1.13 The factors that led to the Crusades
By Lúcio Mascarenhas (formerly "Prakash"), Bombay, India
It is a historical fact that Islam began as an overtly militant and aggressive cult in its
fundamental and inherent nature of being & remains so. It was Islam that attacked,
without any provocation whatsoever, its Christian neighbours, overran their lands and
committed genocide and enslaved the remainder.
Let me list the Christian lands and peoples that Islam encroached upon: Roman Arabia,
Arabia Felix, Israel (Philistia), Jordan, Iraq (Chaldea, Assyria and Hadiabene), Syria
(Aram), Lebanon (Phoenicia), Turkey (Bythinia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Galatia, Caria,
Pontus, etc.), Thrace, Egypt (the Copts), Sudan (Nubia and Axum), Libya (Lybia,
Cyrenaica and Tripolitania), Tunisia (Roman Africa Nova et Vetera & Carthage), Algeria
(Roman Africa, Numidia & Gætulia), Morocco(Roman Mauretania), Spain (Roman Iberia),
Portugal (Lusitania), South France ("The Muslims were at last defeated by Charles
Martel at Tours, in 732, just one hundred years from the death of Mohammed"),
Southern Italy (Sicilia & Neapolitania), Malta (Melita), Armenia (Hayastan), Georgia,
Azerbaijan (Roman Albania, not modern Albania which was Roman Illyrica), etc.
The many nations of Iran were Zorastrian, together with the Kurds, Sogdians (Tadjiks)
and the peoples of Ariana. Some Zorastrians escaped the Islamic Conquest and Genocide
to India, becoming the Parsees. Today, even the fanatically Muslim Iranians look back
with horror and loathing on, and denounce that original Conquest and Genocide as the
grossest barbarism (Naqba).
The Turks, as the many Indophile nations of Central Asia and West India (Pakistan &
Afghanistan), were Buddhists and Hindus. Again, we have that same story of unprovoked
aggression, imperialism, colonialism, barbarism. The Turks were forced to become
Muslim, and then went on to perpetrate those same misanthropies on others.
All these lands were subject to Islamic Imperialism, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing,
Colonialism and Demographic Re-Engineering in order to create Islamic majorities.
The Islamic Conquests - really a Naqba (Catastrophe), if there was ever one, began with
the foundation of Islam in the sixth century. On the contrary, the Crusades began only in
the eleventh century, under Pope Urban II (Otto von Lagery), who, at Clermont, France,
in November, 1095 inaugurated it, proclaiming it 'God's Will.'
The Crusades, were thus, chronologically latter to the Islamic Aggressions and in
response to them, and specifically to immediate and gross provocations.
The immediate provocation for the first crusade was the Islamic mistreatment of
Christian pilgrims to Israel — to Jerusalem and the sites connected to Lord Jesus Christ,
together with attempts to deny Christians access to these sites.
1.14 Modern Aftermath of the Crusades
By Robert Spencer
The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in the three
centuries when most of them were fought, according to one expert.
Robert Spencer, author of "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)",
claims that the damage is not in terms of lives lost and property destroyed but is a more
Spencer shared how false ideas about the Crusades are being used by extremists to
foment hostility to the West today.
Q: The Crusades are often portrayed as a militarily offensive venture. Were they?
Spencer: No. Pope Urban II, who called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont
in 1095, was calling for a defensive action — one that was long overdue.
As he explained, he was calling the Crusade because without any defensive action, "the
faithful of God will be much more widely attacked" by the Turks and other Muslim forces.
"For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have
conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the
Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George," Pope Urban II
said in his address. "They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians,
and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have
destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.
"If you permit them to continue thus for a while with impunity, the faithful of God will be
much more widely attacked by them."
He was right. Jihad warfare had from the seventh century to the time of Pope Urban
conquered and Islamised what had been over half of Christendom. There had been no
response from the Christian world until the Crusades.
Q: What are some popular misconceptions about the Crusades?
Spencer: One of the most common is the idea that the Crusades were an unprovoked
attack by Europe against the Islamic world.
