Crusades & Religious Violence: Muslims & Christians Killing Everyone
Christianity & Violence: Filling Heaven, Not Earth
"The aim of Christianity is not to fill the earth, but to fill heaven. Why should one worry if the number of Christians is lessened in the world by deaths endured for God? By this kind of death people make their way to heaven who perhaps would never reach it by another road."
What Were the Crusades?
Mention the word "crusade" to anyone and you'll engender visions of either wild-eyed religious fanatics charging off to kill the infidels, or esteemed holy warriors taking up the burden of a religious mission far greater than themselves. There's no single judgment that can be made about the Crusades or even crusading generally, but it is a...
Religious Causes of the Crusades
Why were the Crusades launched? There is a wide variety of opinion on this matter. Some argue that they were a necessary response by Christendom to the oppression of pilgrims in Muslim-controlled Jerusalem. Others claim that it was political imperialism masked by religious piety. Still others argue that it was a social release for a society that was becoming overburdened by landless nobles.
Religious Violence in the Crusades
The Crusades were an incredibly violent undertaking, even by medieval standards. The Crusades have often been remembered in a romantic fashion, but perhaps nothing has deserved it less. Hardly a noble quest in foreign lands, the Crusades represented the worst in religion generally and in Christianity specifically.
Christians Crusading Against Christians
Although members of other religions obviously suffered at the hands of good Christians throughout the Middle Ages, it should not be forgotten that other Christians suffered just as much. Augustine's exhortion to compel entry into the church was used with great zeal when church leaders dealt with Christians who dared to follow a different sort of...
Christian Persecution of Jews & Antisemitism in the Crusades
There were Jewish communities, some quite large, throughout Europe and the Middle East before the Crusades. They had established themselves and survived over the course of many centuries, but they also provided tempting targets for marauding Crusaders looking for infidels to attack and treasure to loot. Caught between two warring religions, the Jews were in a most untenable position.
Religious Views of the Crusades from Today
The meaning of the Crusades for politics and society today cannot be understood simply by looking at the violence, the persecutions, or the economic changes they wrought. However important those things may have been at the time, the meaning of the Crusades for people today is determined not so much by what actually happened as it is by what people believe happened.
Social & Religious Outcome of the Crusades
Socially speaking the Crusades had an impact upon the Christian stance on military service. Before there was a strong prejudice against the military, at least among churchmen, on the assumption that Jesus' message precluded warfare. For a man to remain holy, killing in warfare was strictly prohibited. All of that changed dramatically, however.