The crusades were justified responses to Muslim Aggresion
Debate Rounds (4)
1. Be respectful: Id like for this debate to be a civil and well mannered dialouge between me and my opponent. I feel that a mutual respect between debaters always provides a better basis for contrasting the different views
2: Please use sources to back up your points: I think that ones pretty self explanitory
3: Most of all, keep an open mind :)
Good luck to Pro :)
Well before we dive into this topic lets begin with a few basic definitions
Christianity: The Monotheistic religion following the teachings of Christ mainly prevalent in Europe and the Americas
Islam: Another monotheistic religion following the teachings of Muhammed prevalent in the Middle East and parts of Asia
Jihad: Muslim concept of Holy war preached by Muhammed in the Quran
Crusades: a series of wars taken up by the Catholic church to reclaim the Holy land of Israel where Jesus preached
Now that weve gotten those out of the way, lets begin,
against popular opinion, the crusades were not Christian wars of aggression. In fact, The Muslims were taking over vast swathes of Christian land long before Pope Urban called for the first crusade. The holy land of Jerusalem and Israel, where Jesus preached, was taken over by Muslim armies 400 years before the Christians ever decided to fight back. By the time the Catholic church raised the call to arms, Muslim hordes had overran Egypt (birthplace of Christian monasticism) Israel (Area where Jesus preached) All of Northern Africa, and had even established a foothold in Europe. Nations like Spain and Portugal fell to invading moors who would occupy the country for nearly 100 years. If you are looking for the start and provoker of this war, you need not look farther than the Muslims. Additionally, Christians actually had no concept of holy war before the crusades began. The necessity came after Muslim armies were at the doorstep of Europe and the Vatican. I found a very helpful map illustrating all the battles of the crusades vs all the battles of Muslim Jihad.
As you can see, Muslim armies did far more pillaging and conquering than their Christian counterparts. Christians had a clear goal to retake the holy land and stop the Turks from advancing further. The Muslims, however, clearly wanted to take over the entire Christian world and convert all to Islam. The simple fact is that Europe was backed into a corner by a rampant and savage invader and they were forced into defending themselves.
I anxiously await my opponents responses to these arguments and hope he will come up with some of his own
UtherPenguin forfeited this round.
Apologies for the previous forfeit, my internet went off for a day and this led to my forfeit in two other debates as well.I hope it is okay with my opponent if I focus on the First Crusade.
Contention: Definition of Jihad
In regards to the terms, I have no contentions except for the definition of Jihad. Jihad doesn't necessarily mean "Holy War".The Arabic word for "holy war": Harbu muqadsat, is found nowhere in the Quran or hadith. The meaning of Jihad is simply "to Struggle". It is sometimes interpreted that going out to war is a form of Jihad but not at all the primary purpose of Jihad. In fact, Jihad does not even necessarily have to be Islamically related. For example: A school student cramming his studies the night before a test is doing a Jihad, since he is under going a struggle.To be more specific, Islamic Jihad is known as "Jihad 'ul fisabililah" or "Struggle in the way of God". Once more, that definition is also general. Hence, Jihad does not mean holy war. But it can be used in that context. Aside from the definition for Jihad, I agree with all the other terms.
Argument 1:The First Crusade was originally motivated by geo-politics
In the mid 11th century, the Byzantine Empire was facing several incursions by the Seljuk Turks. The Turks quickly moved in the Anatolia (Modern Day Turkey) region. Such can be seen in the map below
One can see the Seljuk"s were alarmingly close to the Byzantine Capital of Constantinople, in fact the Turks had carried out several failed sieges of Constantinople prior to the First Crusade. This is what prompted the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos to seek aid from Catholic Europe.This was when the first Crusade was originally initiated; as a call to assistance from Western Europe to aid the Byzantines. The first indicator that the Crusades were not motivated by religion but rather geopolitics because if the focus was more on religion then the pope wouldn"t need an excuse to start a crusade as he would have simply called out for one instead of waiting.By the 1090"s Western Europe had mostly ended the "Dark Ages" as stable localized Kingdoms were established following the period of instability after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Preceding this the Catholic church held indirect however tremendous influence over Europe, the 1090"s came a few decades after the Norman Conquest when England had finally stabilized.Since the original plea of Komnenos was imply to organize a small force to reconquer Anatolia, this does not justify the religious response from the Pope that was given. The atrocities done by Peter the Hermit in Christian territory (I'll get to that) further illustrates this.
Argument 2: Crusader Atrocities were far worse.
