On the 80th Anniversary of Belloc’s, THE CRUSADES

belloc-crusades-e1514264663512.jpeg    Belloc

Review: Hilaire Belloc: The Crusades: The World’s Debate, Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, 1937; Republished Tan Books: Rockford, Illinois, 1992.

INTRODUCTION

As millions of Muslim refugees continue to swarm mostly unopposed into Europe’s heartland, it would be instructive to review Hilaire Belloc’s book, The Crusades: The World’s Debate.  Written eighty years ago, the work not only gives a unique analysis of the Crusading Era, but addresses what remains today a fundamental issue in global politics, hence, the subtext of the book, The World’s Debate.

The Crusades were inspired by the Catholic Church and Papacy which rightly saw the threat that Islam posed to the West and encouraged military action to counter it.  The Mohammedans had taken over vast parts of the eastern half of the Roman Empire and with it control of the Holy Land which they increasingly made tougher to access for pilgrims.

The Novus Ordo Church and its current pope have repeatedly encouraged Muslim migration into Europe and have scolded those who raise even the tiniest of protests against this orchestrated event with smears of “lack of charity,” “intolerance,” and “xenophobic” among other denigrations.  Such action would have been considered heretical by the Crusaders and the popes of the past who called and helped organize the expeditions.  In fact, one does not have to go back that far to know that “Pope Francis’”[1] pro-immigration stance would have been considered treasonous a little over a half century ago.  Under the radical changes that occurred at the Second Vatican Anti-Council (1962-65), however, acceptance of false religions and heretical sects are now part of the New Creed.

For Western man, the migrant crisis has accentuated a more fundamental problem which threatens his ultimate survival – demographics.  European birthrates have plunged to unsustainable levels which, if trends continue, will mean, if not extinction, at least the marginalization of the white populations, the institutions and cultures which those peoples have built.  Most analysts of the demographic implosion and migrant crises, however, do not see that their source is ultimately a religious struggle.  The unwanted migratory invasion and the failure of Europeans to reproduce to at least replacement levels are the result of Western man’s rejection of the One True Faith.

The alarming demographic trends had not yet surfaced when Belloc penned The Crusades although the start of another global conflagration was on the horizon as the West would once again plunged itself into civilization suicide with the outbreak of World War II.  Nor had the state of Israel been created at the time of its publication, although the troubling Balfour Doctrine had been mandated which would eventually lead to a Zionist homeland in Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel which would become a constant source of conflict in the decades that followed.

For Belloc, “the world’s debate” centered on the conflict between the future of a militarily and economically dominant secularized West against a religiously fervent, although economically stagnant, Islam.  To this day, the West still holds these advantages, but its vibrancy and spirit are on the wane due to its abandonment of the Faith and the adoption of social democracy.

The Crusades were an expression of Christendom’s highest ideals which contemporary Europeans could not hope to grasp or understand.  If the West is ever going to defeat Islam, it must be spiritually revitalized which can only come about if the Church becomes once again Catholic and overthrows neo-Modernism which it adopted at Vatican II.  Military victories will never be lasting unless they are backed by a religiously committed populace.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Smith Crusades

Belloc takes a unique perspective on a number of aspects of the Crusading Era which differ, in some cases, quite significantly from most modern scholarship.  Almost all contemporary historians are of the school of thought that the Crusades lasted until at least the campaign of 1295 (the Fourth Crusade) while some, like the late J. Riley Smith, see “crusading activity” going well beyond that time.[1]  For Belloc, the First Crusade from its “calling” in 1095 by Pope Urban II, to its improbable and truly miraculous capture[2] of Jerusalem in 1099, was the most important.  It not only accomplished its odds-defying goal of freeing the Holy Land for pilgrimage, but in its wake the Latin Kingdoms were established in the Levant.

With the view that only the First Crusade mattered, since it accomplished its objectives, the vast majority of the book covers the years between 1095 and 1187 as Belloc asserts:

There was . . .  but one Crusade . . . it was the

great breaking out of all western Europe into

the Orient for the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre,

and within one very long lifetime it had failed;

For with Jerusalem in the hands of the Infidel

the purpose of the original great campaign was

gone, its fruits were lost. [244]

Everything that came in the wake of the first Christian triumph in Asia Minor was something different:

That historical episode, 1095-1187, was the true

Crusade, from its inception to its final failure.  All

that followed was of another kind. [244]

Yet, within their initial success, the seed of the Latin Kingdoms’ ultimate downfall was laid.  While other factors certainly played a role, Belloc, over and over again, stresses the crusaders’ failure to secure Damascus that proved fatal and would eventually allow the Mohammedans to re-conquer and end the Latin presence in the Levant.  Without Damascus, the later expeditions were never a serious threat to the Muslim strongholds and were in the historian’s words “rearguard action[s] of a defeat.” [4]

While the West failed to hold and extend the First Crusade’s success and later having suffered the tragic fall of Constantinople, it would eventually return and reclaim most of what it had lost.  The Muslim victory at Hattin appeared permanent until the end of time; yet within a few centuries, during which Europe had repelled several lethal Islamic assaults to its heartland, it returned to the Middle East, but this time the conquerors were of a different breed religiously.

