself a Crusade, defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto. Yet military victories like that remained rare. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The "Sick Man of Europe" limped along until the 20th century, when he finally expired, leaving behind the present mess of the modern Middle East.

From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the name of political ideologies. And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves. Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction.

Thomas F. Madden is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University. He is the author of numerous works, including A Concise History of the Crusades, and co-author, with Donald Queller, of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople.
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gnuneo
post May 21 2004, 10:45 PM
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yeah right.


the crusades were fought by the wealthy nobles, to bring christs peace and love to the near east, to counter evil islams spread.


sure. Now i'm totally convinced.
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Bar-Aram
post May 22 2004, 07:03 AM
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That is obviously the generally accepted scholarly opinion (rather than the popular opinion) of today.
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gnuneo
post May 22 2004, 11:29 AM
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i can just faintly smell the faint whiff of holocaust denial about the way it is written, that is all.

i have no doubt of islams desire to control the world - just as i have no doubt of christianity the same.

to choose between them is false - and to paint one white and one black stinks of bias.

however, i regard any attempt to portray the crusades as anything more than a resource grab is simply breathtakingly naive, IMHO.
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Bar-Aram
post May 22 2004, 02:20 PM
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Do you deny the fact that the Muslim world was the stronger of the two at the time, and that they were waging war on the Byzantines, burning churches in Jerusalem, preventing pilgrims from visiting Jerusalem and oppressing the Eastern Christians at the time right before the Crusades?

This post has been edited by Lermontov's Ghost: May 22 2004, 04:28 PM
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gnuneo
post May 22 2004, 08:10 PM
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and the christians were being 'nice guys' to the moslems in europe, were allowing mosques to be built, and were not committing pogroms on the jews?

two branches of the same insanity - i refuse to say one was noble.
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zkajan
post May 22 2004, 08:41 PM
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QUOTE (Lermontov's Ghost @ May 22 2004, 09:20 AM)
burning churches in Jerusalem

there was no burning churches in Jerusalem
the original Ummayat was very tolerant of the other religions under it's domain.

however, when teh first crusade took Jerusalem, all non catholics were killed (yes, that includes non catholic christians)
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Bar-Aram
post May 23 2004, 01:04 AM
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Zkajan,

Not the Ummayads (although they weren't all that tolerant either, at the very least the Christians and Jews have been reduced to second class citizen status through almost all of the last 1300 years), but during the Fatimids. In general, the Fatimids were *relatively* tolerant, but the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim (an exception) did burn the 'Holy Sepulchre' in Jerusalem in 1009. Also, in the 1070s Jerusalem passed from the Fatimids to the Seljuk Turks, and they started attacking pilgrims heading towards Jerusalem and destroying churches throughout the 'Greater Syria' area.
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Bar-Aram
post May 23 2004, 01:06 AM
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Gnuneo,

That is not even the issue. The issue is whether the Crusades were agressive or defensive wars.
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Arilou
post May 23 2004, 02:03 PM
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QUOTE (Lermontov's Ghost @ May 23 2004, 01:04 AM)
Zkajan,

Not the Ummayads (although they weren't all that tolerant either, at the very least the Christians and Jews have been reduced to second class citizen status through almost all of the last 1300 years), but during the Fatimids. In general, the Fatimids were *relatively* tolerant, but the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim (an exception) did burn the 'Holy Sepulchre' in Jerusalem in 1009. Also, in the 1070s Jerusalem passed from the Fatimids to the Seljuk Turks, and they started attacking pilgrims heading towards Jerusalem and destroying churches throughout the 'Greater Syria' area.