Six months prior to the First Crusade, French Preist Peter the Hermit lead an army of 40,000 or so peasants from France to Constantinople. Upon reaching the city of Belgrade he found that a previous peasant army Walter San Avoir had already ransacked the city. Killing Christian civilians as a result.Secondly in from May to July of 1096, the Bishops of Mainz, Worms and Cologne were forced to shelter the Jews into their Churches as Anti-Semitic mobs of Crusading knights stromed the city. Killing the Jews that took sanctuary in the Church, despite that being a major sin in Christianity.A thing to note about these atrocities are the fact that many were aimed at Christian civilians, it makes little sense that the Crusaders pillage and kill members of their own religion while on a Crusade. Especially since this contridicts the Christian commandment of "Thou shall not kill"
The most notorious atrocity of the First Crusade was the ransacking of Jerusalem in 1099. In the Gesta Francorum ( a Latin book that chronicled the Crusades in the perspective of the Franks)
"...[our men] were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles..."
A second chronicler of the first Crusade, Fulcher of Chartres documented how the Crusaders took the Temple Mount during the siege. He says and I quote
"In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared"
Now contrast this with Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem. When Saladin took down the city of Jerusalem in 1187 after a 1 and a half week long siege. He made a ransom to the citizens of Jerusalem. After a long negotiation with Balin of Ibelin it was agreed that a ransom would be held to free seven thousand of the poor citizens of Jerusalem who couldn't afford to pay the ransom on the collective ransom of 30,000 Beznats. Two women or ten children would be permitted to take the place of one man for the same price. Saladin's brother then released another 1,000 people unable to pay and 2,000 more people unable to pay were then released.
Saladin then freed all of the elderly unable to pay. While many who didn't pay were sold to slavery. Now you have to note that Saladin did not kill a single civilian when he took over Jerusalem.
In conclusion, the atrocities done by the Crusaders (especially in the First Crusade) heavily outweigh the atrocities done by Muslims. That being because the Muslim armies killed far less civilians, and far less members of their own faith. Contrast that with the Crusaders whom killed countless Jews, Byzantine and even Christian civillians in the span it took to take Jerusalem. When Jersusalem was taken by Saladin the citzezens were spared, and allowed to practice their religon while under Muslim control. Whilst during Christian occupation, citezens were pruged upon conquest and other religions were heavliy suppressed.
4. Gesta Francorum
My opponent has made many points but unfortunately, with a small amount of critical analysis, these arguments can be easily refuted with facts.
My opponent claimed that the First crusade was motivated by Geo politics rather than defending the Christian World at the time. He also makes the assertion that the crusades were initiated in order to assist Constantinople from Seljuk Turks. There is one major and quite fatal flaw in my opponents reasoning. He admits that a Crusade was started to defend Christian Land from Muslim incursions. In fact, my opponent says so himself, "One can see the Seljuk"s were alarmingly close to the Byzantine Capital of Constantinople, in fact the Turks had carried out several failed sieges of Constantinople prior to the First Crusade." As you can see, my opponent has unfortunately put the nails in the coffin for his arguments by admitting that the Muslims were the first to attack. The topic we are debating here is whether or not the crusades were a justified response to Muslim Imperialism. The failed Seljuk invasions into Byzantine land were unwarranted acts of aggression that demanded a military response. Any logical person would believe a counter attack to be justified. Additionally, I never claimed that the Crusades were a religious war on the Christian's part. I simply stated that the wars were initiated to defend Christian land and gain back land lost to the Muslims. I will admit that Religion was used as a driving force to motivate the common soldier but the essence of the campaign was to keep Europe from falling into the hands of the invaders. My opponent is also forgetting that the Constantinople campaign was a very small aspect of the first crusade. The real beef of the crusades, if you will, was the Christian liberation of Jerusalem, or what is now known as the Levant.
Moving on to my opponents second argument, he stated that Crusader atrocities were much worse than their Muslim counterparts. This argument has little to do with the issue we are discussing but even so, my opponent has forgotten about the plethora of Muslim atrocities that took place during the crusades (I'll get to those in a minute.) But I would first like to address the ones he mentioned. The first "atrocity" that my opponent mentioned was the killing of Jews in churches by Christian crusaders. Now this event is very widely known to scholars and historians when discussing the Crusades. It is also very commonly used by misinformed critics to condemn the Crusaders. What my opponent doesn't know about these killings is that they were not ordered by the Christian generals and it was in fact a very small group of rouge soldiers who instigated the killings. These men were defectors from the military who wanted to steal the gold and possessions of the villagers rather than a large army acting on orders from a high command. No matter which way you choose to spin this information, the truth is that you cannot place the burden of this crime on the Crusaders as the men who perpetrated it separated themselves from the crusaders and their cause. When it comes to the ransacking of Jerusalem in 1099, my opponent is terribly misinformed. It has been said that when the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred every man, woman, and child in the city until "the streets ran ankle deep with the blood." History and science show this to be poetic hyperbole. A contemporary Muslim source has been discovered that puts the number of the slain at three thousand. Was there violence? Absolutely. In that time, a city that had to be taken by force belonged to the victorious invaders " including people. This barbaric idea actually helped lessen damaging resistance (read Josephus for what happens when this goes wrong) and so served something of a cultural purpose. Thus, while it was a tragedy by today"s standards (although one might wonder at what people in that time might think of our war tactics today), it was not uncommon back then. Further, Muslim cities that surrendered to the Crusaders were left untouched, the people retained their property, and they were allowed to worship freely. The anger crusaders felt after they got revenge on the Muslims is understandable. Hundreds of years of bullying and ransacking of their own cities was purged that day in Jerusalem. How many cities do you think Muslim armies ransacked before the crusades? How many innocent Christian men women and children do you think they slew in cold blood? While the ransack of Jerusalem was a very unfortunate event, a look at the history books will see similar Muslim massacres in cities like Constantinople, Alexandria, Mecca, Grenada, and many others.
