Few in the West are aware of the extent of the savagery that Christians rained down on Muslims during the crusades. This is my fourth post on Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse (Basic Books, 2011) by Jay Rubenstein — a crusades history for dummies and historians both. My previous posts: Sanctifying the Killing of Muslims, The Secret to Islam’s Rapid Expansion: Free Love (?), and Justifications for Slaughtering Muslims Were in Ample Supply for Crusaders. Now, more fuel for the jihad fire.
And on the third day of the conquest, the final stage of the Jerusalem massacre began. Albert of Aachen was the only writer to describe it. As with his account of the pogroms along the Rhine, he showed a startling degree of empathy for the victims: The Franks “were beheading or striking down with stones girls, women, noble ladies, even pregnant women, and very young children, paying attention to on one’s age. By contrast, girls, women, ladies, tormented by fear of imminent death. … were wound about the Christians’ feet, begging them with piteous weeping and wailing for their lives and safety. … [But the] Christians gave over their whole hearts to the slaughter, so not a suckling little male child or female, not even an infant of one years would escape alive the hand of the murderers. The streets of the whole city of Jerusalem are reported to have been so strewn and covered with the dead bodies of men and women and the mangled limbs of infants, not only in the streets, houses, and places, but even in places of desert solitude numbers of slain were to be found.”
Here’s a nice touch that foreshadows the Nazis.
Just enough Saracens were spared so that the Franks might have slaves charged with removing their bodies. Rather than giving a formal burial, these few survivors piled their friends and family in heaps outside the gates. “They made mountains from the bodies. There were as big as houses.” Six months later at Christmas, the bodies were still there.
Also, after the Franks (Christians) had conquered Jerusalem, they preempted an attack by a massive Egyptian army at Ascalon.
The defeat for the Egyptians was total. In one writer’s words, “The fields were bedewed — nay, flooded — with blood, and gradually covered in gentle carrion.” Another chronicler mixed the language of history with that of the Apocalypse, saying, “And in a moment the field was covered with prone bodies, and none of ours could step anywhere except on a corpse. The land everywhere was wet with blood, as if a bloody rain had fallen from the clouds.”
The wonder isn’t so much that Muslim extremists attack us but that mainstream Muslims have been able to forgive the West for their past transgressions.