Ironically I think the Crusades more than anything else paved the way for moslem invasion into Europe. The Byzantines in the 1100's were weak but they could've recovered had they just survived long enough for the Mongols to arrive... But after the Fourth Crusade the byzantines were screwed. (on a sidenote one of the things the crusaders did was tear down a Mosque (there had been one in Constantinopole for a few hundred years before that)

The Seljuk turks were pushing the byzantines back, yes, but they were not particularly intolerant against christians (remember, at the time the majority of Egypt and most of the ME was still christian, egypt didn't become majority-moslem 'till the 1300's) And remember that the Byzantines were pushed from the other direction too: (not to mention that christians were pushing the moslems southwards in Spain) I think it's faulty to see it as any sort of concerted effort by "the Islamic world" to expand, in a feudal society you wage war, that's what you do, so as soon as a territory was united under a single ruler they would start pushing against their neighbours, only to fall apart later on, be reunited, another push against the neighbours etc. etc. etc. They fought against christians but they might just as well fight against each other or against pagan turkomans or jewish Khazars... (Ironically enough Alp Arslan had no real intention to fight the Byzantines when he crushed them at Manzikert, his terms afterwards were also exceptionally generous, he just wanted to secure his north-western flank so he could fight others, and had the byzantines pulled together instead of experiencing a double-revolution they might have (even after Manzikert) lost only Armenia)

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Bar-Aram
post May 23 2004, 02:45 PM
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QUOTE (Arilou @ May 23 2004, 02:03 PM)
Ironically I think the Crusades more than anything else paved the way for moslem invasion into Europe. The Byzantines in the 1100's were weak but they could've recovered had they just survived long enough for the Mongols to arrive... But after the Fourth Crusade the byzantines were screwed. (on a sidenote one of the things the crusaders did was tear down a Mosque (there had been one in Constantinopole for a few hundred years before that)

Correct, and the article above acknowledges that.


QUOTE
The Seljuk turks were pushing the byzantines back, yes, but they were not particularly intolerant against christians (remember, at the time the majority of Egypt and most of the ME was still christian, egypt didn't become majority-moslem 'till the 1300's)


They definitely were. The Ottomans later were more tolerant than most, at first. (That changed towards the 19th century). The Seljuks were not. It may not necessarily have been a very religious thing, necessarily, but pilgrims were definitely prevented from going to Jerusalem, and that was one of the big reasons behind the Crusades.


QUOTE
And remember that the Byzantines were pushed from the other direction too: (not to mention that christians were pushing the moslems southwards in Spain)


The Christians in Spain only started pushing back the Muslim invasion a short while (I think) before the Crusades to the "Holy Land". As for the Byzantines, they weren't attacked by Christian Europe until the fouth Crusade, and that wasn't sanctioned by the Pope in the least.


QUOTE
I think it's faulty to see it as any sort of concerted effort by "the Islamic world" to expand, in a  feudal society you wage war, that's what you do, so as soon as a territory was united under a single ruler they would start pushing against their neighbours, only to fall apart later on, be reunited, another push against the neighbours etc. etc. etc.


Oh, come on. Early Muslim religion was built around this expansion. So was the whole identity of the Ottomans from the very beginning. They didn't grab all that land by being peaceful. It was nothing like what went on in Feudal Europe. You have to see this from the view of the Christians in Europe at the time. Spain, North Africa, Syria, and Anatolia had all been Christian. In just a tiny few hundred years everything had been lost to Islamic rule, and they didn't look like they were going to stop there. If you're going to condemn the Crusades, then you have to do the exact same not only for the Islamic invasions into Europe, but for the invasion of the Christian Middle East itself.

People talk about the Crusades being an invasion of the Muslim world, but forget that those areas had been mainly Christian (with a Jewish minority) only a few hundred years earlier, and that everywhere but in the larger towns Christians still made up the majority of the population there even at the time of the Crusades. In the Lebanese Mountains, the Maronites waged a guerilla war against the Arab invasion for more than a hundred years after the Byzantines were driven out. At the time that the crusaders showed up, they were still pretty much independent in their mountains. They promptly greeted the crusaders and allied with them. that's why, even today, there is a very close relationship between the Lebanese Maronite Christians and France.


QUOTE
They fought against christians but they might just as well fight against each other or against pagan turkomans or jewish Khazars...


Except that they mostly waged war on non-muslims, and were a very real threat to Christian Europe.


QUOTE
(Ironically enough Alp Arslan had no real intention to fight the Byzantines when he crushed them at Manzikert, his terms afterwards were also exceptionally generous, he just wanted to secure his north-western flank so he could fight others, and had the byzantines pulled together instead of experiencing a double-revolution they might have (even after Manzikert) lost only Armenia)


But, regardless of Arslan's intentions at the time, it is still a fact that practically all of Anatolia was lost soon thereafter, and that the Seljuks were still pushing. Europe was the weaker of the two, and every reason to feel threatened. Especially since they had allready lost Spain in the west. That's all I'm saying.
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post May 23 2004, 04:05 PM
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As for the Byzantines, they weren't attacked by Christian Europe until the fouth Crusade, and that wasn't sanctioned by the Pope in the least.


