Catholic Myth #4: The Crusades Were Unprovoked Attacks Against Peaceful Muslims

Catholic Church CrusadesJust because something is repeated over and over again does not make it true.  The same is true here with the Crusades. In reality, the Crusades were wars of self-defense against the Muslims.  Here are the real facts:

Every historian knows that Muhammad was kicked out of Mecca for preaching his new religion.  After raising an army in Medina, he returned and sacked Mecca razing it to the ground.  Thereafter, his new army garnered much military strength and went on to conquer the entire surrounding area.  By the time Muhammad died, his armies had conquered the whole area of land we know today as the “Fertile Crescent.”

After Muhammad’s death, Islam spread even more rapidly.  In just 100 years (657 A.D. – 757 A.D.), the conquering armies of Islam decimated everything in their path from Afghanistan to North Africa.  They then invaded Europe and seized many islands.  They were going for full world conquest.  In a short span of time, Islam conquered the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, and two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire, the last major empire on earth.  Over a thousand years of war without batting an eye.  One can begin to see why the Crusades were called.

During all of this time, while some Catholic kings may have defended their countries, the Catholic Church herself never retaliated at all but just prayed for peace and hoped the Muslim aggression would stop.  However, around the year 1094 A.D, due to the devastation of the Byzantine Empire, Commodore Alexius the 1st called on the pope and the Catholic Church for help in complete desperation.  The pope prayed about it for a long time and eventually decided to “come to the aid of our brothers in the East.”  THAT was the reason the Crusades were started.  An answer to the Emperor’s plea.

Occasionally, thousands of innocent and unarmed Christians were massacred by Muslims while processing on pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  In addition, more than half of all Christian lands had been seized by Islamic armies.  So, the Church also sought to take back the Holy Land in order to create a safe passage for innocent pilgrims processing there.  They also wanted to protect Christians around the world.  For all of these reasons, the Crusades were called.

Unlike Islam, the Catholic Church had been a mostly peaceful religion and had done more good for the world than anyone else.  I’m not saying that Christians were perfect or that abuses didn’t happen during the Crusades because they did, but they were started as wars of self-defense and as a response to the request of Emperor Alexius I.  The Crusades had nothing to do with an “aggressive, power hungry church” who killed peaceful people of other religions or anyone who disagreed with the Catholic religion.  That is huge myth which in not historical, not tenable, and not true.

About Bryan Mercier

Bryan Mercier is a professional Catholic speaker, retreat leader, author, YouTuber, and a Catholic apologist who has been teaching and preaching for almost two decades. He has also been aired on TV and radio in different states, including Relevant Radio, Ave Maria Radio, Sirius XM Satellite, and EWTN. He is the founder of "Catholic Truth," a non-profit dedicated to the New Evangelization and helping Catholics to know, love, and live their faith with purpose and passion each day!
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11 Responses to Catholic Myth #4: The Crusades Were Unprovoked Attacks Against Peaceful Muslims

  1. Barbara Floyd says:

    Bryan, I loved your show on EWTN, Life on The Rock. I watched it again this morning. Your enthusiasm and excitement is infectious. My son, who just turned 30, has studied much about other religions and information, that or attack the Catholic religion. I’ve tried to help him by explaining that Satan had a long time to infiltrate minds and weave doubts etc., to cast doubts so that many would not believe or accept the truth For example, “Most religions have a trinity of sorts long before Jesus was born.” Then he can list the various”persons”. He is less focused on that lately, but still cannot accept the real presence in the Eucharist. I have shared miracles etc. but I am Mom and that dosen’t go too far. Do you have any suggestions? I thank you for what you do for the spread of God’s love and redemption.

  2. Hello Barbara, Thank you for your reply. I’m glad you enjoyed my EWTN episode. 🙂 I would recommend subscribing to my Youtube channel because I will have a video or two coming out soon on the true presence of the Eucharist. I think that will help to explain it all. My Youtbe is “Bryan Mercier.”
    God bless!