In fact, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim
aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.
Early in the eighth century 60 Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around
the same time the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium
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and had them all executed as spies — except for a small number who converted to Islam.
Muslims also demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the
Resurrection if they didn't pay.
Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He
also increased the tax on non-Muslims — jizya — that Christians had to pay and forbade
Christians to engage in religious instruction of their own children and fellow believers.
Early in the ninth century the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of
Christians fled for Constantinople and other Christian cities. In 937, Muslims went on a
rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary
and the Church of the Resurrection.
In 1004, the Fatimid Caliph, Abu 'Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim, ordered the destruction of
churches, the burning of crosses, and the seizure of church property. Over the next 10
years 30,000 churches were destroyed, and untold numbers of Christians converted to
Islam simply to save their lives.
In 1009, al-Hakim commanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem be
destroyed, along with several other churches, including the Church of the Resurrection.
In 1056, the Muslims expelled 300 Christians from Jerusalem and forbade European
Christians from entering the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
When the Seljuk Turks took Jerusalem in 1077, the Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised
not to harm the inhabitants, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000
Another common misconception is that the Crusades were fought to convert Muslims to
Christianity by force. Glaringly absent from every report about Pope Urban's address at
the Council of Claremont is any command to the Crusaders to convert Muslims.
It was not until over 100 years after the First Crusade, in the 13th century, that
European Christians made any organised attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity,
when the Franciscans began missionary work among Muslims in lands held by the
Crusaders. This effort was largely unsuccessful.
Yet another misconception revolves around the Crusaders' bloody sack of Jerusalem in
The capture of Jerusalem is often portrayed as unique in medieval history, and as the
cause of Muslim mistrust of the West. It might be more accurate to say that it was the
start of a millennium of anti-Western grievance mongering and propaganda.
The Crusaders' sack of Jerusalem was a heinous crime - particularly in light of the
religious and moral principles they professed to uphold. However, by the military
standards of the day, it was not actually anything out of the ordinary.
In those days, it was a generally accepted principle of warfare that if a city under siege
resisted capture, it could be sacked, and while if it did not resist, mercy would be shown.
It is a matter of record that Muslim armies frequently behaved in exactly the same way
when entering a conquered city.
This is not to excuse the Crusaders' conduct by pointing to similar actions. One atrocity
does not excuse another. But it does illustrate that the Crusaders' behaviour in Jerusalem
was consistent with that of other armies of the period — since all states subscribed to the
same notions of siege and resistance.
In 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitate to order the killing of every
Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the Jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took
Antioch from the Crusaders, Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler had
already left the city — so he wrote to him bragging of his massacres of Christians.
Most notorious of all may be the Jihadists' entry into Constantinople on May 29, 1453,
when they, according to historian Steven Runciman, "slew everyone that they met in the
streets, men, women and children without discrimination."
Finally, it is a misconception that Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades. He did
There is no doubt that the belief that Pope John Paul II apologised for the Crusades is
widespread. When he died, the Washington Post reminded its readers "during his long
reign, Pope John Paul II apologised to Muslims for the Crusades, to Jews for anti-
Semitism, to Orthodox Christians for the sacking of Constantinople, to Italians for the
Vatican's associations with the Mafia and to scientists for the persecution of Galileo."
However, John Paul II never actually apologised for the Crusades. The closest he came
was on March 12, 2000, the "Day of Pardon."
During his homily he said: "We cannot fail to recognise the infidelities to the Gospel
committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask
pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some
have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes
sometimes taken toward the followers of other religions."
This is hardly a clear apology for the Crusades.
Q: How have Muslims perceived the Crusades then and now?
Spencer: For centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was thriving, the Crusades were not a
pre-occupation of the Islamic world. They were, after all, failures from a Western
However, with the decline of the military power and unity of the Islamic world, and the
concomitant rise of the West, they have become a focal point of Muslim resentment of
perceived Western encroachment and exploitation.
Q: To what extent are false ideas about the Crusades being used by extremists to foment
hostility to the West today?