Aren't you forgetting about the Huns and later the Goths?
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post May 23 2004, 05:53 PM
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QUOTE (zkajan @ May 23 2004, 04:05 PM)

Aren't you forgetting about the Huns and later the Goths?

Not to mention Bulgarians, Hungarians, Serbs etc. etc.

The Byzantines divided theri time between fighting of the turks in the east and the bulgars and other slavic peoples (Bulgars were a turkish aristocracy over a slavic people but that's just nitpicking) in the North. Generally it went sort of a see-saw: They went off to fight the turks and the bulgars rebelled, they crushed the rebellion and the turks took advantage.

QUOTE
Oh, come on. Early Muslim religion was built around this expansion. So was the whole identity of the Ottomans from the very beginning. They didn't grab all that land by being peaceful. It was nothing like what went on in Feudal Europe. You have to see this from the view of the Christians in Europe at the time. Spain, North Africa, Syria, and Anatolia had all been Christian. In just a tiny few hundred years everything had been lost to Islamic rule, and they didn't look like they were going to stop there. If you're going to condemn the Crusades, then you have to do the exact same not only for the Islamic invasions into Europe, but for the invasion of the Christian Middle East itself.

People talk about the Crusades being an invasion of the Muslim world, but forget that those areas had been mainly Christian (with a Jewish minority) only a few hundred years earlier, and that everywhere but in the larger towns Christians still made up the majority of the population there even at the time of the Crusades. In the Lebanese Mountains, the Maronites waged a guerilla war against the Arab invasion for more than a hundred years after the Byzantines were driven out. At the time that the crusaders showed up, they were still pretty much independent in their mountains. They promptly greeted the crusaders and allied with them. that's why, even today, there is a very close relationship between the Lebanese Maronite Christians and France.


The Ottomans fought as much against their fellow moslems (and suffered their greatest defeat at the hands of a fellow moslem at Ankara, 1402) as they did against the christians: In fact, if you count square-miles I'm pretty sure you'll find that most of the ottoman empire was made up of moslem land... If the Crusades were a defensive war then they were some 400 years too late I think... Note though that I'm not really condemning the Crusaders: Of course the arab invasions were nasty (although to be fair the people who lived there got it substantially better, at least after the Abbasid Revolution)

And the close relationship between the Maronites and France has more to do with Napoleon III being acknowledged as protector of the christians in the ME in the 19th century...

I still maintain that overall the islamic world was much more tolerant than the christian one in this period and *at the very least* until the Reformation (It could be argeud until the 30-years war) Yes, christians and jews were second-class citizens, but ponder that in Europe they were not citizens at all... (and unlike in Spain there was no forced expulsion of christians from the ottoman empire, no ethnic cleansing either... Until the 19th century)



This post has been edited by Arilou: May 23 2004, 06:00 PM
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post May 23 2004, 08:44 PM
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QUOTE (zkajan @ May 23 2004, 04:05 PM)

Aren't you forgetting about the Huns and later the Goths?

I said "Christian Europe". The Huns weren't even European.
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post May 23 2004, 10:09 PM
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QUOTE (Arilou @ May 23 2004, 05:53 PM)
The Ottomans fought as much against their fellow moslems (and suffered their greatest defeat at the hands of a fellow moslem at Ankara, 1402) as they did against the christians:

The Ottomans fought to unify the Muslim world under their rule, and did so. Timur Lenk would fight whomever, whereever for whatever reason. He just like to fight. He would give reasons to justify his wars (Armenians because they were Christians, India because the Muslim kingdoms there tolerated Polytheists), but in the end he just like fighting. I don't see what this has to do with the Crusades though.


QUOTE
In fact, if you count square-miles I'm pretty sure you'll find that most of the ottoman empire was made up of moslem land...


Yes, they managed to put much of the Muslim world under their rule, then they attacked Europe, but I wasn't talking about the Ottomans.


