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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Sack of Jerusalem, revised

The more history I read, the more I learn that the pop version of it isn't merely incomplete, it is often downright misleading. I was always dubious of the stories of the terrible massacre of Jews and Muslims by Christian crusaders during the Sack of Jerusalem; the detail about the blood reaching to the bridles of the horses ridden by the knights in particular never passed the smell test for four reasons:
  1. The crusaders didn't have many horses left. They'd eaten most of them at the siege of Antioch and they weren't able to replace many of them.
  2. You'd have to kill a tremendous amount of people very, very quickly and intentionally drain their bodies for the blood to get that deep before it ran off through the city's drainage systems.
  3. There were only about 15,000 crusaders attacking the city.
  4. Who rides horses when storming city walls?
Despite my skepticism about the body count, I was startled by the incredible shrinking number of people killed after the walls were breached when reading Thomas Asbridge's The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land.
Neither Latin nor Arabic sources shy away from recording the dreadful horror of this sack, the one side glorying in victory, the other appalled by its raw savagery. In the decades that followed Near Eastern Islam came to regard the Latin atrocities at Jerusalem as an act of crusader barbarity and defilement, demanding of urgent vengeance. By the thirteenth century, the Iraqi Muslim Ibn al-Athir estimated the number of Muslim dead at 70,000. Modern historians long regarded this figure to be an exaggeration, but generally accepted that Latin estimates in excess of 10,000 might be accurate. However, recent research has uncovered close contemporary Hebrew testimony which indicates that casualties may not have exceeded 3,000, and that large numbers of prisoners were taken when Jerusalem fell. This suggests that, even in the Middle Ages, the image of the crusaders’ brutality in 1099 was subject to hyperbole and manipulation on both sides of the divide.
Casualties may not have exceeded 3,000? For what is still cited as one of the most brutal massacres of all time? It's the Spanish Inquisition all over again. Here, for example, is the previous authority on The Crusades, Steven Runciman, describing the sack:
Iftikhar and his men were safely escorted out of the city and permitted to join the Moslem garrison of Ascalon. They were the only Moslems in Jerusalem to save their lives. The Crusaders, maddened by so great a victory after such suffering, rushed through the streets and into the houses and mosques killing all that they met, men, women, and children alike. All that afternoon and all through the night the massacre continued. Tancred's banner was no protection to the refugees in the mosque of al-Aqsa. Early next morning a band of Crusaders forced an entry into the mosque and slew everyone. When Raymond of Aguilers later that morning went to visit the Temple area he had to pick his way through corpses and blood that reached up to his knees.

The Jews of Jerusalem fled in a body to their chief synagogue. But they were held to have aided the Moslems and no mercy was shown to them. The building was set on fire and they were all burnt within. The massacre at Jerusalem profoundly impressed all the world. No one can say how many victims were involved, but it emptied Jerusalem of its Moslem and Jewish inhabitants.
- The First Crusade, Steven Runciman, p. 286-287
What may not be apparent here is that Jerusalem had already been emptied of its Christian inhabitants, who were expelled by Iftikhar ad-Dawla, the Fatimid governor of the city, in preparation for a potential siege, and who, by Runciman's own account, "outnumbered the Moslems in Jerusalem". And it should be obvious that the 15,000 attackers couldn't have killed all that many people, considering that they spent the evening of the day they took the city gathering in order to give thanks to God.
The other unassailable truth of Jerusalem’s conquest is that the crusaders were not simply driven by a desire for blood or plunder; they were also empowered by heartfelt piety and the authentic belief that they were doing God’s work. Thus that first, ghastly day of sack and slaughter concluded with an act of worship. In a moment which perfectly encapsulated the crusade’s extraordinary fusion of violence and faith, dusk on 15 July 1099 saw the Latins gather to give tearful thanks to their God. A Latin contemporary rejoiced in recounting that, ‘going to the Sepulchre of the Lord and his glorious Temple, the clerics and also the laity, singing a new song unto the Lord in a high-sounding voice of exultation, and making offerings and most humble supplications, joyously visited the Holy Place as they had so long desired to do’.
Now, a sack certainly did take place and many of the city's inhabitants were killed. But the scale appears to have been at least one order of magnitude less than has been conventionally claimed and certainly the entire population was not wiped out. So where did the legend come from? From a chronicler who wasn't there liberally borrowing imagery from the Revelation of St. John.
The Gesta Francorum noted that the crusaders were left wading up to their ankles in blood by the work of butchery. However, another ‘eyewitness’, Raymond of Aguilers, expanded on this image. Lifting a scriptural quote from the New Testament Book of Revelation, he declared that the Franks ‘rode in [enemy] blood to the knees and bridles of their horses’. This more extreme image gained wide acceptance and was repeated by numerous western European histories and chronicles in the course of the twelfth century.

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95 Comments:

Blogger Fnord Prefect May 28, 2014 2:33 AM  

Medieval media manipulation, who'd have thought it ;) I suppose the crusaders would benefit from the reputation of brutality while the natives had a demon to cow their people with, so neither side would feel the need to tell the true story - interesting that the smaller figure came from a third party (Jewish) source.

The other thing that always amazes me about ancient/medieval battles is how few combatants are killed in the front line struggle compared to those who are slaughtered in the rout as they drop their weapons and turn their backs on the enemy.

A lot of my misconceptions came from fantasy literature and wargames where everyone heroically fights to the last man which is just as fantastical as having dragons and magical swords on the battlefield...

Blogger Fnord Prefect May 28, 2014 2:40 AM  

Dan Carlin gives some moving descriptions of the atrocities of battle in some of his
hardcore history podcast. e.g. His description of the Romans at Cannae, surrounded by the Carthaginians and waiting all day for their time to be killed provided a unique insight.

Blogger Duke of Earl May 28, 2014 2:48 AM  

An interesting comment about the crusader kingdom came from a Muslim Spaniard who visited basically as a tourist (his name escapes me). He observed that a Muslim would get fairer judgement from a Frank in the Christian kingdom than he would from a Muslim in areas under Muslim control.

Anonymous rho May 28, 2014 3:00 AM  

It's the Josephus Uncertainty: if you survived, your account is suspect.

Anonymous Luke May 28, 2014 3:11 AM  

By the thirteenth century, the Iraqi Muslim Ibn al-Athir estimated the number of Muslim dead at 70,000."

