When Christendom Pushed Back: Present-Day Revisionism Inaccurately Portrays the Crusades as the Lashing out of Narrow-Minded Christian Bigots against the Peace-Loving, Intellectually Advanced Muslims

By Duke, Selwyn | The New American, February 15, 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

When Christendom Pushed Back: Present-Day Revisionism Inaccurately Portrays the Crusades as the Lashing out of Narrow-Minded Christian Bigots against the Peace-Loving, Intellectually Advanced Muslims


Duke, Selwyn, The New American


The year is 732 A.D., and Europe is under assault. Islam, born a mere 110 years earlier, is already in its adolescence, and the Muslim Moors are on the march.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Growing in leaps and bounds, the Caliphate, as the Islamic realm is known, has thus far subdued much of Christendom, conquering the old Christian lands of the Mideast and North Africa in short order. Syria and Iraq fell in 636; Palestine in 638; and Egypt, which was not even an Arab land, fell in 642. North Africa, also not Arab, was under Muslim control by 709. Then came the year 711 and the Moors' invasion of Europe, as they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and entered Visigothic Iberia (now Spain and Portugal). And the new continent brought new successes to Islam. Conquering the Iberian Peninsula by 718, the Muslims crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into Gaul (now France) and worked their way northward. And now, in 732, they are approaching Tours, a mere 126 miles from Paris.

The Moorish leader, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, is supremely confident of success. He is in the vanguard of the first Muslim crusade, and his civilization has enjoyed rapidity and scope of conquest heretofore unseen in world history. He is at the head of an enormous army, replete with heavy cavalry, and views the Europeans as mere barbarians. In contrast, the barbarians facing him are all on foot, a tremendous disadvantage. The only thing the Frankish and Burgundian European forces have going for them is their leader. Charles of Herstal, grandfather of Charlemagne. He is a brilliant military tactician who, after losing his very first battle, is enjoying an unbroken 16-year streak of victories.

And this record will remain unblemished. Outnumbered by perhaps as much as 2 to 1 on a battlefield between the cities of Tours and Poitier, Charles routs the Moorish forces, stopping the Muslim advance into Europe cold. It becomes known as the Battle of Tours (or Poitier), and many historians consider it one of the great turning points in world history. By their lights, Charles is a man who saved Western Civilization, a hero who well deserves the moniker the battle earned him: Martellus. We thus now know him as Charles Martel; which translates into Charles the Hammer.

The Gathering Threat in the East

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

While the Hammer saved Gaul, the Muslims would not stop hammering Christendom--and it would be the better part of four centuries before Europe would again hammer back. This brings us to the late 11th century and perhaps the best-known events of medieval history: the Crusades.

Ah, the Crusades. Along with the Galileo affair and the Spanish Inquisition (both partially to largely misunderstood), they have become a metaphor for Christian "intolerance." And this characterization figures prominently in the hate-the-West-first crowd's repertoire and imbues everything, from movies such as 2005's Kingdom, of Heaven to school curricula to politicians' pronouncements. In fact, it's sometimes peddled so reflexively that the criticism descends into the ridiculous, such as when Bill Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University and, writes Chair of the History Department at Saint Louis University Thomas Madden, "recounted (and embellished) a massacre of Jews after the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 and informed his audience that the episode was still bitterly remembered in the Middle East. (Why Islamist terrorists should be upset about the killing of Jews was not explained.)" Why, indeed. Yet, it is the not-so-ridiculous, the fable accepted as fact, that does the most damage. Madden addresses this in his piece, "The Real History of the Crusades," writing:

  Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades
  are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led
  by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are
  supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and
  intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church
  in particular and Western civilization in general. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

When Christendom Pushed Back: Present-Day Revisionism Inaccurately Portrays the Crusades as the Lashing out of Narrow-Minded Christian Bigots against the Peace-Loving, Intellectually Advanced Muslims
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?