The pope and the violent expansion of the muhammedan empires

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Reconquista completed. Muhammedans expand in all other directions. 1480 as turning point.

The Catholic Church -certainly in Europe- does not have that much power anymore. It is also good that Catholics are called to account harshly for misconduct by servants of the Church, especially those of the twentieth century.

It is good that wrong, sometimes very wrong positions of the Church are criticized. However, in terms of media coverage, if the term disproportionate” applies anywhere, it is to the criminal behaviour of the actual performers compared to those who kept the villains out of harm’s way: the latter is to be blamed much stronger.
Also in my view, the Catholic Church has taken and continues to take wrong positions.
However, there is one positive aspect to the taking of the Church’s positions: over the centuries, its own positions have been and continue to be extensively considered.
It was and is weighed and weighed, and not only about moral aspects but also about practical meaning.
Previous positions were also revisited, sometimes after centuries.
No misunderstanding: this is quite different from saying that good positions were always taken. I am glad that the (political) power of the Vatican is only a shadow of what it once was.

The martyrs of Otranto

But I am also glad that sometimes the Vatican shows a touch of courage. One such touch was about the so called canonization of the 800 martyrs of Otranto.
The publication of Pope Francis’ speech was accompanied by a text by two historians:

I capitalised ‘instill terror’ because it is a literal command from the Qu’ran …

In 1529 they christians fought back hard in the first attack on Vienna. With real violence, of course.
In 1565 the Maltese knights triumphed against a four- or five-fold supremacy of Ottoman attackers, and in 1571 the miraculous victory in the battle of Lepanto followed.
In 1683, on the days September 11/12 that later became so famous!, came the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire with the second battle of Vienna.
But so after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, first followed (among many other atrocities) the conquest of and the Muslim massacres at Otranto.
That’s what the Vatican, in its own very special way, paid attention to.


The pope’s own speech is more circumspect, to throw in another euphemism:

Why doesn’t he at least mentioned those parts of the world by name?
And then this, about a lady who was canonized at the same time as the martyrs of Otranto:

Wrong in so many ways.
In this pope’s vision, we have to make do with:

It is something, even if it is very unclear what forms of courage are and are not tolerated and/or commanded in Francis’ eyes. The Vatican has no clue whatsoever when it comes to the abuse of the term “dialogue”: “The Pope reiterated that the Christian who wants to proclaim the Gospel must dialogue with everyone (…)

The crusades and muhammedan conquests

In comparing the christian crusades with the conquests of several muhammedan empires one can spend tens of thousands of words, but showing half a dozen of maps accompanied with a hundred words is more efficient, maybe even more effective too.

In 622, Muhammad’s political and military career began. By the way, that is also that very special beginning of the Muslim calendar. By the time of his death, 10 years later, he and his comrades in arms had already conquered quite a bit of territory:

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Muhammedan conquests just 10 years after beginning of islamic calendar.

A century later, conquests were already advancing rapidly:

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Persians defated. Byzantines still holding on. Charles Marel 732, battle of Tours.

By 1080 they had been pushed back somewhat in Western Europe (“Andalus”), but to the east, south and in Anatolia they had won great victories.

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Seldjuks in Anatolia. (precursors of Ottomans)

Less than 20 years later the first christian crusade was launched. Jerusalem was (re)conquered. The map very clearly shows that in the Middle East islam was hardly pushed back. The aim was access to the ‘holy’ places of christianity.

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Crusades successful, but muhammedans still control the Levant.

Towards the end of the christian crusades.

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Crusades coming to an end. Muhammedan expansion in the direction of India.

‘Otranto’ in historical context.

One of 6 maps of muhammedan empires
Reconquista completed. Muhammedans expand in all other directions. 1480 as turning point.

Sarcasm in kind words

Hans Jansen wrote somewhat bitingly about those crusades and the interrelationships between those three so-called Abrahamic Religions.
In his unsurpassed book ‘On, on to battle, liberate Jerusalem‘ (Sadly in Dutch only: ‘Op, Op, ten strijde: Jeruzalem bevrijden‘) he wrote:

Here my review of this magnificent book. I called it a ‘perfect present for your atheist, academic friends‘.

In the last years of his life we became friends.
The fact that he was christian -he actually was raised protestant and later in his life chose catholicism- was no problem for neither of us.

Maybe he had even agreed with my observation that the agenda of both the leadership of christianity and islam, unlike other average civilians and most political leaders, covers centuries.

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