Spencer: The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in
the three centuries when most of them were fought — but not in terms of lives lost and
property destroyed. Today's is a more subtle destruction.
The Crusades have become a cardinal sin not only of the Catholic Church but also of the
Western world in general.
They are Exhibit A for the case that the current strife between the Muslim world and
Western, post-Christian civilisation is ultimately the responsibility of the West, which has
provoked, exploited, and brutalised Muslims ever since the first Frankish warriors entered
Osama bin Laden has spoken of his organisation not as al-Qaida but of a "World Islamic
Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders," and called in a fatwa for "Jihad against Jews
Such usage is widespread. On November 8, 2002 — shortly before the beginning of the
Iraqi war that toppled Saddam Hussein — Sheikh Bakr Abed Al-Razzaq Al-Samaraai
preached in Baghdad's Mother of All Battles mosque about "this difficult hour in which the
Islamic nation [is] experiencing, an hour in which it faces the challenge of [forces] of
disbelief of infidels, Jews, crusaders, Americans and Britons."
Similarly, when Islamic Jihadists bombed the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in
December 2004, they explained that the attack was part of larger plan to strike back at
"Crusaders": "This operation comes as part of several operations that are organised and
planned by al-Qaida as part of the battle against the crusaders and the Jews, as well as
part of the plan to force the unbelievers to leave the Arabian Peninsula," the Jihadists
said in a statement.
They also said that Jihad warriors "managed to enter one of the crusaders' big castles in
the Arabian Peninsula and managed to enter the American consulate in Jeddah, in which
they control and run the country."
In the face of this, Westerners should not be embarrassed by the Crusades. It's time to
say, "enough," and teach our children to take pride in their own heritage.
They should know that they have a culture and a history of which they can and should be
grateful; that they are not the children and grandchildren of oppressors and villains; and
that their homes and families are worth defending against those who want to take them
away, and are willing to kill to do so.
1.15 History of the Islamic Ottoman Turkish Empire I (1299-1876)
1. Rise of the Ottomans
By the year 1300, a weakened Byzantium had seen most of its Anatolian provinces lost
among some ten Seljuk Ghazi principalities.
Ertugrul’s son Osman becomes Bey in 1281, by 1299 declared himself a sovereign from
the Seljuk’s, establishing the Ottoman Empire.
- Flag of the Ottoman Empire 1299-1453
- Flag of the Osmanli 1326-1517
- Capture of Bursa – 1326
- Battle of Plocnik – 1386
- Ottoman Battle Flag
- Battle of Kosovo - 1389
- Constantinople - 1452
- Capture of Constantinople - 1453
- Ottoman Flag – 1453 – 1844
- Battle of Chaldiran - 1514
- Sultan Suleiman I – 1520-1566
- Battle of Mohacs - 1526
- Battle of Preveza – 1538
- Battle of Lepanto - 1571
- Capture of Yerevan – 1635
- Capture of Baghdad – 1639
- Second siege of Vienna - 1683
The Ottoman society comprised of many ethnicities: Greek, Armenian, Assyrian, Arab,
Jew, Kurd, Persian, Georgian, Bulgarian, Serb, Hungarian, Croatian, Romanian, Albanian,
etc. The Turk was the ruling and superior element to all others. The Sultanate,
government sectors, viziers, pashas, judges, and the military establishment had to be
Turkish and Muslim. The Janissary Corps was the backbone of the Military. Its members
were forcefully taken from Christian families, converted and raised as Turks. The
Ottoman traditionally got their wives and harem girls from Christian families.
Non-Muslims had to wear a different colour, they could not ride horses, nor carry
weapons. Christians and Jews were called “Kafir” or “Gyavur” (Infidel). The Law of the
land was Islamic Sharia Law.
2. Era of Stagnation (1683-1808)
After its defeat in 1983, the Ottoman Empire went through a stagnation period, during
which many territories ceded. New forces appeared on the horizon, Austria, Britain,
France and Russia. Peter the Great of Russia defeats the Ottomans in 1723 and takes
Dorbent, Baku, and North Atrpatakan (Azerbaijan) from the Turks and Persians. In the
decisive Russian-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Catherine II brings Southern Ukraine, the
Northern Caucasus, and Crimea within the orbit of the Russian Empire. The Turks try to
regain the lost territories, but a united Russian-Austrian force defeats them in 1791 and
1792, and takes Transylvania, Bessarabia and Hungary.
