The Crusaders: Savage Killers or Cunning Diplomats?

Many people today tend to write off the crusaders of the 11th and 12th centuries as brutal savages: barbarians who just liked killing. Excuse me for saying so, but based on my research of the past few years, that is a bunch of hogwash!

As I said, people write off the crusaders as killers. If that is true, why did the crusader states, (the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and the County of Edessa,) last as long as they did? If truth be told, collectively they stood for nearly a century, and some of them stood even longer than that!

But why? Why did they survive for so long if the crusaders were just bloodthirsty barbarians? The answer: the crusaders were not savage killers, but cunning diplomats.

You see, when the armies of the First Crusade attacked Jerusalem in 1098, the Muslim rulers of the region were anything but united. There was infighting, I believe between the Fatimids of Egypt and the Seljuq Turks. Hence, the First Crusade sacked Jerusalem. And when the Crusader States were carved out of the barren wastelands of the Middle East, (which is a feat in and of itself,) what did the crusaders do? They negotiated treaties with different Muslim tribes. For example, according to Dan Jones, (who is not himself a proponent of the crusades,) King Baldwin II had Arab allies at his disposal. Likewise, according to historian Barbara Frale, one of the main functions of the Knights Templars in the early years of their existence was to make alliances with Muslim warlords. Hence the idea that the crusaders were just savage killers, in light of this information, couldn’t possibly be true. Were they human, yes, and as such they were capable of savage and brutal deeds. However, when people say that the crusaders were just savages who liked killing, all one needs to do in order to refute this is to look at the history of Outremer and the Knights Templars.

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