Monday, June 29, 2015

The Seventh Crusade

Fig.1: The fedora fad of the 1920s would only be outdone
by the one of the 1220s.
For all intents and purposes, the Sixth Crusade did its job and brought the holy city of Jerusalem back into Christian control. Nevermind the fact that the Crusaders were not allowed to build a wall to defend their kingdom, or that Muslims were still allowed to rule certain areas in and around the city, or that the guy who won the city was excommunicated by the Pope and was no better than the Antichrist (who really isn't that bad of a guy once you get to know him). As such, many people in Europe saw the Sixth Crusade as not really a crusade at all, but some sneaky deal made in a smoke-filled room (fig.1). Of course, once rumors of a Seventh Crusade started swirling about, people were just so scarred from the last few that many Europeans wanted nothing to do with it. (On a related note, I hope Star Wars: Episode 7 will be at least halfway decent! It has to be better than the prequels, right? Right?!)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Sixth Crusade

Fig.1: Most of the world's reaction
to the calling of a sixth crusade.
By this point in the early 13th century, Europeans had seen five crusading forces make their way to the Holy Land, only to watch as one by one turned into a bunch of Holy... well... something else. The Fifth Crusade was especially disappointing, as a constant revolving door of troops, squabbling within the leadership, and the ignoring of "flood watch" alerts from the National Weather Service caused the largest force in crusading history to meet its end within the rising currents of the Nile River. So do you think that discouraged anyone from trying to send off yet another crusade? Don't be ridiculous, we're barely halfway through these things! Even though the Christian populous was becoming tired not succeeding, the kings and clergy of Europe felt the need to try try again. Besides, there was one ruler in particular who was well overdue to pickup the crusading tab.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Fifth Crusade

Oh yeah, Crusades Month is back, and better than ever! Well the scope and overall effectiveness of the Crusades covered this month aren't better than ever (believe it or not, they're even worse), but that doesn't mean we still can't have fun at the expense of trivial religious warfare! This month I will be covering Crusades 5-7, which, if they were movie sequels, would be well past the tipping point of enthusiasm for even the most beloved film franchises (unless you're The Fast and the Furious, for reasons I dare not comprehend).

Fig.1: Europe just couldn't wait to add another one of these to its list of "Reasons Why the Rest of the World Thinks We're Jerks."
By the year 1213, the Crusades have had over a century to build up their reputation of suckiness. The First Crusade (1096-1099) allowed the Christians from Europe to conquer the holy city of Jerusalem from the various Muslim groups that previously controlled it, only to undermine their victory by bringing their typical European pettiness along with them. The fall of one of their possessions led to the Second Crusade (1145-1149), which not only attacked the wrong Muslims, but also lost against them! The fall of Jerusalem to Saladin led to the Third Crusade (1189-1192), which started out pretty promising for the Christians under the leadership of Richard the Lionheart, only to have it all end with a dud in the name of peace (yawn). And then there was the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), which didn't even make it to the Holy Land and only led to the destruction of the Christian city of Constantinople (granted, they totally deserved it for leavening their communion bread). Instead of just cutting their losses and focusing on other things, like, I don't know, feeding their starving peasants or something, Europeans decided to call for yet another crusade. And so the franchise regretfully continued (a quote that would be repeated ever since Transformers got a sequel).