If the number of Muslim dead had been all of them, what, as many as over a hundred million Christians would not have been killed/forcibly converted enslaved by the Muslims over the centuries. Like Lincoln sending all the Africans home (had not John Wilkes Booth killed him not at all vs. not so much too late), the net downside to "mine" is hard to conceptualize.

Blogger ScuzzaMan May 28, 2014 3:35 AM  

And what should the alert reader learn from this example of historic revisionism?

I see someone quoting John Wilkes Booth as Lincoln's assassin. Plainly that commenter has not learned the lesson of this example.

Nothing the winners or the losers tell us can be taken as truth.

Some of it MAY be true, but that is a question that cannot be settled by resort to the self-serving lies of the interested parties, and we should be even more careful of believing them when they do tell us the truth on some minor point or ancient technicality.

I give you the immortal words of the bard himself:

"But ’tis strange.
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s
In deepest consequence.
"

Anonymous Toby Temple May 28, 2014 3:37 AM  

I'm really curious about revisiting historical information to know the accuracy of the stories written in mainstream historical books.

Any suggestions, Vox, on how to approach this?

I plan on reexamining the events in the Philippines during the regime of the infamous Ferdinand Marcos.

This is due to the rise of several "revisionist" versions of the events during the dictator's reign in the Philippines.

Looking for good resources was challenging.

Blogger bethyada May 28, 2014 3:37 AM  

Islam went thru North Africa killing Christians then attempted to invade Europe thru Spain and Turkey. Much of the fighting of Muslims and the Crusades were defensive. They were very costly. The modern interpretation has much falsehood and suits the Muslims for the sympathy it gains.

While men claiming the name of Christ have certainly brought shame to his name thru conquest, war and ruling poorly; anti-Christian history contains much falsehood. Further, it judges the past by current sensibilities and not contemporaneous ones.

Blogger Outlaw X May 28, 2014 4:06 AM  

the blood reaching to the bridles of the horses ridden by the knights never passed the smell

I never heard that. That is ridiculous. Can you imagine trying to ride a horse through that thick blood? That actually made me laugh that someone told that story. Knee high would make me laugh.

Blogger Hermit May 28, 2014 4:11 AM  

The only things we should be ashamed about the crusades is the 4th crusade sacking Costantinople and the orthodox brothers instead of going in Jerusalem.

A civilization who demonize his own history is a doomed one, then again all the "progressives" since the "enlightenment" are just destroyer their own civilization.
All the black legends about the middle ages as one long dark age or the spanish inquisition were enlightenment prejudices or exxagerated lies. Mainstream history is full of those lies and gratuitous hatred for the Church.

Anonymous Lets Go Rangers May 28, 2014 4:17 AM  

"close contemporary Hebrew testimony which indicates that casualties may not have exceeded 3,000, and that large numbers of prisoners were taken when Jerusalem fell."

Hebrew testiony. haha;.. cause sometimes reality isn't kosher enough to swallow.

Blogger Outlaw X May 28, 2014 4:28 AM  

Five quarts in the average human. 5 quarts * 10,000= 50,000 quarts. / by 4 quarts per gallon = 12,500 gallons divided by 7.48 gallons per cubic foot = 1671 cu feet.

take x * x * 5' = 1671 -- 2x=1671cu ft / 5' -- x = 1671 ft^3 /(2 * 5) = 167' so it be 167' X 167' which is 27,889 sq-ft.

10,000 people killed plus 1500 crusaders is 11,500 people 27889 sq-ft is 2.4 sq-ft per person not counting horses. Impossible! You couldn't fight you would be jammed so tight within the walls.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 28, 2014 4:42 AM  

I never heard that. That is ridiculous. Can you imagine trying to ride a horse through that thick blood? That actually made me laugh that someone told that story. Knee high would make me laugh.

Apparently modern pink SyFy isn't the first generation of fiction writers who got the military details totally wrong. You didn't come across any wereseals, action chicks or dino-lovers in the stories about the Crusades, did you?


Blogger Antonio From Spain May 28, 2014 5:29 AM  

“…the detail about the blood reaching to the bridles of the horses ridden by the knights…”

This type of expressions were very common. Particularly among the Muslims chroniclers who considered that serving their master took precedence over reporting events accurately.

This particular quote reminds me of a street on the island where I was born: Cutthroat Street. I remember as a teenager hearing kids my age retell the stories of how Christian blood flowed down that street into the sea in 1557.

A few decades after the Spanish Reconquista was completed the Muslims from Turkey launched a particularly brutal assault against the island. It is estimated that before the assault the island had 10,000 inhabitants and the Muslim assault force had between 12,000 and 15,000 attackers. After the attack half of the local population had either perished or been sent in chains to Turkey. The Year of the Disgrace they still call it.

But I don’t think it is merely political hype. I suppose that if you want to tell this kind of story to a public who doesn’t know basic arithmetic, telling them 100 assaulters, 10,000 or three trillions makes little difference. Telling them that 50% of the population was gone isn’t very clear either. But telling them “on this very street that you can see with your own eyes the blood ran into the sea”, that is something they can grasp and visualize and retell to future generations.

Anonymous 2 + 2 = gay May 28, 2014 6:16 AM  

BBC: Are 'pick-up artists' to blame for Isla Vista shooting? http://t.co/CgsiwLAXLr Yup, it's happening

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 28, 2014 6:23 AM  

It should be remembered, this was not ever supposed to be an accurate record of events. The contemporary accounts were in the bardic tradition. Poets only obligations were to provide entertainment.

The records of the siege of Antioch in particular read a like a drugged induced fever dream. Saint George was seen in the sky leading an army of knights and dragons. Dead comrades joined them in battle. It reads more like a viking saga than a history text book. Understandable of course, Rollo the Walker died in 931 and the sack of Jerusalem was only 160 years later. In those days scratch a Norman and you'd find a viking who speaks french.

Anonymous darrenl May 28, 2014 6:49 AM  

Most of the popular stories you hear about the Crusades is a lie from really bad scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a defensive war, and nothing more.

I recommend the Modern Scholar series on Audible by, Thomas Madden: "God Wills It: Understanding the Crusades" to start.

Also, a great three part talk about the Crusades by Brenden McGuire is excellent:
http://www.instituteofcatholicculture.org/the-crusades-at-war-for-god/

Anonymous Cranberry May 28, 2014 7:23 AM  

it judges the past by current sensibilities and not contemporaneous ones

This has been a thorn to me in every classroom in which I've ever (supposedly) learned or (tried to) teach history.

