Audacious Epigone has an excellent essay on the Crusades, and how they are used by modern anti-Europeans as another tool to blacken us, even though they were more complicated than the popular view could ever make out. The most important part of the essay is the point that the Crusades were not, as we are constantly being told, a senseless and unprovoked attack by Christendom against Islam, it was in fact a very long-delayed retaliation against Islamic expansion into Christian territory, North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia and what is today the Kurdish region was all Christian, and had been so for centuries. Muslims invaded these areas and through force, population displacement, Islamic laws, tax policy, persecution, kidnap, rape and intimidation had managed to convert parts or most of the population to Islam in the centuries of their occupation.
Islam spent a few centuries solidifying as a distinct religion, at first many considered it a Christian heresy, which it could have been, perhaps explaining the welcome their armies received in some places such as Egypt. The Koran spent a few centuries being developed, oddly by Christian monks, and the Arabic script was developed by those same Christian monks! It may have been only by the time of the Crusades, that Islam had become a distinct ‘other’ as opposed to just another heresy!
The Crusades were ostensibly a ‘Holy War’ to liberate Jerusalem from the heathen Saracen, it was a struggle to make the Holy Land, once again Christian and it almost worked!
Although the worst thing to emerge from the Crusades was the merciless plunder of Constantinople, it may be a fact that the Second Rome was loosing its power and going into decline, but I have often wondered what could have been if the Crusades did not besiege and rape Constantinople. Could she have used the Crusader victories to rise once again? Could she have remained a bulwark against the dark forces of the Turks, preventing the suffering of Serbia, Wallachia, Bulgaria and Hungary?
Some things we can never know.