Catholic Bible 101

21st Century Catholic Apologetics for Mary's Spiritual Warriors

The Crusades

The Crusades are one of the biggest clubs that non-Catholic Christians use to beat Catholics over the head with.  The attack generally begins as “More wars have been started over religion than for any other reason.  And therefore religion, and especially Catholicism, is evil, and I am morally superior to you because I am not religious and not Catholic…”  But that is just plain dumb. More wars have been started over territorial disputes, ethnicity, and Communist ideology than ever were about religion.  So let’s take a look at the Crusades, and examine the origins, the timeline, and the theology behind them.









There were about 8 numbered Crusades from Catholic warriors into the Holy Land, the first one beginning in 1095, and the last one ending in 1272.  So this means that for less than 200 years, 177 to be exact, the Popes and Catholic warriors were fighting, off and on, to try to take back the Holy Land from the Muslims. The first Crusade, preached by Pope Urban II, was from 1095 to 1102, and it was the only successful Crusade. It liberated Jerusalem from the Moslem Turks.  The reason that Pope Urban II called for this Crusade, was because the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnensus I, whose territory was being ransacked by the Moslem Turks, asked for help. The Moslem Turks had begun to kill and/or rob Christian pilgrims from Europe who were visiting the Holy Land, and in addition, had destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher built by Constantine. When you think Moslem Turks, think of Al Qaeda.  These were not peace loving Muslims, but were out to destroy Christendom. They considered Jerusalem to be sacred, because that is where Mohammed ALLEGEDLY rose up into heaven and talked to God, to the saints, the angels, and Jesus Himself.  The Moslem Turks were in the process of attacking and obliterating all things Christian.  Here is a list of all of the Muslim attacks that occurred BEFORE the first Crusade happened in 1095 AD:




Muhammad conquers Mecca from his base in Medina.


Muhammad dies in Medina. Islam controls the Hijaz.


Muslims conquest of Syria, and the surrounding lands, all Christian – including Palestine and Iraq.


Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq (some date it in 635 or 636).


Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.

638 – 650

Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.

639 – 642

Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.


Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.

643 – 707

Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.

644 – 650

Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.

673 – 678

Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire.


Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad’s death.

710 – 713

Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.

711 – 713

Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. The Muslim conquest moves into Europe.


Conquest of Spain complete.


Muslim invasion of France is stopped at the Battle of Poitiers / Battle of Tours. The Franks, under their leader Charles Martel (the grandfather of Charlemagne), defeat the Muslims and turn them back out of France.


Foundation of Baghdad.


Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova.


Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim Crusaders) in Morocco; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.


Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim Crusaders) in Tunisia


Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non-Muslim prayer houses & of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.


Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy.


Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country.


Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy.

837 – 901

Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France.

869 – 883

Revolt of black slaves in Iraq.


Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia.

928 – 969

Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969).


The Church of the Resurrection (aka Church of Holy Sepulcher) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked.


Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam.


Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo.


Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids.


First persecutions by al—Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed.


Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al—Hakim (see 937).


Beginning of al—Hakim’s oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians.


Creation of Almoravid (Muslim Crusaders) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Quran, the hadith, and Maliki law.


Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia.


Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine.


Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders).


Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia.


Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana.


Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca. 


  1090 –1091  Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands.

So by looking at all of these Muslim attacks on Christian civilization for 4 centuries before the first Crusade in 1095, it is apparent that the Catholic Church was very patient in fighting back against extermination by the Moslem Turk terrorists. But is it right for a Church to proclaim a war against anyone, even if they are being attacked?  Or should the Catholic Church have done nothing, and just let all of the Christians in the Holy Land and elsewhere just get slaughtered?  Should the Catholic Church have stood idly by and let the Moslem Turks destroy all of the Christian Churches in the Holy Land and elsewhere?  The answer is that there is such a thing as the just war theory, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus admonition to Peter that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”  That statement does not apply to Kingdoms defending themselves from barbarians. If it did, the USA would never have been justified in fighting Hitler in WWII. That statement by Christ applies to people seeking revenge by the sword, and not to kingdoms fighting against barbarians like the Moslem Turks, Al Qaeda, or Hitler.  The just war theory of the Catholic Church states that war is justified if a country is attacked by another, and war is the only answer to it.

Pope Urban II even gave the Crusaders (those who wore the Cross) an indulgence (remission of the punishment of sin after it has been forgiven in confession) to the Crusaders. The Crusaders had to pay for everything themselves, and often going to the Holy Land with horses, weapons, food, and lodging was the equivalent of several years pay.  So the Crusaders were definitely sincere in their Christian beliefs, because they were of one heart and mind that “love thy neighbor” really meant going to the aid of fellow Christians in the East who were being slaughtered by the Mohammedans. 

There is a myth that millions and millions of people were killed by the Crusaders, and that the blood in Jerusalem was waist high. But that is total nonsense. The killing methods in those days were hand to hand, before guns were invented.  More people were killed in a few days in WWII than were killed in the entire Crusades, simply because there were no atom bombs or Gatling guns back then. 

It is interesting to note that St. Francis of Assisi went to one of the Crusades, but not to fight. He went to try to convert the Sultan to Christianity!  He figured that if he could do that, then there would be no more need of Crusades to free the Holy Land. He managed to get into the Sultan’s tent and preach to him, but the Sultan was not one to be converted!  So St. Francis’ mission was unsuccessful, but it is a great example to us all to never be afraid to preach the truth, even to those sworn to kill you.

It is also important to remember that the Muslims in later centuries advanced as far as Portugal, Spain, and almost to Vienna. The Catholic Church, namely Pope Pius V, had the warriors of the Holy League States say the rosary before the sea battle of Lepanto, where the Ottoman Turks were finally exiled from Europe. That day was October 7, 1571, and it is today known as the Feast of the Holy Rosary. One can only imagine how much stronger these later Turks would have been if it hadn’t been for the earlier Crusades weakening them. The Battle of Lepanto is a very important battle in world history, because so many Americans came from Europe. If the Catholic Church and the Holy League States hadn’t kicked them out at Lepanto, the Europeans who migrated to America later on would have been Muslims, not Christians. An interesting side note is that the Muslims attacked with ships in the form of the crescent, while the Christians attacked with their ships in the shape of the cross!

So there is no need to ever apologize for the Crusades. We wouldn't have the Holy Land to go to today had the Catholic Church not fought back against the murderous Turks.  Yes, atrocities were committed by some of the Crusaders, including the murder of Jews and Christians. But the Church in no way sanctioned any of that, just like Americans do not now sanction rape committed by servicemen.  

Here is a list of the numbered Crusades in the Holy Land:


8 Crusades, from 1096 to 1272

·       1st Crusade – 1096 – 1102, only successful Crusade, liberates Jerusalem

·       2nd Crusade – 1147 -1149, Siege of Damascus

·       3rd Crusade – Jerusalem falls in 1187, 1189-1102, truce with Saladin

·       4th Crusade – 1201-1205 - Sack of Constantinople

·       5th Crusade – 1218-1221- Egypt

·       6th Crusade – 1228-1229 – Jerusalem restored, but falls in 1244

·       7th Crusade – 1248-1254, First St. Louis Crusade, Egypt

·       8th Crusade – 1269-1272, Second St. Louis Crusade, Tunisia, end of Kingdom of Jerusalem








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