When Christendom had Muscle

A Review of Defenders of the West by Raymond Ibrahim

Western Christians have forgotten the meaning of the word persecution. They have also forgotten that once upon a time Christians, when they had the power, prestige and wealth to put a stop to persecution, resisted persecution with violent, military force. Raymond Ibrahim is on a quest to remind us of both of these forgotten truths. 

In his book Defenders of the West, Ibrahim continues the work he started in his previous book, Sword and Scimitar. In Sword and Scimitar, Ibrahim chose to focus on events, specifically on battles that shaped the Crusades and the conflict that he believes must be continuous between Muslims and Christians. In Defenders of the West, he has chosen to go a different route by focusing on the men themselves. Each chapter is a succinct biography of one of the heroes of the Crusades.

After a very good forward by Victor Davis Hanson (whom Ibrahim studied under), Ibrahim gets into his introduction to set the stage for his work. His introduction takes a militant stance right away and sets out to right the wrong of intentionally misrepresenting the Crusades, Crusaders and their Islamic counterparts. Ibrahim has already established himself as a historical and contemporary expert on Islam. In Defenders, he lays out the true historical account of the misdeeds of the Muslims of the era in order to clarify the stakes and motivations of the Crusaders. He also has a secondary goal of clarifying actual Islamic beliefs about how non-Muslims are to be treated according to their writings. The misunderstandings of the modern media regarding Islamic doctrine are so ubiquitous that even some self-professing Muslims believe they are a “religion of peace,” clearly in opposition to their history and teachings.

Ibrahim has a strong desire to get a complete picture of each man he is highlighting in his book and so he considers sources both friendly to and opposed to each subject. This pays dividends later on when seemingly outlandish historical claims are made about the appearance, piety or fighting prowess of one of the Crusaders, only to then have those hyperbolic claims be confirmed begrudgingly by their enemies in private communiques or official records. 

The Great Men

Ibrahim’s work is like a medieval, Christian version of Plutarch’s Lives. A book in which Plutarch set out to strengthen the Roman ethos by linking the heroes of Rome to a heroic Greek counterpart. Americans understand this in a way because of the hackneyed trope in politics of appealing to the founders. Sometimes this is warranted and accurate and sometimes it is absolutely false. A reversal of this is to accuse enemies of being “nazis” or “literally hitlooor.” These things are nearly universal in the way they are regarded. Most Americans give at least lip service to agreeing with the Founders or regarding Hitler as a villain. To connect a cause with them is to have instant ethos. This is the way many of the Romans viewed their Greek predecessors. Plutarch set out to write the definitive biographies of these men and show why Romans were equal to and surpassed their exploits.

Ibrahim doesn’t seek to pair each Crusader to another or to a predecessor in such a direct way. But many comparisons are easy to make within the book among the men he has chosen to write about and in some cases their Islamic adversaries. They are able to be grouped by region and temporal proximity for the useful purpose of comparing and contrasting and offering a wide range of personalities and physical types. If Ibrahim set out to present the men in the book as figures worthy of imitation, he has succeeded brilliantly. If he did not set out with that goal in mind, then these larger-than-life figures have overshadowed whatever other goals he had. Unlike the Romans who appealed to the greatness of their civilizational forebears the Hellenists, when the Crusaders walked the Earth, they considered all the great men of their day to have already bowed the knee to the Cross of Christ. They were of one Kingdom. They sought to imitate biblical warrior kings, pious ancestors, and Christ Himself. 

After telling my 5-year-old son a few anecdotes about Richard the Lionheart, he laid siege to our sofa and started ordering his stuffed animals to convert to Christianity. (Ongoing discussions of Soteriology are clearly necessary.) It is very difficult for a man to read this book and not find himself inspired by the men within. He wants to have a Crusader birthday party. He found a snapping turtle shell near the creek and was hoping I could make him a shield out of it with a lion on it.

