Inventing the Crusades

By Madden, Thomas F. | First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, June/July 2009 | Go to article overview

Inventing the Crusades


Madden, Thomas F., First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life


Inventing the Crusades Thomas F. Madden The Crusades, Christianity, and IsUm by Jonathan Riley-Smidi Columbia University Press, 136 pages, $24.50

Within a month of the attacks of September 11, 2001, former president Bill Clinton gave a speech to the students of Georgetown University. As the world tried to make sense of the senseless, Clinton offered his own explanation: "Those of us who come from various European lineages are not blameless," he declared. "Indeed, in die First Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a synagogue with diree hundred Jews in it and proceeded to kill every woman and child who was Muslim on the Temple Mount. The contemporaneous descriptions of die event describe soldiers walking on the Temple Mount a holy place to Christians, with blood running up to their knees.

"I can tell you that dut story is still being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for it" he concluded, and there is good reason to believe he was right. Osama bin Laden and other Islamists regularly refer to Americans as "Crusaders." Indeed, bin Laden directed his fatwa authorizing the September 11 attacks against the "Crusaders and Jews." He later preached that "for the first time the Crusaders have managed to achieve their historic ambitions and dreams against our Islamic umma, gaining control over Islamic holy places and Holy Sanctuaries. . . . Their defeat in Iraq will mean defeat in all their wars and a beginning of the receding of their Zionist-Crusader tide against us."

Most people in the West do not believe diat they have been prosecuting a continuous Crusade against Islam since the Middle Ages. But most do believe that the Crusades started the problems that plague and endanger us today. Westerners in general (and Cadiolics in particular) find the Crusades a deeply embarrassing episode in their history. As the Ridley Scott movie Kingdom of Heaven graphically proclaimed, the Crusades were unprovoked campaigns of intolerance preached by deranged churchmen and fought by religious zealots against a sophisticated and peaceful Muslim world. According to the Hollywood version, the blind violence of the Crusades gave birth to jihad, as die Muslims fought to defend themselves and their world. And for what? The city of Jerusalem, which was both "nodiing and everything," a place filled with religion that "drives men mad."

On September 1 1, 2001, there were only a few professional historians of the Crusades in America. I was the one who was not retired. As a result my phone began ringing and didn't stop for years. In the hundreds of interviews I have given since that terrible day, die most common question has been, "How did the Crusades lead to the terrorist attacks against the West today?" I always answered: "They did not. The Crusades were a medieval phenomenon with no connection to modern Islamist terrorism."

That answer has never gone over well. It seems counterintuitive. If the West sent Crusaders to attack Muslims throughout the Middle Ages, haven't they a right to be upset? If the Crusades spawned anti-Western jihads, isn't it reasonable to see them as the root cause of the current jihads? The answer is no, but to understand it requires more than the scant minutes journalists are usually willing to spare. It requires a grasp not only of the Crusades but of the ways those wars have been exploited and distorted for modern agendas.

That answer is now contained in a book, The Crusades, Christianity, and IsUm, written by the most distinguished historian of the Crusades, the Cambridge University scholar Jonathan Riley-Smidi. A transcription of the Bampton Lectures he delivered in October 2007 at Columbia University, it is a thin book, brimming with insights, approachable by anyone interested in the subject.

It is generally thought diat Christians attacked Muslims without provocation to seize their lands and forcibly convert them. The Crusaders were Europe's lacklands and ne'er-do-wells, who marched against the infidels out of blind zealotry and a desire for booty and land. …

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

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.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Inventing the Crusades
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.