The Christian motto of the Vendic crusade in 1147: "He who will not be baptised, shall die".From: Christianity and War
Everyone has studied the Crusades against the Moslems, who had taken over people and lands formerly Christian and under Christian rule: in the south Egypt and the Levant, in the east the rest of the Byzantium Empire which included Anatolia (now Turkey), as well as Albania and Yugoslavia, in the west Spain and even up to the south of France. (Of course prior to their Christianisation, these people and countries adhered to pre-Christian religions.)
1085 - At the Council of Clermont, the First Crusade ...was called by Pope Urban II against Muslims in the Holy Lands.Link
A rabble of some 150,000 to 300,000 persons, mostly the dregs of society mixed with military mercenaries, set out across southern Europe, killing, torturing, raping and looting as they went. One division slaughtered 10,000 Jews in the Rhineland, then forgot about the Holy Land and dispersed. Two other divisions did so much harm in Hungary that native soldiers rose up against them and destroyed them all. Multitudes died along the way, of sickness, hunger, or injuries brought on by their violence. A remnant survived to plunder the too-hospitable Greeks, then to enter Constantinople. There, stronger crusaders sold off the weaker ones as slaves, to finance their own provisions. Finally, a remaining 7,000 or so crossed the Bosporus and were attacked by the Turks, who soon killed them all.Link
The first waves having failed to achieve anything, more were sent off in the direction of the Holy Land.
Pope Urban II instigated the first crusade in the end of the 11th century ...mobilised a gigantic army from the whole of Europe [which] marched eastwards to "save" Jerusalem from the Moslems. [In] 1099 the army attacked the holy city. The result was a complete slaughter, and according to the Chronicles, God's holy soldiers massacred almost 70,000 people.Link
Chronicles record a story of a crusader-bishop who referred to the impaled heads of slain Muslims as a joyful spectacle for the people of God.Link
When Muslim cities were captured by Christian crusaders, it was standard operating procedure for all inhabitants - no matter what their age - to be summarily killed. ...Jews who took refuge in their synagogues would be burned alive, not unlike the treatment they received in Europe.In his reports about the conquest of Jerusalem, Chronicler Raymond of Aguilers wrote that "It was a just and marvelous judgment of God, that this place [the temple of Solomon] should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers." St. Bernard announced before the Second Crusade that "The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified."
These Crusades against the Moslems and Jews of the Middle-East, as well as those against the Eastern Churches (Orthodox) are well-known and covered in all history books. There were a total of 8 official Crusades, and several "unofficial" ones. Less well-known are those against Christian sects that were branded heretical:
In the 1200s, shortly after the beginning of the crusades against the Muslims, wholly European crusades against Christian dissidents were enacted.Link
Even more obscure are the Crusades against pre-Christian countries and people.
Baltic religion freely thrived in the Baltic lands until 1199, when the Roman Catholic Church began declaring multiple crusades to christianize the Balts. It soon became evident the Christians were really interested in conquest of the land, and not in Christianization. The Balts spent the Middle Ages defending themselves from Christian invaders. Prussia and Latvia were conquered in 1231-83 and 1206-90, respectively. This led to the eventual genocide and assimilation of the Baltic Prussians (ca. 1710).Link
In Lithuania, King Mindaugas (?-1263), Queen Morta (?-1262/3), and their court officially converted to Roman Catholicism in 1251 in order to stop the crusades. Mindaugas continued to practice Lithuanian religion secretly, and officially renounced Christianity in 1261, having failed to stop the crusades. Grand Duke Gediminas (ca. 1275-1341) allowed all people to worship their own Gods in Lithuania, explaining that the Lithuanians, Catholics, and Orthodox worship the same deity, each in their own way. Lithuania officially accepted Roman Catholicism in 1386-7, while the Samogitian (lowland) Duchies acquiesced in 1410. Lithuania was the last country in Europe to be Christianized.
"... The Teutonic Order began the great conflict which after more than half a century of bloodshed dealt the death-blow to paganism in Prussia." (CE. iii, 700, 705. [Catholic Encyclopaedia])Conversion by force and arms continued through the Ages of Faith and brought entire nations to Christ:"More lasting success followed the attempts, patterned on the Crusades, to carry on wars of conversion and conquest in those territories of north-eastern Europe peopled by tribes that had lapsed from the Faith or that were still heathen; among such pagans were the Obotrites, Pomeranians, Wiltzi, Serbs, Letts, Livonians, Finns, and Prussians. The preliminary work was done in the twelfth century by missionaries. They were aided with armed forces [by several kings and rulers]. From the beginning of the thirteenth century Crusades were undertaken against Livonia, Courland, Esthonia, and Prussia. In Lithuania Christianity did not win until 1368." (CE. v, 612.)In Hungary, during the tenth and eleventh centuries,"the new religion was spread by the sword. ...-- Forgery in Christianity, by Joseph Wheless, where CE refers to the Catholic Encyclopaedia
With these laws King St. Stephen brought over almost all his people to the Catholic Faith. ... He [a later King] took strong measures against those who had fallen away from the Faith." (CE. vii, 548-9.)