Ibrahim knows that the study of the lives of great men is recalling a former way of studying history that has been neglected. Classically trained and educated people are generally more aware of the historiography of the individual because of exposure to older historical works (like Plutarch) which are focused on people’s lives, not merely a series of events. A dry history of mere events can be interesting enough if you find the period compelling, but there is a reason why our best stories have characters in them. To enter history, you must do so through the life of a character who lived it. In that way, even boring periods of history have proved quite captivating to readers.

Surveying the Field

Each chapter, except the introduction and the conclusion, covers a specific Crusader. Ibrahim chooses to highlight Crusaders from each of the major fronts of war with Islam in the Middle Ages and they are presented in chronological order, some overlap each other. The Holy Land in the war with the Saracens and Egyptians, Spain and the war with the Moroccan Moors, and the Balkans in the war with the Ottoman Empire. The crusaders featured are Godfrey of Boullion (French/Frankish), Rodrigo “El Cid” de Vivar (Spanish), Richard the Lionheart (English), Ferdinand III (Spanish), Louis IX (French), John Hunyadi (Hungarian), George “Skanderbeg” Castrioti (Albanian), and Vlad Dracula (Yes, that one. Romanian).

The chapters have a formula that does not get old even though it is routine. First, the situation is explained. In virtually all cases, Muslims have achieved the upper hand politically and are using their power to extort Christians, enslave them, steal their children and murder them. This is a dark part of each chapter. The atrocities committed by the Muslims against their Christian subjects are nearly too heinous to mention. Mass murder, enslavement, brainwashing, forced conversion and forced circumcision, mass pedophilic rape, routine covenant breaking, destruction of churches and holy sites, and forcing captives to fight against their own people. This is an important chronology to understand. The Christian Crusaders always set out to recapture Christian lands and put a stop to the abuse and persecution of other Christians, or to actively defend lands under threat of Muslim invasion. The Crusaders did not invade Muslim lands unprovoked.

As an aside here, this realization is probably a revolution to some people on its own. All of us, even friends of mine who were homeschooled by based parents and myself (private Christian school educated), believe that, at best, the Crusades were a conventional land war meant to expand the control of Islam or the Roman Church. They believe that the Pope dispatched troops to the Holy Lands to expand his personal influence and if the Christians didn’t go then they got excommunicated or deposed. While there is no doubt some questionable doctrines being bandied about at this time in history, such as indulgences for Crusaders, that is not the reality. The Pope requested Christian kings to help in response to outrages beyond count. In some situations the kings ignored him. The Pope’s requests served as a way to explain the opinion of the Roman Church about the rectitude of a military intervention. This gave the kings a clear warrant from scripture to go on the offensive to save their brethren under bondage. 

After setting the stage of the conflict by explaining the Muslim position, the progress of the Crusaders is narrated with all the ups and downs attendant to their respective campaigns. An explanation of the new status quo they achieved as a result of their action and finally a recounting of their deaths and the immediate aftermath. It is also important to note that, in many cases, significant time is devoted to elaborating on the personal piety of each man. Some more than others because, it would seem, some were more pious than others. Some seemed to have fewer relevant sources expounding on their piety. It seems certain that many Crusaders would have had beliefs outside what many American Reformer readers would consider orthodox. They would have considered themselves subject to the Pope and the church of Rome and thus a version of what we now call “Catholic.” Though the Roman church has seen its dogma develop in the intervening time. It is noteworthy that either Ibrahim has omitted references to Mary or the veneration of other saints which modern Catholics emphasize so strongly, or the Crusaders did not mention them as much as modern Roman Catholics might be expected to (The Spaniards being the most noticeable exception with their veneration of James). In contrast, they seem to heavily emphasize Jesus Christ, alone, and consider themselves His subjects and warriors for His glory mentioning Him often and appealing to Him as a victorious king.

Not every story has a happy ending and the book is a true emotional roller coaster. From the fiery rage of reading about the abuses against our medieval brothers, to the joyous highs of rescues and victorious charges against all odds, to the dismal depression of a Crusader king failing in his quest to liberate his captured subjects and friends. Ibrahim’s skill as a writer is significant. It is not a common history tome that can elicit true emotion from me. More than once in this read I teared up, but I never cried because crying is for the weak and the Crusaders would make fun of me if they knew…unless it’s from seeing Jerusalem for the first time after walking from France through blood and ash-covered battlefields.