Napoleon invades Egypt in 1798 and takes control over Christian Malta and Christian
Palestine. However, Britain fights France defending the Ottomans. Napoleon withdraws,
the Turks regain Egypt, and Britain is rewarded with Malta.
Following a short battle in 1807 with Britain, the enraged Janissaries depose Sultan Selim
III for his cousin Mustafa IV. Mustafa is deposed after one year for his brother Mahmud
II. Each Sultan subsequently murders his brother. The Ottomans lose more lands from
their crumbling Empire. During the series of wars between 1806 and 1812, the Russians
crush the Ottomans, who sign the Treaty of Bucharest. One day after the Treaty,
Napoleon attacks Russia.
With the “Second Serbian Uprising” in 1815, Serbia gains independence from the
Ottoman Empire with heroes like Karadorde Petrovic and Milos Obrenovic.
Influenced by the writings and murder of Greek author Rigas Feraios, The Greek War of
Independence begins in 1821 and lasts for almost ten years. The Greek people struggle
to rid themselves of Ottoman Turkish tyranny and win their recognised independence in
At the Battle of Navarino, the Sultan closes the Dardanelles for Russian ships and revokes
the Akkerman Convention.
After the Russian-Persian and Russian-Turkish Wars of 1828-1829, the Ottomans
recognise Russian sovereignty over Georgia and Eastern Armenia.
Starting in the 1830’s, the Ottoman Empire became known as the “Sick man of Europe”.
3. Three Reformist Sultans (1808-1876)
Despite the political and military fateful years, Sultan Mahmud II has the courage to
introduce a series of fundamental reforms into the Ottoman Empire. His Vizier, Mustafa
Pasha takes the initiative in resuming reforms but he is killed by the Janissaries. Mahmud
abolishes the Janissary corps in 1826 and establishes a modern Ottoman Army, naming it
Nizam-i Cedid, (New Order).
In 1831 Sultan Mahmud opens the first Government Hospital, and in 1833 introduces a
wide series of reforms in legal, educational, scientific and other policies in an edict called
“Tanzimat” (Reforms). Sultan Mahmud forbids the abuses of the governors and vakifs,
killing of people at will by pashas and agas, and places legal and property arbitrations
under state administration. He dies in 1839.
Sultan Abdulmejid continues his father’s reforms by replacing the Islamic Sharia Law by a
European model Civil Code and Banking system. He establishes the first modern
universities and academies, abolishes some unfair taxes on non-Muslims, and brings
various provisions for the better administration of the public service.
In 1854 Britain and France along with the Ottomans go to war against Russia in the
Crimean Peninsula. The allied forces defeat Russia and impose heavy conditions in the
Treaty of Paris, signed in 1856. At the closing of the Crimean War of 1856, Sultan
Abdulmejid decrees the “Hatt-i Humayun” thus promising equality in education,
government appointments, and administration of justice to all regardless of creed. The
greatest change was the Ottoman State’s acceptation of the notion of “minorities”.
Muslim government organisations (civil and military schools) begin to accept non-Muslim
citizens. The official state language (in documentation) principle (Turkish) was broken,
and the Empire becomes a multi-language system. Patriarchates begin to administer
justice on the state level. Sultan Abdulmejid dies at the young age of 39 in 1861.
Sultan Abdulaziz continues his brother’s reformist works. He authorises the Armenian
National constitution in 1863, granting them rights in running educational, cultural, civic,
social, charitable and religious matters. In 1871-76, Sultan Abdulaziz faces opposition
from Islamic conservative and fanatic elements, demanding the return of the Sharia Law
and the rule of Islam. His reformist Viziers, Fuad and Ali Pashas die in 1869 and 1871.
The reaction from the conservatives was the rise of the liberal party, led by Midhat Pasha.
