Archive for crusades

Christian Crusades

Posted in History, Military, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2017 by Drogo

The Christian Crusades (1095-1410) invaded Jewish and Muslim territories, and used militant terrorism on locals. In 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos I requested military aid from Pope Urban II. Whether Alexios was just complaining or wanted a show of mercenary support under Byzantine control, is unclear. Alexios had restored the Empire’s finances and authority, but he still struggled with foreign enemies, particularly the migrating Turks.

At the Council of Clermont later that year, Pope Urban preached for a Crusade to free the holy lands from the infidels. By giving more military forces than Alexios requested, Urban would be in a political position of power in the East. Local clerics through-out Europe were encouraged by Pope Urban’s declaration of holy war. Peter the Hermit led thousands of mostly poor Christians out of Europe in what became known as the People’s Crusade. In 1096 Peter claimed he had a letter from Heaven telling Christians to prepare for the Apocalypse by seizing Jerusalem from the Muslims and Jews. Europe witnessed the first major anti-Semitic massacre when these Crusaders terrorized entire Jewish communities in Rhineland Germany. Before they got close to Jerusalem, the first Crusader army was ambushed by the Turks and suffered heavy losses, causing retreat. The Kings of France and England refused to join Pope Urban’s Crusade of German despotism, but many other nobles began to rally troops from various countries based on bonds of lordship, family, ethnicity, and language. Foremost amongst the noble financiers were Count Raymond IV of France; Prince Bohemond and his nephew Tancred of Norman Italy; and lastly Godfrey and his brother Baldwin I, lords of Lotharingia. Combined with a Northern French army led by lesser lords, the armies totaled about 100,000 people.

The official First Crusade army led by nobles combined with some veterans of the first peasant army, and traveled to Byzantium. Emperor Alexios cautiously welcomed them, and made the princes and counts pledge allegiance to him. This allowed both East and West Christian Empires to unite against the Turkish Sultan Kilij Arslan I. In 1097 after a Crusader siege and a Byzantine naval assault, Nicaea was captured. Crusader envoys were sent to Egypt seeking an alliance. The Turks were not unified in defense of Aleppo and Damascus. The 3-month march to Antioch was plagued by starvation, thirst, and disease. Baldwin used 100 knights to claim his own territory in Edessa. Despite losses, the Crusader army embarked on an 8-month siege stalemate of Antioch. Bohemond persuaded a tower guard to open a gate, and the Crusaders entered and massacred the many Muslims and Christians of Antioch.

Sunni Islam under the Sultan of Baghdad raised an army to recapture Antioch, led by the Iraqi general Kerbogha. Having lost thousands through desertion and starvation in the besieged city, the Crusaders attempted to negotiate surrender. This was rejected by Kerbogha, who wanted to destroy the invaders. Morale within the city was boosted when a mystic soldier claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance of Antioch. Bohemond led his Franks to break the Muslim ranks, who surprisingly retreated and abandoned the counter-siege.

Fatimid Egyptians took Jerusalem from the Turks. Raymond left Bohemond at Antioch, and led his Crusader army rapidly along the South coast to Jerusalem. After some failures, Crusaders constructed two large siege engines; the one commanded by Godfrey breached the walls in 1099. For two days the Crusaders massacred the Jews and Muslims of Jerusalem and pillaged the City of God. Godfrey further secured the Frankish position by surprising the Egyptian Shia soldiers, who retreated to Egypt. By 1100 most of the Crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned to Europe, leaving behind Godfrey, Tancred, and Baldwin. Muslims mistook the Crusaders for the latest in a long line of Byzantine mercenaries (eg Vikings), rather than religious paladins bent on long term conquest and control of people property. During the 1100s Muslims realized they needed to organize their armies like the Europeans were doing, so they could level the playing field at least for defense.

Moses Maimonides was a Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt during the 1100s. Moses Maimonides wrote the tractate ‘Sanhedrin’ in which he formulated 13 Principles of Hebrew Faith. The Sanhedrin summarized his opinion of the required beliefs of Judaism; which included the exaltation of God and Moses, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, and resurrection of the dead. Maimonides also wrote about charity and prophesy.

Knights Hospitallers, aka ‘The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem’, originated from an Amalfitan monastic Christian hospital cult in Jerusalem. After the first conquest of Jerusalem circa 1100, the Hospitallers also became a military order under Papal charter, charged with the care and defense of the Holy Land. The medieval Catholic military order endured and eventually became the modern Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The Knights Templar were founded circa 1120 and lasted as an official Catholic paladin military order until 1312. The name ‘Templar’ comes from their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ in the Order of Solomon’s Temple’. In the Dark-Ages Frankish knights in the court of Charlemagne paladins (cleric-warriors) tradition based on the legends of Roland and his other knights. Templars admired the image of pauper knights helping each-other by sharing the same horse. Templar knights with their red cross on white field coat-of-arms, became famous for dedication to faith, fighting, and finance.

Teutonic Knights, aka ‘The Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem’, were a clerical military mercenary order circa 1190. The Teutonic mission was to conquer and protect German Church interests including pilgrims and hospitals. The Teutonic Order has recently been only religious since 1929, but still confers limited honorary ‘knight’ awards.

Arabic philosophy was usually more enlightened than European philosophy under Christian theology during the Middle-Ages. We in the West are still learning from Arabic sources, how to interpret our own records better. Robert of Chester translated the Arabic book of the ‘Composition of Alchemy‘ in 1144.

