The Crusades were justified
Debate Rounds (4)
As Con, I will be arguing that the Crusades were terrible wars that caused mindless bloodshed and desecration for no good reason at all. Pro must argue, at the very least, that they were carried out for a just cause.
The Crusades - The wars fought between the forces of western Christendom and Islam from approximately the 11th to 13th centuries AD
justified - having been done for a good or legitimate reason
Round 1 - acceptance
Round 2 - opening arguments
Round 3 - defense and rebuttal
Round 4 - final defense and conclusion
Good luck to whoever accepts! (If anyone does; I won't hold my breath.)
Thank you for accepting! I will now post my initial argument as to why the Crusades were unjustified, broken down into the following categories:
1. Unprovoked attack
2. False propaganda
3. Selfish motivation
4. Mass genocide
1. Unprovoked attack
Some right-wing Christians claim that the Crusades were defensive wars. No serious medieval historian believes this to be the case, and I will explain why. First of all, it's true that the Muslims conquered vast tracts of land from the Byzantine (Roman) Empire in the early conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, including Syria, Egypt, and modern-day Israel. However, the Romans conquered much of these territories centuries before from other empires and local kingdoms, in conflicts such as the Roman-Seleucid War and Third Mithridatic War. I won't defend the Muslims for their aggressive expansionism, but the Romans were little better.
Over four hundred years had passed since Muslims conquered the Holy Land. Christendom wasn't any major danger by the time the Crusades began. While the Byzantines and Arabs had been warring around Asia Minor for generations, there was no united Islamic force striving to conquer Rome. Just periods of peace and conflict, as all rival empires in history are prone to. There were fractured Muslim states and dynasties spread all over the Near East and Iberia, each with a separate agenda. This made the massive, united onslaught that began in the 1090s all the more aggressive and unprovoked. Why would the Western powers suddenly decide to wrest control of their lost territory four centuries after it had been taken by their enemies? Ask Pope Urban II who called for the First Crusade, starting it almost solitarily. Whatever his reasons, his message was manipulative and ill-informed, as I will soon explain.
2. False propaganda
Pope Urban II's speech calling for a Crusade contained some strong rhetoric about the Muslims that was, in fact, completely made up. Of the Turks controlling Anatolia, he said that they "were slaughtering and capturing many [Greeks], destroying churches and laying waste to the kingdom of God." He asserted that Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land were being abused and exploited with illegal taxes, and those unable to pay were subject to the following torture:
"...they stretch asunder the coverings of all the intestines after ripping open their stomachs with a blade and reveal with horrible mutilation whatever nature keeps secret."
Of course, there is no reason to believe that the Muslims did such horrible things, and we don't know if the Pope actually believed them or made up those lies to manipulate the populace. This incendiary imagery encouraged even the lowliest peasant to march east and help their Christian brothers and sisters, and they did - in the tens of thousands.
3. Selfish motivation
Nearly every Crusade was an expedition to the "Holy Land" of the Levant to either conquer or defend certain sacred cities from the Muslims. So were the Crusaders pilgrims of selfless piety, yearning to spread the loving message of Jesus to cities such as Antioch and Jerusalem? No, and that's almost comical to suggest. The Crusaders viewed the Muslims as subhuman savages, committing some decidedly un-Christian atrocities against them (which I will discuss later), showing that their faith was rooted in burning hatred rather than any form of mercy.
While some Crusader princes, such as Godfrey of Bouillon, showed honor and humility, most of these leaders were corrupt and ambitious. All they cared about was gaining land, wealth, titles, and fame. Take Tancred of Hauteville and Baldwin II of Bourg, two nobles who were so obsessed with ruling the county of Edessa that they gathered armies and fought a battle for control of the territory . They sent thousands of men to their deaths in a petty struggle over land rights. And neither of them were condemned. How is this justifiable?
4. Mass genocide
And now to the last and most potent reason why the Crusades weren't justified - the genocides. I know this is a strong term, but it fits. Killing enemy soldiers while on a battlefield or during a siege is a far different matter, but the Crusaders were known to indulge in bloodthirsty acts of wanton violence against innocent men, women, and children long after their cities had been surrendered. The siege of Jerusalem, perhaps the most famous battle in all the Crusades due to its resounding success, ended with a horrific massacre and bloodbath of nearly every civilian inside, Muslim or not. Firsthand accounts don't try to hide it; they saw the mass murder as an act of heroism, a righteous cleansing of the foul infidels from hallowed ground.