Many a student would tell me "well, everybody knows..." and repeat some half-truth or outright lie about an event, an inaccuracy which stemmed from a desire to impose our modern views on a time long gone and foreign in manner and custom. I blame "Coexist" and "universalism" for this phenomenon. People are the same everywhere, yes?

Aside from that, poetic license in telling the telling of history neither surprises nor disheartens me. Dramatic effect is important when telling your side of the story, either making your side better, more heroic, etc., or made to suffer greater insult at enemy hands, so as to enhance the intent of the story: increased patriotism or fire to fight, or to forever hate your enemy. A list of cold facts and figures provides more accuracy, but isn't very interesting to tell or to hear. We thrive on tales that thrill our imagination, for good or ill. Hyperbole and imagery are the tools of great romances*. An historian has to weed out the poetic from the factual - I would argue that's part of the fun of reading history, but it does mean the average student is going to face the problem of being insufficiently schooled in reality.

*I am not talking about Penguin bodice-rippers.

Anonymous Hunsdon May 28, 2014 7:36 AM  

On the massacre scale, the Crusaders were pikers. There's only one person I can think of who was putatively (or even possibly) Christian, who could have carried out a mass killing like that: Hulagu Khan.

Anonymous JRL May 28, 2014 7:40 AM  

I haven't read Asbridge, this isn't a comment on his work, but since you compare him to SR maybe I will if time permits. I have however read half a dozen of Runciman's works and he is authoritative. Runciman is the Historian's Historian. You cannot dismiss him so easily.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni May 28, 2014 7:41 AM  

When Hulagu Khan conquered Baghdad in 1258, the very same expression was used by later chroniclers: " The Mongols rode through blood up to the bridles of their horses." Or maybe it was "up to the stirrups". Of course, Mongol horses were small!

Blogger IM2L844 May 28, 2014 7:47 AM  

Imagine that. Way back then, chronicler's journalistic integrity was questionable. It's a good thing human nature has evolve beyond interjecting bias into reporting. Otherwise, we couldn't trust everything we hear and read today from governments and the media.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben May 28, 2014 7:50 AM  

The crusades were defensive, with the exception of the 4th. They were a response to calls for help from the Byzantine Empire which was being invaded by Seljuk Turks.

Blogger vashine May 28, 2014 7:52 AM  

Two great lies perpetuated against Westerners, Christians and also the Catholic Church: 1)the peace, prosperity, and "tolerance" of Moorish Spain and the 2) unjust, purely offensive Crusades waged against innocent Muslims

Both false and perpetuated by Muslim, idiot Westerners and Christians, many uninformed and thoughtless Protestants, and liberals alike.

Don't ever let someone get away with spouting one of the sophomoric historical 'facts' or 'truths'.

Read any of Robert Spencer's book on the matter.

Also, maybe the most fascinating read I've ever encountered in regards to history is Henri Pirenne's "Muhammad and Charlemagne".

Europe did not enter the dark ages because of barbarian tribes. No, barbarian tribes had both fought against and greatly admired and respected Roman culture, learning, advanced technology, and wealth. Much like many immigrants who denigrate America, they still desire our welth, knowledge, power, and culture. Hence they are here.

Europe was thrown in to the Dark Ages because the sudden rise of Islam and Jihad (inseparable from Islam) cut off all trade across the Mediterranean. Islamic pirates made the Med and its coastlines too dangerous and therefore too costly for the usual trade that had sustained the economy of antiquity. Thusly, papyrus, which all came from North Africa, shot up in price, leaving Europe only with parchment for paper, which is laborious, time-consuming, and thereby costly to make. Hence the peoples of Europe stopped writing as much, thereby learning as much, and people moved towards an inward, land-based economy, away from the dangerous coastlines that were now threatened my jihadi Muslims.

Just one more thing to thank Islam and Muslims for. What a force for civilization they are.

A MUST read. You might also just want to skip ahead to "Muhammad and Charlemagne, A Controversy Revisited".

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=muhammad+and+charlemagne

Blogger vashine May 28, 2014 7:57 AM  

I would add "stopped reading and writing as much." Literacy in Europer dropped. Pirenne looked at the records of orders from monestaries and the like from before the last barbarian invasions and afterwards. Outside of a very slight drop in quantity for only a few years, people were still making orders for the same supplies, aka consuming those same goods that were usual for Romans, aka olive oil, etc. Also, the barbarians used many, many of the Roman systems of government, architecture, sent their elites to be schooled as the Romans were, many of them being accused of becoming too Roman, being traitorous to their barbarian brothers. Many did not even want to be associated too closely with their barbarian brothers... they wanted to be Roman, cultured, civilized. So they ate and drank the same things, keeping trade alive acroos the Med.

Then the Mussies showed face. Ugly face, as usual.

Blogger Cataline Sergius May 28, 2014 8:25 AM  

Jerusalem is likely the most conquered city on Earth. Yes, beating out Palermo, Patton fans.

Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Assyrians, Turks, British, Byzantines plus several times by the Children of Isaac.

For an account of a real sack of Jerusalem, read the reasonably reliable Flavius Josephus. The Crusaders were pikers compared to the Romans.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 May 28, 2014 8:26 AM  

In one line:
Multiculturalism is rebellion against God - which, 100 percent of history suggests, doesn't work.

or
Darwinism; bad science, bad history, bad schools. The next slaughters will be worse - and won't be written about. Check your FEMA entry ticket privilege.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 8:48 AM  

Speaking of historical revisionism, what of widespread reports on archeological digs in the "Holy Lands" that completely fail to find actual evidence of the Kingdom of David and other Old Testament "events?"

Is scripture, carried by word of mouth for generations before capture on paper (or sheepskin), less subject to interested-party embellishment?

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 8:52 AM  

"For an account of a real sack of Jerusalem, read the reasonably reliable Flavius Josephus. The Crusaders were pikers compared to the Romans."

The Christian ignorance of the history of their own church is embarrassing.

Anonymous MrGreenMan May 28, 2014 8:56 AM  

It's amazing the number of combatants in some fights. 15,000 Crusaders makes it about the same size as Stamford Bridge, an order of magnitude bigger than a minor skirmish like Cowpens but an order of magnitude smaller than Appomattox Courthouse.