Between 1236 and 1283 CE, a crusade of extermination was preached against the pagan Prussians by Pope Honorius, and carried out by the Teutonic Knights. The Christian Brethren of the Sword similarly converted Livonia and Courland. Armies of the Christian Dukes of Poland forced the Wends to accept Christian baptism and vassalage. The Lithuanians stubbornly clung to their paganism to the end of the 14th century, but eventually the sword was to Christianise them.Link
It was noticed in the 13th century that the semi-barbarous Stedingers of the lower Weser river maintained their ancient tribal system, paid no attention to the church, and contributed no tithes. Pope Gregory IX sent bulls to the bishops of Minden, Lubeck, and Verden, ordering crusades against these recalcitrant peasants, whom he described as heretics because they consulted wise-women, made waxen images, and worshipped "demons." Crusaders were promised blanket pardon for their sins. However, the Stedingers fought back stubbornly, and several campaigns against them failed. At last in 1234 a huge army marched into their land, ravaged every home with fire and sword, and wiped them out. Their property was divided between the church and the barons.
Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]From: Victims of the Christian Faith at The Christian Heritage
[WW223] H.Wollschläger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zürich 1973.
From the book The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen:
(Though this book continues some of the early Christian biases against the Baltic religions by giving too much credence to that time's Christian views of them, its documentation of the actual campaigns against the Baltic people are reliable.)
The Northern Crusades, also known as the Baltic Crusades, were undertaken by western Europe against the non-Christian people of the Baltic Sea region. In 1193 Pope Celestine III declared the Northern Crusades against them, though Christian Germany and Scandinavia had already been assailing them.
- From 1030 to 1197, 13 attacks were made by Russians, as well as by Swedes and Danes on non-Christian Estonia.
- At the start of the 1200s, Archbishop of Bremen was given the mission to convert the Baltic lands to Christianity. Using the Papal Bull which gave the Crusades against Baltic heathens as much importance as those in the holy land, he went around Germany preaching a Crusade against them.
- In 1206, the Livonians were finally defeated, after which the Germans moved onto the Latvian people of Latgalia. In 1208, the Germans started their campaigns against Estonia.
- Having had little success in the Holy Land, Germany's Teutonic Order of Knights took on a mission by a Polish Duke to subdue the non-Christian Baltic Prussians. The end result was that these Crusaders exterminated nearly all the ancient Prussians.
Crusades took place against the following non-Christian Europeans:
- In 1147 the Danish tried to convert the Wends and Rugians of northwest Germany. Later the Saxons and Poles attempted to do the same.
- Swedes crusaded against the Finnish in 1154, Tavastians in 1249, Karelians in 1293. Russia's Novgorod province had tried to convert them earlier.
- From 1193 to 1227: Estonians, Latgalians and Livonians of the Baltic area had to face crusades against them.
- Early 13th century, Christians of Germany launched crusades against non-Christian Lithuania.
- Curonians, Semigallians, Old Prussians, Polabian Wends and the Abotrites between Elbe and Oder were all also subjected to this.
The Great Schism of 1054 permanently split the Eastern Orthodox and Western Roman Churches, though there had already been serious conflicts since the Fourth Council of Constantinople in the 9th century. The disputes over serious doctrinal differences were followed by harsh words and excommunications of many leading eastern Christian bishops.
The fundamental doctrinal differences that the Eastern and Western Churches disagree about:
- the doctrines relating to Purgatory
- the Catholic insistence on the primacy of the Pope, who claims to be Christ's Vicar on Earth, and
- the doctrine of the Holy Spirit
In an attempt to eliminate the doctrinal competition posed by the Orthodox Churches of the east, the western Churches launched a Crusade against their theological opponents:
- In the Fourth Crusade of 1204, Constantinople, the capital of Orthodox-Christian Byzantium, was sacked by an army of western Christians. They desecrated the holiest cathedral of eastern Christianity.
