Following President Obama's remarks about the Crusades, I hope I may be forgiven for re-posting my article on that topic from just after 9/11: "Crusading They Went." Sample:
We turn in disgust from the spectacle of them wading through blood to the Holy Sepulchre of Christ, and wonder if we would not have found their enemies — the silk-clad viziers of Islam, or the suave, scented courtiers of Constantinople — more to our liking. Well, perhaps we would; but let us at least acknowledge that these rough soldiers carried with them to the East the germ-seeds of modern civil society. Palestine proved to be stony ground: but that is the East's loss, as the eventual flowering of those seeds elsewhere was all of humanity's immeasurable gain. In spirit and in values, though at an immense distance, the Crusaders were our kin. While not forgetting their many transgressions, we should weep for what they lost and remember with pride their few astonishing victories. Ville gagnée!