12 October 2004

The Crusades: dispelling myths?

The Catholic news service Zenit carries a two-part interview with Prof. Thomas Madden of St. Louis University in which he undertakes to shatter popular misconceptions about the Crusades. If Madden is correct in this, then it seems we shall have to revise our understanding of a series of events that were more complex than we generally give them credit for.

However, one might doubt this statement: "The overwhelming majority of the population in the Crusader states was Muslim." Possibly. But if "Bat Ye'or" and Philip Jenkins are correct, the muslim-dominated near east and north Africa may have retained a christian majority well into the late middle ages.

I might add that Orthodox Christians have good reason to dislike the Crusaders, who sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Yet it is worth noting that Pope Innocent III condemned and excommunicated the perpetrators of this atrocity.

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