  3. Started by Jesus in 33 A.D. at Pentecost.

  4. Sam Swift says:

    Brian, first of all, when Muhammad (SAW) took Mecca, it wasn’t razed down and sacked. The only thing even close to what you are saying is the fact that they destroyed the idols the Quraish worshiped, and this was to prove that the objects were not gods. Second, he the battle of Mecca was relatively peaceful, Muhammad (SAW) ordered his men only to attack if attacked, and almost all the surrendering Quraish were immediately free to go and live their lives, the only ones who were sentenced to death were a couple of people who sparked the war, disrupted peace, and had committed of murder. And some of those people were even spared. Third, at the time of Muhammad’s (SAW) death, the Muslims did not control the Fertile crescent, but only the Arabian Peninsula, and it was not a big war, the only war was the Muslim-Quraish ones, everyone else accepted the religion, and those who didn’t were allowed to live their lives. Fourth, the Muslims started out with only small attacks against a war torn, economic disaster of a Persian empire that was destabilized by the Catholic Byzantine empire. They launched these attacks because the Persians were in control of some Arab territories. Another reason they invaded was because the Persian and Roman empire were both repressive and were putting heavy taxes on the population, so caliph Abu Bakr agreed to release them from those tributes and they might have ended up accepting Islam (which they did). After the Muslim raids ended when Khalid ibn Walid was sent to Syria, the Persians started launching numerous raids into Muslim lands, and that is when Abu Bakr finally ordered a full invasion, which greatly benefited the Persian people. Fifth, the Muslims were not just rampaging around Asia, the reason they went all the way to Afghanistan was because that was part of the Persian empire. Also, the how do you sit there and say the Muslims forcefully converted all the Afghans to Islam when the Muslims never even successfully occupied Afghanistan? at least not until the Afghans willingly accepted it themselves. And for you to say that the Muslims decimated everything in their path clearly shows you have not looked into this. The Muslim rule of the former Persian empire was not for EXTREME urbanisation and progress. And the invasion of North Africa and the Levant was actually due to Christian aggression. The Byzantines murdered one of Muhammad’s ambassadors, which caused the forces to confront each other. This confrontation didn’t have to start a war, until the Muslim army received intel that Byzantine forces were concentrating in massive numbers in north Arabia and were preparing for an invasion of Arabia. Now, although this intel proved to be partially false, it shows that Muslims didn;t attack out of pure aggression, and the Byzantines still had been engaging in conflicts in Arab client states. Sixth, you cannot just make up history, how could the Muslims have conquered the whole Roman Empire if the Roman Empire ceased to exist nearly 300 years before the birth of Muhammad (SAW)? Also even if the Roman Empire had existed at the time, the Muslims would have had only a small amount of territory that belonged to the Roman Empire at it’s greatest extent. And the reason the Byzantines lost alot, was not because Islam brutally attacked them, it’s because Islam won a war that both sides were equally responsible for starting. Seventh, you can’t say the Byzantines and the Christians did not bat an eye, the Christians did take action, but it was just ineffective because most people had accepted Islam and the Muslim army was much stronger. They didn’t “turn the other cheek”, they were just not as strong as the Muslim army. Eighth, although the church itself may have not done anything, the empires, which were Christian, did. They would execute people who were suspected of being Muslim and drive the ones who got to live out of the land. And the church might have done something during this time if their hands were not full of all the internal conflicts the church was suffering at the time. They couldn’t unify themselves and bickered instead. Ninth, Pope Urban the second, did not reluctantly send a small invasion to help his brothers and peacefully spread peace, but instead rallied everyone up to all march into the land and ordered the Christians to “destroy this vile race”, in which he was obviously referring to Muslims. So basically, you are trying to make a Hitler-ish guy look like a peaceful little angel. Tenth, once again, you are creating history, before I tell you why you saying Muslims occasionally massacred Christians, I just wanted to let you know that the Jews being massacred by Christians, sought refuge from the Muslims, and were granted refuge. And the Muslim rules of Jerusalem was known for its tolerance of other religions, even in times of internal conflict the Christians were left unmolested. Eleventh, when you say “Christian lands”, don’t you really mean stolen Jewish lands? Even if some of the regions were Christian, it’s not Christian lands when people accept Islam, that actually makes it Muslim lands. Obviously, it was not truly a crusade of protecting Christians, but a crusade of Christian supremacy. And finally, a whopping twelfth, the Christian religion did of course spread peacefully in its early day, but to try and defend the crusades, an apparent “self defense war”, in which it is confirmed that after the Crusaders pillaged, raped, and sacked their way to Jerusalem, they slaughtered every Muslim and Jew they could, they massacred innocents seeking shelter in the Dome of the Rock. The crusades is a period of Christian arrogance and atrocity versus the rightly guided Jews and Muslims defending the land that is their home. Muslims fought shoulder to shoulder with the Jews, and the Crusaders pillaged, decimated, and destroyed everything in their path. The crusades were a genocide. The scar of division the Catholic crusader tainted this world with, was still not enough, because one side, evil, corruption, bloodlust, and the other side, determination, a people who will defend themselves, and the aid of almighty God (SWT).