Of course, for perspective, Rome had but 55,000 people when sacked in 1527. London, by contrast, was at 500,000 when they started keeping records in the 17th century. I can't find the numbers this morning, but I remember that late Imperial Rome had well over 100,000 people, but, when the Visigoths came knocking, it was closer to 10,000.

The Crusader army of 15,000 would have looked like a medium-sized constituency in a nice suburb of London at the time.

Anonymous VD May 28, 2014 8:58 AM  

Speaking of historical revisionism, what of widespread reports on archeological digs in the "Holy Lands" that completely fail to find actual evidence of the Kingdom of David and other Old Testament "events?"

They have found it. Their chronology is off.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 9:05 AM  

>Europe was thrown in to the Dark Ages because the sudden rise of Islam and Jihad (inseparable from Islam) cut off all trade across the Mediterranean. Islamic pirates made the Med and its coastlines too dangerous and therefore too costly for the usual trade that had sustained the economy of antiquity. Thusly, papyrus, which all came from North Africa, shot up in price, leaving Europe only with parchment for paper, which is laborious, time-consuming, and thereby costly to make. Hence the peoples of Europe stopped writing as much, thereby learning as much, and people moved towards an inward, land-based economy, away from the dangerous coastlines that were now threatened my jihadi Muslims.

Riiiight. The decline of the Roman Empire had nothing to do with internal rot.

How about a nicer, more universal theory: When religion and state are one, independence of mind is crushed; advancement slows, stops or even reverses.

Whenever Islam or Christianity (Orthodox or not) or Progressivist Socialism (which is today's dominant Western religion) subsumes state (Earthly) power, all the engines of human creativity are placed in the service of maintaining the metaphysical construct's dominance.

This is why Islamist nation-states struggle to reach the 20th century, why Russia (where the Orthodox Church was an arm of the state) remained backward, why Asian societies had technology but not science, and why Western science today has no actual science but is saturated with mysticism and metaphysics (because science subsumed by the state becomes just another ideology in the secular pantheon.)

The West is rotting from the head because a complacent populace was susceptible to the con artistry of Progressives and the con artists who run our Fabian circus, not because the USA is besieged by powerful outside forces.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 9:06 AM  

"Is scripture, carried by word of mouth for generations before capture on paper (or sheepskin), less subject to interested-party embellishment?"

Actually what has been found is that, word of mouth history is far more accurate in societies without widespread writing, than it is in societies that widely employ writing.

additionally... exactly what scriptures do you suppose were passed down orally?

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 9:08 AM  

"How about a nicer, more universal theory: When religion and state are one, independence of mind is crushed; advancement slows, stops or even reverses."

Why would we bother applying a theory to something that never happened? There were no Dark Ages. its a bloody myth exaggerated every bit as much as the inquisition.

Anonymous DrTorch May 28, 2014 9:12 AM  

Some thoughts.

1. Jemisin insisted that people start reading "revisionist" history, so now her criticisms are left wanting.

2. VD wrote recently about how brutal white Europeans were historically, but is that really the case? Maybe we've always softies.


The Christian ignorance of the history of their own church is embarrassing.

Absolutely. It has been suicide. Even evangelicals, who fret and strive to bring people into the church, run counter to their own ideals by remaining ignorant to, or often purposely avoid, church history.

Anonymous DrTorch May 28, 2014 9:14 AM  

How about a nicer, more universal theory: When religion and state are one, independence of mind is crushed; advancement slows, stops or even reverses.

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. HL Mencken.

Anonymous CarpeOro May 28, 2014 9:17 AM  

I've always read those type of accounts and immediately discounted the bulk of it as hyperbole. The fact that experts more recent than the 19th century gave any credence to it simply confirms my dropping out of the academic path. I'm just not gullible enough.

Considering there has been archeological evidence of the existence of Solomon's kingdom (son of David), I'd say they have simply been lazy. How many years did it take for them to find evidence of the Assyrians and others referenced in the old testament? The Bible stands up pretty well to inspection for those kind of things.

Blogger Fnord Prefect May 28, 2014 9:18 AM  

Cataline Sergius: "Jerusalem is likely the most conquered city on Earth."

This little video illustrates your point nicely...:)

Blogger David May 28, 2014 9:30 AM  

>They have found it. Their chronology is off.

I suppose we all pick the discussion points that best fit our premises. My premises include a view that whatever we are told about the past is a blend of propaganda that served those living in the past and propaganda that serves the interests of the gatekeepers of today.

This applies equally to religious texts. We know that the New Testament underwent changes during transcription over the period between when it was first collected and when the printing press made such changes quite noticeable. Those of faith embrace the concept that such changes were God's Will, no?

Since my premise is that the Old Testament is a foundation-stone of a political/religious construct now known as Israel, its "facts" are as suspect as are the myths taught American schoolchildren about the founding of the USA.

Tamerlane was famous for spreading propaganda about the bloodthirstiness of his troops, so that when his emissaries told a city to submit or be over-run, a cheap and bloodless surrender was highly likely. So what is the truth of his conquests, when contemporaneous texts form the basis of modern scholarship?

Everything we know about the past is tainted by such natural, normal and ubiquitous misrepresentation. Atrocities are whitewashed, victories in battle embellished, heroic deeds created out of thin air and everywhere people believe what they want to believe because perspective clouds judgement.

This fits my premises; yours probably not.
http://biblicalarchaeology.blogspot.com/2005/07/deconstructing-walls-of-jericho.html

Anonymous Another Point May 28, 2014 9:35 AM  

Under the medieval laws and customs of war, a city or castle that rejected a surrender demand could legitimately be sacked and the defenders slaughtered.

Deuteronomy 20:

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace.
11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you.
12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city.
13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it.
14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies.
15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

Blogger IM2L844 May 28, 2014 9:35 AM  

Actually what has been found is that, word of mouth history is far more accurate in societies without widespread writing, than it is in societies that widely employ writing.

Exactly. People today don't stop to consider when memorization is paramount to survival and remembering every detail can make the difference between life and death, it becomes important to get it right. Back when literacy was extremely uncommon, it was simply the way that EVERYTHING got done. There were no manuals or blueprints to consult for doing anything, for the average person. Remember or die was just the way of life.

Anonymous Godfrey May 28, 2014 9:42 AM  

The older I get, the more I realize that what we call "history" is simply propaganda.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 9:46 AM  

> There were no Dark Ages. its a bloody myth exaggerated every bit as much as the inquisition.