Lastly, I'd like to thank my opponent for what turned out to be a very interesting and thought provoking debate. I also would like to apologize if I offended you or anyone else watching this debate as that was not my intention at all
I'll write my rebuttals here, and my conclusions:
R1: " In fact, The Muslims were taking over vast swathes of Christian land long before Pope Urban called for the first crusade. The holy land of Jerusalem and Israel, where Jesus preached, was taken over by Muslim armies 400 years before the Christians ever decided to fight back. By the time the Catholic church raised the call to arms, Muslim hordes had overran Egypt (birthplace of Christian monasticism) Israel (Area where Jesus preached) All of Northern Africa, and had even established a foothold in Europe."
Note however that these conquests were almost completely irrelevant to the Crusade. Peter the Hermit and Pope Urban's aim in the Crusade was to reconquer the Holy Land. No intention or emphasis was made to take Egypt until after the Third Crusade, no intention was made to take the Iberian peninsula until centuries after the First Crusade during the Reconquista.
If the Church's original intentions were to reconquer Muslim territories, then attacks on Eygpt and the Reconquista would have happened much sooner. Also, even you mentioned that the Muslim cnoquests of these territores were occupied for a good four centures after the first Crusade. The Crusade was not a reponse to Muslim conquests of Spain or Eygpt, otherwise they would have called it a Reconquista. Secondly, even when under Muslim rule, the Christian inhabitants were allowed to practise their religion just as they were under Christian rule.
The Jews were better off under Muslim Rule since they never had to worry about hiding their religon. As mentioned previously, prior to the People's Crusade a mass purging of the Jews occured in what is now modern day France or Germany.
Contrast that to Muslim rule, in which the Jews were perfectly allowed to practise their religion without fear of reprecutions like the ones in the hands of the Crusader. As writen by Jewish Historian, Zion Zohar:
"Thus, when Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar from North Africa in 711 CE and invaded the Iberian Peninsula, Jews welcomed them as liberators from Christian Persecution." —Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry,New York 2005, pg,8-9
Christian Pilgrims as well were allowed to migrate to the Holy Land with little worry of banditry or persecution, this only changed when the Seljuks came along.
R2:" found a very helpful map illustrating all the battles of the crusades vs all the battles of Muslim Jihad.
As you can see, Muslim armies did far more pillaging and conquering than their Christian counterparts."
Pro has offered very little evedience to suggest that the Muslim armies had done much or any pillaging over the course of the Crusades. The Burden of Proof is on him to prove that the Muslims had commited said atrocities ( I have already given my proof of Crusader atrocities in the previous round)
R3:" The Muslims, however, clearly wanted to take over the entire Christian world and convert all to Islam. The simple fact is that Europe was backed into a corner by a rampant and savage invader and they were forced into defending themselves."
Once more, just as in my previous rebut, the Burden of Proof is on Pro to prove that the Muslims had intentions of taking over Europe.
R4: "One can see the Seljuk"s were alarmingly close to the Byzantine Capital of Constantinople, in fact the Turks had carried out several failed sieges of Constantinople prior to the First Crusade." As you can see, my opponent has unfortunately put the nails in the coffin for his arguments by admitting that the Muslims were the first to attack"
In that argument, I was exclusively talking about the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantines exclusivly. Not once did I say that the Seljuk incursions justfied a Crusade, since the conflict was only between the Seljuks and the Byzantines. The intention of the Crusaders was to take Jerusalem, not to assist the Byzantines. My opponent makes the mistake of interpreting Muslim territories as a monolithic entity.
In order for a Crusade to have been justified, that would have required incursions from the group that controlled Jerusalem at the time. Note, that the country that controlled Jerusalem prior to the Crusade was the Fatimid Caliphate, not the Seljuks. The conflict between the Seljuks and the Byzantines was almost completely restricited to the Anatolian peninsula. The Fatimids had nothing to do with this, neither did the Abbasid or Idrisids have anything to do with the Seljuk incursions. Yet all of these were major powers of the Muslim world.
