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Islam wasn't really the intended target: the target was increased Papal control over Christendom. The Crusades were largely a means to that end, initially.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 11:20:37 AM EST
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Papal control was the stated purpose; however, those who participated in the Crusades fought for cities that were under Muslim rule, it seems (I say "it seems" because my knowledge of the Crusades is very sparse-- we never really covered them in school, limiting the years between 0 and 1492 to: the Magna Carta, reading The Once and Future King, and writing really bad papers about Charlemagne. I'm trying to fill in my knowledge, but 1400 years can take a while). Thus "target," as in where they were aiming their weapons. Persecuting Jews wasn't part of the original plan, from what I understand, just a by-product of anti-Semitism, if that makes any sense.

So here are these lands that Christianity wants, and they're ruled by Muslims. Again, I wonder if this didn't create a psychological barrier between the two religions. Not only was Islam not a part of Christianity, but it was an active occupier in the eyes of much of Europe.

I said that most of 0-1492 was not really covered; I did have the opportunity in high school to take an elective on Islam. Again, the Crusades weren't really covered, just the origins and beliefs of the religion, and comparisons to Christianity and Judaism. I did get to help the teacher organize a field trip to a local mosque in LA. When some of the men sitting outside found out some of us were Jewish, they actually seemed happy, smiling and telling us we had "so much in common."

by lychee on Fri Mar 30th, 2007 at 10:06:15 PM EST
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We could also say that the knights' true goal was not to beat out Muslims from the Holy Land, but to use the opportunity to gain feudal lands for themselves. The pillaging on the road to Palestina (especially the overthrow of the remains of the Byzantine Empire, but also everywhere else) also supports that view...

Regarding general history of Christianity vs. Islam, some things to consider:

  • You more seem to think of Western Christianity, yet the Eastern one in the Byzantine Empire and Armenia had a history of confrontation with the empire(s) of Mohhamed and his successors practically from the first decades.
  • Western Christian countries first had major conflict with Islamic rivals when the latter took over the Iberian Peninsula, and their invasion of France had to be stopped.
  • Still in the First Millenium, even the hearthland of Western Christianity, Italy, was raided, and there were fighting Popes who led armies themselves.
  • The Holy Land was not a core area of Islamic empires. What's more, thechallenge from the Crusades was dwarfed by conflicts like with the Mongols. Until 19th-century European imperialism and the I/P conflict made all cultures focus on this history, for Islamic cultures, the Crusades were more like peripheral squirmishes.
  • Christian countries (both East and West) got their biggest Islamic challenge with the rise of the Ottoman Empire. This empire first at up the remains of the Byzantine Empire, then the Balkans, then when Crusades started against them failed, subjugated the Hungarian Kingdom and the Tatars in what is now Ukraine, and then was an existential danger for Venice, Austria, Poland/Lithuania and Russia for two centuries, fighting several major wars (on the scale or larger than the Crusades against the Holy Land) against each of these.
  • Note that the Ottoman Empire also subjugated most Arab lands.
  • Also note that beyond the Crusades for the Holy Land, against the Cathars, and against the Ottoman Empire, there were also ones against the Slavic and Baltic pagans that remained between Russia and the German empire. (Lithuania was born from a defense alliance against such one, and was so successful that it grew into a short-lived empire, going Christian voluntarily in the process.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 31st, 2007 at 03:38:07 PM EST
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Their history was as much one of accommodation than confrontation.
As for religious hostility - at the time of the first crusade, it is estimated that over 50% of the population of Syrian and Palestine was Christian - after 500 years of Muslim rule.  It was after the 3rd Crusade, I believe, that the Muslims finally started to think of Christians as a 5th column - and begin to make proselytization and conversion state policy.
by cambridgemac on Sun Apr 1st, 2007 at 12:03:53 AM EST
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