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2. The Ancient Belief of Common Descent and the Sacred Kings
4. The Sacred Values of the French Revolution

3. The Christian Kingdoms of the Middle Age

The medieval Danish peasants, newly converted to Christianity, were deeply religious and gave great sacrifices for their faith. In the course of a few hundred years they built hundreds of boulder churches. The Danish village-churches are a magnificent monument for their the deep felt Christian faith.

Stubberup Kirke on Hindsholm on the island Funen
Stubberup Kirke on Hindsholm on the island of Funen.

The kings demonstrated their devotion to the sacred values in countless ways. They attended mass, built churches and cathedrals, gave land and privileges to the monk orders and supported the crusades to the Holy Land.

Many kings went for crusade themselves. Thus the Danish king Erik Ejegod died on Cyprus in the year 1103 on his way to the Holy Land.

The medieval kings were kings of God's grace. They were blessed and crowned by men of the church.

However it pleased the Christian God to choose most of the kings from the old pagan royal families. The Christian God and Odin seemed to have had some understanding.

There are many misunderstandings about the crusades. They are in general described as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power gready popes and fought by religious fanatics. A black spot on the western culture, which has better to be forgotten. A kind of proto-imperialist western attack on a peaceful and entlightned Islam culture, leaving it in ruins.

The truth is that the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to the Muslim aggression. It was an attempt to turn back and defend against the Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

The prelude to the crusades took place in the former Coptic Christian areas in the eastern Mediterranean. Through some hundred years the Muslims had pushed back the Byzantine Empire through Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor, once the most densely Christian areas in the world, however they had fallen quickly for the sword of Islam. The Christian emperor in Constantinople asked repeatedly for help from his fellow believers in the West.

Pope Urban 2. calls Christianity for Crusade
Pope Urban 2. calls Christianity for Crusade.

Eventually, the Pope, Urban 2, decided to come to the beleaguered Christians in the East for help. In 1095, he spoke to an assembly of barons and men of the church in the French city of Clermont.

In the french city of Clermont he called Christianity for Crusade: "Driven by today's harsh necessity, I Urban, of God's mercy bearer of the pope crown, High Priest of the whole world, have come to you, the servants of God, as a messenger to reveal for you God's command ... It is a compelling necessity that you hastily bring your brothers in the East the help that they so often have been promised, and which they bitterly need. The Turks and the Arabs have attacked them. ... Let those, who have hitherto been accustomed to unduly private feuds against the believers, now fight the infidels and bring the war that should have begun long ago, to a victorious conclusion. Let those who before were mercenaries fighting for small pay now fight for Christ."

"God wills it!" The assembly roared. Then they parted and went home for separately to prepare the crusade.

Already two years later, in 1097, a considerable army has been brought forward to that part of Asia Minor, which the Muslim Turks had deprived the Eastern Roman Empire. They quickly advanced to Palestine. In 1099 the crusaders took Jerusalem, where they killed a large number of Muslim defenders.

The Crusader Fortress Crac des Chevaliers in present Syria
The Crusader Fortress Crac des Chevaliers in present Syria.

An Abu Shama wrote a letter to his Kalif, "Let us pray that Allah in his goodness will let the danger of which we all are threatened, awaken the Muslim's zeal so that they will strive to eliminate our enemies burning zeal and tear down the building, which the Franks have erected. As long as our enemies are flocking over land and over sea, our country is faced the greatest threats, and one is surprised to see how the infidels compete, while the true believers are completely indifferent. Is there a single Muslim who has accepted the invitation and come when called? Look in contrast, the Christians! See how they come in big crowds, how they compete to push forward, how they support each other, how they sacrifice their wealth, how they gather to make their contributions, how they bear the greatest hardship for the sake of their cause! Among them there is not a king, not a nobleman, not an island or a city, not a human, how poor he may be, who has not sent his peasants and subjects to this war, who does not let them come forward on this scene of bravery. There is not one powerful man, who does not take part in this war. Everyone wants to benefit the object of his affection, how unclean it may be. They do it with the thought, that they hereby serve their religion, and therefore they sacrifice their lives and their wealth on this war. In all this their sole purpose is to serve the one, they worship, to honour the one, in whom they believe."

Crusader states in present Israel, Libanon and Syria Ludvig the Holy takes the cross
Left: Crusader states in present Israel, Libanon and Syria.
Right: Ludvig the Holy of France takes the cross.

The Christians created four crusader states in the conquered territory. They were the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch and the County of Edessa.

The County of Edessa was in 1144 conquered by the Turks. This triggered the second crusade, led by the German-Roman emperor Conrad 3.

Finally the Muslims became united under the famous Saladin, and then it began to look bleak for the Crusaders. The Muslims took Jerusalem in 1187, which triggered the third crusade, led by Richard Lion Heart of England. Philip 2. of France and the German-Roman emperor Frederick 1.

The French King Ludvig the Holy led a fifth crusade in 1248.

In 1289 the Muslims finally took the city of Acre. Acre was the last Christian fortress in the Holy Land. It was located in the northern part of the modern state of Israel. All the defenders were killed. Thus ended the crusades. Then the Christians had been present in the current Palestine, Israel and Lebanon for nearly two hundred years. It is three times as long time as the modern state of Israel has existed until now.

The descendants of the Crusaders retained control of Cyprus until 1570, when the Turks conquered the island.

The Christian zeal and commitment in the fight for their sacred values made a great impression on the Muslims, which they to this day have not forgotten. They still have holidays, which celebrate victories over the Crusaders.

See Urban 2.'s speech in Clermont in: Fordham - Medieval Sourcebook

Read a good artikel about the crusades, free of political correctness: The Real History of the Crusades - Catolic Education Resource Center by Thomas F. Madden


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