As a result of the ensuing inner conflict, Sultan Abdulaziz was deposed and murdered in
After the 1870-71 French-German War, Nationalism was on the rise across Europe. It was
fanning the feelings of independence among its subjects, even among Turks. The Empires
in Europe were heading towards war.
The three reformist sultans, worked hard to gather all their subjects under the idea of
“Ottomanism”, in order to keep the falling Empire. They rejected the notion of
“Turkishness”, as historians E. Chelebi and I. M. D’Ohson testify. As a result of the
Russian-Turkish wars and the rising local nationalism, the ruling Ottoman element began
calling itself as the “Turk”. Abdulmejid’s son, Murad V rules for 93 days in 1876. He is
deposed on the accusations of being mentally ill. He is placed under house arrest for the
rest of his life, dying in 1904.
History of the Ottoman Turkish Empire II (1876-1909)
4. The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire
The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were mainly living on their millennial ancestral
homeland, called the “Eastern Six Vilayets” under the millet system. They were also
populous in Cilicia and the major cities of Ottoman Turkey, where many rose to
prominent positions in finance and business. In accordance to the dhimmi system,
Armenians, as Christians and Jews, living under the Islamic laws, were guaranteed
limited freedoms such as the right to worship but were, in effect, treated as second-class
citizens. They were forbidden to carry weapons and to ride horses, their children were
subject to the Devshirmeh system (giving up boys to be forcefully converted to Muslims
and raised as Turks), their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, and the ringing of
church bells could not disturb Muslims. Testimony against Muslims by them was
inadmissible in courts no matter the crime. Violating the dhimmi system, would result in
punishment carried out by the authorities ranging from paying fines to the execution of
In the nineteenth century, frustrations with these restrictions lead many of the minorities
to protest for greater freedom. In 1839, the Ottomans implemented the Tanzimat
reforms to help improve the situation, although they were mostly ineffective. When
several ethnicities of the Balkans, frustrated with the prevailing conditions, had often
revolted against Ottoman rule, Armenians remained dormant during these years, earning
them the title of “millet-i sadika” or the “loyal millet.”
In the mid-1860’s to early 1870’s under the reform laws of Sultan Abdulmejid, Armenians
began to ask for better treatment from the Ottoman government, after amassing the
signatures of peasants from eastern Anatolia. The Armenian Communal Council
petitioned the government to relieve the situation of towns: Widespread forced land
seizure, forced conversion of women and children, arson, protection extortion, rape and
murder was common. Other problems were improprieties during tax collection, criminal
behaviour by government officials and the refusal to accept Christians as witnesses in
trial. Despite the set rules, local Turks, Kurds and other Muslims treated their Christian
neighbours as before.
5. The Red Sultan (1876-1909)
At this crucial time, Abdulhamid II accede the throne, becoming the 34
Sultan. He was
tyrannical, debauched, mistrustful and ruthless. He takes over a country with an empty
treasury and banking defaults. While power being in the hands of Midhat Pasha and the
“New Ottomans” (a progressive movement), Abdulhamid promises Midhat a constitution
on the European model. He passes the first constitution of Ottoman Turkey in 1876 on
the eve of an international conference on the question of reforms in the Balkans. By
January 1877 and at the end of the conference, he removes Midhat Pasha as Grand Vizier
and dissolves the Parliament. Midhat Pasha is exiled and murdered on his orders in 1884.
Abdulhamid considers that the political structures of western norms are not applicable
with the centuries old Ottoman political culture. To build his treasury, he imposes a heavy
tax burden over his subjects, especially the Christians.
Bosnia revolts against the taxation in 1875 and Bulgaria follows in 1876 to become free
from the Ottomans. The Turks ruthlessly massacre more than 12 000 men, women and
children in Bulgaria, and thousands more all over the Balkans. The Treaty of Kucuk
Kaynarca of 1774 gave Russia the right to interfere in Ottoman affairs to protect the
Sultan’s Christian subjects. The British Government defends the Ottoman actions, and a
furious Russia declares war.
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