Lessons Learned  

While many lessons could be learned from reading Ibrahim’s work, I will highlight a few that jumped off the pages.

Islam and Christianity will be in conflict until Islam goes extinct or the second coming of Christ, whichever comes first. Christians know who the winner will ultimately be, but Islam is the most opposed of all religions to Christianity and its tenets will repeatedly place it in conflict with other religions forever due to its emphasis on spreading primarily by conquest and jihad along its geographical margins. Muslim teachings encourage them to lie to infidels for the purposes of overcoming them later. This includes false conversions, false treaties, false fealty and false loyalty to the nation. The Crusaders that actually made a significant impact on the war understood the way the enemy thought. Make peace with the left hand with a dagger in the right hand. Be wise as serpents.

Christians need to reexamine and rediscover “just war theory” and a correct understanding of the distinction between “turning the other cheek” and allowing little boys and girls to be kidnapped and turned into sex slaves. Thinking categorically is a challenge for many and it is important to understand the difference between personal vengeance and the administration of justice by lawful authority. Using the concept of “turning the other cheek” applied to the state would result in no one ever getting justice for their deeds or victimization. In the case of the Crusades, Ibrahim makes a strong argument that the conflict would be a compelling one on merely humanitarian reasons, religion aside. The number of European Christians killed was staggering. The number taken as slaves is beyond count, dwarfing the African slave trade of the 17th through the 20th centuries. A defensive response from the ruling authorities justly set out to put a stop to the atrocities. Ibrahim explains all this in his introduction and the first chapter. 

You need to be Crusader-maxxing. All but one or possibly two of these Crusaders were monstrously strong physically. The two “weak” ones were so strong in their character that in spite of some infirmity or average physical abilities, they still managed to wage an effective military campaign and survive much hardship. Still, the strong ones were more effective on the battlefield and as leaders in a combat setting which was their world for a time. While physical warfare with Muslims is not likely to befall the readers of this publication, it is still a very valuable trait and should be pursued. The strong are inspiring and charismatic. It turns out that Ibrahim is likely of the same opinion. The church bestowed upon some of these knights the honorific athleta Christi, or “Champion of Christ.” This title was reserved for military martyrs or conquerers. They sought to live up to the name physically as well as spiritually; some of them were training from childhood for battle.

The most successful Crusades were the ones with lots of participants. Not purely in numbers of soldiers does the victory lie, but in those committed to see it through to the bitter end. Godfrey and the First Crusaders were able to take Jerusalem, against the odds, partially because so many nobles from France and Germany committed to carrying the war out to the end. Subsequent Crusades usually faltered when it got down to one charismatic leader being made to stand alone. A lot was still accomplished, but generally, those Crusades were considered unsuccessful and rarely achieved most of their goals. In some cases, betrayal sunk a Crusade or a lack of regional cohesion among Christian leadership severely hampered the defensive response to attacks by Muslims. The lesson is to forge friendships with men who will literally follow you into seemingly unwinnable wars. Because many a hopeless charge resulted in a smashing victory due to the faithfulness of brothers-in-arms.

We need an elite of our own. Crusades led by grassroots movements led to ruin in almost all cases. The only success that any Crusaders enjoyed was because the nobility mustered funding, furnished high-quality equipment and used all their resources to fight for their beliefs. Some of the Crusaders, Skanderbeg specifically, made do with a makeshift army of enthusiastic and angry peasants, who were tired of giving up their children to become Janissaries and sex slaves to the Ottomans. But those peasants still needed Skanderbeg to train them and lead them in battle. Pray for leaders to rise with the means to defend Christendom. Strive toward that goal yourself if you are a person within reach of it. If you are not, find those who are and work together. We need each other.

