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It's been in the news, so I thought I'd pass along the text — I had decided that I ought to read it, and I thought others might want to as well. Here's the most relevant excerpt:

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

I read the whole piece, and it struck me that it would have been more apt if it had also discussed why it was that the Christian world had on many occasions turned to "spreading the faith through violence." But of course the reaction to the speech would have been more apt if it hadn't included calls for silencing the Pope through violence; and the difference between these two inaptnesses is quite vast.

UPDATE: Stuart Buck, in comments, pointed to a post that pointed to what seemed to be a more accurate, and nontrivially different translation (note the inclusion of "a brusqueness which leaves us astounded").

FURTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, commenter Dylanfa reports that "Slate claims the 'which leaves us astounded' language was added to the transcript after the controversy as damage control, and was not actually in the speech as given, which simply noted 'brusqueness.'" UPDATE ON MONDAY: Slate has withdrawn this assertion.

YET FURTHER UPDATE: Stuart Buck reports that the speech as given did have the "astounded" language, and points to the German-language video/audio file (the Pope on YouTube — is this a great decade, or what?). Stuart doesn't speak German himself, but is relying on a translation provided by Prof. Horace Hodges. If there are German-speaking readers who can shed light on this, I'd love to hear about it. (UPDATE: I asked Sasha, who knows German, and he agrees with Prof. Hodges' translation.)

In the meantime, Ben Brumfeld points to a Wikipedia piece on the translation differences between the German and the English texts; the Wikipedia author appears to have verified at least one of the differences using the audio:

Commenting on a quote from the Byzantine emperor, Pope Benedict states in the English translation of his lecture, "he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness". According to the German text the Pope's original comment was "He addresses his interlocutor in an astoundingly harsh — to us surprisingly harsh — way" (wendet er sich in erstaunlich schroffer, uns überraschend schroffer Form).[5]

This difference was corrected on 17 September. The official (though still "provisional") passage now reads: "he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded". (emphasis in original)

Another difference involves the use of the word "jihad", which is present in the German version but not in the English one: the original statement "The emperor touches on the theme of jihad, holy war" (kommt der Kaiser auf das Thema des Djihad, des heiligen Krieges zu sprechen) became in the English rendition "The emperor touches on the theme of the holy war."

A third difference involves the emperor's quote employed by the Pope: "...things only evil and inhuman...". What the Pope said, and which is found in the German text and verifiable with the audio from the lecture, was "... things only bad and inhumane ... ". The word used was "Schlechtes" (bad/wicked), whereas the English word "evil" would have corresponded to "Böses", a word the Pope did not use. Similarly, the German word "inhuman" (inhumane) was used, and not "unmenschlich" (inhuman).

Stuart Buck (mail):
A more accurate translation of Benedict's speech indicates that he distanced himself a bit more from the emperor's quotation.
9.21.2006 2:24pm
Mr. X (www):
A pox on both their houses. Religion is a dangerous thing per se.

However, convincing people who malign your religion as violent is probably best done without resort to violence.
9.21.2006 2:35pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
I was reading George Friedman's post on Stratfor. He said in effect, that the Pope's remark was strategically planned and calculated. This was based on the assertion that the Pope's speech passed through his dozen or censors and staff. In effect it was a subtle hint that he's tired of Christianity being vilified in the Muslim media as Crusaders. Also as a tacit hint at approval of U.S. policy in Iraq, although the U.S. war in Iraq was not approved by his predecessor, it was a way of saying he'd prefer the U.S. not be defeated either. Another aspect was that the Pope may apologize all he wants about not wanting to offend and get away without retracting the original speech, since it was a quote. Hence it was added to the speech on purpose.
9.21.2006 2:35pm
Tracy Johnson (www):
(I meant "dozen or so censors" in above comment.
9.21.2006 2:37pm
AF:
Three points:

1. Whatever the Pope's precise words, he quoted the Byzantine emperor approvingly.

2. The offensive part of the quote isn't that it criticized Mohammed for spreading violence, but that the "only" thing that Mohammed "brought that was new" was "things . . . evil and inhuman." The quote isn't just a criticism, but a wholesale condemnation of Islam, equivalent to calling the religion itself evil.

3. Obviously, the violent reactions to the Pope's statement are condemnable. But two wrongs don't make a right.
9.21.2006 3:09pm
Rob J (mail):
Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

Using violence in an attempt to convert someone to your religion is futile. Christian or Muslim.

Mr. X is spot on. "I'm so outraged that you're portraying me as a violent suicide bomber that I'm going to strap a bomb to my chest and blow some shit up to prove to you that I'm not."

Riiiight.
9.21.2006 3:16pm
Tom952 (mail):
The Pope does indeed speak from a tarnished podium when criticizing violence done in the name of religion.

We forget that no one has a line of communication with the creator of the universe. Religion is a personal philosphy.
9.21.2006 3:30pm
Dylanfa (mail) (www):
Slate claims the "which leaves us astounded" language was added to the transcript after the controversy as damage control, and was not actually in the speech as given, which simply noted "brusqueness."
9.21.2006 3:36pm
Andy R. (mail) (www):
I read the same article as Dylanfa, and it probably means you should remove or alter your UPDATE.

If the speech was in fact changed after it was given, it only further shows that the Pope (or his handlers) realized how damaging the speech was originally and that it had to be rephrased.
9.21.2006 3:40pm
Joel B. (mail):
I read the whole piece, and it struck me that it would have been more apt if it had also discussed why it was that the Christian world had on many occasions turned to "spreading the faith through violence."

Is this really fair? Did not Christian faith spread largely due not through violence by Christians, but by violence done to Christians? And their martyrdom?

