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A Short History of the Crusades

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297 pages4 hours

Summary

            In tracing the causes of the Crusades, that fearful drama whose nine acts ran the weary length of nearly two centuries, and at a low computation cost Europe two millions of lives, the word itself becomes our guide.
            The dictionaries give the obsolete croisade as well as the modern form crusade, and plainly show that the word, like the thing itself, is of French origin, and in the first instance denoted a league of Christians against heretics and infidels, especially miscreants of the Mohammedan faith; afterwards it was applied to Christian expeditions undertaken in vindication of the right of pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulchre. These pilgrims wore on their garments a cross, the sign and pledge of their new vocation. Thus the French croix, cross, gave to the expeditions the name croisade, crusade, and to the pilgrims that of crusaders. Public opinion in the tenth and eleventh centuries approve as holy not only the primary object of the crusades viz; free access to the Holy Sepulchre, but also the conquest of the Holy Land, into which it speedily expanded, and for this reason the crusades are often defined as Holy Wars. A holy war may justly strike us as a strange combination, especially when we call to mind the incontestable fact that of all wars those called holy are the most sanguinary and cruel.
            From the very dawn of Christianity Jerusalem was endeared to believers as the scene of some of the most affecting events in the life of our Lord. Who can doubt that the Apostles and Disciples regarded with the most tender and loving veneration every spot hallowed by His memory? Pre-eminently localities like the Cave at Bethlehem, the House at Nazareth, the Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, the rock-hewn Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, and Bethany, must have been cherished and sacred from the very first, and remained so until Titus, A. D. 70, took Jerusalem and commanded the Tenth Legion to destroy it. The work of demolition, though not entire, was almost complete, for excepting a portion of the wall, and the three towers of Herod, preserved as memorials, the whole place, "the entire City and the Temple," were "so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited." 

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