Mass deportation is necessary to defend the identity of a nation. In a modern context this does not necessarily mean deportation of Muslims. Any people group with a worldview in conflict with the host nation cannot stay and expect there to be long-term peace. Spain tried to be extremely accommodating to the Muslims that they conquered, even allowing some precincts to operate an alternative Sharia law government while ostensibly loyal to the Spanish crown. But, inevitably the Muslims of Spain would betray the Christians and revolt against their Christian rulers. Ferdinand finally changed the policy to one of deportation. Muslims were allowed to take all the property they could move and sent to North Africa. This must have caused a very dark time in Spain when all the authentic Morrocan restaurants closed down. 

Reclaim the Truth

We must love our ancestors. If Defenders of the West is our new, Christian Plutarch’s Lives, then let us recognize the truth of our ancestors’ greatness, and piety and let us validate their sacrifices and imitate them. The Crusades were good and right. The myths have been rewritten with our people as the villains because the powers of the air fear a Christendom with muscle. At some point, we must all decide if we will believe the stories about our ancestors from people who hate us and our King, Jesus, or if we will believe what our ancestors said about themselves.

While many of the Crusaders took a personal interest in the accouterment and skills of warfare, I believe they would echo JRR Tolkein via his character Faramir in The Two Towers in saying:  “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” What they defended was Christendom. They defended the peace and civilization of those people on the Earth who worship the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ. The Crusaders fought to establish peace and tranquility. They fought for the common good.

Defensores Defendimus

Ibrahim closes his book with a lament for the Crusaders’ legacy. They are all hopelessly degenerate in the eyes of the modern left which hates white, male and above all else Christian people. While Islam is actually and demonstrably guilty of all the sins that are accounted to Christians (misogyny, intolerance, bigotry, racism, persecution, etc.), the Left rises up to defend Islam and pave the way for its spread by restricting the rights of Christians and working to open borders to unlimited Muslim immigration into Christian nations. They will not make movies of these stories unless it be like Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, that is, filled with criticism of the Christian forces and a rose-colored glasses view of Saladin and Islam, dwelling on Christian misbehavior and ignoring completely Muslim atrocities.

Ibrahim recognizes that the truth is that all of Western Civilization is under attack. With the Crusaders this takes various forms. First, the Crusades themselves were racist religious intolerance and colonialism. Second, the Crusaders were mercenary and power-hungry thugs and chivalry was a mere cloak of nobility to cover their dastardly immoral actions in the wars. Third, and predictably, some of the Crusaders were gay. The claim that Richard I was gay seems to rest mostly on the fact that he had no children with his wife, though he did have an illegitimate son. This is unconvincing of course, but also begs the question, since the left is reluctant to attribute any malicious traits to one of their favorite privileged classes, homosexuals, is Richard a villain because he was a straight colonizing Crusader or was he a hero because he was a secretly gay colonizing Crusader?

The effort to undermine Western Civilization revolves around the destruction of the Great Men of the West. (The Left understands the importance of Great Men.) The Crusaders are among the greatest and so must be destroyed. Some are lambasted as villains, some are treated with malignant neglect and some are outright lampooned as vampires. If you are Christian, these men are your ancestors. They deserve to be defended. One way to do that is to read their stories and study them well. Tell your sons and daughters their stories. Love them. Imitate the men in their dedication to Christendom and their personal holiness. Leave behind their faults and embrace their strengths. And, for the love of Christendom, buy this book and find like-minded men to discuss it with.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Terry Gant

Terry Gant is a Great Books teacher and amateur strength coach at Highland Rim Academy, program administrator for Daniel 1 Academy, co-host of the podcast Script v. Manuscript and the Managing Editor at American Reformer. He lives with his wife and children in the Highland Rim of Tennessee. He is on Twitter/X @scriptmanuscr1

12 thoughts on “When Christendom had Muscle

  1. Every single chapter of Defenders of the West was a blast. Fantastic book! Here in Brazil nobody that I know talked or heard about it. Thank you for the reveiw Mr. Gant

  2. There seems to be more authoritarian inspired revisionism than history in the above article. Authoritarianism loves power and thinks in black-white terms. We see that in how the Crusaders and Muslims are portrayed. The Crusaders represented the immaculate forces of good and Muslims are portrayed as a devil that must be exorcised from the West for the sake of its survival. And note that we are talking about survival of the West rather than Christianity. And my guess is that that is because there is a conflation between the two.