Even more so, how many of the violent acts that Christians engaged in, were about "spreading" the faith. Even the crusades were mostly political, not about spreading the faith per se, but "restoring" control of the holy land. There's a significant difference there about whether faith is to be "spread" by violence. Moreover, even the inquisition, although deplorable, was not about "spreading" the faith, instead it was largely about "maintaining" the faith (a euphamism sure, but I can't think of a better way to put it.) The inquisition was largely designed to combat heterodoxy, while inappropriate to use violence to do that, that also is not the same as "spreading" the faith.
9.21.2006 3:55pm
Christopher M (mail):
Jon Stewart had the best analysis of this contretemps I've seen. The video is available here.
9.21.2006 3:59pm
Ben Brumfield (www):
Wikipedia does a surprisingly good job of covering the wording changes and the differences between the German original and English translation here.
9.21.2006 4:19pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Dylanfa: Thanks very much, updated the post. By the way, if people have corrections like this that they think are worth an UPDATE, please e-mail them to me as well as posting comments; sometimes I check the comments relatively often, but sometimes I don't.
9.21.2006 4:20pm
Toby:
TOm:

We forget that no one has a line of communication with the creator of the universe. Religion is a personal philosphy

See, that is *your* view of Religion. It is clearly not the view of those killing nuns and blowing things up

Failure to recognize this difference bespeaks an inability to view the larger world that reaches toward Narcissim.
9.21.2006 4:34pm
Stuart Buck (mail):
Slate claims the "which leaves us astounded" language was added to the transcript after the controversy as damage control, and was not actually in the speech as given, which simply noted "brusqueness."

Well, yes, the "which leaves us astounded" language was added to the TRANSLATION. But how is that relevant? If the phrasing was in the original German version of the speech -- as it seems to have been -- then how is it merely "damage control" to make sure the translation is accurate?
9.21.2006 4:40pm
Mark Field (mail):

Is this really fair? Did not Christian faith spread largely due not through violence by Christians, but by violence done to Christians? And their martyrdom?


It's pretty fair. Read this book. Also, remember that Jews in Spain and Portugal were given the choice of forcible conversion or expulsion/death. The Reformation also involved a good deal of "convert or be killed" practices.
9.21.2006 4:40pm
Stuart Buck (mail):
Thanks to the Internet, I have proof positive that Slate is wrong. The video of Pope Benedict delivering his speech in German is on YouTube here: At 2:48 to 2:53, he utters the words "in erstaunlich schroffer, uns überraschend schroffer Form ganz einfach." These are precisely the German words that, according to this this professor, are properly translated, "with an astonishing brusqueness, for us an astounding brusqueness, bluntly."

So Slate is flat out wrong. The original German speech did include that text. While the English translation may have been changed, that could only have been to correct the original inaccuracy.
9.21.2006 5:06pm
Rob Johnson (mail):
If the speech was in fact changed after it was given, it only further shows that the Pope (or his handlers) realized how damaging the speech was originally and that it had to be rephrased.


Or . . . maybe it shows that the speech was incorrectly or (more appropriately in this case) not completely translated into English. It's interesting that Slate points out that additional language was added without commenting on the accuracy of that additional language. Sloppy.
9.21.2006 5:41pm
Matt22191 (mail):
Eugene,

"I read the whole piece, and it struck me that it would have been more apt if it had also discussed why it was that the Christian world had on many occasions turned to 'spreading the faith through violence.'"

But if you've read the speech, you should know that the speech wasn't about spreading faith through violence per se; it was about the nexus between faith and reason, with the quote from the emperor serving merely as an introduction to the idea that "not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature." The Pope agreed with Emperor Manuel's claim that acting unreasonably is contrary to God. That says nothing about his assessment of the Emperor's specific, factual charges against Islam. (The fact that I agree with a rule you've laid down doesn't imply that I agree with your application of it in a particular case, does it?) And having introduced his topic, why should the Pope have then taken off on a tangential apology for examples of Christian conversion by the sword? Again, that simply wasn't the topic of the speech.


AF,

The Pope quoted the Byzantine emperor approvingly only on the point that, "not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature." Some people might take issue with that claim as a theological matter, but I very much doubt that's what's behind the protests and threats against the Pope.


Anyone who thinks the Pope implicitly endorsed Manuel II's assessment of Islam will have to explain how that supposed implicit endorsement squares with these explicit comments about Islam by the same Pope. It seems to me that either a lot of people are badly misinterpreting these most recent comments, the Pope was lying through his teeth in August of 2005, or his views of Islam have changed radically in the past thirteen months. To me, at least, the first explanation seems rather more plausible than the other two.
9.21.2006 6:08pm
A.S.:
On the other hand, commenter Dylanfa reports that "Slate claims the 'which leaves us astounded' language was added to the transcript after the controversy as damage control, and was not actually in the speech as given, which simply noted 'brusqueness.'"

YET FURTHER UPDATE: Stuart Buck reports that the speech as given did have the "astounded" language,


Soooo, Slate and Tim Noah caught in another lie. How surprising. Not.
9.21.2006 6:17pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
A.S.: There may indeed be an error in Slate's coverage -- but what reason do you have for thinking that it's a "lie"? Among other things, if Slate knew their objection was false, they must have realized that someone would call them on it and make them look bad. Isn't it more plausible to assume (again, if indeed their assertions were incorrect) that they made an honest error, than that they lied and deliberately ran the risk of embarrassment?
9.21.2006 6:32pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Once again, we have (certain fanatical) Muslims responding to words they don't like by murdering innocent people. I find it ironic that they are responding to what they are saying is an accusation of violence with...
violence.
Of course, this is only a small fringe group. Just because few, if any, mainstream Muslims are condemning this violence doesn't mean that they approve of it, does it?
9.21.2006 6:35pm
A.S.:
EV: Isn't it common parlance these days on blogs (and elsewhere) to say "X lied!" when the relevent points are (a) X made an error and (b) you don't like X? You can infer the X's intent from (b). The most famous example, of course, being "Bush lied!" I forget, when it comes to language, are you a prescriptivist or a descriptivist?

Anyway, if you consider my comment to be invective, I apologize, and withdraw it.

How about a test, though? You e-mail Noah about the error (he is certainly more likely to see/respond to your e-mail than mine). If they print a correction, then you are right - it was certainly an error. If they don't print a correction, then I'm right - it was deliberate. What say you?
9.21.2006 7:19pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
A.S.

From a journalistic standpoint, I'd be more interested in learning, from Slate, why they assumed the changes were made "apparently in an unacknowledged attempt to mollify critics," without doing any simple research, a la Stuart Buck, to confirm that fact.

- Alaska Jack
9.21.2006 7:55pm
Horace Jeffery Hodges (mail) (www):
I'm the professor whom Stuart Buck mentioned as having noted the poor English translation of the Pope's original German remarks.

