What were the Crusades really about ?
Okay this is me being pedantic to the n'th degree, so please bear with me, grab a cup of tea and sit back.
BBC Two, is showing a new three part documentary on the Crusades. In the documentary ,
Dr Thomas Asbridge presents his personal perspective account of the Crusades, the 200-year war between Christians and Muslims, East and west that started in 1095 and ended in 1291. The series has been enthusiastically described by the Guardian 'as this was storytelling of the highest quality'.
In fairness it is well written, personal and draws a colourful sketch of the initial events of the Crusades.
For those of you not interested in watching it, I shall do my best to summarise. While the Crusaders were focussed on capturing Jerusalem, the city had already, for four hundred years, been under Muslim rule. Pope Urban offered absolution to those who liberated Jerusalem from the Muslims leading to 200 years of wars. But here is the catch, the use of the word crusades and the various numbers attached (1st, 2nd , 3rd crusades etc), the glamourising of the noble Saladin, the ignorance about the Zangi dynasty , reflects a western view of what was two hundred years of endless wars.
I could go on endlessly about the Crusades, the Emperor Nero like Abbassid Caliphs, the brilliant but brutal Baibars, the side story, where the Crusaders decided to randomly attack Constantinople or Egypt. The sudden arrival of the Mongol hordes was seen by Muslim historians as a sign of the end of days and the Knights of Templar.
Instead watch this brief clip, from Ridley Scotts 'Kingdom of Heaven' a very mediocre story about the Crusades and Saladin. Here in this scene we have a meeting between Balian (acted by Orlando Bloom) and Saladin ( acted by Ghassan Massoud) where they discuss Jerusalems fate.
So what is Jerusalem worth ?
The answer : Absolutely nothing..and absolutely everything at the same time.
The above youtube video clip is taken from Kingdom of Heaven, reproduced for educational purposes