    One only needs to look at the timeline of the Crusades from the Jewish Virtual Library to learn that the Crusaders were not the saints who were marching in and that is regardless of the atrocities committed by Muslims. And we might also consider a quote from Bernard Lewis in response to criticism of an article of his published in the New York Review entitled, ‘Muslims, Christians, And Jews: The Dream Of Coexistence’ where Lewis said the following:

    –‘With certain well-known exceptions, in premodern times Jews and Christians fared better under Muslim rule than Jews and Muslims under Christian rule. Though always subject to some disabilities, and to occasional persecution, they were on the whole an accepted part of the polity and society, with rights which, though limited, were respected by both authority and public opinion.’–

    One only needs to go through history to see the time periods and under and the conditions did that description ring true. And again, we need to begin with the Jewish Virtual library to see some of what the Crusades wrought against the Jews in Europe and Jerusalem. And European Jews suffered various times of brutal anti-Semitism after the Crusade as far as into much of the 20th century . Here we should remember that Hitler was a big fan of Martin Luther’s attitude toward the Jews during the end of Luther’s life.

    See, Black-White thinking does not allow those who employ it to see the 50+ shades of gray that exists between Black and White. Such thinking prohibits them from seeing Muslims and Christians as being mixed bags when there were times where each group acted more like saints as well as times where each group acted more like sinners. Rather than mixed bags, both the Crusaders and their Muslim counterparts, as well as those on the Left, are described as monolithic groups and not just for their time, but for the Christians and Muslims who followed them. Of course we should note that some of the Crusades occurred in Europe such as that which was led by Count Emicho against Jews in Germany, the Albigensian Crusade that targeted a Christian sect in France, the Baltic Crusades that targeted pagans in Transylvania, and the Fourth Crusade which overthrew the Byzantine Emperor in an attempt to get the Byzantine Church to submit to Rome.

    Also, see the Black-White thinking in whose account of history we are to accept. Grant tells us to believe only those who love us while we are to totally disregard those who hate us. What about those who objectively write about history who neither love us nor hate us Christians? Do they not exist? And doesn’t he tell us why some people would hate us? It isn’t just Muslims or Woke historians who share a different account of the Crusades. Here we should note that he excludes the Jews from the conversation as to whose history we are to accept. And that is despite the fact that Jews were targeted in Germany and Jerusalem during some of the Crusades. In addition, after the Crusades some nations banished all Jews from living in Europe such as in England, France, Switzerland, and Germany. They were not allowed to return until the mid 17th century.

    In addition, the criteria of determining truth employed by authoritarians rarely, if ever, allows one to recognize flaws in their heroes and virtues in their enemies. That is because with authoritarianism, irrelevant credentials of a source are used to determine who is telling the truth. Irrelevant criteria includes whether or not a historical source loves us.

    Articles, like the one above, are evidence that helps support my claim that, for the most part, the call to restore Christendom and the promoting of Christian Nationalism are motivated more by authoritarian mindsets than Biblical concerns. Since while on trial, Jesus told Pilate that His own Kingdom was not of this world, and so how are the Crusaders imitators of Christ? In Hebrews, we are told that we have no home on earth. Peter tells us that we, in large part, are to live like the Jews who were sent into exile as recorded in the Old Testament. Paul tells us to wear the armor of the God, which contain no physical weapons, because our enemies are spiritual forces. And the Great Commission tells us to go into the whole world to share the Gospel without even a hint that we are to make any part of the world into a homeland. And thus we need to call into question the call to return Christendom back to the West, especially with Christendom’s history both during and after the Crusades.

    1. Curt, please get a job or something man. I have to moderate these comments and I lose brain cells every time you post.

      1. Terry,
        Rather than engage in any facts or logic I used in my comment, you prefer to insult. Realize that my comments take the content of the articles posted here very seriously. That should be seen as a compliment despite the criticisms that are in my comments.