As I hinted last paragraph, Crusader violence wasn't only directed at Muslims. In the People's Crusade of 1096, which predated even the First, thousands of Jews were slaughtered in the Rhineland and Worms, since they were seen as the enemies of Christendom. David Nirenberg, an obviously Jewish historian, said that these killings "occupy a significant place in modern Jewish historiography and are often presented as the first instance of an antisemitism that would henceforth never be forgotten and whose climax was the Holocaust."
Finally, Christians went at war with other Christians. Aside from the minor infighting between nobles I mentioned earlier, not a single Muslim was killed during the Fourth Crusade. Instead, the barbaric Crusaders passing through Constantinople noticed that it was going through some political turmoil, and they siezed the opportunity to invade the city and eventually capture it. They raped and killed the local Greek Christians for three days, looting and stealing, destroying art that had been around since the golden age of Rome .
The Crusades resulted in nothing but destruction, for both sides. They began as a calculated political move, not an epic quest for redemption. While I can't offer my full support to either of the two belligerents, the Arabs and Turks at least tolerated Christian and Jewish presence in their lands. The killings committed by the Crusaders were acts of terrorism, not heroism. Art was desecrated, innocent blood spilled, and the light of Byzantium extinguished. The mission of western Christendom to reclaim the Holy Land was a catastrophic failure, and it was never justified in the first place.
I will now allow Pro to present his opening argument.
3. Asbridge, Thomas S. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. New York: Ecco, 2010. Print.
1. "Unprovoked attack"
Romans indeed were expansive. However, unlike Muslims, the Roman expansionism was not motivated by religion. The "Muslim crusades" also known as "Jihad" started a few years after the death of prophet Muhammad. You argued that Muslims conquered land from Syria, Egypt and Israel. What you conveniently forgot was that after 150 years of crusading, in 750 ad, the Muslim expansion stretched as far as Spain. Having conquered half of modern-day Spain, they were practically knocking on Rome's door considering the starting point of Middle-East. Christianity had lost two-thirds of its land to Muslims, in just 150 years. Islam is (or was) an expansive religion, as Muhammad himself launched a crusade to Christian city of Tabuk, signaling the start for generations of aggressive expansionism. 
Due to these facts, Christianity was justified to feel itself threatened. Countless Christian cities were sacked, and even though the conquering had stopped for a while, Islamic religion always held the intention to expand. With the enemy so close at the capital of Christianity, the religion was but one war away from complete annihilation.
2. The trigger for Christian Crusades
Another important trigger for the crusades is the Muslim campaign to eradicate Christian places of worship in Palestinian and Egyptian areas during the beginning of Second Millennia. This campaign of annihilation culminated to the complete destruction of Church of the Holy Sepulcher, by the hands of the mad Muslim king Al-Hakim bi-amr Allah in 1009 . The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was the most holy place for Christianity, and the people in the West were shocked to see how little Muslim leaders actually respected the Christian religion. It was taken as a direct attack against Christian faith, and the people of the West sought to rescue the little of what had remained of the church.
About the false propaganda; it can hardly be used as an argument against Crusades. False propaganda has always been an essential part of warfare, non-religious and religious wars alike.
3. Justness of the cause, not the war
As the Muslims had launched organized destruction of Christian holy sites, the Crusaders indeed did have reason to defend the sacred cities from Muslims. During the middle ages, pilgrimage was a major part of religion. It would not be uncommon for a peasant to sell all of his possessions to be able to afford a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Even today, among Hindus and Muslims for example, it's the most important journey of their lives to take a pilgrimage. But in 1000s, with the Muslims destroying those very destinations of pilgrimage, the heart of Christianity was in danger. With the Crusaders securing these holy cities, the safety of the pilgrims was finally ensured.
You argue that "most of [crusade] leaders were corrupt and ambitious". First of all, it's just bending the truth saying that "most" of the leaders were corrupt. I cannot deny that argument, nor can I confirm it, since it's impossible to state that "most" were this or that without a clear list. True, there were those who clearly did anything for their own ambitions, but so it is in all wars. And was the cause for Crusades just or not, they were still wars fought by people. As in all wars, there are evil men on both sides.