QUOTE
If the Crusades were a defensive war then they were some 400 years too late I think...


There were several events that helped trigger the Crusades:

The destruction of the 'Holy Sepulchre' in Jerusalem in 1009 by al-Hakim (who also destroyed many other Churches and persecuted Christians and Jews).

The Byzantines' loss of Anatolia and their call for help from the west.

The treatment of pilgrims starting in the 1070s.


QUOTE
Note though that I'm not really condemning the Crusaders: Of course the arab invasions were nasty (although to be fair the people who lived there got it substantially better, at least after the Abbasid Revolution)


Not necessarily the Christians. Perhaps the Jews (relatively speaking). Definitely those who converted got it better.

I think people don't realize how many things that it was decided non-Muslims (the Monotheist ones that is, the others were completely out of luck) had to do and were not allowed to do. It was what we would call an "Apartheid" system. By the standards of those times, it wasn't that bad. But people should be clear as to what it means when they say the Muslim world back then was tolerant.

This is basically what the "Pact of Umar" (which governed roughly how most Muslim powers treated Christians) was all about.


The non-Muslims agreed to the following:

They would be subject to the political authority of Islam.

They would not speak of the Prophet Muhammad, his Book, or his
faith.

They would refrain from committing fornication with Muslim women.
This was extended to include marriage between non-Muslim men and
Muslim women. Marriage between Muslim men and dhimmi women
was allowed, following the Prophet’s example, as long as the children
were brought up as Muslims.
But non-Muslim wives of Muslim men
were free to worship according to their own faith.

Non-Muslims were forbidden to sell or give a Muslim anything that
was in violation of Islamic law, i. e. carrion, pork, or alcohol.

The display of crosses or the ringing of bells in public was not
permitted, nor any public proclamation of ‘‘polytheistic’’ belief to a
Muslim.


No new churches or synagogues could be built.

Non-Muslims must wear the girdle over their cloaks and were to
differentiate themselves from Muslims by their headgear, mounts, and
saddles. This was expanded later to prohibit non-Muslims from riding
either horses or camels, limiting them to mules and donkeys.


Non-Muslims should not teach their children the Qur’an, nor use
Arabic in their personal seals.

No non-Muslim could hold a Muslim as a slave.

No public religious processions, such as those traditionally held at
Easter, were to be allowed.




QUOTE
And the close relationship between the Maronites and France has more to do with Napoleon III being acknowledged as protector of the christians in the ME in the 19th century...


Which had to do with ties made several centuries before that, which, in turn, had to do with their alliance during the Crusades.


QUOTE
I still maintain that overall the islamic world was much more tolerant than the christian one in this period


Which neither I, nor the article is disputing. (Although I do think some people tend to exaggerate atrocities commited by the Christians back then and overlook some of the ones committed by the other side.)


QUOTE
Yes, christians and jews were second-class citizens,  but ponder that in Europe they were not citizens at all...


They were subjects, rather than citizens, in both places. I didn't mean that phrase literally. The concept of "citizenship" didn't exist in the Islamic world either. It certainly wouldn't have included non-Muslims if it existed.


QUOTE
(and unlike in Spain there was no forced expulsion of christians from the ottoman empire, no ethnic cleansing either... Until the 19th century)


We're not talking about the Ottomans. The Mameluks, however, did what you mentioned. The Ottoman conquest of the Mameluks in 1516, actually helped the Christians a lot.


From "Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Arab World: The Roots of Sectarianism" by Bruce Alan Masters

"Whereas the Christians had once been the majority in the Fertile
Crescent, they were a numerical minority almost everywhere by the
Mamluk period (1250 –1516), if not before. Jews survived in these regions
as much more coherent communities than did the Christians and, generally,
with less open hostility from their Muslim neighbors. But there can be no
question that official Muslim tolerance for Jews had ebbed as well. In
regions where there were no Christians, and especially in territories where
the Shia tradition predominated such as Yemen and Iran, the Jewish
communities might be subjected to oppressive measures similar to those
Christians sometimes suffered elsewhere."

and

"The Jews and Christians in the region were undoubtedly ambivalent, if
not completely indifferent, to the change in the dynastic succession of the
sultans who exercised sovereignty over their lives, but they were to receive a
respite under the new regime. The Ottoman bureaucrats were, unlike the
Mamluk beys, usually indifferent as to the existence of non-Muslims under
their control."
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post May 24 2004, 06:46 AM
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This is the "scholarly" conclusion of the Crusades?

