Week 23 – The Crusades

What are some common misconceptions about the Crusades, and why are they incorrect?

Crusaders are fixated on wealth

Research has shown that crusaders were already wealthy, with much land in Europe. They went on crusades only because of their faith. Crusading was very expensive and most crusaders went bankrupt because of crusading. They had to leave everything they had behind for a few years to go on a crusade.

“Second sons theory”

Some people said crusaders took their second sons with them on crusades, so that their first sons can say and maintain their land. It was proven that it was the first sons who went on crusades.

Crusaders wanted to convert the Muslims by force

Muslims never forced Christians to give up their religion and neither did Christians. Not only were they outnumbered by Muslims in the Crusader states, they also never forced anyone to join them. They converted people by preaching.

Crusades led to festering resentment among Muslims, culminating in 20th and 21st century terrorism

Muslims didn’t care about the Christian’s crusades, not many Muslims knew about them; they were first mentioned by a Muslim scholar in 1899.

In case you are wondering and don’t know this yet, people went on crusades to get rid off their previous sins and to gain God’s grace.

Describe the events of the Fourth Crusade

This crusade did the most relation damage between Christians.

It was inspired by Pope Innocent III and its goal was to recapture Jerusalem. The crusaders got sidetracked on their way there by Alexius, a claimant to the throne in Constantinople. He said his brother got on the throne unjustly and wanted the crusaders to help him become the emperor instead. Pope Innocent warned them, that they should ignore it, they have nothing to do with his scheme, but they thought Alexius would be welcomed in Constantinople and helped him. Alexius eventually became emperor, but he had to pay the crusaders his debt and did terrible things to get their money – he even opened up old tombs and stole jewellery from dead people. People in Constantinople despised him more and more. One day his lieutenant Mourzouphlus said there’s an angry crowd outside, that he has to hide and lead him straight to a jail cell. Mourzouphlus became emperor and had Alexius killed. Crusaders were confused as to what they should do now. They have decided that the new emperor is unfit to rule and held a war against him being legitimate. They sacked Constantinople and held the throne for half a century. Chaos was everywhere, people stealing riches from Churches or other people etc. Pope denounced this, but the East/West Christian division was now far worse and he couldn’t do anything to fix it.

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