  5. Anonymous says:

    Errors: I meant to say ‘it was NOTED for extreme urbanisation and progress.
    I also meant to say Byzantine empire instead of Roman empire in regard to the Byzantine Persian wars.

  6. Sam Swift says:

    Bryan, since you still have not responded, I want you to man up and accept Islam. I proved your whole entire argument wrong. Do not be immature, do not pretend like you have not seen this, I am peacefully asking you to accept Islam. In Islam it is absolutely prohibited to spread by force. So brother, do not be a stubborn child, and come and see the light. Inshallah you will make the right decision.

  7. Sam Swift says:

    Brother it was the right decision for me, I have never made a wiser and better choice in my life than when I accepted Islam. It is the most logical religion. The Bible never mentions that Jesus (SAW) was the last prophet, Muhammad (SAW) is. So please, make the right choice, the wise choice. Wallahi your life will change for the better. Your way of life, Wallah will change for the better. If you want to keep throwing petty, uneducated insults at my religion, go ahead. But if you want to learn from mistakes such as this article, and make a great choice, I highly recommend Islam for you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Funnny how you still haven’t responded. I’ll take it you dont have a good point?

  9. Sorry Sam, I know I promised you to answer a long time ago. But I got super busy. First, my YouTube channel is exploding, and I have thousands of comments on there I try to get to. And my blog just gets left behind usually. Second, I started a nonprofit organization which is been occupying all my time. And third, I’ve been writing multiple books and been trying to get those into publishing companies. So I apologize for the delay. If you want me to write back quicker in the future, then make your comments much much shorter. It took you two hours to write it, it takes me about the same. And I don’t have that kind of time. Which is why I always take a long time to get back to those type of comments. But let’s get on with it. 🙂

    First, thank you for your comment. And for your thoughts. While I reject Islam and think it’s a false religion, I respect your passion for it. You said a couple of things that were true above, that I will correct myself on. It was a bit of an exaggeration to say that Muhammad raised it to the ground. more so, he united all of the Arab clans, and created an army that would sustain him to make war which he did for the rest of his life. And most of them were not wars of self-defense. Many of them were offense of wars to people who did nothing to him. You are right that Muhammad started out doing raids and plundering people’s goods. But there were more and more raids and plunders as time went on and as their army gained strength. it wouldn’t be long before they did start conquering other lands and countries and eventually tried to take over the whole world. Which is the reason why the Crusades were started.

    You said one of the reasons that Islam made a full-scale invasion of Persia was because they were taxed. Which is ironic and hypocritical since that’s what Muslims do to non-Muslims in their lands. But either way, to launch a full-scale attack on another entire empire because you are taxed, is the height of being barbaric instead of just trying to figure out a better solution. Just because you are taxed, doesn’t give you the right to kill many innocent people throughout the entire nation.