Exactly.

Top-down centralism of the Roman Empire gave way to decentralized political and social systems. Modern historians are almost all "centralizers," so they deemed decentralization a return to barbarism, which is most surely was not.

The Middle Ages were the foundation for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Dark? Hardly.

On the other hand, the rapid rise in living standards in the industrial age led to centralization under many banners, and here we are in the Banana Empire, where every aspect of human existence is now deemed the purview of the central state. Science is in hiding, and moral relativism (the central state's forte) rampant. Anything goes, if you don't get caught.

Rand said that civilization is the process of rising privacy. The savage lives his life in public, where everything he does is basically in view of the rest of the tribe. What is the NSA but the embodiment of the central state stripping every man naked before its lever-pullers? What is the Banana Republic but one big push toward barbarism?

Modern large-scale production of high living standards is doomed by the parasitism of centralization, just as it was during prior empires. Living standards will decline, attempts will be made to centrally re-establish the old system and they will fail, just as occurred during the decline of the Roman Empire.

Decentralization is the future, and it will likely take a century or more for the emergence of decentralized systems of rising living standard production. People will have to give up on the state's centralizing stability, which was always a lie. Centralization leads to sclerosis, not order. Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order (Proudhon) and liberty cannot survive in a centralized system.

Anonymous Revan May 28, 2014 9:49 AM  

Is there a comprehensive history of Christianity that any of you would recommend?

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 9:53 AM  

"The older I get, the more I realize that what we call "history" is simply propaganda."

much of it is... but not all. There are many cases of consummate record keepers on different sides and their accounts can be used to effectively learn an approximation of the truth.

History is the study of the scattered material evidence of the immaterial.

Anonymous Anonymous May 28, 2014 9:58 AM  

I am guessing "the bridals of their horses" were when the horses were bending their heads down to eat grass and dragging them on the ground.

Anonymous Athor Pel May 28, 2014 10:05 AM  

" Toby TempleMay 28, 2014 3:37 AM
I'm really curious about revisiting historical information to know the accuracy of the stories written in mainstream historical books.

Any suggestions, Vox, on how to approach this?"



Step one for the serious historian; get primary source documents or as close as you can get. Get as many different sources as possible. A primary source document was written by someone alive at the time of the events in question, an eyewitness so to speak.

You can start with whatever modern secondary sources you can find and using their bibliographies work your way back down the chain of sources until you find primary source documents. Remember, even something as mundane as a ledger or an inventory can be instructive. Sometimes there aren't any primary source documents.


If your area of interest is recent then you can talk to real live people that lived through the events you want to learn about. Something to keep in mind when talking to these eyewitnesses, they've only seen what was in front of their face, they can only provide a fairly narrow view of things. To build a semi-complete view of events you will need to talk to a great number of people.

The phenomenon Vox is describing is a common thing among historians. I've seen it many times.

Historical events are rarely as they are commonly apprehended. They are always more complex. Which is a problem for the average person, because the average reader of history is lazy, as is the average writer of history. Hardly anybody wants the complete picture, most want an interesting story, facts be damned. Bunch of lazy bastards us humans.

Anonymous Heh May 28, 2014 10:06 AM  

"the bridals of their horses"

I keep getting emails wanting me to watch videos about girls (brides) and horses....

PS bridle =)

Anonymous Meh May 28, 2014 10:07 AM  

Top-down centralism of the Roman Empire gave way to decentralized political and social systems.

The Roman Empire was less top-down centralized than you might think. The Emperor couldn't control everything from Rome - the state of communications didn't permit it.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 10:08 AM  

"Is there a comprehensive history of Christianity that any of you would recommend?"

History of the Christian Church, 8 Vol - Philip Schaff

You can get it on Amazon.

Anonymous Leonidas May 28, 2014 10:16 AM  

the blood reaching to the bridles of the horses

I'd never heard this one, either. But seriously... what moron ever believed it?

Anonymous Athor Pel May 28, 2014 10:16 AM  

" Revan May 28, 2014 9:49 AM
Is there a comprehensive history of Christianity that any of you would recommend?"



Comprehensive, that word makes me smile. Ain't no such thing as comprehensive when it comes to history. You can only hope to get the important bits captured in documents at all, if you're lucky.

To answer your question, I don't know of any comprehensive histories of Christianity. Best you can do is settle on an era and a place and then mine it for documents. Of course I've never gone looking for anything like what you seem to be describing.

There are authors that purport to be comprehensive for their time. Eusebius wote a history of the church up to his time which is around 325 AD. It is very instructive for one overriding purpose, it shows that persecution is a universal condition for Christians. In fact if you want to know what the future looks like for any one group of Chrisitians, then read Eusebius.

Anonymous Alexander May 28, 2014 10:22 AM  

You hear it as a kid, and as an adult it never become a conscious thought, it's not something you stop and say... hey, wait a tic, that thing I was told when I was six can't possibly be right - how much blood would you need to reach that high!

It's not unbelievable that large number of people would believe it. Exhibit A, let's go out into the public and talk about how the crust is the healthiest part of the bread.

Anonymous The other skeptic May 28, 2014 10:24 AM  

I think we can be sure that the body count at Constantinople in 1453 was much higher, and the number of young boys buggered was also higher.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 10:28 AM  

"Comprehensive, that word makes me smile. Ain't no such thing as comprehensive when it comes to history. You can only hope to get the important bits captured in documents at all, if you're lucky."

if such a thing existed you couldn't read it in a lifetime... much less write it.

never the less there are some amazing works out there. more than one provided by the author I mentioned. You should see his work on the subject of the early church fathers. its like 16 volumns long. If exhaustive has a meaning... then this work is the closest we've come to it.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 10:30 AM  

"In fact if you want to know what the future looks like for any one group of Chrisitians, then read Eusebius."

Eusebius gets shat on by modern historians... but I find his work very useful indeed.

Anonymous Alexander May 28, 2014 10:31 AM  

NO! Because Ottoman tolerance.

Anonymous Gasp May 28, 2014 10:33 AM  

the blood reaching to the bridles of the horses

I'd never heard this one, either. But seriously... what moron ever believed it?


What are you, a Crusades atrocity denier?

Of course those brutal, evil Christians killed all the defenseless innocents in Jerusalem and then bathed in an ocean of blood.

Anonymous Fred2 May 28, 2014 10:36 AM  

Geez, no else has ever read any historical numbers and thought " well that's bull shit."