After the establishment of the religious military orders of Hospitallers, Templars, and Teutonic Knights; Popes were granting money and property to those who fought papal enemies, making the crusades more blatantly political and economic, although many continued to use the theology as justification for war. True believers often cannot be counted, as we cannot know what people truly thought inside. People often are torn inside about loyalties and motivations, and religions are largely based on dealing with dualities in life.

More nobles from all over Europe led campaigns with smaller groups of crusaders. The loss of Aleppo and Edessa before 1150, led to propaganda for the Second Crusade. This time kings got in on the action. King Louis VII and Conrad III led armies from France and Germany to Jerusalem and Damascus, without major victories. Preaching anti-Semitism again led to attacks on Jews including massacres in the German Rhineland and other places, amid claims that the Jews were not contributing financially to Christian society or the rescue of the Holy Land.

In the 1160-80s Islamic power changed leaders from Zengi, to Nur al-Din, and finally to the most famous Saladin. Saladin united Aleppo, Damascus, and Egypt in the Crusade era. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, kicked off the Third Crusade by drowning in the Saleph River on route to the Holy Land. Richard the Lionheart, King of England conquered Cyprus in 1191. Philip II of France arrived at the siege of Acre, and with the help of his best buddy Richard, the French and English won. Richard and his English army travelled South along the Mediterranean coast, and defeated Muslims near Arsuf and recaptured Jaffa. Richard the Lionheart came close to Jerusalem, but realized he lacked the resources to capture and keep the city. This marked the end of Richard’s crusading career, but Richard preferred his properties in France so Prince John ran England (see Magna Carta and ‘Legend of Robin Hood’ – 1200s).

In 1200 Pope Innocent III began preaching for the Fourth Crusade in France, England, and Germany. In Venice the Doge plotted to use the Fourth Crusade to overthrow Emperor Alexios III of Byzantium. Crusader knights arrived in Venice and were unable to pay the Venetians for a fleet, so they agreed to attack Constantinople, sack it, and share what could be looted as payment. The crusaders conquered Constantinople twice, pillaging churches, and killing nobles and many citizens. The Fourth Crusade never got near Jerusalem.

Popular ecstatic piety led to the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Large groups of young adults and children gathered, believing their innocence would enable success, where their corrupt elders had failed. Most were captured and sold into slavery. Few went on to the Holy Lands. In 1217 the Fifth Crusade was led by Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria, against Saladin’s Ayyubid successors in Egypt and Syria.

The Sixth Crusade was a negotiated truce, supported by force and concessions. Frederick II was a Holy Roman Emperor with some cultural sympathy for Islam, and arrived at Acre in 1228. The peace treaty gave Christians most of Jerusalem and access to Acre, while the Muslims kept their sacred areas, and the Sultan of Egypt could use crusaders as mercenaries. Pope Gregory IX attacked Frederick II, ruining Christian progress in the area. Next was the Barons’ Crusade, and finally several other crusades including those in modern times.

 

[to be continued]

 

 

 

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Stupid Crusades Video War commentary by Drogo Empedocles

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Afghanistan: 8 Years of War

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by Drogo

Our mission in Afghanistan is to get rid of the Taliban. It is hard to understand how the most powerful military in the World, America, cannot get rid of a terrorist gang in one year, let alone 8 years. Never-the-less we proceed to wage a War to do something that seems like we could have accomplished years ago. OK, is there an end in sight?

We have heard the generals ask for more troops. That is because our generals have been tasked with winning the conflict, and cannot question if the goal is achievable. Soldiers in active duty are usually only allowed to follow orders, and that includes officers. So it should be no surprise that no matter how impossible a fight is, that our soldiers will fight regardless of how impossible it is.

Therefore it is our responsibility, as free-thinking citizens of the United States of America, to analyze the realities of Afghanistan. Has Afghanistan ever changed in the face of invasions? If they have not, how are we doing things different to insure positive change over there? What are the chances that anything we do in the next 10 years will get rid of the Taliban and any organization like them, forever? Will it be worth it to stay in a perpetual state of War, and police Afghanistan indefinitely? Can we afford to better arm Afghanistan and leave the Country? Isn’t that what has happened to Afghanistan for hundreds and thousands of years?

There are many questions that have not answered properly, publically or privately. Afghanistan is similar to Vietnam in a few ways, although it is not a jungle. Both resistance fighters use guerilla warfare. Both conflicts are not dependent on how many troops we send, if our politics stop us from going all out. One important way that they are different is that North Vietnam had more of an actual army and location, instead of being scattered all over as the Taliban are. In some ways, we could say that attacking Afghanistan is like attacking the Confederate Southern States of America. If Union forces continued to police and invade the South even to this day, would we defeat the KKK and racism in the South? Or would we strengthen the underground opposition to our own forces, promoting terrorism?

Just as there are Neo-Nazis today, there will be remnants of our enemies after we defeat them in the future. Perhaps we have already won the Iraq War in 2004, and perhaps we can claim victory in Afghanistan in 2009. If we win a War, does that mean that terrorism from enemy sympathizers will not exist? No. If we do not exterminate the entire enemy, man, woman, and child; there will always be an enemy, even if no more are created through warfare.

We will not nuke or exterminate another people to the extent that we did in the past, because we as Americans are striving to be better than the enemy, better than Hitler. So if we are not willing to go all out and be merciless even beyond the bitter end, then we will not be terrorists, and we will have won the War on Terror. Self-defense deserves its own essay, and War is not self defense against an enemy far smaller than ourselves. We are hands-down the strongest, best trained, most equipped, and largest military power in the World. What do we have to fear? Fear itself.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091007/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_us_afghanistan