Responding to remarks by President Obama, talking about transgressions done in the name of Christianity, some commentators pushed back, saying that the Crusades weren’t really all that bad.
Jonah Goldberg said, “The Crusades—despite their terrible organized cruelties—were a defensive war.” Rick Santorum said much the same thing. Ross Douthat described the Crusades as an “incredibly complicated multicentury story.”
In fact, up to 1% of the entire world population died between 1095 and 1291 as part of the violence of the Crusades. The Crusaders killed Jews in the Rhineland, Albigensian heretics in Spain, Muslims in the Holy Land.
Writing about a massace during the Siege of Jerusalem in 1099, Fulcher of Chartres wrote, “In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared”.
The Crusades (there were many) were complex and had different motivations for different people. But they were violent. They weren’t defensive. And they weren’t no big deal.