      2. LOL. Thank you for the article, Terry, as part of the effort to restore Christian morale and vigor.

        One of my working theories about Curt is that he uses ChatGPT to generate his posts while a Soros-funded NGO covers his electric and food bills. He’s getting a massive ROI – think about all the time and mental energy he’s managed to drain. There’s actually a ruthlessness to it that I respect, because there’s ultimately no way to resolve the differences between Christianity and the Curt-types other than violence. I think he understands that quite well, hence the all-out efforts to frustrate and demoralize.

        1. Psalm2_12,
          Presenting working theories is close, if not having the same effect, to making accusations. And what evidence do you have for your theories about me as a person? After all, accusations need evidence lest the accuser(s) becomes guilty of bearing false witness. Shouldn’t the same apply to your theories since they are being stated publicly and thus can have the same end effect as making accusations can?

          Nevertheless, what you seem to be avoiding is dealing with the facts and logic of my comments. You would rather try to discredit me as a source rather than engage in a rational dialog. And why is that?

          So rather than publicly speculating without evidence, why not quote a statement or two of mine that you see as running counter to Christianity and we can, using the Scriptures as our canon, rationally discuss whether my statement(s) go against the Scriptures?

          1. Read both of the books. Much of the book is quoting original source material, not screed from Mr. Ibrahim about what he thinks.

    2. Just want to point out some inconsistencies in your historicity:
      The Baltic crusades were not anywhere near Transylvania. Transylvania is part of modern day Romania, whereas the Baltics are further north entirely. Transylvania was a part of future crusades, but on the side of Christianity.

      The Fourth Crusade, while completely reprehensible in outcome, was not set out with a corporate Roman Catholic mission of subjugating Constantinople. The outcome was a result of frustrated soldiers that were promised riches upon restoring an ousted emperor. Ever-opportunistic rulers took advantage of this to setup a Latin emperor, but the Pope himself clearly condemned just about every aspect of this crusade, issuing excommunications to all involved.

      All that to say, I don’t think I fully agree with the author on his simplistic approach to the Crusades. I’ll probably make a separate comment detailing why, but suffice it to say a response to a published news article is hardly a reliable historic source for treatment of co-religionists. Historians severely struggle to get any sort of consensus on overall treatment of Christians and Muslims under the opposing’s rule. Mistreatment of Jews is certainly common in Christian kingdoms, but that doesn’t exempt Islam from atrocities committed in it’s conquests either.

      My take is that both groups of religionists have severe flaws, and that while we cannot fully declare a Crusade a ‘just’ war in the purest sense, it is still a war of reclaimation over lands that were unrightfully taken. It’s hard to denounce that as completely unjustified out of hand, but I can sympathize with anyone saying the Crusades were a bit clumsy in their righteous mission, especially later on.

      1. Nate,
        You can thank History.com for saying that the Baltic Crusades going into Transylvania. However, the Teutonic Order, was promised land in Transylvania along with other perks to participate in the Baltic Crusades. The Teutonic Order was created both in competition with other Crusaders and to care for German Crusaders in the Holy Lands. The German Crusaders in the Third Crusades suffered ill treatment by leaders such as Richard The Lionhearted. We should also note that key characteristics were that they were led by nobility with religious goals.

        Regarding the Fourth Crusade, it was planned by Innocent III. But the plan did not include Constantinople. And Innocent III rebuked and excommunicated those who diverted from his plan. But that was not in response to what happened at Constantinople; it was in response to a deal that the Crusaders made in Venice. Another deal was made that directed those Crusaders to Constantinople. Oddly enough, after the sacking of Constantinople, which was designed to unite east and west, Innocent III recommunicated those knights who were involved because of the brief reunification of east and west. The knights were paraded with their plunder.

        As for the Crusades, if we take what Jesus said about His Kingdom, the idea of needing to rule over and conquer any kind of kingdom and especially and Empire is to go astray. I understand the intentions, but the intentions were not fully informed just as any call to return Christendom and for creation or recovery of Christian nations shares the same condition.