"The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam’s rivals, into extinction."

Had I read that before, I wouldn't have bothered with the rest of the article
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post May 24 2004, 07:26 AM
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Can I take it then that you think the Christian world has not been, historically, more tolerant towards women and less inclined towards slavery than the Islamic world?
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post May 24 2004, 07:40 AM
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I have a feeling that if one goes to the Holy Lands and massacres its inhabitants, Muslims, Coptic Christian, and Jews, he most certainly does not do it out of love.

But I may be wrong, because I'm not "scholarly" enough.


And just to clear things up, the Ottoman Turks prevented Christian pilgrims from going trough to the Holy Lands but the Muslim Syria never did so. The only reason the Ottoman Turks did that was b/c they were at war with Christian Byzantine. Syria was never a threat to Christianity or Christian nations. Attacking Syria (including the Holy Lands) made the Crusades an aggressive assult, not a defensive one.
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post May 24 2004, 07:50 AM
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QUOTE (Lermontov's Ghost @ May 24 2004, 05:26 PM)
Can I take it then that you think the Christian world has not been, historically, more tolerant towards women and less inclined towards slavery than the Islamic world?

historically Muslims were more tolerant towards women up until the Renessiance period. Under Islamic laws women were allowed to own land, divorce and remarry and keep their property. The Islamic laws have been stagnant since where as the rest of the world has had progress

Everyone took part in slavery. When the Arab and Ottoman Empires were at their peak, they had traded in slaves... when the European empires reached their peaks, they traded in huge amounts of slaves which dwarfed the Arab slave trade and Ottoman slave soldiers.
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post May 24 2004, 07:53 AM
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There was no such thing as Ottomans at the time of the Crusades, and the Ottomans (in their time) did not prevent pilgrims from going to Jerusalem. The Seljuk Turks however did control and fight in Syria and the "Holy Land". They had conquered Jerusalem in 1077.


Edit: I should add that the Seljuks had been declared by the Caliph in Baghdad as the offical army and protectors of the Muslim world. So, what they did was done in the name of the Islamic world in general.

This post has been edited by Lermontov's Ghost: May 24 2004, 08:07 AM
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post May 24 2004, 07:59 AM
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QUOTE (SmartAss @ May 24 2004, 07:50 AM)
historically Muslims were more tolerant towards women up until the Renessiance period. Under Islamic laws women were allowed to own land, divorce and remarry and keep their property. The Islamic laws have been stagnant since where as the rest of the world has had progress

Everyone took part in slavery. When the Arab and Ottoman Empires were at their peak, they had traded in slaves... when the European empires reached their peaks, they traded in huge amounts of slaves which dwarfed the Arab slave trade and Ottoman slave soldiers.

I will give a longer answer to this later for both counts, but just to point out that the slaves Europeans bought from Africa were mostly bought from Muslims.

Also, don't misunderstand what I say to mean that I have too great a love for any religion (including Christianity), but the church was one of the major powers in Europe and American pushing for a ban on slavery in the 18th-19th centuries.
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post May 24 2004, 09:32 AM
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QUOTE (Lermontov's Ghost @ May 24 2004, 07:26 AM)
Can I take it then that you think the Christian world has not been, historically, more tolerant towards women and less inclined towards slavery than the Islamic world?

Slavery is an interesting case... Since most slaves in the islamic world were emplyed either as house-slaves, government officials or soldiers. (only relatively small numbers of the total were employed in mines and on the fields) Compare this with the spanish systems of slaveyr and almost-slavery in the Americas, the british/american slavery in the US, the french in the Carribean... Not to mention the various types of "almost-slavery" like Russian and polish-lithuanian serfdom...

Both the Ottomans and the Mamlukes were societies built on slavery, but it was slavery in the army and the administration... I don't think the christian world has any right to feel superior when slavery is concerned: It is a blight on humanity as a whole and we are all equally responsible.