A better English translation won't make this current controversy go away, but if the initial translation had been complete and correct from the beginning, then radical Islamists would have faced more difficulty misconstruing the Pope's words, whipping up violent riots, and inciting to murder.

Unfortunately, that initial English translation -- which the Vatican didn't check carefully enough before posting as an official, if provisional, text -- will continue to distort discussion of the Pope's argument.

As for the Pope's argument itself, I've posted a short piece today in response to Tariq Ramadan's reading of the talk ... in case anyone's interested.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *
9.21.2006 8:35pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
A.S.: I e-mailed Tim Noah about this right before I put up the update pointing to Stuart Buck's post; I look forward to seeing Noah's response.
9.21.2006 8:36pm
SeaLawyer:

A pox on both their houses. Religion is a dangerous thing per se.

The Pope does indeed speak from a tarnished podium when criticizing violence done in the name of religion.


It is still amazing to me that people will try to justify muslim violence, by comparing Catholics to muslims.
9.21.2006 9:47pm
Lev:

As for the Pope's argument itself, I've posted a short piece today in response to Tariq Ramadan's reading of the talk ... in case anyone's interested.


Nice summary.

Tariq Ramadan on the Pope's Message


The Pope's larger theme lay in his subtle argument that Islam might have a problem with violence because it has a problem in its theology. If God's nature is defined centrally by his radically free will, then believers cannot appeal to reason in their aim to convert nonbelievers but must demand submission to an arbitrary God who cannot be rationally understood. If the force of reason cannot be used in converting nonbelievers, then the force of violence will be.
9.22.2006 2:39am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Most of the spread of Christianity throughout Europe occurred before the church was nationalized. State religion was a long-standing Christian heresy; the Bible clearly defined the church as a voluntary private-sector entity. The heresy was rooted in a) tradition - nations had never existed without a state church, and b) the moonbat assumption that the Christian church was authorized to assume the political powers delegated to theocratic Israel.

(Not even the Law of Moses supported forced conversions or punishment for general heresy beyond a few specific examples such as sorcery.)

State religion served to preserve social order. Small rival sects might be tolerated, but discriminatory laws will be put in place to contain those faiths' influence. Pogroms are instituted when such sects are viewed as a significant threat, as in politically fragile Iberia in the wake of the Reconquista. Or the Reformation, in which Protestant sects not only disagreed on Scripture but also resented having a tiny Italian city-state meddling in their native politics and even levying taxes.

Take away the state church, and you take away the vast majority of the abuses historically associated with Christendom.

Christain Europe was able to abandon state religion because the Bible doesn't support it. Mohammed instituted a state church and engaged in wars of aggression, so I am not optimistic that Islam can remain faithful to its prophet and allow for a religiously pluralistic society.

Recall that when Mohammed conquered Mecca he didn't let the local polytheists keep their local shrine - he turned it into a mosque. The Turks were doing what Mohammed would do when the Hagia Sophia faced a similar renovation.
9.22.2006 5:01am
Horace Jeffery Hodges (mail) (www):
Thanks, Lev. There's really quite a lot in the Pope's talk, but much of it is subterranean, hidden, for this Pope is an intellectual, and one has to recognize the references to understand some of what he's talking about.

His crucial points escaped the media, I'm afraid, and those looking for soundbites were destined to latch onto his quotation from the Byzantine emperor, blowing that colorful remark all out of proportion and misconstruing it, too. The English translation didn't help.

I'm not Catholic, by the way, in case anyone were wondering, and I wasn't especially pleased when Ratzinger was chosen as Pope, but I've come to respect his intellect and learning ... which is far beyond my own.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *
9.22.2006 7:33am
Gary McGath (www):
I'm not quite fluent in German, but know it pretty well. On most points, I think you've got it right. The German word "inhuman" isn't in my vocabulary, but an online dictionary translates it with the English word "inhuman" rather than "inhumane," and "Inhumanität" as "inhumanity." So "inhuman" may in fact be the better translation, but don't take me as an authority on that.
9.22.2006 12:09pm
A.C.:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how the quote was translated into Arabic? Or Urdu? If there is this much slippage between German and English, how much must there be going into other languages? Especially when many of the translators probably had an agenda.
9.22.2006 2:35pm
r4d20 (mail):

Did not Christian faith spread largely due not through violence by Christians, but by violence done to Christians? And their martyrdom?



The "persecution" of early Christians has been FAR overstated in Christian sources. For the most part - its basically all lies.
9.22.2006 3:14pm
r4d20 (mail):


It is still amazing to me that people will try to justify muslim violence, by comparing Catholics to muslims.



Catholics are worse - just as violent but much biggewr hypocrites about it.
9.22.2006 3:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Catholics are worse - just as violent but much biggewr hypocrites about it.

You fail to make some important distinctions between Catholics and Muslims that traces back to their origins. First you need to understand Islam unlike the other Abrahamic religions is necessarily a polity as well as a personal faith. Islam has no place for civil society (everything between the government and the family) as the Koran prescribes everything about how a people are to live and conduct their affairs. We should not find it surprising to find that Islam has expanded not only with missionaries, but also by armed conquest. Furnish (professor of Islamic history) in this essay sets the record straight. The Koran enjoins to the faithful:


• Surah Muhammad [47]:3 says “When you meet the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads….
• Surah Anfal [8]:12 says “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the tips of their fingers.”
• Surah al-Nisa’[4]:74 says “Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of God….”
• Surah al-Nisa’[4]:56 says “The true believer fights for the cause of God, but the infidel fights for the devil.”
• Surah al-Nisa’[4]:101 says “The unbelievers are your inveterate enemies.”
• Surah al-Ma’idah [5]:51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.”



Now there are parts of the Koran that seem to mitigate these dictums, but for the most part many Muslims ignore them. As Furnish points out you can only find a single passage in the New Testament that could possibly construed as advocating violence:

Matthew 10:34: “[Jesus said] Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

However one must realize this sentence carries more a metaphoric than a literal meaning. Read Furnish.

