The Crusades Series

An Introduction

An episode in human history commonly referred to as the “Crusades” that took place from 1095 and lasted for almost 200 years has been too often attributed to religions. It has been an implicit symbol and constant reminder of age-long rivalry between Moslems and Christians – as if the bloody battles were testament to the ultimate clash of Islam and Christianity. Some groups today – almost a millennium later – even still believe that the “Holy War” are still being fought because the Crusades never really end.

Whether or not these attributions are true is a simple yet complex matter. Simple for those who already have a firm mindset of religions: be it the belief that religions are always instruments of peace; or the belief that a particular religion is the one and only truth and therefore anything else different are evil and must be destroyed. On the other hand it can be a more complex matter if one decides to look into the historical facts, study the philosophies and theologies of the clashing “religions”, and try to grasp some understanding around the context of the day i.e. medieval age Europe and Middle-East (for example, beheading and killing of hundreds of ordinary foot soldiers as a sign of defeat were considered “normal practice” at the time, whereas a single stroke of signature on a surrender document will do in our time).

In these days and age where religious tensions are still far from over, it has become much more important for us to understand the underlying drivers of conflicts in the name of religions. Especially because when such clash happens today it will no longer be in forms of siege or epic battles between knights and spearmen but as we have seen too often it tend to take forms of bombings in civilian districts – and a nightmare scenario of nuclear or biological catastrophe.

The bright side of things is that we now have much better access to information and insights through internet, books, and numerous other media to help us think and understand what really are at stake compared to our medieval ancestors. Moreover we are also now more empowered to disseminate our learnings to others and stimulate healthy discussions.

These series try to do exactly that. It will cover some mini-episodes or “petite histoire” that happened during the Crusades of 1095-1291 according to the known facts and scholars of history. I must be fair and claim that I am not one of those scholars – I am just a mere amateur individual who puts his interest in the matter. Though the order of the articles may not necessarily be in chronological order, but hopefully the number of articles will grow over time. That said, as with most historical discussions, being fully objective is a challenge. Nevertheless, I will try to make clear distinction between the stories based on facts and my own comments and insights.

The articles are not meant as scientific articles but the facts are based on the reference list below should the readers wish to do further reading. The writings are meant as a reflection of the past that is relevant for today in pursuit of a better future. After all, these are the benefits of studying history in the first place.

First batch of articles are expected to be published in this website by November 2009.

Rotterdam, 19 August 2009

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