Tag Archives: fulcher of chartres

Crusading as a Form of Pilgrimage

Because some level of merit historically had been attached to Christian warfare under limited and less defined circumstances, it was not particularly hard for clerical promoters of the First Crusade to convince Christian knights that fighting in defense of fellow Christians on God’s behalf was a virtuous act. Indeed, as Riley-Smith has demonstrated, the charters of knights participating in the First Crusade sometimes explicitly referenced the desire to aid eastern Christians suffering under Islamic rule as one of their motivations for participating. A charter of two brothers, for example, written shortly before they embarked on the First Crusade, notes that they were going on the crusade, in part, “…to wipe out the defilement of the pagans and the immoderate madness through which innumerable Christians have already been oppressed, made captive and killed with barbaric fury.”[1] In this case, Muslims were depicted as barbarians without reason and self control, dominated by rage, which of course was in contrast to what clerics were now asking knights to do, namely refrain from indiscriminate violence as they put their military skills to use in defense of fellow Christians. Continue reading

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Modern Crusaders?

At least 15,000 foreign fighters, around 2000 of them from western nations, have left their home countries to go fight on behalf of ISIS in Syria or Iraq. Yet that estimate, widely repeated in the press, is months old, and so the number is probably somewhat higher in both cases. What hasn’t been reported on much until fairly recently, is the phenomenon of foreign fighters, particularly from the west, who have gone to Syria or Iraq to join the fight against ISIS. Indeed, there have been some westerners, driven by various motivations, who have traveled to the region to support and join Kurdish fighters on the ground. They are not mercenaries, so far as we know, doing this for financial gain. Rather, they claim far more altruistic motives and are doing this at their own expense. Continue reading