150: CHRISTIAN ATROCITIES #3: The Crusades

“Zingcreed, a Christian/Atheist manifesto: thinking aloud about religion – a personal polemic by Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

“The history of Christianity is the best school for atheism.” (Franz Overbeck)

There were 7 crusades in the Near East between 1095 and about 1291. They were against the Moslems, but the Christian church was quite as happy to kill Jews or any other unbaptized ‘Pagans’ it came across.

The ideology
The thinking which gave rise to the crusades was spelled out perfectly unambiguously as early as 600 C.E. by Pope Gregory the Great. He said non-Christians should be given a choice. Either unconditional surrender, submission to political and economic domination along with compulsory baptism and indoctrination, or extermination in the name of God.

The causes
To satisfy the economic greed of Venice, Genoa and Pisa at the expense of the peaceful Saracens
to increase the political power of kings, popes, knights and princes at the expense of the Saracens
to make more profits for the Christian arms manufacturers and dealers (who supplied both sides)
to enrich the business men who supplied and equipped the crusaders
to supply pedlars of holy relics with even more pieces  of the ‘true cross’.

The participants
Before setting off, the crusaders were told they had been given the holy task of getting back the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem from the enemies of God;
demagogic popes told them they were doing God’s will;
and they were promised remission of all sins (including the slaughter of innocent Moslems that was yet to come.)

On arrival
How did these pious pilgrims behave in the Holy Land? An eye witness has described the blood-lust of the crusaders who entered Jerusalem after its capture in 1099:
“Soon all the defenders were leaving the walls and running through the city, pursued by our men, who drove them along, cutting them down and following them as far as the Temple of Solomon, where there was such a blood-bath that our men were wading ankle deep in blood. Soon the crusaders were rushing through the whole city, seizing gold, silver, horses and mules and looting the houses that were full of costly things. Then, happy and indeed weeping for joy, our men went to venerate and pray at the sepulchre of our Redeemer.” (Gesta Francorum)

Richard the Lionheart, King of England (whose equestrian statue stands in front of the House of Commons in London)
demonstrated his valour by massacring 2-3000 Moslem captives. He had their entrails searched for swallowed gold, and then again their ashes too.

Sources:
Kahl, J. “The misery of Christianity” Penguin (1968)

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