When Catholics engage in violence, they really are hijacking the religion, but Muslims can count on the Koran (the literal word of G_d) and their founder for support. This is not to say that Muslims must engage in violence and many don’t, but you can’t escape the fact that plenty of violence is “built in.”
9.22.2006 4:33pm
Jam (mail):
Old Testament: The only thing that comes to allowing for violence is very limited. Limited to taking a specific piece of land and to removeing inhabitants. Inhabitants that were judged by God and found guilty of human sacrifices, among others. There is nothing in the Old Testament as to going around the world forcing others to convert.

New Testament: Can someone point to me where it commands, or even allows, for forcible conversions? Not in there! What people do in the name of Christ and what Christ actually taught are two different things.

Qur'an: Several places were violence against, or double-dealing with, non-Muslims is encourage. Many of those passages are ambigious whether those commands are bound in time and space and now relegated to the past.

And, when are people are going to start pointing out that Europe (while commiting fraticide) was almost conquered by the Muslims? The so called Crusades were a reaction to Muslim expansions.
9.22.2006 5:08pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Harvey asks, 'Just because few, if any, mainstream Muslims are condemning this violence doesn't mean that they approve of it, does it?'

Beats me. If they don't say anything, I cannot guess what they're thinking.

But if it comes to a showdown -- which their co-religionists are bent on having -- it does make it hard for us infidels to separate the sheep from the goats.

Me, personally, I don't think any more that it would even be worthwhile to try.

Anyhow, I was in New York when this started, and 'mainstream Muslims' there were having quite a bit to say. Not only were none that I observed condemning the violent reaction, they were busy pope-bashing themselves.
9.22.2006 9:04pm
Mark Field (mail):

The so called Crusades were a reaction to Muslim expansions.


Hogwash. In the West, Charles Martel defeated the Muslims at Tours in 732. There never again was a Muslim incursion into France. The Crusades started in 1096.

In the East, the entire Byzantine Empire was in the way of the Muslims; their only problem was with the Turks, and it was a self-inflicted wound (Manzikert). There was no Muslim "expansion" anywhere near Europe, the Crusaders did nothing to help the Byzantines, and the assaults on Palestine were not even remotely motivated by any Muslim "expansion" (the Muslims had conquered Palestine in 638).
9.22.2006 10:14pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Mark, that was a remarkably ignorant post. Did you never hear of Roncevalles? The invasion by Muslims of Sicily and southern Italy? Of Greece? Lepanto?

Muslims continued raiding and taking slaves in western Europe into the 17th century. In the 19th, if you count maritime warfare.
9.23.2006 12:23am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):

The so called Crusades were a reaction to Muslim expansions.
Hogwash. In the West, Charles Martel defeated the Muslims at Tours in 732. There never again was a Muslim incursion into France. The Crusades started in 1096.
(Wikipedia article on the Crusades here.)

Islamic empires had seized huge portions of Christendom in the Near East and North Africa, and were a contant threat to Europe. The First Crusade was specifically concerned with the Seljuk Turks' advances toward Byzantium, as well as retaking some of those lost portions of Christendom. The Second was triggered by the Turkish conquest of Edessa. Saladin recaptured Jerusalem in 1187, triggering the The Third and Fourth Crusades. were attempts to liberate Jerusalem. The Fifth was yet another attempt to recapture the Holy Land. The Sixth, launched without papal sanction, actually succeeded for a time. Louis IX organized the Seventh in response to the Khwarezmian conquest of Jerusalem, and the Eighth in response to Baibar attacks against the Crusader states. Edward I of England launched the Ninth Crusade, in a last attempt to recapture the Holy Lands. All Western control over those lands were eliminated, and would not return until the aftermath of WWI.

The Albigensian Crusade was a purge of heretics in France; why it is lumped with the Crusades I do not know. (Yeah, it had papal sanction, but so did the Inquisition (granted by Sixtus IV under duress imposed by Ferdinand II of Aragon) and Julius II's expansion of the Papal States - and neither of those were Cursades. The Children's Crusade of 1212, which occurred between the Fourth and Fifth Crusades, was an attempt to retake Holy Lands and whose history is both contested and utterly weird.
9.23.2006 5:07am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
An even mroe interesting question, in light of this, is why the Pope has not come to the defense as the days pass of our President *el Diablo* as he has been characterized by Venezuelan President hugo Chavez. Nor has Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, or anyone else come to the alleged President *el Diablo's* defense to assure that he is not. I am only asking the question "why hasn't," not drawing my own conclusion about the merits of the accusation, either way.
9.23.2006 4:28pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
That's the only question anyone's been asking since Chavez spoke at the UN the other day ...
9.23.2006 4:35pm
Mark Field (mail):

Mark, that was a remarkably ignorant post. Did you never hear of Roncevalles? The invasion by Muslims of Sicily and southern Italy? Of Greece? Lepanto?


Ignorant? Let's see. Here's the comment I responded to:

"The so called Crusades were a reaction to Muslim expansions."

Now, let's consider what a "reaction" might NOT be. A "reaction" is NOT waiting 350 years (since Tours) or 450 years (since the fall of Jerusalem). A "reaction" does NOT involve bypassing the only actual Muslim "expansion" going on at the time, but instead attacking an entirely different set of people who had NEVER attacked you or your allies and had NOTHING to do with the "expansion". A "reaction" is NOT motivated by something entirely different than the "expansion".

Now let's look at your 3 examples. They are all based on apparent ignorance of basic dates. Let me sort them out one by one:

1. Roncevalles is in Spain, not France. More to the point, the battle there happened when Charlemagne invaded Spain, not when the Muslims invaded France.

2. Lepanto was in 1571. The crusades had been over for 300 years by then. What ARE you talking about?

3. The Muslims conquered Sicily by 902. The Normans reconquered it by 1090. The first Crusade was not until 1098 (1096 if you count Urban II's speech).

Every single point you raised was historically irrelevant to the Crusades. There is ignorance of history in this thread, but I'm not the one who's guilty of it.

Islamic empires had seized huge portions of Christendom in the Near East and North Africa

Entirely true. But those conquests were finished by the 700s. The Crusades came 400 years later. It is ridiculous to claim that the Crusades "reacted to" the Muslim conquests when there was a 400 year gap. Unless you think that England could invade Spain today "in reaction to" the Armada.