To get a grasp at how irrelevant the Fatimids were to Seljuk incursions imagine this situation. Imagine that when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait during the Gulf War, America uses that to justifiy and attack on Iran.
The Fatimids were not responsible for Seljuk incursions (just as Iran was not responisble for the Gulf War in my previously mentioned scenario) so ideally they should not have been involved. Just because they were all muslims, does not mean that they are all collectively responsible.
R5:"What my opponent doesn't know about these killings is that they were not ordered by the Christian generals and it was in fact a very small group of rouge soldiers who instigated the killings. These men were defectors from the military who wanted to steal the gold and possessions of the villagers rather than a large army acting on orders from a high command. No matter which way you choose to spin this information, the truth is that you cannot place the burden of this crime on the Crusaders as the men who perpetrated it separated themselves from the crusaders and their cause"
Just as a group of defectors cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Crusaders in general, the attacks of Seljuk Turks did not justify the attacks towards the Fatimids during the Crusades in general. However, my opponent had used the opposite type of logic in the previous argument. Hence that would technically equate to a contradiction. If a minority cannot be held responsible for the actions of the majority, that therefore means that the acts of the Seljuks could not justify the attacks on the Muslim world.
1. Zion Zohar, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times pg 8-9
Thanks to Pro for a very intresting debate. Huge apologies for my forfeit during the second round.
11 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Skepsikyma 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: The nature of the Crusades was a pertinent factor here; whether a particular response was justified or not does depend largely on its nature. Pro failed to adequately rebut Con's arguments concerning wartime atrocities, as he never supports his assertions of Muslim atrocities, and never contests Con's description of Saladin's more humane response or contradicts the slaughter which took place at Jerusalem. Pro's argument also falls flat due to the fact that Europe, if it was responding to the sieges of Constantinople, attacked the wrong target. The Fatimids, as Con points out, were not assisting the Seljuks in their wars, they were a breakaway political group which hadn't conquered any Christian territory. How an asymmetrically brutal takeover of an unrelated polity which had not committed any acts of aggression up until that point can be called 'justified' is beyond me; one would have to consider the Seljuks and Fatimids as one entity, which Pro didn't even begin to argue convincingly
Vote Placed by greatkitteh 1 year ago
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Vote Placed by Greyparrot 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I don't think con adequately addressed the aggression part of this debate. Pro clearly starts the debate off with maps of battles before the Crusades by Muslim nations. I think Con was close when he said some Muslims can't be held responsible for all Muslims, but then you would still have defended the case that the Fatamid aggression was not a factor. I had to kind of sift alot to try to find this. Atrocities seemed to be off topic to me, and took up the bulk of this debate. The debate was about Muslim aggression, not war conduct. Con's decision to show Muslims as benevolent invaders doesn't address the aggression issue. Perhaps another round and con would have defended that position that Muslims either were not as aggressive PRE-CRUSADES as history reports, or that there was another reason for the Crusades. I just need a stronger and clearer explanation from con. Slight tilt for pro
Vote Placed by ColeTrain 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: After taking more time, I realize that my initial inclination to vote Con was not the right one. However, Pro did not effectively prove their side either. Because of this, I am forced to change my vote to a tie.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con seems to me to have conceded too much. He argues that since Spain and Southern Italy had been taken by Muslim aggression 400 years previously, the Crusades could not be properly considered "a response." That's too much lawyering. Con argues that the First Crusade was not motivated by religion, but rather geopolitics. The motivation is not part of the resolution. It suffices to concede that the Muslims were the aggressors and a response was justified. Whose atrocities were worse is largely irrelevant to whether a response was justified by aggression; I think that's arguing if the type of response was justified rather than any response at all. I'm inclined to agree that religion was not the prime motivation or either side, but that doesn't change the character of justification. Pro made the necessary points, and Con's refutations were off target. Pro's definitions should have been in the challenge, but it didn't become an issue. S&G was mutually weak.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Justified means: "having, done for, or marked by a good or legitimate reason." It's because of this there is no winner to this debate. As the judge I have no idea how I vote on this debate. Pro brings up the point, multiple times, that the crusades were a response to religious infringement. But I'm not sure if I should be voting on this debate based on if there Existed AN justification that people of the day perceived good, or if instead I should be voting on this debate based on arguments which attempt to determine if The Crusades were objectively justified or not justified. Pro never argues that a justification simply must have at one point existed for him to win, so I can't vote on that paradigm; yet Con also doesn't given any moral arguments which prove to me that their justification was objectively bad(orPRO). Con appeals to intuition, which completely undermines the point of a moral debate. Uther had great structure/spelling. mike, be wary of phrases like "a logical person mu
Vote Placed by RedMoonlight 1 year ago
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