May 10, 2002

From Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades

From the conclusion to Steven Runciman (1954), A History of the Crusades: Volume III: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 0521347726):

"Seen in the perspective of history the whole Crusading movement was a vast fiasco.... The Crusades had nothing to do with... access to the stored up learning of the Muslim world..... [I]t was Sicily rather than the lands of Outremer that provided a meeting place for Arab, Greek, and Western culture.... The Crusades were not the only cause for the decline of the Muslim world... [but] the intrusive Frankish state was a festering sore that the Muslims could never forget. As long as it distracted them, they could never wholly concentrate on other problems. But the real harm done by the Crusades was subtler... the effect of the Holy War on the spirit of Islam. Any religion that is based on an exclusive Revelation is bound to show some contempt for the unbeliever. But Islam was not intolerant in its early days.... The Holy War begun by the Franks ruined these good relations. The savage intolerance shown by the Crusaders was answered by growing intolerance among the Muslims.... By the time of the Mamelukes, the Muslims were as narrow as the Franks.... The Muslims enclosed themselves behind the curtain of their faith; and an intolerant faith is incapable of progress. The harm done by the Crusades to Islam was small in comparison with that done by them to Eastern Christendom...

Posted by DeLong at May 10, 2002 03:04 PM | TrackBack

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