Nor will I try to deny the massacres committed by the Crusaders. Genocides they were not, as they weren't organized killings aimed to eradicate a single ethnic group, but rather a series of bloodthirsty acts committed in the flushes of victory. However, this was the aftermath of the Crusades. The justification for the Crusades comes from the original intentions, not the aftermath from people blinded by violence.
Even though the People's Crusade was called a Crusade, it was not one. It was initiated by a sole priest (Peter the Hermit), not the Pope. People's crusade was an unfortunate backlash of the escalating political tensions between Christians and Jews. Furthermore, the Fourth Crusade was the reason there were no more crusades.
The Crusades were done to defend the holy sites of Christianity. The regaining of Jerusalem gave life to the Christian religion which was at risk by the Muslims. They ensured the safety of holy sites and encouraged pilgrims to make the important journey to Jerusalem. The Crusades showed people that Christian God was a God worth fighting and dying for, and warmed the religion again to last for ages.
"Romans indeed were expansive. However, unlike Muslims, the Roman expansionism was not motivated by religion."
I fail to see how that makes a difference. The Romans were conquerors bent on world domination, it doesn't matter what their motivation was.
And yes, the Umayyad caliphate had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula hundreds of years before. But they were hardly "knocking on Rome's door"; in fact, there were no large-scale invasions after 732, when the Battle of Tours showed them the true military might of the Franks. It doesn't matter what tenets the Islamic religion has about expansion; they are human beings, so they turned to self-serving pragmatism because the idea of expansion was suicidal. And in 1085, over a decade before the Crusades, King Alfonso VI of Leon captured a large chunk of land from Muslim Spain, calling it the Kingdom of Toledo . The Empire was in very little danger.
"With the enemy so close at the capital of Christianity, the religion was but one war away from complete annihilation." That's an exaggeration so huge, it's completely wrong. If you're talking about Constantinople, Muslims did conquer it centuries later in 1453, and the religion of Christianity was still very much intact. If you happen to be talking about Jerusalem, it was already under Muslim control and doing just fine. Christians and Jews were allowed to coexist peacefully within the city, unless there happened to be an insane ruler at the time. I'm glad you brought up Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, because he is called the "mad caliph" for a reason. Many of his Muslims contemporaries despised his destruction of the Holy Sepulchre, seeing it as incredibly disrespectful. His successor, Ali az-Zahir, allowed the Byzantine Emperor to begin reconstructing the shrine in 1042. Almost every Muslim caliph at the time showed respect toward Christianity; the fact that one went crazy is a fault of the individual, not of the entire Islamic religion. Perhaps medieval Europeans were ill-informed of the facts, but this is hardly a reason why such bloody retaliation was justified.
"But in 1000s, with the Muslims destroying those very destinations of pilgrimage, the heart of Christianity was in danger." Again, that was under the rule of one mad king; during this time period, Muslim persecution of Christians or Jews was extremely rare. As historian Michael Foss points out, "For more than three hundred and fifty years, from the time when the Caliph Omar made a treaty with the Patriarch Sophronius until 1009, when mad al-Hakim began attacks on Christians and Jews, the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land were open to the West, with an easy welcome and the way there was no more dangerous than a journey from Paris to Rome....Soon [after al-Hakim] the panic was over. In 1037 al-Mustansir came to an amicable agreement with Emperor Michael IV." There is no reason or evidence to suggest that pilgrims' lives were in jeopardy.
A good number of the Crusader princes were ranged from cowardly to greedy to monstrous. Richard the Lionheart, one of the most well-known crusading heroes, was a cruel tyrant who raped women and massacres thousands of prisoners out of frustration. But I suppose you're right; evil men can take command no matter how justified their war is. So I will lay off that topic for now.
"The justification for the Crusades comes from the original intentions, not the aftermath from people blinded by violence." I disagree completely; the original intent of the Crusades was most definitely to slaughter all Muslims in the Holy Land. Examine again Pope Urban II's speech , because you can't get much closer to the original intentions than that.
"On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends." He not only insults the Arabic race, but explicitly commands everyone embarking on the Crusade to "destroy" them in one sentence. If that isn't a call for genocide, I don't know what is. Elsewhere in the speech he refers to the Saracens as "a despised and base race, which worships demons". Whether or not you believe that Muslims worship demons, it's clear that the medieval Catholics had a disgust and hatred for any race that was predominately Muslim, and their goal was to clear them all out of the Holy Land, dead or alive. And indeed, once the Kingdom of Jerusalem was established, there was not one Muslim to be found in the city.