Not to mention that slaves (supposedly) had certain rights, especially if they converted (eg. their children could not be sold etc. etc.) The Prophet himself (pbuh) saod that one should give one's slaves a piece of your bread and let him wear your cloak for the Most Merciful has given him into your care and it would be blasphemous to mistreat him...
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post May 24 2004, 02:43 PM
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Ok, let's not get carried away on this issue here, but look at what the guy was actually saying.

"The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished."

1. He is talking about the Christian faith in of itself. He is not talking about all generally Christian societies.

I'll point out here that even though slavery existed all over pagan Europe (and was an old, common practice) it gradually disappeared as Christianity spread out. It only started up again (and only in the colonies) after the discovery of the New World. Also, missionaries in Africa opposed the Slave trade, and the Church in general was mostly against slavery. Also, slavery of anyone (Christian or non-Christian) is not allowed in the New Testament or in Christian religious doctrine in general.

When it comes to women, I admit that the Christian religion is heavily patriarchal; but, at the same time, it doesn't really have a religious legal code that cements the differences between men and women. If women in European medieval society didn't have many rights, it's because women almost everywhere in the world at that time had few rights. In Christianity, however, there wasn't as much of a religious barrier to change once those ideas started going around. And where did they begin? In Europe.


2. In that context, it implies "in relation to the Islam." So, that's the way I look at it.

Slavery existed in Islamic society (and Muslims were instrumental in the slave trade almost everywhere) from the very beginning. In places like Sudan, it still hasn't completely disappeared. The Islamic religion does not prohibit slavery of non-Muslims, in fact the Qur'an states perfectly clear that it is allowed. This is the reason why the Muslims purposefully didn't try to convert large portions of Africa. They wanted to keep taking slaves from the black population there. Also, generally Islamic religious figures did not oppose slavery, or the slave trade, of non-Muslims.

As for women, Sharia law (as evidenced in countries today that still follow it) is clearly oppressive and discriminates between men and women. This is Islamic religious legal code, so when people try to bring up womens' rights, they can be branded as anti-Islamic by the traditionalists.




Now, let's look at some of the missconceptions here.


QUOTE
historically Muslims were more tolerant towards women up until the Renessiance period.


That's somewhat true, but only if you mean "relatively speaking". The legal view on womens' rights in Islamic society everywhere (up until the last century) was based on Sharia law, which is based on the Qur'an and the Hadith. Those did not change. It's only lately that many, but far from all, countries have changed somewhat, but even many of those relatively "secular" countries still have remnants of the Islamic legal code in their systems. Syria and Egypt would be good examples of those kinds of countries.


QUOTE
Under Islamic laws women were allowed to own land, divorce and remarry and keep their property. The Islamic laws have been stagnant since where as the rest of the world has had progress


Let's actually look at Islamic laws. From 'The Sacred Law of Islam' by Hamid R. Kusha: (This book deals mainly with the legal situation for women in Iran today, but it deals a lot with the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sharia law, and those are the laws that have always been valid in the Islamic world. It is pretty liberal, but very Muslim-friendly at the same time.)

"At home, daughters are under the benevolent control of the father, whereas married women are under the benevolent control of the husband as reflected in the Sharia law. This control covers the following: education, marriage, the use of financial resources, place of residence, child custody, travel, and the mode of appearance in the public."

"Two women's testimonies are equal to one man's testimony in terms of their worth."

"A husband can marry four wives, and can divorce them any time he wishes."

"Among both Sunni and Shii classical commentators, the viability of Polygamy is selfevident. Taking Polygamy as a man's god-given right... "


Also, as much as most Muslims like to think that Islamic law provided an improvement for women at the time that it came to be, many scholars believe that society in the Hijaz area (Medina, Mecca) pre-Islam was actually quite matriarchal in comparison. Women were allowed to own property and conduct their own financial affairs as they saw fit (for example, there were many female traders), and women had a much greater level of sexual freedom.

From the same book:

"I would like to reiterate the fact that Jahiliyah practices of sexual relations, whether or not one chooses to call them marriage, could indeed have initially been institutionalized within the Hijazi tribal settings and social relations for a variety of reasons other than prostitution. Some scholars have implied that these types of sexual relations were remnants of pre-Islamic matriarchy that granted women sexual freedoms. Islam, by contrast, is "patriarchal" with the Qur'an as its ideological chart restricting women's rights for the benefit of patriarchal relations."



