Were the Crusades justified wars of Christian self-defense against centuries of Muslim aggression? By 300 AD Christianity had spread from Greece eastward to Persia ) where it went up against Zoroastrianism)and even to spots in India (Where it confronted the Hindus). West of Persia and north of Dark Africa all of the lands were Christian except for the Arabian Peninsula which was a land of many gods and hundreds of thousands of Jews who had escaped from Roman persecution and the Germanic areas that still worshipped their Gods that the days of the week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) were named for. By 1000 AD the Germans were totally Christianized. Now, that was an accomplishment. As you probably know, Muhammad got his religion going about 625 AD and died of poisoning (it is reported) a few years later in 632. (Supposedly one of his Jewish captive wives poisoned him. Damn good woman!) At the time of his death, Islam was growing in Arabia. After Mohammad's death it was advanced on the bloody blades of many swords. As the religion advanced people were given a choice, convert from Christianity and Judaism or be beheaded. In the 400 years after Muhammad, Islam swept into the holy land, Syria and advanced east on Persia where the Zoroastrians fled to India to avoid being beheaded. Twenty percent of Persia was Jewish from the lost tribes of Israel relocating there. Most of them were killed by Islam over the next thousand years. (An estimated Nine to Ten Million Jews were murdered.) Islam swept across north Africa and poured into Spain in the Eighth Century and even advanced into southern France before being beaten back by Germanic soldiers. The Islamic conquest and rule of Sicily, Malta, and small parts of southern Italy was a process which started in the 9th century. Islamic rule over Sicily was effective from 902, and the complete rule of the island lasted from 965 until 1061. In 1063, Pope Alexander II had given his blessing to Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) Christians in their continuing wars against the Muslims. The Germanic Normans drove the Islamic hordes out of Sicily a few years later. As you can see, there was constant conflict between the Christians and Islam. The immediate cause of the First Crusade was the Byzantine emperor Alexios I's appeal to Pope Urban II for mercenaries to help him resist Muslim advances into territory of the Byzantine Empire. In 1071, at the Battle of Manzikert, the Byzantine Empire was defeated, which led to the loss of all of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) save the coastlands. The Christians did not suddenly attack the Religion of Peace. The so-called Religion of Peace had not left the Christians alone for 400 years and were attacking or fighting in Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Southern Europe. Another factor that contributed to the change in Western attitudes towards the East came in the year 1009, when the Fatimid Islamic Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Up to that time Christians were allowed to visit the holy land. In 1039 his successor, after requiring large sums be paid for the right, permitted the Byzantine Empire to rebuild it. Pilgrimages were allowed to the Holy Lands immediately before and after the Sepulchre was rebuilt, but for a time pilgrims were captured and some of the clergy were killed for their faith in Christ. When the First Crusade was preached in 1095, the Christian princes of northern Iberia had been fighting their way out of the mountains of Galicia and Asturias, the Basque Country and Navarre. Everybody was just plain fed up with Islam, and finally struck back. Do you take the Moslem view that they were unfairly attacked? Or do you think that it was damn well about time?