        As for treatment Jews and Christians under Muslim rule, not only is it reported in History, it is also specified in the Koran.

        It is a mistake to oversimplify by presenting any group as being monolithic. I understand why some want to do that by idealizing the Crusaders and other adopted heroes, but it communicates misinformation about what it means to be a Christian. We all ‘stumble in many ways’ as James said. That includes our heroes. One only needs to consider what Martin Luther said about the Jews toward the end of his life. Or one can consider the bombastic responses Luther, Calvin, and Roman Church leaders gave to those who advanced the idea of Heliocentrism. Or one can consider Calvin’s approval of the death Servetus. Or one can consider Johnathan Edwards and his defense of slavery and his owning of slaves. Or one can consider Charles Hodges’ belief in the inferiority of black people. Or one can consider J. Gresham Machen’s objecting to Warfield’s plan to integrate the dorms at Princeton. In each of those cases, we can say that those wrongful actions and beliefs were influenced by the times in which those men lived. At the same time, reflecting the times in which one lives can be, when the reflection of those times consists of sinful actions and beliefs, conforming to the world. And so we all share in that battle, in which we all have our own victories and losses, to resist conforming to the world.

  3. Any attempt to clear the name of the First Crusade is appreciated. It’s crazy the narrative we see now with Islam being peaceful and pacifist, forgetting that their only method of spread was via conquest until Indonesia.

    I agree on your overall assertion that the Crusades, especially the first, should not be condemned to the extent they are today. They are, at their core, a mission to reclaim what was taken, and should at least be considered justified though not entirely pure of intention for all involved.

    Where we should draw distinctions though, and where I would challenge you to educate your son as he gets older, lies in the later years of Crusading. The Fourth Crusade, while not corporately setting out to conquer Constantinople, in practice ended up being a complete and utter curse upon Christendom. That crusade all but guaranteed the eventual rise of the Ottoman Empire, and you could make a strong case that without the fourth crusade, Cosntantinople/Istanbul would still be Christian today, and none of the atrocities with jannisary recrutiment and sex slaving would have propagated to the extent it did. In that case, the Crusade was objectively bad in its result.

    Additionally, the Baltic Crusades were rather unprovoked. While those tribes in the Baltics were certainly not amenable to Christian merchants and missionaries, it was not the same just reconquest of lost land that the Levantine Crusades could claim. It was indeed a land war to expand the margins of Christendom, the same thing you and I don’t like much about Islam.

    In summary, we have a lot of historical revisionism to disperse and clarify over those first Crusades, but we can’t forget the fact that many Crusades were objectively bad and overall harmful to the Christian mission. We need to be careful we don’t completely simp out for any organized military mission Christendom ever embarked on, and rather look at all of this with a bit of healthy criticism.

  4. Fantastic article! We have been taught to disbelieve or ignore what our European ancestors wrote about themselves, and to believe the accounts of their enemies, who were non-Christian and non-white, thus scoring top marks in today’s hierarchy of victimhood. Their “truth” is therefore both completely unbiased and unimpeachable. No evidence to the contrary can be allowed to exist much less be acknowledged as truth. They judge Christianity with a standard of perfection, where any part short of that perfection is injustice and therefore invalidates the whole. Harold Zinn would be so proud! Funny that they so often defend the side that is STILL cutting off heads and throwing homosexuals off of rooftops. Oh, I know, those aren’t “real” Muslims! One Christian shows themself to be a hypocrite and the whole of the faith is invalidated. The whole of Islam teaches jihad by one means or another and supports sharia law even in “dimmi” lands and they regard this as some minute outlier, no reason at all to invalidate or restrain islam today. They certainly don’t hold their own beliefs to the same high, honorable standards of perfection or die! Good intentions justify any mistakes or excesses on their side, but they NEVER invalidate their whole. I have stopped debating issues such as these with our contemporary adversaries. It is futile. Our energy is better focused on having lots of babies, teaching them to act with the same Crusader iron will and commitment to Christ our King in all of life.

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