The ending of Muslim rule and the colonization of the Middle East throughout the course of the 19th century up to the time of Belloc’s book (1937) was accomplished by a secularized West under the guidance and inspiration of religiously pluralistic nation states.  Christendom had long been dissolved and although the Middle East’s new overlords were superior in resources, technology, and skill their religious vitality was on the wane and would continue to evaporate as the years rolled on.  “We have returned to the Levant,” Belloc writes, “we have returned apparently more as masters than ever we were during the struggle of the Crusades – but we have returned bankrupt in that spiritual wealth which was the glory of the Crusades. . . . [N]or is the Levant held as one whole [Christian dominion], but divided between separate nations to whom the unity of Europe has ceased to be sacred.” [249]

RACE

In the modern era of Political Correctness, one can no longer speak of race, ethnicity, kinship, or “blood” unless one is disparaging Occidental people or their ancestors while at the same time trumpeting the virtues of the assorted brown and colored peoples of the globe.  Not so with Belloc, who was far from alone among historians of his generation who understood the significance of race and blood in the episodes of the human past and how important these factors were in the creation of societies and civilizations.

To scholars like Belloc, race and religion did matter, and in his view it was a significant reason why the Crusades ultimately failed to hold their possessions.  Of course, there were other factors that Belloc duly notes – the failure to control the strategically vital city of Damascus; the lack of reinforcements both in arms and people from the West; the refusal of Byzantium to ally with the Crusaders; the lack of a strong monarchy in the Latin states.  Race, however, in this instance, the mixture of French blood with the local population, was critical in the eventual defeat.  The “mixing of blood” between the Franks and the Near East population especially among the leadership proved fatal.  Few, if any academics of today could write such things.

The miscegenation among the nobility and the subsequent generations in the newly formed Latin jurisdictions proved to be “inferior” in talent, ability, and leadership to build the type of society necessary for the Crusaders’ initial victories to be turned into a permanent civilization.

A stark example of this among the nobility can be seen in the loss of Edessa:

We have seen among other causes the mixture of Western

with Oriental blood, especially in the case of the rulers,

played a chief part.  Now, it was precisely to this that the

first of the great disasters was due.  [T]he loss of Edessa. . .

was mainly due to the character of its ruler, the second

Jocelyn. . .  The mother of the second Jocelyn was an

Armenian. . . .  [T]he mixture of blood did here what it

so often does; it gave a certain brilliance to the character

of the second generation, but that brilliance was accompanied

by instability.  [192]

Belloc continues:

[I]t must be emphasized, for it underlay not

only the tragedy of Edessa but all that followed,

up to the loss of Jerusalem itself.  . . .  it was Jocelyn

the Second, who with his contemporary, the

half breed Queen Melisande, so conspicuously

typifies that new and too-sudden mixtures of races

which was largely responsible for the catastrophe. [193]

Outnumbered and with inferior leadership qualities compared to the first wave of Crusaders, the Latin Kingdoms were eventually doomed especially after the Muslims had politically united.  Yet, had the Western kings and princes addressed this matter, things may have been different and, as Belloc maintains, the Infidel may have been permanently relegated to the Arabian Peninsula.

 

Asia Minor

 

Crusader States

[1] Jorge Bergoglio cannot be head of the Catholic Church for several reasons: (1) he is a manifest heretic whose seemingly endless string of heretical acts, words, and “teachings” disqualify him for the post – a heretic is necessarily outside the Church; (2) Bergoglio is not a “priest” on “technical grounds,” but was “ordained” in the invalid Novus Ordo rite of orders which came into being at the time of Vatican II.  Nor is he a bishop since he was also “consecrated” under these non-Catholic rites.  Only the bishop of Rome can become pope and since Bergoglio is neither a priest or bishop, he cannot, therefore, be pope.

[2] Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A History. 3rd ed., London: Bloomsbury, 1987; 2014.

[3] While Belloc does not stress it, the First Crusade was aided by heavenly intervention which has been attested to by the Crusaders as well as modern secular historians in their narratives.  See, Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade: A New History, (Oxford: University Press, 2004).

 

To be continued…

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

https://antoniusaquinas.com

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “On the 80th Anniversary of Belloc’s, THE CRUSADES

  1. Basilius Argentis Placidius

    While being myself a Belloc reader and a Crusade’s nostalgic, and certainly not someone who could be draw as “political correctness”, your point (or Belloc’s) about the race mixing explaining the failureor the Latin State is, I must say, completely out of the subject and certainly not a good explanation to understand the political failure of the various rulers. Such an explanation is either romantical, or simply to easy. Don’t fall for anti-political correctness correctness.

    Reply

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