"Even though the People's Crusade was called a Crusade, it was not one." In what way was it not a crusade? Notice that in round 1 I defined "crusade" as "The wars fought between the forces of western Christendom and Islam from approximately the 11th to 13th centuries AD". It meets those qualifications, and nowhere does it say that it must be papally sanctioned. If you disagree with my definition, you should have told me before you accepted the debate.
"The Fourth Crusade was the reason there were no more crusades." Have you forgotten about Crusades Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine? And the Barons' Crusade? And the numerous crusades against European pagans? All of these happened well after the Fourth.
I will now allow Pro to give further counter-argument.
I fail to see how that makes a difference. The Romans were conquerors bent on world domination, it doesn't matter what their motivation was."
The religious motivation matters because of the concept of this argument. Romans indeed were expansive, but they did not force their religion upon the conquered people. In fact, Romans sometimes adopted those religions themselves. Muslims did not force religion by sword either, but they used other means (non-Muslim taxation for instance ) to ensure that the people brought under Islam rule converted to the religion. That is why Christians rightly felt their religion threatened. As an example, the population on Muslim-controlled Hispanic ares was mostly converted to Islam by the time of the Crusades. Because Romans did not threaten the existence of local religions but Muslims did, it's pointless to put them in comparison in an argument about the justification of Crusades.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons for the First Crusade altogether was the city of Nicaea.
Nicaea was an ancient city locating only 125 miles south-west from Constantinople. In fact it was so near, that rebellions that sprung against the Byzantines in the 10th and 11th centuries used Nicaea as the base from which to threaten the Byzantine capital. It was an extremely important city from a militaristic point of view.
That's why Patriach of Constantinople, Alexis I, felt threatened when it fell into Seljuk Turk's hands in 1081.They made Nicaea the capital of their possessions, so that a capital of a great Muslim empire stood 125 miles from the capital of Orthodox Christianity. 
Seljuk Turks had shown that they were not frightened to expand their empire, so fearing Constantinople falling into the hands of Muslims (which it did 300 years later), Alexis I called for Pope Urban II for help. Can he be blamed for this?
"That's an exaggeration so huge, it's completely wrong."
I admit the exaggeration about the extinction of Christianity as a whole. But losing Constantinople would've weakened it greatly nevertheless.
"Again, that was under the rule of one mad king..."
The Mad King ordered the destruction or confiscation of over 30 000 churches.  It was a violation towards Christianity so huge that it cannot be just noted off the list of the reasons for Crusades. No doubt it affected the Westerners trust about the intentions of Muslims.
"If that isn't a call for genocide, I don't know what is"
The definition of "genocide" is "deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." What Christians did on the Crusades was in no way systematic, nor was it an extermination. Also, you said it yourself: "The siege of Jerusalem, perhaps the most famous battle in all the Crusades due to its resounding success, ended with a horrific massacre and bloodbath of nearly every civilian inside, Muslim or not. " It was certainly not directed towards a precise race. Moreover, Pope Urban's speech did not emphasize the destruction of the "vile race", but rather upheld the powerful tone necessary for a "call to arms" -speech.
Pope Urban's goal was not an organized destruction of Muslims, as this wouldn't have benefitted him in any way. His goal was to liberate the Christian areas and Jerusalem by whatever means necessary.
You are right about the People's Crusade. It indeed fought one short battle against the Turks, so it meets your qualifications for a Crusade. As a sidenote, to be precise, the Fourth Crusade doesn't meet those qualifications. Nor do many other "Crusades".
"The Fourth Crusade was the reason there were no more crusades." This accusation I now thoroughly retract. It was a clear error on my side.
I stand behind the fact that the Crusades were done for a justified reason. The Turk Seljuks were threatening Constantinople, the capital of Orthodox Christians, and recent events befalling upon Christians under Muslim rule had made the westerners lose faith on the Muslims respecting Christianity. There can be a debate about what followed after, but the cause was clearly just.
I now allow my opponent to present his final defence and conclusion.
-I would like to thank my opponent for an enjoyable, well-thought argument with an interesting topic. May the best man win.
"The religious motivation matters because of the concept of this argument. Romans indeed were expansive, but they did not force their religion upon the conquered people."
Nor did the Crusaders. Their goal was simple: take back the holy land in the name of Christendom. They cared nothing for evangelical preaching of the Gospels. When the Crusader states were formed, most non-Christian locals were either killed, exiled, or sold into slavery.