The First Crusade was specifically concerned with the Seljuk Turks' advances toward Byzantium

It's true that the Byzantine Emperor asked for help against the Turks (note: not against Muslims per se, against Turks). The Crusaders, however, set out for the Holy Land, where there were no Turks (the Turks had already lost Palestine to the Fatimids by then). As far as the Crusaders were concerned, the Turks were a distraction from their real goal.


The Second was triggered by the Turkish conquest of Edessa.


That was not a "conquest", that was a re-conquest. It's absurd to say that the Crusades were "in reaction to" the Muslim conquests, when the Muslims simply reconquered territory they had held for the previous 450 years.


Saladin recaptured Jerusalem in 1187, triggering the The Third and Fourth Crusades. were attempts to liberate Jerusalem.


Yes, and again this is not a "reaction". It would be fairer to say that the Muslims "reacted" to the Christian invasion.

The rest of the Crusades were simply more of the same.

Let's be clear here: the Muslims DID conquer Christian lands. They were by no means innocents. But to call the Crusades a "reaction" to the Muslims is historically absurd.
9.23.2006 5:53pm
jam (mail):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Crusade
(snip)
Meanwhile, Muslim armies had been busy conquering much of northern Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Spain, which had been some of the most heavily Christian areas in the world. The Reconquista in Spain was the first major effort by Christians to retake lost territory, which occupied Spanish knights and some mercenaries from elsewhere in Europe in the fight against the Islamic Moors. Elsewhere, the Normans were fighting for control of Sicily, while Pisa, Genoa and Aragon were all actively fighting Islamic strongholds in Mallorca and Sardinia, freeing the coasts of Italy and Spain from Muslim raids.
(snip)

I did not know that Spain was not in Europe!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors
(snip)
In 711, the Moors invaded Visigoth, Christian Hispania. Under their leader, an African Berber general named Tariq ibn-Ziyad, they brought most of the Iberian Peninsula under Islamic rule in an eight-year campaign. They attempted to move northeast across the Pyrenees Mountains but were defeated by the Frank, Charles Martel, at the Battle of Tours in 732. The Moors ruled in the Iberian peninsula, except for areas in the northwest (such as Asturias, where they were stopped at the battle of Covadonga) and the largely Basque regions in the Pyrenees, and in North Africa for several decades. Though the number of "Moors" remained small, they gained large numbers of converts. According to Ronald Segal, author of "Islam's Black Slaves", some 5.6 million of Iberia's 7 million inhabitants were Muslim by 1200, virtually all of them native inhabitants. The Moorish state suffered civil conflict in the 750s.
(snip)

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/
At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Vienna
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vienna
(snip)
The siege itself began on 14 July 1683, by the Ottoman army commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha. The decisive battle took place on 12 September, after the united relief army of 70,000 men had arrived, pitted against the Ottoman army of approximately 138,000 men — although a large number of these played no part in the battle, as only 50,000 were experienced soldiers, and the rest less-motivated supporting troops.[1] King Jan III Sobieski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been made Commander in Chief of his own 30,000-man Polish forces and the 40,000 troops of Habsburg and their allies, led by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine.

The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire. Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Habsburgs of Austria, and their allies gradually occupied and dominated southern Hungary and Transylvania, which had been largely cleared by the Turkish forces.
(snip)

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Poles and Lithuanians.

Like I said, while Europeans were committing fratricide the Muslems marched. Can we say that the Euopeans were stupid and slow learners?
9.23.2006 7:37pm
Mark Field (mail):
jam, if you're responding to me, your own post demonstrates the anachronistic quality of it. First, I never said Spain wasn't in Europe. What I said was that the Muslims never invaded France after the battle of Tours.

Nor can the Crusades be considered a "reaction" to the Muslim conquest of Spain. Aside from the fact that your own post shows that they would have been 400 years too late, the Crusaders took a truly remarkable wrong turn if they were "reacting" to events in Spain.

The Reconquista, of course, WAS related to the Muslim conquest of Spain. But it had nothing to do with the Crusades.

As for the siege of Vienna, that was, as you note, in 1683. The last Crusade ended in 1292, so the Crusades obviously did not "react" to something which didn't even happen for another 400 years. It's perfectly justified to say that Christians reacted to aggression by the Ottoman Turks. But the Crusades had nothing to do with that.

There certainly was Muslim/Christian conflict in the Mediterranean. The Muslims were the aggressors in much of that. But they were NOT the aggressors in the Crusades, and the timeframe makes it impossible to see the Crusades as a "reaction" to anything Muslims did.
9.23.2006 8:05pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The numbered Crusades (including the Fourth as envisioned by Innocent III but not as implemented by the Venetian army) were justifiable from a secular standpoint if one accepts preemptive war. Near Eastern empires were always trying to expand, and if they ever managed to control all of Asia Minor, Europe could be doomed.

The focus on the Holy Lands probably helped to slow down the advances on Byzantium, but a Western European power trying to control that area for an extended time is a logistical nightmare (as was the Caliphate's occupation of Sicily). It would have made better sense to help the Byzantines retake Asia Minor and to go south from there, but that would have required more cooperation than that which existed. I wouldn't want to be the diplomat in charge of getting the Pope and the Patriarch to agree on where Byzantine borders end and Crusader state borders begin.
9.23.2006 8:19pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
As Kinross observes in his history of the Ottomans, the Muslim advance into the Balkans continued as far as the military organization of the Ottomans allowed. The Poles, Lithuanians (and Germans and Hungarians and even the Russians) were part of the military equation, but the Turks would not have expanded much farther anyway. (For similar reasons, the Turks who invaded Europe from the east never established themselves farther west than the Hungarian plain, for lack of fodder.)

From the 7th century on, the Muslims spread their religion by conquest in every direction, as far as their capabilities allowed. They never, even yet, have dropped the idea. From 1709, which marked the death of the last Muslim to control a really powerful army, Islam has been marking time, until just recently.

It's seamless. Mark's attempt to separate out the Crusades makes no sense whatever.
9.23.2006 9:20pm
Mark Field (mail):

The focus on the Holy Lands probably helped to slow down the advances on Byzantium


This is doubtful. The assault on Byzantium was Turkish. The Crusaders were opposed by various non-Turks (except to small degree in Antioch and Edessa, neither of which posed any real threat to the Turks). The two were pretty much separate and distinct.

