Myths of the Crusades

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Dr. Crawford argues that crusades were always perceived as disgraceful violent episodes through which Western forces killed the peace-loving Muslims unprovoked. Dr. Crawford asserts that this view is common in the western world today as evident in presidential speeches and role-playing games. However, Dr. Crawford believes that everyone’s knowledge of crusade is, in fact, untrue. Therefore, the four myths that Dr. Crawford addresses in his article are discussed below.

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  1. The Crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Dr. Crawford affirms that this myth is not true because Christian forces have never organized an attack on Medina or Mecca. Besides, crusades are a representation of a Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks on Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Since the inception of Islam, Muslims have always attacked the focal points of Christianity until the 11th century. In the 11th century, for example, Muslims attacked Constantinople and Rome, which were the remaining centers of Christianity. The move by Christian forces to counterattack the Muslim troops and reclaim their lands contributes to this myth.

Nevertheless, people fail to see the constant threat that Muslims have always presented in cities like Jerusalem and Rome. For instance, Muslim forces also tried to threaten Rome in the 16th century. Crusades are, thus, a tool used as a defensive option by the Christian forces. Dr. Crawford cites from as early as the 10th century to demonstrate how Muslims have always provoked Christians and Christianity. For example, Dr. Crawford reveals how a Muslim leader demolished the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Added to the mistreatment of Christian subjects by the Muslim rulers, it is apparent that Christians had a right to retaliate. However, people who fail to understand these aspects end up thinking that crusades are a way in which Christians attack the Arab world unprovoked. 

  1. Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Dr. Crawford dismisses this statement as a myth and quotes Pope Urban II, who asserted that make spoil or the enemy’s treasure. He was addressing French warriors during the first crusade. Dr. Crawford also uses Fed Cazel’s statement that the ancient crusaders did not have enough money for upkeep during crusades. That is why financial consideration was a fundamental element when planning for crusades. Despite the later crusaders agreeing to save money for the crusades, it is not possible for such savings to cover for all the costs. Furthermore, because of crusades and the financial obligations to conduct a crusade, there has been a substantial money flow from the West to the East. Such finances have positively impacted the economies of the Levant and Western Europe.

Many popes since the first crusade resorted to different ways of raising money such as instituting an income tax. Hence, this shows that the Western Christians did not have the greed to plunder Muslims. Besides, Dr. Crawford also notes that there are a few people who gained wealth from crusading. The reason is that many of the crusaders believed that crusades were to a route to enhance one’s financial status.

  1. Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motive.

The above statement is not true because crusades had many casualties. Besides, many crusaders left their homes knowing that there was a probability that they would not return. Dr. Crawford estimates the casualty rate of the First Crusade as 75%. Therefore, if most of the crusaders did not believe in Christianity, they would not have joined the crusades in the first place. By sacrificing one’s life, that is a proof of dedication and commitment to Christianity and the greater good. As evident from the First Crusade, most of the crusaders sacrificed their lives.

The statement is also untrue because joining the crusades was voluntary. Crusaders were persuaded in a sermon and the decision to join the crusade was personal. One’s faith and belief pushed them to join crusades and rally for the good of other Christians. Additionally, although crusades were impractical, they were valuable to the soul and an acceptable reparation for sin.

  1. The Crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Dr. Crawford also dismisses this statement as not true.  Prior to the First Crusade, Muslims had attacked Christian for a period exceeding 400 years. Therefore, Muslims did not need any reason to continue their attack on Christians. Moreover, Muslims organized their first ever crusade in 1899. One European school of thought concerning crusades viewed the crusaders as aggressive, greedy and cruel barbarians who attacked peace-loving and civilized Muslims. The other school of thought viewed crusades as an episode through which Christians fought against the Muslim hordes. Henceforth, it is apparent that the Muslims mischaracterized crusades and saw them as a way in which Christian attacked their religion.

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Myths Of The Crusades. (2019, Dec 11). Retrieved June 29, 2022 , from
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