QUOTE
Since most slaves in the islamic world were emplyed either as house-slaves, government officials or soldiers.


That is true (mostly) for the big imperial Muslims governments. It's a little different when we get to the issue of nomadic Islamic tribes. Also, if the Muslims had cotton fields, I'm sure they would have used the slaves in the cotton fields. :)

QUOTE
Not to mention the various types of "almost-slavery" like Russian and polish-lithuanian serfdom...


Serfdom (which existed in Sweden as well, for a while, and in many other parts of Europe) is a function of Feudalism. You can argue that it is more or less a form of slavery, but that gets to be outside the scope of this issue here.

QUOTE
Both the Ottomans and the Mamlukes were societies built on slavery


As were many other Islamic empires, kingdoms, and individual tribes. Almost all Islamic states have heavily utilized slaves up to this last century. It has gone on for the entire 1400-something years of Islamic history. In the Sudan, it goes on even today.



From 'Islam's Black Slaves: A History of Africa's Other Black Diaspora' (a very good book from the little that I've read through it) by Ronald Segal:

"More often, across the frontier from Muslim states, people's of various faiths, including Islam, were subjected to war or raids, and captives were enslaved, regardless of whether they were Muslims. Even in Muslim states, the free were not safe from being kidnapped for subsequent sale as slaves."

"The high price of slave eunuchs - up to seven times that of uncastrated male slaves in the nineteenth century - reflected both their relative scarcity, as a result of the high death rate which the operation involved, and an all-but-insatiable demand for them. While the reason for employing them as guardians of the harem is obvious, the reason for their widespread use also as administrators, tutors, secretaries, and commercial agents is less so."

"The Koran stipulated that female slaves might lawfully be enjoyed by their masters, but such lawful enjoyment passed to their husbands when the female slaves were married... "

"Yet, Hodgson adds, the 'Muslim stereotype of sexual relations answered the idea of the sex act as an act of domination. The adult male, as the lover, enjoyed a youth (probably anally) who was, in principle, passive; and while the relation was only improper, at most licentious, for the lover, it was very dishonourable for the youth who was enjoyed, who thus allowed himself to be cast in a woman's role.' And for those male slaves who were used against their will, in a culture so preoccupied with masculine honor, a special sense of shame might well have been involved."

"Meanwhile, the slave trade had long been been taking multitudes of victims from across a vast area. Whatever repeated denials were issued from Cairo, the Egyptian government was so involved in the trade that it had established large barracoons (enclosures) for the collection of slaves, where the condition caused many to die from smallpox and other diseases. Survivors faced additional trials. It was estimated that for every ten slaves who reached Cairo, fifty had died along the way."

"The impact on the catchment areas could be calamitous. Samuel Baker, the Brittish explorer, first journeyed through the region of Gondokoro in 1863, at which time he found it populous and prosperous, with large herds of cattle. Returning in 1872, he discovered that the people had all but disappeared. Egypt's developing economy had widened the classes and increased the numbers of Egyptians with the appetite and means to acquire slaves."


On the subject of slavery today:

http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/sudanupdate.htm
http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/sudan1.htm
http://www.lnsart.com/Sudan%20Slave%20Story.htm

And Islamic (African-American Islamic, no less) hypocricy on the issue:

http://www.finalcall.com/perspectives/suda...c05-27-2001.htm
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post May 24 2004, 03:49 PM
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QUOTE
Serfdom (which existed in Sweden as well, for a while, and in many other parts of Europe) is a function of Feudalism. You can argue that it is more or less a form of slavery, but that gets to be outside the scope of this issue here.


I believe that Serfdom never actually existed in Sweden (it did in the swedish holdings in Pommerania and the Balkans and Skåne while it was under danish law for a few years, but not Sweden-Finland as such)

My point isn't that Moslems were saints (to any greater degree than anyone else) but that they weren't devils either: I do think Islam has several problems (mostly I think it is due to the rather inflexible rules in the Koran, the rules when set down where progressive, even radical, but 1200 years later they seem less so, even with various liberalization movements like the one during the Abbasid Revolution) Note also that Slavery as an institution preceeds both christianity and Islam...
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post May 24 2004, 04:41 PM
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Arilou,

You're missing the point. I'm not making out anyone to be devils or saints. I don't think that article is either.

