Western Civilization I, Week 23 – Crusades

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

    According to Dr. Tom Woods, a renowned historian, there are many common misconceptions about the Crusades and the Crusaders. One being that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack against Muslims. Dr. Woods claims this to be false, as Muslims had already taken over 2/3 of previously Christian territory. Asia Minor, the Middle East, north Africa, and most of Spain were taken over by the Muslims, and it became increasingly dangerous for Christians to travel to their holy sites in those territories. Another misconception about the Crusades is that the Crusaders’ motive was money rather than religion and access to holy territory. According to Dr. Woods, the Crusades were actually so expensive that anybody who funded them went bankrupt. To try to make money from the Crusades would have been like trying to milk a chicken. A third common misconception about the Crusaders is that they wanted to convert Muslims by force. Dr. Woods claims that Muslims in Crusader states were not forced to give up their religion, and that Muslims even outnumbered Catholics in Jerusalem, a Crusader kingdom. One more misconception is that the Muslim world is still salty about the Crusades to this day, and hate the West because of it. It is commonly believed that the Muslims’ supposed saltiness over the Crusades led to 20th– and 21st-century terrorism, which is also not true. Dr. Woods says that from a Muslim perspective, the Crusades were a minor blip hardly even worth mentioning.

(2) Based on the different versions of Pope Urban II’s speech, discuss the main themes in the Pope’s remarks.

    The main theme of Pope Urban’s speech was retaking Jerusalem. He also talked about honor and pilgrimage, tying them both into the campaign. He gathered those who wanted to do penance for their sins and sent them off with weapons to take back the holy land, as well as the honor of the Christians.

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