Irish Fighters Brought Music to the Crusades; ANSWER TO CORRESPONDENT
QUESTION Did the Irish take part in the Crusades? THE Crusades were a series of military campaigns waged by much of Western Christian Europe, particularly the Franks of France and the Holy Roman Empire, to restore Christian control of the Holy Land.
They were fought over a period of nearly 200 years, between 1095 and 1291.
Other similar campaigns, launched from Spain and eastern Europe, continued into the 15th century.
Irish individuals played a prominent role in the eight crusades between 1096 and 1272. Warriors from Ireland, complete with their distinctive regalia and armour, took part in all eight crusades. The majority of them were Anglo-Norman nobles, however.
The Anglo-Norman nobility had arrived in Ireland with the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169.
They felt complete justification, because in 1095, Pope Urban II had upgraded the conflict - in the eyes of the Church at least - from being a 'just war' to a 'holy war'.
For example, on the second Crusade, one of the most notable participants was Sir Gilbert Pippard, the Lord of Ardee, Co. Louth, who was killed in battle.
On the third Crusade, Bertram de Verdon, Lord of Dundalk and Cooley in Co. Louth, was the most significant Irish Crusader, but he too was killed in battle.
Many of the Anglo-Irish noblemen who took part in the Crusades came from Co. Kilkenny. Jerpoint Abbey was their mustering point as they set off on their travels.
One of the leading noblemen from Kilkenny who took part in at least one, and probably two crusades, was Sir Thomas Cantwell.
Two religious organisations that owed their origins to the Anglo-Normans and which were prominent in Ireland, were also very involved in the crusades.
The Knights Templar were a kind of Freemasonry, founded to protect pilgrims to Jerusalem. They had many connections with Ireland, especially as they were regarded as pioneers in the earliest, but primitive, practice of banking.
In one modern twist to their story, the Knights Templar in Ireland were allowed to have one home that was free of taxes.
One of them, Ingelbrictus, lived in Dublin and he was constantly moving from home to home in the city so that he could claim freedom from taxes on every house. …