"Muslims did not force religion by sword either, but they used other means (non-Muslim taxation for instance) to ensure that the people brought under Islam rule converted to the religion."
This was not a measure to force conversion to Islam, but a treatment of Christians and Jews as second-class citizens. They could not gain a high status in society, but they were tolerated*. Much more than can be said for Muslim presence in medieval Europe.
"Seljuk Turks had shown that they were not frightened to expand their empire, so fearing Constantinople falling into the hands of Muslims (which it did 300 years later), Alexis I called for Pope Urban II for help. Can he be blamed for this?"
No, he cannot be blamed. I forgot to mention the capture of Nicaea earlier, and admit you make a compelling argument. If the Crusades were defensive wars meant to counter Seljuq expansion and restore Byzantine territory, then they would have been completely justified. But they were not this type of war, as Pope Urban II had his own agenda, which was conquering the Holy Land and driving out the "vile" Muslims. And western Europeans as a whole had no love for the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines were members of the Greek Orthodox church, seen as heretics by the Catholics since the great schism of 1054. The Crusaders' disdain for the Greeks was shown when they broke their vows to Emperor Alexios I to restore all conquered lands to the Empire (in exchange for lavish wealth, military aid, and passage through his kingdom)  and culminated in the Catholic sacking of Constantinople in 1204, which is exactly what emperors feared the Turks would do. Nicaea was one of the main things that triggered the First Crusade, by pure cause and effect, but it certainly wasn't the ultimate goal of it.
"The Mad King ordered the destruction or confiscation of over 30 000 churches. It was a violation towards Christianity so huge that it cannot be just noted off the list of the reasons for Crusades. No doubt it affected the Westerners trust about the intentions of Muslims."
As I stated, a violation by one man, not by the entire religion of Islam. I won't blame the western Europeans for being unaware of the full story, but does a simple misunderstanding mean the Crusades were justified? Certainly not.
"[The massacre at Jerusalem] was certainly not directed towards a precise race."
I hate to play the Hitler card, but the Holocaust was directed at multiple groups: gypsies, the disabled, homosexuals, and of course, the Jews. These groups are vastly diverse in classification, but were all killed because they were viewed as enemies of the Aryan race, or in Nazi rhetoric, "life unworthy of life". In the same way, the Crusaders viewed Muslims, Jews, and to a lesser extent eastern Christians as the enemies of the Church. The massacre was the result of an ideology which portayed these people as savage animals and Satanists, not of simple adrenaline from battle. No medieval political wars among Catholic kingdoms were accompanied by such widespread killing and desolation; the monarchs usually respected one another as Christians in spite of their disagreements. But because the enemy was alien and dehumanized, the Crusaders gleefully took part in the genocide not of one precise race, but of all who they deemed unworthy of life.
"Pope Urban's goal was not an organized destruction of Muslims, as this wouldn't have benefitted him in any way. His goal was to liberate the Christian areas and Jerusalem by whatever means necessary."
Pope Urban knew that the Muslims needed to be removed from the Holy Land, one way or another. It was probably of little consequence to him whether they were booted out or simply killed. Perhaps dubbing his speech a "call for genocide" was an exaggeration on my part, because you're correct, his main goal was to grab Europe's attention with extreme rhetoric. His hope for the First Crusade,and the actual result, was something akin to ethnic cleansing, except a religious variety. But he certainly allowed for and encouraged genocide. Looking again at his speech, he states: "All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested."  Anyone who participates in the Crusades, he promises, receives a free ticket into Heaven. Catholics at this time were hesitant about the idea of holy war, given Jesus's condemnations of violence and killing, so the Pope reassured them that because God Himself sanctioned this war, killing is not only allowed, but rewarded.
"As a sidenote, to be precise, the Fourth Crusade doesn't meet those qualifications. Nor do many other "Crusades"."
You're right, as I now realize. Whoops. Let's just say that I was aware of this, and was only talking about the Fourth Crusade to strengthen my other points.