The astuteness of Venice turned aside the fourth Crusade upon Constantinople, and the sack of this city is a dark blot on the history of Western Christendom (1204). It was abominably ravaged, and the very church of St. Sophia was the scene of bloody and sacrilegious orgies."
-- Solomon Reinach, Orpheus, Pg. 295 [Link]
- They forced their rule on the Byzantine Greeks, oppressing them and trying to drive out Orthodox Christianity there. (Having suffered many losses and greatly weakened, Constantinople fell to the Moslem Ottoman Empire about two centuries later and is now known as Istanbul. Its Church of St. Sophia was converted to Sophia Mosque.)
- During this Crusade, the Catholics destroyed Byzantium's last remaining library of antiquity.
Crusades against Orthodox Russia:
Non-Catholic Christians were considered on par with heathens. Thus, when ordered to do so by the Pope, the Teutonic knights embarked on campaigns against Novgorod, Pskov and other parts of Orthodox Russia. A major defeat in mid 13th century prevented the knights from further attempts.
Crusades against the Catharan or Albigensian heretics of southern France were particularly virulent, since these people were prosperous enough to attract plunderers and bitterly opposed to the Roman church, which they called the Synagogue of Satan. They condemned its worship of holy images as idolatry, denied the power of its sacraments, scoffed at the Trinity, insisted on reading the Bible for themselves, and revived the old Gnostic belief that the Jehovah worshipped by the Roman church was a demonic demiurge who created the world of matter to entrap souls in wickedness. Pope Alexander III anathematised the Catharan communities and sent ecclesiastical judges to investigate their offences in 1163. Of these judges, the words "inquisitor" was used for the first time.Link, see also: Crusades
In 1209, Pope Innocent III preached a great crusade against the French rebels. This has gone down in history as the Albigensian crusade, one of the bloodiest chapters in Christianity's past. Half of France was exterminated. When the papal legate was asked how heretics were to be distinguished from the faithful, he replied,"Kill them all; God will know his own."Soon the legate was able to report that in Beziers alone,"Nearly twenty thousand human beings perished by the sword. And after the massacre the town was plundered and burnt, and the revenge of God seemed to rage over it in a wonderful manner."The killing of heretics went on continually for twenty years, and it has been estimated that more than a million were slaughtered. This was more than a police action against heresy. It was the destruction of a whole civilization that had the misfortune to be more advanced than the rest of Europe. Catholic writers made many efforts to justify the destruction.
This decades-long murderous Crusade left the south of France severely depopulated.
- In Toulouse 10,000 were murdered, in St. Nazaire 12,000.
- In 1209, Beziers was sacked and burnt and Papal legates were responsible for murdering between 60,000-100,000 people there. In the same year, the Crusaders took Carcassonne.
- In 1215, the Inquisition took off on the decision of the Council of Lateran. Within 50 years, it had killed one million of the French heretics - a greater number than all other heretic sects done to death by the Crusades put together.
- In 1244, the besieged Cathar at Montsegur, the last Cathar stronghold, were betrayed. They were burnt to death.
Followers of Peter Waldo of Lyon, called Waldensians, also suffered the wrath of official Christendom. They promoted the role of lay street preachers despite official policy that only ordained ministers be allowed to preach. They rejected things like oaths, war, relics, veneration of saints, indulgences, purgatory, and a great deal more which was promoted by religious leaders. ...They were declared heretics at the Council of Verona in 1184 and then hounded and killed over the course of the following 500 years. In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII called for an armed crusade against populations of Waldensians in France. Some of them still apparently survive in the Alps and Piedmont.Link
Dozens of other heretical groups suffered the same fate - condemnation, excommunication, repression and eventually death.
A group of about 30,000 French and German children ... marched through France with the intention of recapturing Jerusalem. Most of the children died in the march and only about 5,000 made it to Marseille. The children were then promised by the merchants there that they would be shipped free of charge to the holy land. The unscrupulous merchants actually shipped the children to Algiers and Alexandria where they were sold as slaves.Link
- Crusades page at The Quest
- Crusades - About.Com
- Chapter IX - The Crusades from Crimes of Christianity by G W Foote and J M Wheeler
- Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman (translated from the Dutch book "Kruistocht in spijkerbroek") a historical children's novel about the above-mentioned Children's Crusade
- Crusades page at Rejection of Pascal's Wager
- Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, Band 7 - Das 13. und 14. Jahrhundert "Christianity's Criminal History, Volume 7 - 13th and 14th Centuries" by Karlheinz Deschner. English synopsis at his site.