The numbered Crusades (including the Fourth as envisioned by Innocent III but not as implemented by the Venetian army) were justifiable from a secular standpoint if one accepts preemptive war. Near Eastern empires were always trying to expand, and if they ever managed to control all of Asia Minor, Europe could be doomed.

Except for two small details:

1. The Turks DID eventually control all of Asia Minor (and still do), but Europe was not "doomed" by that.

2. The fighting in the Holy Land was, as I said above, against people who were NOT Turks. The Muslim empires were divided and often at war with each other. There simply was no monolithic "Muslim enemy".

It would have made better sense to help the Byzantines retake Asia Minor and to go south from there, but that would have required more cooperation than that which existed.

Agreed.
9.23.2006 9:21pm
Mark Field (mail):
It's seamless.

Nonsense. See my post above.

From the 7th century on, the Muslims spread their religion by conquest in every direction, as far as their capabilities allowed.

If any portion of the world can be described as "aggressively expansionist" since 1100 or so, it's Western Europe. Personally, I'm glad they succeeded, but casting aspersions on the Muslims for being "expansionist" over the same time frame is breathtakingly hypocritical for a Westerner.
9.23.2006 9:28pm
Jam (mail):
"but casting aspersions on the Muslims for being "expansionist" over the same time frame is breathtakingly hypocritical for a Westerner."

In this we are in total agreement.
9.23.2006 9:56pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Aspersions? I am merely stating a fact. Islam is out to conquer and suppress all the infidels. Always has been.

There was a big change in western European attitudes after 1492. Up to that point, European assaults on Islam were designed to expel or exterminate the Muslims. Since then, assaults have been intended only to impose government while leaving resident Muslims in place and in peaceful pursuit of their religious notions.

Islam is completely different.
9.24.2006 1:51am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The Turks DID eventually control all of Asia Minor (and still do), but Europe was not "doomed" by that.
The Balkan portion certainly was doomed. It would have faced similar invasions if Saladin or some other Near Eastern power had knocked off Byzantium first.

The Turks had two good opportunities at spreading that doom further into Europe at the 1529 and 1683 attacks on Vienna.

The fighting in the Holy Land was, as I said above, against people who were NOT Turks. The Muslim empires were divided and often at war with each other. There simply was no monolithic "Muslim enemy".
If it hadn't have been for the Crusades keeping Near Eastern armies occupied, it is possible that someone (other than Venice) whose army hadn't been weakened by Crusaders would have gotten to Constantinople before the Ottoman Turks did. All of the Near Eastern empires within reach of Byzantium coveted that land.

One can argue that the Muslim incursions were by and large no more religious than the non-Crusade European wars - that they occurred simply because invading neighbors is what monarchs did when they got powerful enough. But Christianity's prophets did not condone the sort of ethics that allow for such wars of aggression, whereas Mohammed practiced and enshrined those ethics. Islam cannot be separated from Mohammed, and Mohammed cannot be separated from imperialist warfare.
9.24.2006 2:35am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
"but casting aspersions on the Muslims for being "expansionist" over the same time frame is breathtakingly hypocritical for a Westerner."
Only for Westerners who are apologists for or practitioners of expansionism.
9.24.2006 2:39am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Old Testament: The only thing that comes to allowing for violence is very limited. Limited to taking a specific piece of land and to removeing inhabitants. Inhabitants that were judged by God and found guilty of human sacrifices, among others. There is nothing in the Old Testament as to going around the world forcing others to convert.


Maybe not forced conversion, but there most certainly are passages which demand the death penalty for openly worshipping false Gods, indeed the immediate death penalty for the encouragement to do so.
9.24.2006 12:06pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
My husband says silcence controls, the fact no one iswilling to address why the Pope has not come to the defese of President Bush to confirm he is not *el Diablo* as Chavez said, is proof he is. If Chavez was wrong that our President is the Devio, then the Pope would have said so, just as certainly as his apologies to the Muslims.
9.24.2006 12:35pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"our President is the Devio"=our President is the Devil
9.24.2006 12:36pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
The fact the Pope us not talking about also=the fact our President is the Devil squared.

And no Republican spinmeisters or press censors will change the minds of most American people until this issue is resolved by the Pope.

Significantly, this is Sunday afternoon, the Vatican has alreay held Mass, and there is STILL no condemnation of Chavez's statement to prove otherwise.
9.24.2006 12:40pm
Mark Field (mail):
There was a big change in western European attitudes after 1492.

Now you're changing the subject. What happened after 1492 has nothing to do with the Crusades.


Up to that point, European assaults on Islam were designed to expel or exterminate the Muslims. Since then, assaults have been intended only to impose government while leaving resident Muslims in place and in peaceful pursuit of their religious notions.


That's not very accurate with respect to the Ottoman Empire in Europe, but otherwise I'll agree for the sake of argument. Christians got caught up killing each other for 200 years after 1492. They also devoted their energies to converting the heathen (or exterminating them) in the New World. And the Jews.


Islam is completely different.


If by "different", you mean "less successful at actually committing genocide than Christians since 1492", then I agree.


Only for Westerners who are apologists for or practitioners of expansionism.


I'd probably add "or are happy beneficiaries of it", but otherwise fair enough.


The Balkan portion certainly was doomed.


That's a pretty substantial retreat from the earlier claim. But what do you mean by "doomed"? The Ottoman Empire incorporated the modern nations of Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia (for convenience) and others. Isn't Christianity the dominant religion in that whole area today?


The Turks had two good opportunities at spreading that doom further into Europe at the 1529 and 1683 attacks on Vienna.


Which, again, has NOTHING to do with the Crusades. And see above.


If it hadn't have been for the Crusades keeping Near Eastern armies occupied, it is possible that someone (other than Venice) whose army hadn't been weakened by Crusaders would have gotten to Constantinople before the Ottoman Turks did. All of the Near Eastern empires within reach of Byzantium coveted that land.


Counterfactual history is always problematic. It's possible to make plausible sounding arguments for almost any alternative.