Seriously, very (very) few numbers quoted in any historical text before , say, 1700 are anything but the chroniclers wildest fantasies and distorted hear-say.

There are exceptions, but if you get a military logistics guy who understands non-mechanized logistics, some basic back of the envelope pre-industrial economics you can usually get a _much_ better feel for what kind of numbers can be supported in the field.

It's small. When you read "his million (100,000, whatever) man army" about some potentate, remember that. Start thinking: so many gallons a day of water, lbs of food, miles per day, per man ( horse), think about how many ships, wagons, etc, that represents, now think about what a harbour/road looked like back then. ( i.e. we're not talking efficient port with cranes containerized pallets and a paved 4 lane highway with 5 - 40tonne trucks)

Pretty soon you're thinking yourself" :If he had a 50,000 man army he was lucky, and he'd better not move far from that harbour/river for any length of time....



Juliet Barker's history of Henry V's liberation of Normandy from the French occupation has some very nice sections on what it took for England (pop 5 million) to invade France ( much greater population) .... YEARs of making arrows, storing surpluses, etc... Some impressive politicking, etc... by a monarch who was both very capable and OCD and he still was only able to field and supply (badly) a tiny field army. The French weren't prepared but were on home turf and still weren't able to mobilize anything like their full potential.

Anonymous Daniel May 28, 2014 10:38 AM  

They have found it. Their chronology is off.

This is a crucial and recurrent detail. Hagiography errors are compounded by Herodotus' errors are compounded by Manetho's errors are compounded by Ussher's errors are compounded by etc. etc. Timelines are the maps of history, and our maps (some done in earnest, some done as propaganda and some simply done to deceive) are mad and prickly things.

But they are what we have to work with, just remember that the compass may point south.

Blogger JDC May 28, 2014 10:40 AM  

Is there a comprehensive history of Christianity that any of you would recommend?

"A History of Christianity," Paul Johnson is good too.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 10:44 AM  

>The Roman Empire was less top-down centralized than you might think. The Emperor couldn't control everything from Rome - the state of communications didn't permit it.

Can we agree that the RE was based on pulling wealth (largely from conquest, plus taxation) from the periphery into the center for political redistribution?

Today's BE is a system of redistribution of wealth from capital-forming activities to both wage-based and non-wage-based parasitic factions guided by political calculation.

Both empires killed the golden-egg-laying geese. Both eventually existed less as parasites and more like infectious diseases, spreading (moral & ideological) sickness and eventually killing their hosts.

This is the inescapable cycle of birth, youthful vigor and adult strength yielding success, and success giving rise to complacency, shortcuts, relativism and rationalization leading to decline and fall.

If we could put a man on the moon, why can't we remake society if we pass enough laws, redistribute wealth from those who produce it to those who don't, and otherwise try to eliminate all the harsh lessons nature otherwise teaches? One World Government to create Heaven on Earth...the dream of faithful Progressives given them by Satan himself.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 10:50 AM  

>Pretty soon you're thinking yourself" :If he had a 50,000 man army he was lucky, and he'd better not move far from that harbour/river for any length of time....

Sanitation, too. Moving a large force of men (and animals) would require both a fertile land to plunder for food & fodder and a means of preventing everyone from sloshing in pools of their own feces and urine.

I wonder how many military sorties disappeared into history's great dark abyss because typhus or some similar disease took 80% of the men into the Great Beyond while in transit?

History isn't just rife with lies and exaggeration. It is also a tapestry missing most of its threads.

Anonymous Heh May 28, 2014 11:07 AM  

Moving a large force of men (and animals) would require both a fertile land to plunder for food & fodder and a means of preventing everyone from sloshing in pools of their own feces and urine.

The feces and urine reached to the bridles of the horses!

Anonymous Nah May 28, 2014 11:08 AM  

Both empires killed the golden-egg-laying geese. Both eventually existed less as parasites and more like infectious diseases, spreading (moral & ideological) sickness and eventually killing their hosts.

Disagree. The RE was killed by external aggression. Could have existed for thousands more years if it had managed to hold off the invading hordes.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 11:28 AM  

"Sanitation, too. Moving a large force of men (and animals) would require both a fertile land to plunder for food & fodder and a means of preventing everyone from sloshing in pools of their own feces and urine."

And yet it happened. Like it or not... Rome did it. In fact the foundational principle was that the military excursions must pay for themselves.

The logistics were not impossible. They just required a level of ruthless brutality that most civilizations are not willing or able to undertake.

Blogger IM2L844 May 28, 2014 11:31 AM  

I don't know of any comprehensive histories of Christianity.

If you want a comprehensive history of Christianity, don't start with Christianity. To get the big picture, start further back with:

Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel ~ by Julius Wellhausen

Then, for some differing views, follow that up with

The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study ~ by R. N. Whybray

and maybe

The Bible with Sources Revealed ~ by Richard Elliott Friedman

Anonymous Don May 28, 2014 11:34 AM  

You know if you drained off all the blood into a deep hole then lowered the horses in one at a time you might get it to their bridles.

Anonymous Don May 28, 2014 11:36 AM  

Many groups moved big groups of men in prehistory. The Romans fucking invented public sanitation. They knew how to move men and material. Sure groups who didn't know what they were doing had folks dying by disease and polluted water.

Anonymous Stilicho May 28, 2014 11:57 AM  

Disagree. The RE was killed by external aggression. Could have existed for thousands more years if it had managed to hold off the invading hordes.

Internal rot was the greatest contributor to the empire's inability to fend off the barbarians. After all, when you murder the loyal general who held off Alaric and the Eastern Empire, you cannot honestly profess surprise when Alaric sacks Rome a few years later.

Anonymous Nah May 28, 2014 12:03 PM  

Meh. The Roman leadership murdered each other even when the empire was on the ascendant.

Anonymous rycamor May 28, 2014 12:04 PM  

Nate May 28, 2014 10:08 AM
"Is there a comprehensive history of Christianity that any of you would recommend?"

History of the Christian Church, 8 Vol - Philip Schaff

You can get it on Amazon.


And for a good informal overview, "A History of Christianity" by Paul Johnson.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 12:04 PM  

>Disagree. The RE was killed by external aggression. Could have existed for thousands more years if it had managed to hold off the invading hordes.

Really? Or were "invaders" actually invited?

