◕ General Overview
Of all the religious wars in human history waged by any religion, at any place, and at any time, none have been bloodier, more genocidal, more barbaric, and more protracted than the 200-year "holy wars" by the Western Crusades against the Arabs and Islam.
The Western Crusaders horrifically soaked Asia Minor and the Eastern Arab Mediterranean coast with Arab blood (both Muslim and Jewish).
The objective of the Crusades was simple, to destroy the Arabs (whether Muslim or Jew) in the Holy Land of Palestine and its environs "…on the ground that they had no right to inhabit their part of the earth, while for a Christian the whole world is his country." [James David Barber, The Book of Democracy (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995), p. 178.]
The crusades started in 1095 CE, with the speech made by Pope Urban II. In that speech, Pope Urban II referred to the Christians as the noble race of the Franks. He encouraged Christians to join the armies to get Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Most of the crusaders that left Europe to fight the Muslims were actually aiming to form kingdoms and acquire the wealth found in those lands.
That is why the many groups of crusaders were often quarreling amongst themselves over rule of places when they conquered cities.
The crusaders were against everyone who did not follow their religion and did not look like them. This included Muslims, Jews, and even dark-skinned Christians, all of whom were attacked and murdered by them.
They even sacked the city of Constantinople, which was ruled by the Eastern Church (the Byzantine Church).
◕ The People's Crusade
The People's Crusade started before the First Crusade. It was to be a total failure. More than fifteen thousand people joined the army lead by Walter the Penniless. Later Peter the Hermit and most of the crusaders took off to Constantinople, from where they planned to go to Jerusalem.
However, Peter the Hermit and his advisors had not paid attention to how they were going to feed this huge army. As a result, wherever the crusaders went, they ate up the land like a mass of hungry locusts.
Furthermore, wherever these crusaders went, they plundered the land, burned cities, and slaughtered people. All of the murdered people were Christians.
The crusaders then went beyond Constantinople and started their looting of Christian lands again. They were also constantly arguing amongst each other and many people broke off the main group.
Now Peter the Hermit went back to Constantinople to request supplies and support. But before he could return the Muslims had gathered an army and attacked the terroristic crusaders swiftly, killing most of the invaders.
◕ The First Crusade
In autumn of 1095, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade by calling upon his fellow Christians to attack the Muslim's lands.
After Urban’s preaching in Europe, hundred thousands of Christians were ready to take up the mission and destroy everything that stood in their way.
The preaching of the First Crusade inspired an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence. In parts of France and Germany, Jews were perceived as just as much an enemy as Muslims: they were held responsible for the crucifixion, and they were more immediately visible than the distant Muslims.
Many people wondered why they should travel thousands of miles to fight non- believers when there were already non-believers closer to home so they held several holocausts against the Jews.
after that, no crusade was complete without a massacre to the Jews (when Richard I was crowned as a Crusader King of England in 1189, mobs celebrated in London, York and elsewhere by massacring the Jews.)
By now, the first of the five armies of the First Crusade were on their way to Constantinople. Godfrey of Bouillon arrived first. Soon after him, Bohemond of Taranto arrived, followed by Count Raymond IV of Toulouse. After that, Count Robert II arrived. Last came Duke Robert of Normandy.
Together, they attacked Muslim lands. The city of Nicaea was taken first. Following that, the crusaders attacked and captured Antioch. Nearly all of the Muslims inside were killed by the merciless crusaders. Then the crusaders attacked Marrat an-Nu'man where the crusaders slaughtered a hundred thousand people (literally).
the terroristic savage crusaders were reported by several Christian sources to have eaten their Muslim opponants bodies.
Radulph of Caen, an eyewitness to events at Ma'arra in 1098, wrote, "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking- pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled."
The chronicler Albert of Aix seemed to rank Muslims lower than dogs when he wrote, "Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens; they also ate dogs!"
Guibert of Nogent, in his work Historia Hierosolymitana, provides more details on the incident savage cannibalism of the Christian crusader at Ma'arra. There he notes that whenever the Tafurs who took part in the expedition discovered "scraps of flesh from the pagan's bodies."
Fulcher of Chartres also refers to the same instance of cannibalism at Ma'arra. In his Historia Hierosolymitana, also known as A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem, Fulcher confirms that when the crusaders "suffered from excessive hunger" at Ma'arra, they engaged in cannibalism. He wrote, "I shudder to say that many of our men, terribly tormented by the maddness of starvation, cut pieces of flesh from the buttocks of Saracens lying there dead. These pieces they cooked and ate, savagely devouring the flesh while it was insufficiently roasted."