What you say is possible, but not very likely. The first problem is that their fellow Muslims, the Turks, were in the way. Any would-be conqueror would have had to conquer the Turks first. No one did that; few even tried. The second problem is that non-Turkish Muslims had a fairly narrow window of time for this supposed aggression -- the Mongols devastated the Arab and Persian states in the 1200s. After that, those Muslims were in no position to expand anywhere. The third problem is that Saladin certainly had the resources and ability to do exactly what you suggest. He didn't. Doesn't that suggest that the image of Islam as relentlessly expansionist towards Christians may be just a teeny bit exaggerated?


One can argue that the Muslim incursions were by and large no more religious than the non-Crusade European wars - that they occurred simply because invading neighbors is what monarchs did when they got powerful enough.


The original Muslim expansion was motivated by more than this. After 750 or so, though, your statement is pretty much how I'd characterize the events.


But Christianity's prophets did not condone the sort of ethics that allow for such wars of aggression, whereas Mohammed practiced and enshrined those ethics.


Even if I granted the truth of this -- and it's dubious -- I'm afraid Christianity has honored its prophets more in the breach than in the observance. Western Christianity was relentlessly and aggressively expansionist for over 1200 years.


Islam cannot be separated from Mohammed, and Mohammed cannot be separated from imperialist warfare.


I agree with you about Mohammed, but the actual history of Islam since about 750 is mostly inconsistent with this (the Ottomans being the obvious exception).

Your comments about Christianity and Islam are too focused on the theory and not enough on the actual historical events.
9.24.2006 12:54pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
You all can ignore my questions why no one is talking about this issue relating to the entire Pope, Iraq, Islam, and why Chavez called President Bush the Devil. But that goes to show all you federalist Republicans are way out of touch not only with most Americans, but even a majority of your own party, since Pat Buchanan this morning (Sunday, a replay of Friday night, The Capitol Gang) on PBS spent 20 minutes on this very subject of the profoundness of whether the President is the Devil as stated by Chavez.

FYI, I am a Republican, too, but the failure of the President, Republicans, and all of you on this blog to address this National issue Pat Buchanan ranks high up on a scale of 1-10, is going to result in a landslide political condemnation of Republicans at the polls in November -- i.e., a Democratic sweep.

See, by no one in the Republicans-theocracy party willing to discuss this issue and disprove Chavez's statement, this only adds fuel to the fire that the President and the entire Republican party is the Devil -- who else, as the argument goes, but the Devil would go into Iraq on the false premis Sadaam had WMD and was linked to al Qaeda.

Since I am a disabled Republican, a disabled American, this failure to address on the VC and in Republican circles this important National Issue why the Pope is not effectively pardoning President Bush to ensure he is not the Devil in the eyes of the majority of Americans and the World hurts me, hurts all Republicans, and hurts Americans in the eyes of the World and adds power unnecessarily to the Islamic movement (and their slogan tha 'America is the Great Satan').

What a debacle -- silence in the face of this Chavez accusation, makes everyone think our President is running and hiding because he is exactly what Chavez said.

I have never been so disappointed in my party. This is even worse than the Republican/Presidential move to practically abandon Americans With Disabilities Act enforcement outof the US DOJ.
9.24.2006 1:30pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Maybe because of their anti-disability rights stance, the Republican administration now in power has excluded (through the standardized testing craze) the real brilliant minds such as autistic savants, whereas the enemy terrorist movement has not -- giving the enemy an advantage.

What I see (as an autistic savant American) is a sophisticated Third World 3-dimensional tic-tac-toe game being played on our President and our Country. The Presidential administration now in power cannot contain the terorist movement in Iraq (civil war creating a vacuum for Islamic terrorists), and this is causing it to spread. Islam involves a very large number of people in the World. Now, Chavez has cleverly sought to aid the cause of the Islamic-al Qaeda-Iraq movement by calling our President the Devil, and thereby daring the Pope to pardon President Bush as not being the Devil -- a move that if the Pope did so, would alienate the majority of Catholics in the World who are Spanish or Hispanic (spanish speaking like Chavez, with whom they identify).

Thus, Chavez has effectively joined the majority of the Worlds Catholics to the Islamic terrorist movement by a sophisticated 3-dimensional tic-tac-toe move on President Bush by daring the President to obtain the Pope's pardon that the Presidnt is not the Devil -- effectively (by not immediately obtaining the pardon of the Pope) confirming that our President is the Devil as asserted by the enemy Islamic terrorist al-Qaeda, because if he wasn't the Devil, the Pope would have come to the President's defense. In effect, Chavez has split the atom.

It looks all the more awful, because now the only way the President can absolve himself as being not the Devil, absent the Pope's pardon, is by doing the works of Christ to prove by his acts that he is not the Devil, spending his last two years as President to impose taxes to help the poor, the disabled, the downtrodden. As I said, in effect, Chavez has split the proverbial atom.

By the time the President's administration has woken up to this sophisticated game the enemy plus Chavez has played on America, it will be too late, game point will be over.
9.24.2006 2:08pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The Balkan portion certainly was doomed.
That's a pretty substantial retreat from the earlier claim.
No it's not. I said Europe COULD be doomed. The Near East had seen conquerors capable of forging empires covering more acreage than that of Western Europe. The operative word is "risk" - and that sort of Asian empire on Europe's doorstep would have been a grave risk.

(It's a good thing the Moors did not have the resources of those great empires, or they would have had another shot at pouring past the Pyrenees.)

But what do you mean by "doomed"? The Ottoman Empire incorporated the modern nations of Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia (for convenience) and others. Isn't Christianity the dominant religion in that whole area today?
I was thinking of the worldly doom of political tyranny.

The Turks had two good opportunities at spreading that doom further into Europe at the 1529 and 1683 attacks on Vienna.
Which, again, has NOTHING to do with the Crusades. And see above.
It is relevant to my claim that Europe had a stake in a perpetually enduring Byzantium. Once Byzantium falls, Europe is vulnerable; the attacks on Vienna proved the point. The Crusader nations made those battles possible by not making the Byzantines a priority - they were reduced to a handful of city-states at the time of the fall of Constantinople.

Western Christianity was relentlessly and aggressively expansionist for over 1200 years.
Europe was expansionistic for the same reason that virtually all nations were at that time - they were run by monarchs, and, as I stated earlier, "invading neighbors is what monarchs did when they got powerful enough." Kings and queens could spin (or ignore) Scripture for their purposes. The Church had to toe the line or suffer the consequences.

