Sunday, March 12, 2006
Viewed as a PR victory for not nice people.
Q: The Crusades are often portrayed as a militarily offensive venture. Were they?
Spencer: No. Pope Urban II, who called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095, was calling for a defensive action -- one that was long overdue.
As he explained, he was calling the Crusade because without any defensive action, "the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked" by the Turks and other Muslim forces.
"For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George," Pope Urban II said in his address. "They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.
"If you permit them to continue thus for a while with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them."
He was right. Jihad warfare had from the seventh century to the time of Pope Urban conquered and Islamized what had been over half of Christendom. There had been no response from the Christian world until the Crusades.