Pro insists that the Crusades were justified because Constantinople was under direct threat from the Turks at the time and some persecution of Christians was happening in Muslim-controlled areas. I argue that the purpose of the Crusades was not to save Constantinople or any Byzantine territories, but to capture the "Holy Land" from the Arabs and Turks, and remove all non-Christians from it. Many bloody massacres happened during the Crusades, not as a side effect of battle frenzy, as Pro argues, but as the fulfillment of Crusader cause and ideology. And there is no evidence for any widespread persecution of any Christian pilgrims or natives in any Muslim territories, outside of Mad Caliph, whose insanity cannot be used to condemn Islam and whose successor immediately corrected his wrongs. The Crusades were aggressive, unnecessary wars of conquest, born out of ignorance and greed and ending in catastrophe for nearly every party involved. I stand firm by the belief that they were not justified.
I thank Pro for a lively, genuinely thought-provoking debate, the best I've had in a while. Voters, choose whomever you think deserves to win.
*This is based on Muhammad's respect for the other Abrahamic religions as "People of the Book", as opposed to the polytheistic pagans which he so loved slaughtering.
3. Asbridge, Thomas S. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land. New York: Ecco, 2010. Print.
My original point was; why bring up the Roman conquerings in the first place? Crusade's core battle was between Christianity and Islam. Roman conquering had nothing to do with religion, so it's not worth discussing in a debate about the justification of Crusades.
"This [non-Muslim taxation] was not a measure to force conversion to Islam, but a treatment of Christians and Jews as second-class citizens. They could not gain a high status in society, but they were tolerated. Much more than can be said for Muslim presence in medieval Europe."
No, it was precisely a measure to force conversion to Islam. Non-Muslims had essentially few human rights, whereas those who converted to Islam were treated almost at the same level as Arabians. Non-Muslims even had to wear a special badge to divide them from Muslims, and in legal matters, the word of a non-Muslim was never considered equal to the word of Muslim. Who wouldn't convert in a system where you are treated as almost non-human?
In the middle of the 11th century Muslim empire itself came under pressure, and the grip of Muslim leaders tightened still. Persecutions and executions began on the Iberian peninsula. This no doubt affected the westerner's opinions on Muslims. 
"... and culminated in the Catholic sacking of Constantinople in 1204, which is exactly what emperors feared the Turks would do..."
I had hoped I would not have to say this, but the Fourth Crusade is not part of this argument, as agreed. Also, the source you linked to this chapter (source 1.) doesn't work, but I assume that's just a copy-paste mistake.
"As I stated, a violation by one man, not by the entire religion of Islam. I won't blame the western Europeans for being unaware of the full story, but does a simple misunderstanding mean the Crusades were justified? Certainly not."
Certainly it doesn't justify Crusades by itself, no. This I have not claimed. But it's a single reason along with many others, which I will soon list in the Conclusion.
"I hate to play the Hitler card, but the Holocaust was directed at multiple groups: gypsies, the disabled, homosexuals, and of course, the Jews. These groups are vastly diverse in classification, but were all killed because they were viewed as enemies of the Aryan race, or in Nazi rhetoric, 'life unworthy of life'."
The Nazis indeed slaughtered these groups, in an organized fashion. As I said earlier, what the Crusaders did was in no way organized. They may have viewed Muslims and Jews as "lesser people", but they certainly did not round up huge masses of Muslims and Jews from around the Middle-East to exterminate them. I don't defend the Crusader's actions during the siege of Jerusalem, but an actual nation-wide genocide was never considered.
The tensions between Christian and Islamic empires were volatile during the 11th century. The "Mad Caliph" had eradicated over 30 000 Christian churches in Holy Lands, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was the very birth place of Christianity. Con argues, that because these actions were carried out by one mad king, they cannot weigh in the scale as a justified reason for the Crusades. However, that along with the widespread persecution of Christians during this time (and in Iberian peninsula some time after ) was certainly noted by Christians as an attack against their faith.
But perhaps the tensions would never have discharged, had the Islamic Seljuq Turk empire not threatened Constantinople by taking over the city of Nicaea in 1081. As Byzantine Emperor Alexios I had to call for help from the Pope to defend the capital of Eastern Christianity, Christians saw an opportunity to not only ensure the safety of Constantinople, but to simultaneously liberate the Holy Lands from the Muslims who had ravaged them a short while ago. I will not defend Christians for their violent methods and actions in conquering back the Holy Lands, but the cause and the reasons for which they fought for was clearly, and utterly, just.
I wish to thank Con for a mind-opening debate which I greatly enjoyed. The debate was clean and courteous with interesting points from multiple perspectives. Voters, choose whomever you see worthy.
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