Learning Warfare Technique
WRITING in Man and His Gods, Homer W. Smith tells briefly about the horrors of the Crusades: “Conceiving that the Holy Land, and secondarily the great cities of Asia Minor, could be recovered for the church, Urban II in 1095 instigated a vast penitential pilgrimage to Jerusalem which was also to be a war against the infidel. He promised all who participated therein freedom from the common law, remission of sin, and blessed immortality.
“This, the First Crusade, proceeded southwards across Europe, massacring, torturing and plundering without restraint. Two divisions indulged in such excess in Hungary that they were destroyed; a third, after killing some ten thousand Jews in the valley of the Rhine, was dissipated in the south; of two others multitudes perished by the way and the remainder arrived in Constantinople with sadly diminished numbers after having plundered the Greeks who had given them aid. . . . Seven thousand out of a number variously estimated at 150,000 to 300,000 finally crossed the Bosporus and perished utterly at the hands of the Turks. A heap of whitening bones alone remained to testify to subsequent crusaders the fate of this, the so-called ‘People’s Crusade.’
“Two years later a better organized military force, under Godfrey of Bouillon, succeeded in taking Jerusalem and founded the Latin kingdom of Palestine. . . . A month’s siege was required to take the city, and no pagan army proved to be more ferocious than were the Christians. . . . Jerusalem withstood a month’s siege, and when it fell at last the Jews were herded into the synagogues and burned alive, and the chroniclers boasted that the crusaders rode their horses to the Temple knee deep in the blood of disbelievers. . . . On the next day, in the name of the Jesus who was supposed to have been buried in the sepulcher, they slaughtered a great multitude of people of every age, old men and women, maidens, children and mothers with infants, by way of a solemn sacrifice.
“Eight times during the next two centuries the conflict between Christianity and Islam flared up in the east. As the papacy saw its chance to weaken an emperor, to enrich itself, or simply to divert the people of Europe from interstate warfare, the crusading effort was repeated. Crusading became a Christian vocation and, the Christians having learned the principle of organized and ruthless warfare in practice against the infidel, it was not long before they were applying its technique to themselves.”