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Maren HanceProfessor Rick Cherok History of Christianity September 20th, 2017God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark Book Review Rodney Stark, author of God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, writes about how Crusaders, which were holy warriors, considered themselves to be true servants in God’s battalions. Author Rodney Stark, Professor of Social Sciences at Baylor University, clears up and explains many misunderstandings about the Crusades in this book.  In his book, Stark examines each of the Crusades and address the myths presented in each one.  In addition to addressing these myths, Stark also narrates each of the crusades chronologically, describing the cause, methods, and effects of each campaign while depicting the political conflicts of the time. There is a lot of debate surrounding whether the Crusades were started by evil, unprovoked Christians that sought to defeat the advanced Muslim civilization or were the Crusaders, who were being oppressed by the Muslims, left with no choice but to protect the Holy Lands.  Professor Stark seeks to prove, using actual historical data, that the later argument is the case.  That in fact, the Crusaders were forced to fight in a response to the Muslim aggression. Far from being un-provoked, the crusades began after more than 300 years of Muslim aggression until, in 1095, the Byzantine Emperor wrote to the Pope asking for military support to fight the Muslims.  There were eight crusades during the period from 1095-1021.  Muslim conquest was accomplished largely through small but superior Arab forces that set up military occupation in regions they conquered.The first chapters deal with rapid expansion of Islam from Arabia throughout the former lands of Christendom.  Due to the aggressive expansion and massive persecution of non-Muslim populations, Stark argues a response was logical and justifiable.  Chapter 1 takes readers back in time when the gruesome war between Christian nations located in the Middle East and Northern Africa battled against Islam. This is the start of Islam’s rise to power. Stark explains that the Crusades were simply responsive to Islamic annoyances. Western Islam was trying to colonize for centuries, and were trying all means to do so.  Holy Land inhabitants were being completely mistreated by the Islamic people. Crusaders claimed that Muslims were the aggressors, who had invaded Christian lands, and oppressed the Christians over whom they ruled.  Depending on the time and area, conquered people were either give the choice to convert to Islam, face death or enslavement, or forced to pay heavy taxes, cease church or synagogue building, and never ready scripture or pray aloud.  Simply, people believe this war was about Christians attacking Muslims, which is not at all the case. This war was about the Christian people answering the attacks in 1095. Stark claims that The Crusades were were not conducted for land, money, or to convert followers.  Money was certainly not the motivation for the Crusades, in fact, going on the Crusades was very expensive and far exceeded any monetary reward.  Many Crusaders were bankrupt from using the personal finances to support the Crusades.The crusaders were not barbarians who sought to victimized the Muslims. They sincerely believed that they served in God’s battalions.  They were defending themselves from the Muslim regime. The Crusades were honestly a very united front. Stark conveys the idea that the Crusades not only had their place in this war, but also in many ways were reasonable and valid. Stark explains that the mistreatment of the Crusaders is not revealed until the 20th Century. This is because colonization does not officially happen until this period of time. So people believe that the Crusades were only mistreated for a little amount of time which is extremely false. Crusades were certainly provoked, and the Crusaders were mainly concerned to free the Holy Lands from Muslim oppression and to protect religious pilgrims who travelled there. Stark portrays the idea that the Crusades were triggered by the Muslims, and that the Crusaders felt that their duty to God was to free the Holy Lands from the Muslim people’s power. Christians today debate whether or not the Crusades were justifiable. In order to have valid discussions on the subject of the crusades, both sides must be well versed on the events of this historical period and what actions set the Crusades in motion. This book illustrates in depth both the events and the motives of this era, and must be where Christians begin to further argue the subject of the validity of the crusades.BibliographyStark, Rodney. God’s Battalions: the Case for Crusades. HarperCollins, 2010.

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