Whether you’re Catholic, Protestant, some other religion, or someone with no stated faith (I would argue atheists do have a faith), but you are a person of good will who believes in intellectual honesty, you need to know what the Crusades were truly about. Why? Because the Crusades are so often used against Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Even the “Leader of the Free World” spouted bad history on this subject.
There are plenty of examples of bad things done in the name of Christ. I would strenuously argue that the Crusades don’t fall into that camp, not if they’re properly understood.
So in the interest of intellectual honesty and good will (or just for your own edification), please read this piece. (Note: It’s not mine, if that’s more of an incentive to read it. 😉 )
What is interesting is that until the modern era, when anti-Christian historians began writing in earnest about how the Crusades were “an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world” and an effort by the Popes to “forcibly convert the heathen Saracens,” Muslims used to brag about how they won the Crusades … because they did. (Why they adopted the view that the Crusades defeated and oppressed them is hard to fathom.) If World War I was an effort to make the world safe for democracy, the Islamic successive victories during the multiple Crusades kept the Holy Land safe for the jizya (extortion tax called for by Muhammed) and dhimmitude (second class citizenship for “infidels”).
This strikes to the heart of why the Crusades were launched in the first place: To aid the Byzantine Empire and remove the threat of violence, death, or slavery from pilgrims wanting to travel to the Holy Land.
Were mistakes made and horrible atrocities committed by the Crusaders? Yes. But is most history on this not only decidedly unfair but wholly inaccurate? Absolutely.