    What I meant when I said that they conquered everything from Afghanistan to North Africa, which is true, and many of the islands and pushed into Europe, all unprovoked, I mean that they had 1100 years of war. and while many of the leaders of Islam were kind to the people they ruled, even though they were still second-class citizens, they still conquered everyone with the sword if they didn’t convert. There is absolutely no shadow of a doubt, that Islam has been a religion of war for 1100 years until recent times. as I said, it conquered the three greatest empires on earth.
    I’m not sure if you’ve studied history, but the Roman Empire did not cease to exist before Islam. In fact, the Empire was fighting with Persia right up until the time Islam was started. And it existed long after Islam. Hence why there were holy Roman emperors long after his long started. So you are mistaken on that point. your next mistake is that Persia was decimated because of the Byzantine Empire. First, it wasn’t a Catholic Empire. Since they had broke away from Catholicism. And second, they had nothing to do with it. It was Rome and Persia who were at war. Not Byzantium.
    I love how you keep trying to make the excuse of Christian aggression. Muslims had more for 400 years and conquered many Christian lands. And Christians did nothing but pray for the Muslims. They hardly ever retaliated. It wasn’t until the Spanish and French started raising armies when they invaded Europe that things got more severe. And those were wars of self-defense against the Muslims were attacking them. Same thing with North Africa.
    Your next mistake was a misunderstanding of what I said. I never said the Pope reluctantly sent a small army to help out. But he did reluctantly do the Crusades after praying about it for a long time. It wasn’t something that just happened immediately. It took time and thought and assessing the situation of how Islam is taking over the world. even so, they probably would not have done anything about it if it was not for the Byzantine Empire calling for help.
    Your next mistake is a really big lie or a complete Muslim misunderstanding of history. And most Muslims do not have a good understanding of history as they have revised it several times. To their own liking. But Christians did not rape people all the way to Jerusalem like you said. What they did is take back their lands that Muslims had taken in the first place, killing Christians and making them second-class citizens. The Christians just responded in self-defense.

    There are so many problems and errors and mistakes with your one comment, I could write a whole small book on them. But I don’t have time to do that. The bottom line is that Islam is a religion of war and has been through most of history. There is no doubt of that and there can be no denying that. The Crusades were wars of self-defense, defense against the ravaging Muslim armies who conquered several empires and most of it was aggression.

  10. Sam – you are right that it doesn’t mention that Jesus was the last prophet in the Bible. And that is because 1. Jesus wasn’t a prophet. But the son of God. 2. Jesus said John the Baptist was the last prophet. Therefore Muhammad is not a prophet, especially since he claimed that the Angel Gabriel appeared to him but this “Gabriel” contradicted everything that the real Angel Gabriel gave to the blessed virgin Mary in the Bible. That is why the apparition that appeared to Muhammad could not have been from God. In fact, even Muhammad himself thought it was the demon (jin) in the beginning. Muhammad was suicidal for a long time because the “Angel” was so rough with him.

    Thousands and thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity as we speak.And they are finding peace and joy in the truth of Jesus Christ who is the Lord of all. Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. He is the only one who sets us free and gives us new life. That is why God sent him into the world to teach us the full truth of God. And Jesus started the Christian religion, not the Muslim religion. And he said that every religion or truth that does not match up to the Bible is not from God. And that would include Islam.

    Jesus has changed my life upside down and backwards. I used to dress in black, carry weapons, and one or people. But Jesus took my hate, my rage, my anger, my depression, my low self-esteem, and he filled me to overflowing with peace, joy, love, and fulfillment. He claimed to be the full and final truth of God. And as Christians, we believe he is. This is the reason that Jesus was able to do miracles on command and Muhammad wasn’t. this is the reason that Jesus could forgive sins and claimed that authority and Muhammad could not. This is why Jesus rose from the dead and is alive forever more where Muhammad is still in his grave. this is why even Muslims claim that Jesus had a virgin birth and could do miracles as a child, and Jesus is greater than Muhammad in every way possible. Infinitely greater. He not only claimed ultimate authority and superiority, but he backed it up with countless miracles which no one on earth before or after him has ever done. Open your eyes friend. See the real truth.