Real Christianity says the little guy is just as important as the big guy; Jesus was notorious for condemning elites for using status to excuse theft and other abuses. Only the decentralization of political power gave little-guy Christians a chance at having any measure of political influence. Representative governments under rule of law tend to not engage in expansionist wars.
9.25.2006 3:02am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
What an interesting strategy of the fed group -- just ignore serious comments the majority of Americans are thinking, as if the proverbial Ostrich sticking its head in the ground will make these serious issues just *poof* go away.

Chavez's brilliant, devious move to split the atom to aid the cause of the Islamic-al Qaeda-Iraq movement by calling our President the Devil, and thereby daring the Pope to pardon President Bush as not being the Devil, has other serious, in my opinion overlooked, implications.

It is no surprise that among the World's Spanish and Hispanic Catholics who would be likely to identify with Chavez are some (as reported in the press) $12 million illegals currently in this Country for which the Republican GOP blindly seeks to pave a road to citizenship. Thus, bin Laden, the enemy, who has no doubt studied our Country, government, and demographics more than most Americans, could, if he is successful in linking the Islamic-al Qaeda-Iraq movement through Chavez to the World's Spanish and Hispanic Catholic population, foment the biggest internal terror cell imaginable within our Country -- some $12 million illegals (whether or not they become legal). And Senator Frist moves forward on the Republican GOP immigration bill, ever so blindly.

Moreover, as the Washington Post pointed out yesterday, Chavez's little 3-dimensional tic-tac-toe game has the effect of insulating his own relection fight in Venezuela from attack, by creating a scenario where should his opponent attack him, the attack is deflected to President Bush, whom he has called (still undefended) the Devil. Thus, in this scenario, as it plays out, Russia and China (big votes on the UN Security Council) could actually be seen to "aid" Christianity (something at least China has resisted in the past) by coming to the rescue of Chavez -- one really big play in the shift of World power (when Iran and Syria are included in the voting block) and who gets the World's oil away from the United States.

No one has the courage to address what I have said, and by doing so thereby denying the grave danger to our Country and every American posed by Chavez's dangerous game, because bin Laden and our enemies have sought to attack us from the outside, from within, and should President Bush be forced to raise taxes while potentially having to expand the War effort, bin Laden's prediction of bankrupting American could become all too true.
9.25.2006 11:24am
Mark Field (mail):
I was thinking of the worldly doom of political tyranny.

For all that the Ottomans were corrupt and despotic, I'm not sure the actual regimes in the Balkans, Bulgaria, Rumania, etc. would look very good by comparison.


It is relevant to my claim that Europe had a stake in a perpetually enduring Byzantium.


I agree that Europe had such an interest.


The Crusader nations made those battles possible by not making the Byzantines a priority - they were reduced to a handful of city-states at the time of the fall of Constantinople.


This sounds like you're making my argument. The Crusades were a tragedy for Byzantium. The Fourth Crusade effectively destroyed the Empire. The other Crusades provided minimal benefit. If I've understood you correctly, we agree.


Europe was expansionistic for the same reason that virtually all nations were at that time - they were run by monarchs, and, as I stated earlier, "invading neighbors is what monarchs did when they got powerful enough." Kings and queens could spin (or ignore) Scripture for their purposes.


Agreed. And I believe Muslim states behaved exactly the same way after about 750 or so.


The Church had to toe the line or suffer the consequences


The Church blew hot and cold on this. All too often for its own soul (metaphorical, of course) it was the cheerleader for wars.


Representative governments under rule of law tend to not engage in expansionist wars.


Except that they did. They just called them "colonialism", and they established enormous world-wide empires over which the sun never set.
9.25.2006 1:18pm
Kazinski:
I think this whole discussion about the crusades being or not being a reaction to Muslim expansion is ridiculous in context of the reaction to the Popes speech. This issue being raised is that some Muslims are still using violence or the threat of violence for conversions. And even more widespread is the use of violence against Muslims that have converted to Christianity, atheism, Buddhism or anything else.

Getting into a pissing match about the motivations of the crusades is ridiculous. Look at the debate on the Iraq war, we can't even come to a consensus about whether the motivation a) was a belief that Iraq had WMDs, b) perception of a Iraq-Al Qaeda link, c) a Jewish-Neocon-Israeli conspiricy, d) Oil, e) Iraqi human rights, f) a effort to create demand by the military industrial complex.
9.25.2006 8:59pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
The Crusader nations made those battles possible by not making the Byzantines a priority - they were reduced to a handful of city-states at the time of the fall of Constantinople.
This sounds like you're making my argument. The Crusades were a tragedy for Byzantium. The Fourth Crusade effectively destroyed the Empire. The other Crusades provided minimal benefit. If I've understood you correctly, we agree.
Point 1 is that the Crusades (except #4) made some of Byzantium's natural enemies smaller, thus reducinging the threat to Byzantium from those sources.

Point 2 is that the Crusades would have helped much more by aiding Byzantium in retaking some of its lost expanse. It wouldn't surprise me if the popes let their feud with the Eastern church blind them to the geopolitical necessity of a strong Byzantium.

A Crusader force with a majority of Venetians - who had fought the Byzantines before over Adriatic territory before - was a really bad idea.

Representative governments under rule of law tend to not engage in expansionist wars.
Except that they did. They just called them "colonialism", and they established enormous world-wide empires over which the sun never set
Perhaps it's better to say that "democratization" (serving here as an abbreviation for representation and rule of law) took time to phase in, and imperialism took time to phase out. The UK was the quickest to democratize, and it still lacked true representation in Parliament until the Reform Act 1832. I can think of only two other true-democratic imperial powers - France and the Netherlands - and I'm not sure if the French count. (I've read only up to France's post-revolutionary period, so I dont' know when true democratization came to that country.)
9.26.2006 2:11am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
Clarification: the UK was the the quickest among imperial powers to democratize. No, I didn't forget about 1776.
9.26.2006 2:31am
Jam (mail):
Alan and Mark: Awesome, guys: From 732 to 1776!

So much to learn.

Who says history is boring?
9.26.2006 11:23am