Yeah, baby. It’s time to talk about one of the most important series of unfortunate events in human history, and quite curiously, one of the least talked about. When do you ever hear about the Crusades? Let me list my experience when it came to hearing about the Crusades…outside of majoring in history in college and deliberately taking courses with a focus in medieval history.
- Hearing a hilariously ill-informed people use it as a “gotcha” card in an Islamophobic rant. Have they ever studied history in an actual academic setting? 99% chance (that’s a hyperbole) they haven’t. It’s usually a sanctimonious Christian. Note: None of the ones I’ve met even had college degrees.
- A passing name drop with little to no explanation in elementary/high school. Most schools in the United States just keep repeating US history and don’t bother with world history. Cuss, they barely do an adequate job on US history, it depends on the teachers. Remember, I love history and paid attention, so I’d know if it got mentioned more often. I also lived in five states.
- Occasional appearances in media, such as Kingdom of Heaven or Seventh Seal, and let’s not forget Disney’s Robin Hood. There was that short lived Knightfall show.
So, time to field some questions (hand picked by yours truly) and answer them before I start this…odyssey. I almost said “Crusade.”
Why am I talking about this now?
Honestly, I have no idea. It was a spur of the moment thing. Maybe I’ve been talking about pop culture history and theory so much lately that I just couldn’t help but flex my other wing and give myself a breather on writing about cinema. I think I’ll be chasing down a Master’s sometime in the future, so I gotta get myself back into shape for academic style writing. At least, SOMEWHAT academic.
On top of that, the Crusades really aren’t talked about enough with general audiences. I think it’s ludicrous that people (especially Americans) are so dense that many can’t be expected to point to Canada on a map. Hell, 35% of the US population unquestioningly voted for a quasi-fascist inept demagogue and will do so again, with another chunk of the population too embarrassed to outwardly say it (or too stubborn to do otherwise) will do it again as well.
So to fellow history nerds: I hope you enjoy this. To general audiences, I hope you learn from this. To people that got offended and stopped reading, thank you for proving my point, and ideally, you hop on board sometime later. A late train is better than no train sometimes.
It’s also July 4th tomorrow, which is the anniversary of the critical Battle of Hattin in the Third Crusade, the greatest victory of Saladin. We’ll get to it. Nothing else happened on July 4th, right? Feel like I’m forgetting something.
Am I qualified to do this?
I’m not really sure. Not nearly as much as some, but better than most?
If it makes you feel better, I’m holding two degrees (one in film, one in history) and I tested out of Spanish and (almost) English entirely from college, with the exception of one required class, hence I was able to chase down another degree with the spare time. And I was also awarded from my college for my writing. Oh, I was also instantly inducted in the honors college, but I didn’t feel like paying a fat fee, as college is already costly enough, so I figured I’d just earn my reputation on my own (it worked). I feel a little bad, almost as if I’m bragging, but I assure you, I’m trying to just give myself leeway to ramble about history to a mass audience and feel like I’m being responsible.
If it makes you feel better, I hate math in all forms and can do it with great effort but refuse to defend its use (outside of expertise) and I suck cuss at chemistry. Honestly, anytime non-history related numbers get involved, I just sort of die inside.
Anyways, if John Green can get away with it on Crash Course without a history background, then a guy with one can do it. Cuss it, be happy I’m just talking about history and being completely open about this rather than act like another horrible internet person. I’m not (intentionally) starting Twitter fights, excusing racism, filming hanging corpses in trees, or abusing TikTok. I’m certainly not peddling crazy conspiracy theories, like that one going around that dinosaurs never existed. Come on.
We’ve all seen your mom.
I’m also gonna be a good boy and cite my sources, when they’re for more important and hard to track statements. I’m not going to do it for incredibly obvious things like “this major event happened in this year.”
What’s with the “cuss” thing?
That’s a little gag I’m stealing from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. You see, I’m a bit of a potty mouth, so to curb that for general audiences and to remain amusingly relatable and yet proper, I’m just going to censor any curse word with the general “cuss” instead.
As a side note, if you haven’t seen Fantastic Mr. Fox, it’s a wonderfully quirky adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book of the same name.
What lies ahead?
I’m glad you (might have) asked! Here’s a chart of the little sections of history I’ll be writing about for this time around. As the weeks go by, I’ll make sure to link back to this page and continually edit in the “chapters” or whatever. Yikes, saying that word just made me realize that this is a bit akin to writing a small book. Anyways, if a title is underlined, that means it’s linked!
The Abrahamic Religions: A Quick Guide
The (Confusing) Call To Action
The People’s Crusade: The Lemming Effect
The Road To Jerusalem: Longer Than Expected
The Capture of Jerusalem: WWJD?
The Reconquista I: Kicking Some Asturias
The Reconquista II: Cantar De Mio Cid, But With Less Poetry
The Second Crusade: Electric Boogaloo
The Third Crusade: The One You Saw In That Movie
The Tell el A’yadiya Massacre: He Said, He Said Totally Different
The Northern Crusades: This Is Why Communication Matters
The Fourth Crusade: Oops
The Children’s Crusade: Fact or Fiction?
The Fifth Crusade: Time To Listen To Richard I
The Sixth Crusade: Freddy Got Excommunicated
The Gradually Lamer Crusades
The Anti-Christian Crusades (Yes)
The Reconquista III: In 1942, Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue
Whatever Happened To Constantinople?
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
At any rate, the Crusades are a fascinating series of historic events that changed the course of human history quite drastically. They’re filled with a lot of silly things, a lot of confusing things, a lot of contradictory things, and like all of human history, a shocking disregard for life, especially towards Jews.
Why does this matter?
I know there’s “no such thing as dumb questions” and all, but honestly, that’s a dumb question, if you thought of that. Of course the past matters. The past will always affect the present, which determines the future. It’s a vicious cycle. It baffles me that a subject like history is given such little regard in the USA, but it doesn’t baffle me regarding the results of that disregard.
Any last things I should keep in mind?
- Never stop reading. Ever.
- Always follow up on whatever I tell you in the tales to come. I’m giving a VERY general overview, so diving in deeper is highly encouraged.
- History does not repeat itself. However, it does rhyme. Events will not occur exactly the same, but they can be remarkably similar.
- Anyone who trots around saying “Deus vult” and intends to dominate others is trash. I’ll be using it sparingly as a joke or for historical purpose.
Just a shout-out to all of the wonderful history teachers I’ve had throughout my life. In fact, I can’t say I’ve had a bad one. In particular, I was very lucky in college and had really inspirational and brilliant professors left and right. I’m not about to dox them, but they certainly are incredible teachers and equally incredible human beings. Well-versed, seasoned, catering, and adaptable souls, with insatiable curiosity and a need to improve their craft daily.
Alright, enough of the mushy stuff. Time to get on with the other kind of mushy stuff: the carnage of war. A few hundred years of it, to be exact.