The Christian Crusades – What were they?

The Crusades were a series of attempts from about 1095 to 1230 by Europeans to retake land in the Middle East from Muslims. They were brutal, bloody, lengthy, and mostly unsuccessful.

Some leaders of the Crusades drummed up support by using Christ as a rallying cry. The first Crusade was underwritten by the Pope. Others had various degrees of support from the Roman Catholic Church. However, most people involved in the Crusades were not really Christians. Still, history sometimes refers to the Crusades as Christian Crusades because they were devised by people from "Christian" nations who marched against those following Islam.

Christians had predominated in the Holy Land and surrounding areas from about AD 200 to 900 when Muslims gained power and took the area by force. The people living there were enslaved, deported, and murdered. This triggered the Roman Catholic Church and "Christian" kings and other leaders to raise armies to retake the land. These crusading armies, in turn, committed atrocities including forcing people to convert to Christianity at the point of the sword.

Some today use the Crusades to attack Christianity in general. Though charges of brutality and evil are warranted, it is unfair to judge Christians today by the misguided choices of some so-called Christians, and others, hundreds of years ago. Just as blaming all Muslims for terrorism is wrong so, too, is blaming all of Christianity for the Crusades.

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