The point of the article, as I understand it, is to debunk the notion that the Crusades were conducted by a stronger, imperialist Europe on a weaker peaceful Islamic world to plunder it. It points out the fact that the Islamic world was the stronger of the two, had waged war succesfully against European powers, was occupying parts of Europe, and was waging war (succesfully) against a European power at the time. That kingdom asked for help for the rest of Europe. If there was plunder, it is because plunder, at that time was a normal part of warfare almost everywhere. That was how wars were financed.


When it comes to the slavery and women's rights issue, the problem is with the fact that Smartass finds that quote laughable and thinks it dicredits the writer of the article.

Now, I don't think it should have been there (becuase of the implication that the Christian world was flawless in those areas), but technically it really is not untrue. That's my point.


As for serfdom, it did exist for a while. "Livegen" in Swedish. I think you're thinking of the word "träl" (which is just another word for slave, and that practice disappeared with Christianity's arrival), but I don't think that's what they had in Russia. I could very well be wrong though. I'm not too sure on that area.

This post has been edited by Lermontov's Ghost: May 24 2004, 04:43 PM
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post May 24 2004, 10:20 PM
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QUOTE (Arilou @ May 24 2004, 10:49 AM)
I believe that Serfdom never actually existed in Sweden (it did in the swedish holdings in Pommerania and the Balkans and Skåne while it was under danish law for a few years, but not Sweden-Finland as such)

sweden had holdings in the Balkans?!
damn man, who DIDN'T conquor us at some point, dammmmmnn
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Bar-Aram
post May 25 2004, 03:54 AM
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I think he meant to say the "Baltic states" (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). :) "Baltikum" in Swedish. You know... "Baltikum" "Balkan" It sounds so similar.
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marleyfrost
post May 25 2004, 05:44 AM
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The Crusades were, defensive, holy and expeditionary wars, to claim only one as the character of Crusades is not doing real justice to history.
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Arilou
post May 25 2004, 07:59 AM
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QUOTE (zkajan @ May 24 2004, 10:20 PM)
QUOTE (Arilou @ May 24 2004, 10:49 AM)
I believe that Serfdom never actually existed in Sweden (it did in the swedish holdings in Pommerania and the Balkans and Skåne while it was under danish law for a few years, but not Sweden-Finland as such)

sweden had holdings in the Balkans?!
damn man, who DIDN'T conquor us at some point, dammmmmnn

Damn, that's supposed to be the baltics of course :D Typo.
Although it *was* a swede in venetian service that conquered Athens (and thus is indirectly responsible for the way the Parthenon looks today)

RE: Slavery and women's issue (from a secular standpoint, IE: dismissing that either of these religions were actually following the Word of God) I can see it like this: The christians more or less left the question open, opening themselves toa wide array of different interpretations (In South Africa the Bible was used to justify slavery and later apartheid) Islam however tried to make the situation better (both for women and for slaves) But in doing so it miscalculated the effect of shifting values over time.

QUOTE
As for serfdom, it did exist for a while. "Livegen" in Swedish. I think you're thinking of the word "träl" (which is just another word for slave, and that practice disappeared with Christianity's arrival), but I don't think that's what they had in Russia. I could very well be wrong though. I'm not too sure on that area.


As said, serfdom never existed legally in Sweden (Magnus Ladislaus abolished slavery in the 1200's and no swedish king was strong enough to institute serfdom, we were closest during the 1600's, but with the exception of "not really swedish" holdings like Esthonia, Livonia, Pommerania and Skåne the only time serfdom was instituted was during the Great Nordic War (when, as a temporary measure peasants were forbidden to move from the landowner's land, but this was only temporary and only applied for certain holdings, mostly in Skåne)


This post has been edited by Arilou: May 25 2004, 08:04 AM
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Bar-Aram
post May 25 2004, 02:44 PM
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I could have sworn Swedish peasants were "livegna" during the early 15th century, but it seems I am wrong. It did exist almost everywhere else in Europe though.
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