The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beginning in 1095 and culminating four bloody years later, the First Crusade represented a new kind of warfare: holy, unrestrained, and apocalyptic. Medieval historian Jay Rubenstein tells the story of this event through the eyes of those who witnessed it. Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse  is a thrilling work of military and religious history, Armies of Heaven will revolutionize our understanding of the Crusades.



Jay Rubenstein

Comments [34]

DE Teodoru from nyc ny

Prof. Rubenstein's book was great, as were his others! But, to hear him in person was quite a treat! Mr Lopate did a wonderful job of moderating the interview. Both shed much light on the Dark Ages with all the sarcasm and dubiousness to make it a most exciting listening. How come there's nothing like this on TV, just crap?

Nov. 24 2011 06:54 PM
Jay Rubenstein from Knoxville, TN

This is the interview subject speaking here, or disinformation artist, as you prefer. The cannibalism question seems to have stirred up some serious interest and passion. It certainly did with me, too, when I first read about it. My primary concern in talking about the cannibalism is not to tell a story of Muslim victimhood -- Muslim historians indeed did not write about it at all during the Middle Ages. My concern was rather to tell how the crusaders themselves were traumatized by their own actions. Christian writers (including not just contemporaries, but eyewitnesses) talk about the cannibalism in detail. The story troubled me enough that I did an article on it for French Historical Studies called "Cannibals and Crusaders," that is available on the internet for free. Thanks for listening and reacting, even and especially if you disagree with what I had to say!

Nov. 24 2011 11:45 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The problem wasn't territory but that the Christians living in the previously Christian areas were unable to receive the Sacraments and the Church couldn't funtion in these areas. It was a concern for their eternal salvation.

Also pilgrims to the Holy Land were not safe, sometimes were killed.

Finally, Islam is a heresy and so had to be combatted.

Christendom didn't try to regain Jerusalem before this because - after Muhammed - they were busy holding Europe together and protecting it from the northern barbarians. They only had a chance in the 11th century.

Monty Python's movies are irreligious and ridiculous, nothing else. It's an atheist's view of the Chuch and society - they can't understand the Church at all. (It's like trying to understand a marriage without understanding love.)

Nov. 24 2011 06:16 AM

Mr. Rubenstein is a disinformation artist who is propagating lies to convince Muslims that their real enemies are in fact Christians who, he implies here, have historically persecuted them.
This is a transparent attempt on his part to engender Muslim hate against Christians. Why is he interested in this subject of the Crusades now? Why is he fanning the flames with this? There are libraries already filled with information on the Crusades. Who does it benefit to revisit this information again and especially with a bias meant to convince Muslims of their persecution and victimization so to inspire their immature, misinformed, testosterone driven youth to commit Jihad. Secondly, regarding what information is in books and what isn't. The fact is books are and have been written many times by people with agendas or biased viewpoints (textbooks included). These claims of cannibalism are more nothing more than legends passed down through the years with no actual basis in fact. Their only purpose to demonize the enemy. There are countless examples of this during wartime. What is fact is that one atrocity begets another. If atrocities were committed they are usually in response to one done in kind, unfortunately. Lastly lies and more lies led us to a shameful and disastrous war in Iraq. Let's keep things straight and honest and not disparage others out of fear or opportunism.

Nov. 24 2011 01:43 AM
John from office

Gives new meaning to the term Long Pig, in a perverse way!

Nov. 23 2011 02:46 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

@ stopthewars

Cannibalism DID occur. he didn't make it up, it's an historical fact. He's just reporting the facts. If you think that somehow "demonizes" Christians, then perhaps that says more about the Crusades and not the author.

I have read many books about the Crusades and the first one in particular and the cannibalism has always been mentioned...this is not some sensationalistic detail he made up. Far from it.

Nov. 23 2011 02:02 PM

@ stopthewars

Christians NEVER do bad things...


Nov. 23 2011 02:01 PM

Why is your guest demonizing Christians and portraying Muslims as victims? Seems like he is giving Muslim extremists something to react to in this very tense time between the faiths. Does he have an agenda? Does he want to bring about an apocalypse? Christians are cannibals? What a joke. This guy should get a job and not have to rely on selling books with specious claims in them in order to make a living.

Nov. 23 2011 01:56 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

The Crusaders committed horrible atrocities, no doubt. Too bad they didn't get into the massacre of Jews along the way in Europe.

This is not to say the Muslims were not conquerors as well.

The Crusades were ultimately a failure for the most part. Romanticizing them especially in a modern context is wrongheaded and foolish and shows a lack of historical understanding.