  11. Sam Swift says:

    This is the worst reply I have ever read. I will tell you why. One point at a time. These “raids and plunders” you speak of, that the Prophet SAW ordered, you do realize that the caravans he raided were caravans that were selling stolen Muslim property? When they were all forced out of Makkah, all of their property was taken. Not to mention, it is 100% justifiable to raid a caravan of your enemy, no matter what the contents are, but it is even better when the stuff in it belongs to you. It is a complete lie to say that he ever plundered the property of other innocent people, that is absolutely false and baseless. Second, please point out to me where Muhammad SAW started an unprovoked war? He did no such thing. That is just a lie or a deception. Third, please don’t simplify my argument by saying “they invaded because of tax”. That is not what I said, they Sassanids were oppressive, brutal, mushrikoon who controlled parts of Arabia and were extremely hostile to the Arabs and Muslims. And the Jizya tax for non Muslims is 100% fair, because the Muslims pay zakat, which is charity, and the non Muslims do no such thing and it is only fair they have to pay tax, and you can not sit here and try to make some claim that the tax was a huge tax, it wasnt. Also, the prophet SAW did try to find a better solution, he sent messengers to the Shah of Persia, and the Shah ripped up his letters and insulted the Prophet SAW. Obviously was not taking any kind of dialougue seriously. Another massive yet subtle mistake you made is saying they killed innocent people. That is a deception. Please, stop using little jabs to sway emotions, stick with facts. Civillians were not harmed in these conquests, no matter what the believed. The battles fought in the time were arrainged battles in open fields, not close quarters combat in packed urban areas. Only soldiers were killed. You have not proved at all that Islam was spread by the sword, you only say so. But if you look at Christianity, it was spread all over the world by the sword. Look at the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Spanish Conquistadores, etc. Muslims in the trans atlantic slave trade were forced to become Christian. Christianity was spread via colonization and imperialism. NOT via dialogue. It was spread by taking advantage of societies that were not as militaristically developed as Christian nations were, and forcing them to accept their religion. Christianity has been spread by the sword and only by the sword. And yes, you are right, we did conquer the greatest empires known to man in a very short time, we are proud of this. Allah willed that a backwards, outnumbered, completely inferior army would take the two greatest empires in a short period of time. This is true, it is a sign that God is on our side. It is a miracle from God no doubt. My favorite thing you said is that “oh dear these poor Christians just getting OPPRESSED by these VIOLENT SAND PEOPLE did nothing but PRAY FOR THEM”. That is a humongous lie. Is the word pray defined as kidnapping and ransoming pilgrims? Is it defined as slaughtering them? Is it defined as forcing them to convert to Christianity? Is it defined as invading their land? Yet another “point” which is based on deception. And how is it a war of self defense if the lands were firmly estavlished as Muslim territory for hundreds of years prior? If it was self defense, there would have only been one crusade. Why did they keep launching crusades over and over? Because they wanted the holy land. And you will see that the Muslims did not attack Europe during this time, rather they only defended their lands, their people, their religion from Christendom. Next point about the pope, as I said, Islam was not taking over the world, if anybody was taking over the world, it was the Roman Empire!!!! Islam just had something they wanted. He assessed and prayed and the result was that they should eliminate “the vile race” of Muslims and Jews? And next, you lied when you said I lied. It is an established fact of history that the barbaric crusaders slaughtered EVERY SINGLE Muslim and Jew in Jerusalem. This is a fact of history. I find it hypocritical that first of all every point you make against Islam is false and based off a lie, and even funnier is that Christians have done all the things you claimed we have done! All of your accusations we are free of. I don’t feel like typing for another hour about your second comment, but I will say this: Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, if there are so called “thousands of Muslims accepting CHrist everyday”, then there are hundreds of thousands of Christians taking their shahada every single day. Society is becoming fed up with the violent, and illogical history of Christianity, and are beginning to find their true peace in the religion of logic and glorious history.

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