"Rome often deviated from its standard recruiting policies. For example, no close reader of Caesar could fail to observe that the legendary general was repeatedly saved, even at Alesia, by mounted German mercenaries whom he had hired for his war against Vercingetorix. Subsequently, Augustus established an imperial bodyguard, the custodes, composed entirely of Germans. Army recruitment took a similar path. Whereas Italy still supplied 65 percent of legionary troops during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula, by the mid-second century the contribution of the Italian heartland had dwindled to less than 1 percent. Rome had begun recruiting its soldiers from the least civilized areas of the empire—a policy that would remain in place in late Roman times. Recruiters seem to have believed that the best soldiers, the real fighting men, could only be found outside the cities.

"During the third century, the empire experienced a series of invasions and civil wars. These crises intensified Rome's dependence on uncivilized and, increasingly, foreign troops. "
http://www.historynet.com/romes-barbarian-mercenaries.htm

The RE rotted from within...as has the BE. Describing today's internal rot is this website's bread and butter, so I'm surprised this view is even debatable here.

Anonymous Nathanael May 28, 2014 12:09 PM  

"The only things we should be ashamed about the crusades is the 4th crusade sacking Constantinople and the orthodox brothers instead of going in Jerusalem."

Google "Massacre of the Latins" and read about the Orthodox Greeks of Constantinople driving off, killing, and selling into Muslim slavery tens of thousands of western Christians in 1182. Christians killing other Christians is always a tragedy, but don't try to pretend that the westerners started that one or that Constantinople didn't richly deserve what happened to it in 1204.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 12:14 PM  

>The logistics were not impossible. They just required a level of ruthless brutality that most civilizations are not willing or able to undertake.

Sherman's March resuscitated "Total" Warfare of this sort, where the army is sustained by pillaging the land and leaves in its wake mostly corpses and famine. This is why the "Civil War" signaled the return of unlimited warfare where every man, woman and child is deemed an enemy combatant and thus can be put to the sword.

The rise of democracy also parallels the rise of warfare for ideology (or belief), and since one can't be sure of the vanquished foes' sincerity, it's easier to kill 'em all and let God sort them out.

Thus do we have Christian Soldiers razing entire cities (e.g., Fallujah) and dropping bombs with 100 meter 100% casualty radii in city centers. Hey, if you don't overthrow your government (the one we don't like) then we're entitled to kill you, your toddler, your wife, your grandmother, and everyone else you love.

And Heaven help you if you work to depose the CIA-installed tyrant we gifted to you.

Anonymous Brian May 28, 2014 12:26 PM  

History. His-story. Most of history has been Hollywooded-up by the ancient bards and poets. Remember, they had an obligation to entertain first. It used to be common knowledge that historians were allowed to embellish the facts a bit in order to make the story a little more readable and entertaining. Only in the last 150-200 years did historical accuracy of the facts become relevant. Did the sacking of Jerusalem happen? Was there really a Trojan War? Of course. Did Washington's troops really wait until they saw the whites in their eyes to shoot? How the hell do I know. But it makes the fight sound a little more heroic, no?

Anonymous Rolf May 28, 2014 12:29 PM  

Blood up to the bridles/stirrups/knees: Having been in mud that was only ankle deep that gradually crept up to well above my knees from walking around and having it transfer from left foot to right leg (and vice versa) and splashed each step, and fought (SCA medieval style) where at the end of a battle I was muddy to my helm, I can well believe that they'd be bloodied that high, but not that the blood was actually anywhere near that deep.

Logistics - that was one of the reason the Persians panicked at Marathon - they saw their ships starting to be burned, and their navy was both transportation and supply line. Losing their ships meant foraging, and that would be more work than fighting. The only efficient way to move mass quantities in the ancient world was by ship, and screwing it up meant disaster. Look at Alex the Great on his return, when the monsoon winds blew the wrong way (well, they were right but he didn't understand their seasonal nature) so his expected resupply didn't happen and he lost most of his army from thirst and starvation. Note that all major ancient cities were on the water - ocean, sea, or major river.

fnord - great video link. Similar to Bill Whittle's about La Raza and Texas. Here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnTus_i2aZI , starting at about 5:30 (though the whole vid, and series, are pretty good)

Anonymous Real Neoreactionary May 28, 2014 12:36 PM  

The "Crusades" never happened/

Educate yourself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_time_hypothesis

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-london/plain/A85654957

Anonymous Ostar May 28, 2014 12:52 PM  

Don
"The Romans fucking invented public sanitation. They knew how to move men and material."

The Colosseum in Rome was constructed so efficiently that it could house over 50,000 people, and apparently could have all 50,000+ of them evacuate in around 5 minutes. Modern stadiums admittedly have access/egress controlled for tickets and security, but otherwise most are like mazes inside.

Anonymous Vidad May 28, 2014 1:13 PM  

"Speaking of historical revisionism, what of widespread reports on archeological digs in the "Holy Lands" that completely fail to find actual evidence of the Kingdom of David and other Old Testament "events?""

VD: They have found it. Their chronology is off.

Yes. Previous dating was based off errant Egyptian records.

Anonymous Vidad May 28, 2014 1:14 PM  

Nate: "The Christian ignorance of the history of their own church is embarrassing."

Yes. But dang, we sure love us some Reagan.

Anonymous Noah Nehm May 28, 2014 1:33 PM  

"All the black legends about the middle ages as one long dark age or the Spanish inquisition were enlightenment prejudices or exaggerated lies. Mainstream history is full of those lies and gratuitous hatred for the Church."

True.

It's interesting to note that the "Red Terror" unleashed by the Spanish Communists lead to the death of around 50,000 including nearly 10,000 priests and religious. In other words, in less than 10 years they killed an order of magnitude more people than the civil authorities did in 150 years of the inquisition. And yet, hardly anyone has heard of the Red Terror.

It's the way of the world: to magnify the sins of the Church and minimize the sins of her enemies.

Blogger David May 28, 2014 1:53 PM  

>Only in the last 150-200 years did historical accuracy of the facts become relevant.

Since when? Lincoln freed the slaves? Sherman didn't write his wife telling her that if he had it his way he'd kill every man, woman and child in the secessionist states? The "Founding Fathers" were a liberty-minded, Enlightened, single-minded group of DWG's? The founding of the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention just "fine-tuned" the loose Confederation for which most American Revolutionaries fought?

We drown in data yet live in ignorance.