Good segment. One thing though...the Romans had resentment towards "the east" before that as early as Caesar's time i.e. Octavian's propaganda against Mark Anthony succumbing to eastern customs and being bewitched by the eastern queen Cleopatra. A big part of his demonizing Anthony had to do with the Roman view of their concept of the debauched east. So the roots of this east/west rift goes further back than the times of the Crusades.

Nov. 23 2011 01:55 PM
Ed from Larchmont

Leonard Lopate gave a pretty balanced interview.

Nov. 23 2011 01:51 PM
LL from UWS


But please spell out unfamiliar words and names like Ma'aara and Edessa.

Cannibalism at Ma'aara:

Nov. 23 2011 01:49 PM

The wonders of religious zealots.

Nov. 23 2011 01:48 PM

Ann Coulter "out of control"...??


Nov. 23 2011 01:47 PM
Ed from Larchmont

A small culture? Islam had Northern Africa and the Middle East and Spain - a small culture?

Nov. 23 2011 01:46 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Wikipedia - History of the Jews in the Crusades

"The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June–July 1099) in fierce battles. At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known and include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.[2][3]"

Nov. 23 2011 01:45 PM

"The cannibalism of Muslim bodies"!!!

jaggerbutts!!! Now, we're talkin'!! Eh??

Nov. 23 2011 01:42 PM
Ed from Larchmont

What about the treatment of the Christians at the hands of the Muslims? This was war to the death.

Nov. 23 2011 01:41 PM

"Militancy in the Bible"??

In the sacred, holy bible... naw, how could that be???

Nov. 23 2011 01:41 PM
Ed from Larchmont

There is a just war theory also though.

Nov. 23 2011 01:39 PM
john from office

Our Drones today are the sword of the west, beating back a backward force. But, of course not all muslims and American Muslims are ok.

Nov. 23 2011 01:39 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Jerusalem has NEVER prospered except when it was in the hands of the Jews. After the Romans expelled the Jews, it became a total backwater. For a brief period when the Romans became Chrisitans there was a lot of building, but then again it became a backwater. When the Muslims came, for a while there was some building works, but again it became a backwater. Today it is ISrael's largest city, with a population now of 800,000 and even has a considerable number of high tech companies.

Nov. 23 2011 01:39 PM

"... heads and hearts tied to saddles"!!

... there you go jaggerbutts!!!

Think of the possibilities!

Nov. 23 2011 01:38 PM
Alan from NJ

They forgot to mention the cannibalism during the seige of Marra.

Nov. 23 2011 01:37 PM
Ed from Larchmont

The fight between Christians and Muslims was like that of World War II: it was a fight to the death.

Nov. 23 2011 01:37 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Alexius was a bit taken aback and horrified by the Crusaders in fact

Nov. 23 2011 01:36 PM

i think that this is such a fascinating chapter of history!! it was mentioned that the crusaders believed they were living on the brink of apocalypse and that then later the apocalypse had occurred. could this have been an idea inherited from islam? i have read that hasan i sabah the leader of the nizari ismaili movement held the same belief and that there was a lot of exchange of ideas between the two sides somehow.

Nov. 23 2011 01:34 PM

LOVE the voice of psychotic Zionists!

Nov. 23 2011 01:33 PM

... have you been to Napoli, recently?? The Catholic church is STILL worshiping the bones and blood of "saints"!!

Nov. 23 2011 01:32 PM
Ed from Larchmont

A lot of the people were nobles and they went knowing that they wouldn't return.

Yes, it was an opportunity perhaps to reunite separated Christiandom.

Nov. 23 2011 01:31 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Muslims and Christians fought for centuries over possession of Jerusalem, but thank God, it is back in the rightful hands of the Jews where it belongs.

Nov. 23 2011 01:29 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

@ Ed

A very very skewed view of history.

Nov. 23 2011 01:22 PM
Ed from Larchmont

A real fan of the middle ages.

Nov. 23 2011 01:22 PM
Ed from Larchmont

We tend to view the Crusades these days in the light of 18th century imperialism, but that's not what it was, and that's not how the Muslims saw it.

Nov. 23 2011 11:36 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The First Crusade was called when the emperor asked the pope for help in defense against the Muslims, who were threatening Christian nations from the east and who had already taken the Holy Land, and the Middle East, and northern Africa, all formerly Christian lands. The pope called on Christians to fight as penance and in reparation for sin, and if it weren't for the Crusades - we'd be speaking Arabic. The Crusades also introduced hospitals and chivalry into the west.

Nov. 23 2011 10:40 AM

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