Saturday, October 08, 2016

Were the crusades just wars?

Here. 

13 comments:

B. Prokop said...

"Were the crusades just wars?"

Yes.

oozzielionel said...

They started that way but turned.

Cal Metzger said...

Read Runciman's 3 books. Then comment. Until then, what possible expertise could one offer?

Victor Reppert said...

Runciman's work has been challenged by more recent historians.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/2005/06/crusaders-and-historians

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "Runciman's work has been challenged by more recent historians. "

This is from the website you linked to: "First Things is published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and educational 501(c)(3) organization. The Institute was founded in 1990 by Richard John Neuhaus and his colleagues to confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be “naked,” and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy."

So, a site devoted to portraying religion in a private life. Not exactly the stuff of indifferent historical analysis, now, is it?

I've found that apologists read very little history. Have you read Runciman's books on the Crusades?

bmiller said...

From Wikipedia:

"Jonathan Riley-Smith, one of the leading historians of the Crusades,[6] denounced Runciman for his perspective on the Crusades.[7] Riley-Smith had been told by Runciman during an on-camera interview that he [Runciman] considered himself "not a historian, but a writer of literature."[1]

According to Christopher Tyerman, Fellow and Tutor in History at Hertford College and Lecturer in Medieval History at New College, Oxford, Runciman created a work that "across the Anglophone world continues as a base reference for popular attitudes, evident in print, film, television and on the internet."[1]

Runciman held sympathies toward the Byzantine Empire and blamed the Crusaders, whom he considered "intolerant barbarians", for causing the downfall of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade. Consequently, a bias against the Crusaders is evident in his work. Less than a decade after the Second World War ended, Runciman called the Fourth Crusade the greatest crime committed against humanity.[1]"

Cal Metzger said...

@bmiller, have you read Runciman's books on the Crusades?

bmiller said...

@Cal

No, I haven't read Runciman's books. If I were really interested in the Crusades, I would look into more recent scholarship on the topic.

I do have an interest in how people think though. I find it interesting that you dismiss more recent scholarly works as "biased" without having examined them while apparently thinking that Runciman's account is "unbiased".

Perhaps you were unaware of Runciman's bias?

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "I find it interesting that you dismiss more recent scholarly works as "biased" without having examined them while apparently thinking that Runciman's account is "unbiased".

I haven't used the word "bias" here, so don't use quotes around something I haven't written -- I've pointed this out with you earlier, but it gives the misimpression that you're quoting me, when in fact you are not. If you are going to quote me, do it accurately.

But the real irony here is that you (and I suspect Victor as well, but he hasn't responded to my question) haven't read Runciman's classic account of the Crusades. You see, I have read Runciman's works (and a lot of other history), and I am prepared to discuss his accounts.

But why should I discuss them with someone who won't take the time to actually read them, and would rather take at face value criticism that they can't evaluate for themselves?

Lastly, do you know what they call someone who criticizes behavior in others, but when he exhibits the same behavior he finds no fault? They have a word for that.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

Cal:"Lastly, do you know what they call someone who criticizes behavior in others, but when he exhibits the same behavior he finds no fault? They have a word for that."

Would that word be "Cal"?

Someone has accused an author of *bias* (so not worthy of reading) while ignoring the *bias* of his favored author.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Someone has accused an author of *bias* (so not worthy of reading) while ignoring the *bias* of his favored author."

Nope.

I pointed out that an organization whose express agenda is to, among other things "confront the ideology of secularism" (which is a foundational principle of Historical study, btw) might not be the most reliable source for criticism of someone who was actually writing History.

Runciman is a fun read. The books are long (and there are three of them), but he's awesome at taking so many different sources (a lot of Crusades history is in German, as I recall) and combining it all into a great narrative, full of fascinating characters. He criticizes pretty much everyone in the books (here's something you wouldn't guess from your glances at the subject -- he is responsible for elegantly expressing the different roles of violence in Islam and Christianity in a way that doesn't conform with your expectations) but it's really not, at its heart, about religion. It's about history, and people, what happened, and why. Religion plays a role, but if you had read his books you'd realize that there were more human motivations (and basic economic factors) underlying much of what occurred.

But to be clear, the Christians of the Crusades were very often a barbarian horde, motivated by greed, plunder, and easily manipulated by lies, charlatans, and strongmen. That's not so much a criticism of Christianity, or Islam, but a fact of those events. No one reading the accounts of those events can say otherwise unless they want to just express the fact that they are ignorant.

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/crusades.htm

bmiller said...

@Cal,

As I mentioned, I'm not interested in spending much time on the crusades. I'm sure Runciman's series is a nice work of literature. His critics all seem to agree. Historical accuracy, not so much.

However, if you have an interest in the subject, then should be also be interested in the latest scholarship.

Why not give this interview a look:
http://www.medievalists.net/2015/10/15/seven-myths-of-the-crusades-an-interview-with-alfred-j-andrea-and-andrew-holt/

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "As I mentioned, I'm not interested in spending much time on the crusades....However, if you have an interest in the subject, then should be also be interested in the latest scholarship. / Why not give this interview a look:"

So, the guy who admits he has never read Runciman, and doesn't really know anything about the Crusades, still somehow thinks that: a) he is qualified to determine that Runciman's work on the Crusades isn't historically accurate (Runciman gets the facts wrong?), and
b) he knows what the best scholarship on the subject is and
c) I should follow his google search to go learn about something he admits he himself knows practically nothing about.

The vanity is really kind of breathtaking.