>It's interesting to note that the "Red Terror" unleashed by the Spanish Communists lead to the death of around 50,000 including nearly 10,000 priests and religious. In other words, in less than 10 years they killed an order of magnitude more people than the civil authorities did in 150 years of the inquisition. And yet, hardly anyone has heard of the Red Terror.

Did it make the Black Book of Communism?

There was a recent dialog between two people, one born in the USA and one a Chinese national living and working in the US. The Chinese national expressed disbelief that Americans are "allowed" to carry guns. The US-born person refrained from asking how many millions, MILLIONS of people died during Mao's Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward.

Back to Stalin's comment: The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.

People don't give a rat's ass how many millions have been murdered by their own political system (collectivism kills). They care about the face of the weeping coed holding a candle for the sorority sister murdered by a lunatic. It's how we're wired.

Blogger IM2L844 May 28, 2014 1:59 PM  

oops! I forgot to add the most important one...IMHO...

A Survey of Old Testament Introduction ~ by Gleason Archer

Anonymous N5 May 28, 2014 2:13 PM  

I am often sure that I have the Sack of Jerusalem, after a long bike ride.

Blogger Nate May 28, 2014 2:57 PM  

">Only in the last 150-200 years did historical accuracy of the facts become relevant."

That's one of the dumbest things I have ever read here... and that's saying something.

Anonymous MendoScot May 28, 2014 3:31 PM  

My copy of Procopius' The Secret History attributes one trillion deaths to Justinian's (mis)rule, conclusively showing that Christianity is most disasterest thing evah.

Blogger vashine May 28, 2014 3:42 PM  

Agreed that the "Dark Ages" did not truly exist in the way we moderns have come to see it as. Yet it is fact that trade across the Med dropped suddenly and precipitously with the appearance of Islam. The records show that trade across the pond of civilization all but stopped, including cheap papyrus, which led to a drop in reading, writing and therefore learning and culture.

It was the monks and priests who had access to the old books stored in churches, monestaries, etc., that helped to sustain and disseminate the theology, writings, and wisdom and stories of both Christians and non-Christians in the East... an East (including N. Africa) suddenly cut off from the trade of ideas (books, etc.) and material goods.

All this led to years in which the economic dynamics of the European peninsula changed. Yes, of course it took years to establish new trade routes with Northern Europe, the British Isles, etc. It took time and wealth and energy to fortify the coasts with castles to protect entire nations and peoples from rampaging Muzzies. It took time to begin cultivating and producing new markets and new products to trade with their inland neighbors and not to throw on ships to send across the sea. A distinctly Christian economic system, based on Christian moral values, was taking root as well. All that took time, the dynamics were changing. Which is to say that it might have seemed "dark" in contrast to the wild wealth and activity of Rome. But the seeds were being planted, the foundation being set for a harvest of wealth, technology, and high culture that dwarfed the output of Rome. More than Romans could ever dream or imagine. Certainly one cannot call that 'dark'.

The Med was an Islamic pool full of jihadi pirates. It was only a "dark" age in relation to the amount of material wealth and trade that was going on during Roman times, and in relation to access to the wisdom and learning of the East. That was cut off by Islam. So Europe turned inward. Luckily the Church and Christianity helped to then create the greatest civilization on earth, in human history, one NOT dependent on the Med for trade. Also one based far more on private property, thereby liberating the creative powers of humanity from top-down, government-controlled economies.

Yet Europeans were still so desperate to utilize more of the Med and avoid the dangers of Islam and Muslim pirates that Columbus, among many others, was looking for the sea-route to the riches of the East. We were but a fledgling nation when we engaged in a war with Muslims who were harrying our merchant vessels in the Med. Good ole Thomas Jefferson, then acting as our 3rd president, took it to the Muslim pirates of North Africa in the First Barbary War of 1804.

So yes, there was certainly rot in Rome and Roman culture. Yet you do yourselves no favors by ignoring the destructive impact of Islam and Muslims upon the trade of goods, ideas, and culture across the Med, which had enriched all sides of the Med for millennia.

You underestimate the impact upon entire nations when they cannot afford to learn to write or read because books and paper are too expensive for most of the population. Little details like that matter, can have huge, huge impacts on the course of history. Yes, something as simple as the cost of paper. Over time Europeans remedied that, with technological advances, and became more educated and cultured than any peoples upon earth. While the Musloids slowly and predictably descended into darkness and ignorance as they destroyed the intellectual, spiritual, and cultural riches and traditions of the pre-Islamic nations and cultures they militarily conquered.

Europe did not so much descend during the "Dark" Ages, but reorganized, and came out the other end far, far, far wealthier and enlightened than before. No matter how that wealth and learning has been used or misused in the modern era does not deny the fact of what happened in the so-called "Dark" Ages.

Anonymous Alexander May 28, 2014 4:04 PM  

You know, that would be an excellent study: how much manpower - both in terms of building fortifications and maintaining armed forces - was spent in Europe due to the ravages of Islam. Now, certainly one cannot blame them entirely - the Romans did these things and one cannot blame Mohammad for Hannibal, Vercingetorix, or Atilla. But the increase in expenditures around the Mediterranean must have been enormous.

Blogger vashine May 28, 2014 4:31 PM  

As are the expenditures today... just think of the higher costs of everything, especially travel security. All due to the presence of Muslims.

Anonymous GoodOmens May 28, 2014 5:13 PM  

"The more history I read, the more I learn that the pop version of it isn't merely incomplete, it is often downright misleading."

This is exactly why the bible is more and more dismissed as anything more than parables.

Anonymous kh123 May 28, 2014 10:27 PM  

Troll is unable to make connection between "pop version" and his/her own rhetorical take. The train is fine.

Blogger Hermit May 29, 2014 4:20 AM  

This is exactly why the bible is more and more dismissed as anything more than parables.
Parables have deep symbolic meaning. Considering them fairy tales is incredibly unintellectual. The same goes for the myths of the more ancients philosophical and religious traditions.

Reducing everything to a scientistic reductionist mechanism is laughable. Like Comte's interpretation of religions as pure primeval explanation of natural things: superficial and incredibly inaccurate.

Anonymous Toby Temple May 29, 2014 8:07 AM  

Thanks for the advice, Athol.

Time to search.

Anonymous Nah May 29, 2014 9:46 PM  

The RE rotted from within...

Meh. The Romans used foreign mercenaries for centuries, including during the period of expansion.

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