The Truth About the Crusades

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I assumed the history mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy learning about this series.)

Breitbart tells us about a new series on EWTN:


But in the Middle Ages, kings and knights of Christendom set forth to push back against the inroads of Islamic forces into majority Christian areas in the Holy Land and beyond. Once considered a noble, if ultimately failed, campaign to make sacred sites safe for Christian pilgrims, over the last century or so, the Crusades have gradually become recast as an imperialist surge against peaceful people.

Like many notions currently promulgated by academia and the media, it’s a near-reversal of what actually happened over the course of centuries. As with any great human endeavor, the Crusades had their share of stupidity, brutality, greed, and misadventure, but that is only a piece of the whole story.

And of all the people asked to comment on the Crusades–from scholars to reporters to filmmakers to novelists to activists–one group seldom allowed to have its say is the Catholic Church, whose history is inextricably linked with that of the Crusades.

From October 8-11, at 10 p.m. (ET) each night, EWTN presents The Crusades, a four-part series shot on location in seven countries (Turkey, Israel, France, Austria, England, Spain, and Slovakia). Described at the EWTN blog as “a well-rounded understanding of an important historical event,” each episode features original dramatizations, original music recorded in Europe, and commentary from historians specializing in the period.

These historians are Professor Jonathan Phillips, professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London; Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University, one of Britain’s leading experts on the Crusades; and Professor Thomas F. Madden, chair of the Department of History at St. Louis University, who not only focuses on the Crusades but on the larger issue of the Christian-Muslim conflict.

Preceding the premiere on Wednesday, October 8, airing at 8 p.m. ET is a special episode of EWTN Live, with EWTN staffer and Middle Eastern scholar Father Mitch Pacwa interviewing Stefano Mazzeo, writer, producer, and host of The Crusades, and Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades.

In advance of this, on Sunday, October 5, at 10 p.m. ET, EWTN airs Franciscan University Presents Myths About the Crusades, with commentary from Dr. Paul Crawford, professor of medieval history at California University of Pennsylvania (located in the Pennsylvania town of California, near Pittsburgh), along with host Michael Hernon and panelists Dr. Regis Martin, professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), and Catholic convert and theologian Dr. Scott Hahn.

Go here to read the rest. Our knowledge of the Crusades has been expanding rapidly in the past few decades.  I am glad that this series has some of the top names in crusading studies.  A good starting point is to read some of the numerous works of Dr. Riley-Smith.

Here is a link to a First Things Article in which Riley-Smith explains what the Crusades were:

A good examination of myths of about the crusades, linked below, by Thomas F. Madden, one of the foremost historians of the Fourth Crusade.

His “A Concise History of the Crusades” is a must read for anyone interested in this period in history:


The Crusades were a tardy, and defensive, response to militant Islam by the Catholic states of the West.  By bringing Western military power against Islam the fall of Constantinople to the Turks was delayed until 1453. The Byzantine Empire had suffered a severe defeat at the battle of Manzikert at the hands of the Turks in 1071. They were no longer able to hold the line in the East against Islam and were desperate for military aid from the West. Absent the Crusades I doubt if Constantinople would have survived much beyond 1150. This would have led to Islam taking over the Balkans three centuries before it did historically. These three centuries were crucial in that by the time the Turks marched against Vienna in 1529 the West was already beginning to surpass Islam technologically. Vienna besieged in 1229 might have been the beginning of a process that would have seen the conquest of Europe by Islam.

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  


  1. Unfortunately, this will never reach those it should reach. You can already tell how they will preserve themselves from any unwelcome encounter with fact: “Do you know the latest from the military-industrial complex shills at Breitbart? They’ve made a series that glorifies the Crusades. Guess we know where they’ll be sending the troops next.” As we say in Italy, there is no man deafer than he who does not wish to hear.

    • The West seems to have no shortage Fabio of people who have no knowledge of their heritage and their history. A people with no past have no future, or, rather, have a very bleak future.

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