A year later, the crusaders attacked Jerusalem. Since the crusaders thought that killing Muslims was very good for the soul, they murdered as many as they could. No one was given mercy. Old or young, sick or healthy, male or female, all were beheaded and killed by the invading crusaders. The city was full of blood that reached up to the knees of the soldiers and up to the horses' bridles. The Muslims were forced to throw themselves from the tops of towers and buildings, were burnt alive, and the list goes on.
The crusaders climbed up to the top of the Temple of Solomon, from where they massacred hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
The slaughter was only paused when the crusaders gave thanks to their Lord. Then it was continued with as much ferocity as before.
◕ The Second Crusade
In 1144 CE, the Muslims recaptured Edessa under the command of Emadudin Zenki. This city was vital for the safety of the Frankish holdings as it guarded their back door. News of the fall of Edessa spread throughout Europe and a second crusade was called by Pope Eugenius III.
The Roman Emperor, Conrad III and the French king, Louis VII joined it. the crusaders had decided to attack Damascus, but failed to do so and returned home.
◕ The Rise of Salahuddin
in 1177 CE, a great leader of Muslims named Salahuddin Al-yyubi (also known as Saladin) attacked Palestine and conquered Ghaza and Ascalon.
King Baldwin IV, the ruler of Jerusalem, tried to put up a resistance, but could not the Muslim armies the attack and retreated.
After his defeat, Baldwin IV, asked the ruler of Karak, Reginald de Chatillon for assistance. Reginald, sent appeals to the crusaders for help. They agreed and started sending their troops to Karak to take revenge of Baldwin's defeat. This time, however, Salahuddin retreated.
In 1179 CE, Salahuddin went with a large force to fight against the Franks. A fierce battle followed in which Salahuddin was victorious. The next year, Baldwin IV and Salahuddin made a two- year truce.
According to the terms of the truce, both parties could not attack each other's territories.
However, The terrorist Christian ruler of Karak Reginald de Chatillon, attacked Muslim lands as well as the caravans that were passing by. He also looted many caravans that were going for Hajj.
At this, Salahuddin was enraged and attacked Reginald's fort. A four-year truce was made which was signed by Baldwin IV and Salahuddin. Then Salahuddin and his army went back home (Egypt).
But troubles awaited the Muslims. Soon after the signing of the truce, Baldwin died. Reginald then disregarded the truce and attacked a Muslim caravan and arrested the traders.
Despite the many warnings and appeals to stop his cruelties, the terrorist Reginald went on. He later looted a caravan of Muslim pilgrims and killed most of them.
Now Salahuddin could not be stopped. He attacked Karak, recaptured it, and appointed an army to guard the Muslim pilgrims.
The crusaders were disturbed by Salahuddin's increasing power and success and united all of their forces to attack the Muslims.
Salahuddin camped outside Tiberiade, about fifteen miles
away from the armies of the crusaders. After a siege of about six days, he recaptured the city.
When the news reached the crusaders, they called a meeting. It was decided that the crusaders would go and attack the Muslims.
They camped at night in Hittin, sure of an easy victory the next day. However, few knew about the skill of Salahuddin and his bravery and did not know that they were going to be utterly defeated by him.
Early the next morning, the crusaders were awoken by the roars of the Muslim army. Salahuddin attacked and Muslims fell on the crusaders with full fury. Although the crusaders fought with full force, by the evening the crusaders had been defeated.
The battle then continued the next day. By noon, the battle was in favor of the Muslims. The Muslims attacked and arrested many of them. The Muslims had won.
With the victory at Hittin, Salahuddin now set out for other
areas, not allowing the crusaders to recover and get reinforcements.
Within two months, he had recaptured Acre, Naplu, Jericho, Ramlah, Caesra, Arsuf, Jafaf, Beyrut and Ascalon.
Then, in 1187 CE, Salahuddin finally recaptured Jerusalem.
However, his conquest was not like what the terroristic savage crusaders had done in 1099 CE. Not one Christian was harmed. All were allowed to stay or leave the city at their own will. They were also allowed to take their weapons and property with them.
Salahuddin even arranged for their travelling. The tribute that was asked from the Christians if they wanted to leave the city was ten gold coins per man, five gold coins per woman, and one gold coin per child.
However, Salahuddin and his brother themselves paid the
tribute for about 17,000 people.
In addition, a gate of the city was allocated for the many poor soldiers who could not pay the tribute. They were allowed to leave the city without paying anything.
Many crusaders had been arrested during the war. When their wives, sisters, or mothers appealed for their release, they were all released.
Many people who were poor were given money for traveling expenses. In addition, they were provided with mules to carry their loads.
to be continued...