Whose humanism ?
Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Aug 1, 2011 at 09:41
Kevin Bjornson wrote :
"Anders was very clear, he favors Christian Crusaders as role models to emulate in today's context. However the historical Crusaders were Christian but not humanistic. They sacked Constantinople, making possible the later conquest by Islam."
As far as history is concerned the Crusades were provoked by the Moslem aggresion and its horrors. The main culprits were the savage Seljuk Turks that appeared in Anatolia in the 1040-ies, attacked and killed pilgrims undereway to the Holy land and in 1071 won - due to treason in the ranks of the Byzantines - the battle of Manzikert which opened the whole of Anatolia to their jihadist invasion and colonisation with robberies,rapes,massacres, expulsions,desceration of churches and cemeteries and all other numberless sadistic horrors the wild and barbarian Moslem Turkic horde has always been so expert at.
What horrors were happening at that time in the Anatolian heartland of Byzantium is briefly described in a letter written by Emperor Alexius Comnenus to the Count of Flanders Robert :
"I wish to make known your prudence how the most sacred empire of the Greek Christians is being sorely distressed by the Patzinaks and the Turks, who daily ravage it and intermittently seize [its territory]; and there is promiscuous slaughter and indescribable killing and derision of the Christians. But since the evil things they do are many and, as we have said, indescribable, we will mention but a few of the many, which nevertheless are horrible to hear...
For they circumcise the boys and youths of the Christians over the Christian baptismal fonts, and in contempt of Christ they pour the blood from the circumcision into the said baptismal fonts and compel them to void urine thereon; and thereafter they violently drag them around in the church, compelling them to blaspheme the name of the Holy Trinity and the belief therein. But those who refuse to do these things they punish in diverse ways and ultimately they kill them. Noble matrons and their daughters whom they have robbed [of their possessions] they, one after another like animals, defile in adultery…Let us come to matters of greater depravity. Men of every age and order i.e. boys, adolescents, youths, old men, nobles, serfs, and, what is worse and more shameless, clergymen and monks, and alas and alack, what from the beginning has never been said or heard, bishops! - they defile with the sin of sodomy and now they are also trumpeting abroad that one bishop has succumbed to this abominable sin.
The holy places they desecrate and destroy in numberless ways, and they threaten them with worse treatment…For almost the entire land from Jerusalem to Greece, and the whole of Greece with its upper regions, which are Cappadocia Minor, Cappadocia Major, Phrygia, Bithynia, Lesser Phrygia (i.e. the Troad), Pontus, Galatia, Lydia, Pamphylia, Isauria, Lycia, and the principal islands Chios and Mytilene, and many other regions and islands which we cannot even enumerate, as far as Thrace, have already been invaded by them, and now almost nothing remains except Constantinople, which they are threatening to snatch aware from us very soon, unless the aid of God and the faithful Latin Christians should reach us speedily."
If a desire to stop those horrors and the impending destruction of fellow Eastern Christians at any cost has according to you had nothing to do with humanism, then I suspect that you either don't know much about the time you judge with such self-assurance or that there is some flaw in your humanism and that had you been living at that time you would possibly have ignored the heart-breaking calls for help coming from the dying Eastern Christianity and presented your indifference as a humanistic virtue.
You also quote the Fourth Crusade as a proof you are right in your judgement. But you forget to mention that it was not a typical crusade. It was carried out and guided not by the pope who excommunicated the Crusaders as soon as they captured Zara in 1202 for Venice . And in fact it was doge Dandolo and Venice that had old scores to settle with Byzantium that through blackmail and intrigue were guiding the crusaders to promote Venetian interests . Byzantium itself at that time was breaking apart as the incredible concidences accompanying the expedition indicate prior to the onslaught on the city. Conflicts within the ruling feudal class resulting from Alexius' artificial system led to the desintegration of Byzantium before the arrival of the Venetian Fleet at the Golden Horn with different local despots and magnates popping up as rulers independent of the capital.
Note also that between 1204 and 1453 elapsed almost two and a half centuries during which Byzantium did exist and the last martyr Emperor Constantine XI was technically a Roman Catholic and the last staunch defenders of the City founded by Constantine I against the bloody Turk were Italians and Franks like Giustiniani and his 700 soldiers.
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