Crusades Film : Crescent and the Cross, Part 1


Assigned Sources:

Film: “Crusades : Crescent and the Cross, Part 1”

Textbook: Clifford Backman, The Cultures of the West, A History, Vol. 1. Oxford Univ. Press, 2013. pgs. 310 – 318

Primary Sources: “Gesta Dei” by Guibert de Nogent, 1107-1108, in Sources, Backman, ed. pg. 107

“Memoirs” by Usamah Ibn Munqidh, 1183, in Sources, Backman, ed. pg. 111

Prompt –

Discussion Board Questions – YOU ARE REQUIRED to answer these questions in an essay form:

1. In watching the Documentary film “Crusades : Crescent and the Cross, Part 1”, and reading the two primary documents from both a Christian and a Muslim who experienced the Crusades, what did you learn about the societies portrayed in these sources that you did not know before?

2. How did the historical information in the film and primary documents compare with what you read in the textbook?

3. What were the significant similarities and/or differences between all your sources. i.e. film, primary documents and textbook?

4. And lastly, what connections, or comparisons, can you make between these societies of the ancient past and today?

YOU ARE REQUIRED to quote and cite each of your sources named above AND your textbook for the class (film, text, and 2 primary documents = 4 quotes) at least ONCE EACH in the body of your essay to support your analysis and conclusions.

ALSO YOU ARE REQUIRED to give full identification of your sources, such as titles, authors, directors, producers, venues, genres, dates, description of source, intended audience, and purpose for source when possible.


There were many interesting details learned about the Christian Franks and Muslim Turk societies explored in these sources. Some of the most eminent facts included the fearless and brutal militaristic forces of the Muslims and Christians, religions influence on the Christian Franks in their conquests against the Muslim Turks, and of course the prolific, yet mystical, hand that ‘god’ played in the war victories of the Christian forces.

According to the documentary film produced in the UK by Dune Films for the History Channel and first airing in the U.S. in November 2005, the Franks, during their First Crusade to reclaim Jerusalem in the late 11th Century, killed people without any discrimination what-so-ever sometimes killing both Muslims and Christians alike. Without hesitation they include even the most vulnerable targets such as children and women. In 1098, during the Battle at Maarrat al-Nu’man, the Franks took to new propaganda-like measures of eating human flesh to make a firm statement of their capabilities in warfare… “the eating of human flesh was designed to strike fear in the heart of the enemy…” (Film: “Crusades – Crescent and the Cross, Part 1”). A French Benedictine monk of the early12th century, Guibert of Nogent, witnessed the Battle of Antioch discussed in the film, which he recorded in his personal account of God’s Deeds (Gesta Dei) between 1107 and 1108. He described how the Christian army “charged with Frankish ferocity . . . like charging rams, they tore them to pieces, and the Turks threw away the arms that only moments before had been able to inspire terror” (Guibert de Nogent, “Gesta Dei, 1107-1108” in Sources, Backman, 108). This Monk did not record any cannibalism on the part of the Christians but his prejudices against “the hateful blood of Gentiles” portrayed the Muslims as cowardly and dishonorable (Nogent, 109). The late 12th century Muslim knight and poet, Usamah Ibn Munqidh, from the Banu Munqidh dynasty of Shaizar in northern Syria, called the Frankish Crusaders “devils” and “an accursed race,” yet he demonstrated no remorse of Muslim behavior when recounting the abduction of a Frankish girl, describing her as “booty from the Franks” and she being given to a Muslim Lord as one of his wives, bearing him a son (Usamah Ibn Munqidh, Memoirs, 1183, in Sources, Backman, 111). Uncivilized and ungodly behavior was demonstrated by both religious sides, in my opinion.

The start of the First Crusade was ignited by Pope Urban II with a declaration that included a message offering absolution to the participants that chose to engage…”If you went on Crusade, you got the remission of all your sins… you would not go to hell.” (Film: “Crusades – Crescent and the Cross, Part 1”). This is also supported in our textbook, The Cultures of the West – A History, Vol.1 , in which the author states “These wars, the church proclaimed, pleased God and made one a better Christian – to the point that if a soldier died on crusade, he was assured forgiveness of all his sins and eternal salvation (Backman, 313). These concepts would become extremely influential to the Christian Franks and center their diligent efforts around the belief in their divine god. In alignment with their spiritual beliefs, there were several accounts of the Franks importance in the discovery of religious relics in their missions towards re-capturing Jerusalem. During their time at Antioch, after defeating the Turks in a bloody massacre, a lowly French priest named Peter Bartholomew said that he had a vision from god that would enable them to discover the holy lance that had speared Christ and that finding the lance would affirm that god was on their side. The lance was found by Bartholomew after countless hours of digging and further inspired the Christian Franks to take decisive action in waging forward against the Muslim Turks. Another account details the Franks discovering enough wood, offered in speculation by god, laying outside of the tall Jerusalem walls to help them build a siege tower and enter the city. They believed that with god on their side it was their destiny to reclaim the overrun Muslim Turk territories and bring Christianity back to its rightful home of Jerusalem.

The film and the text book shared much of the same high points, yet the film carries much more detail into the accounts of what took place during this time. Both book and film deliver the cause and effect of the First Crusades by the Franks into the territories of the Turks, the importance of religion in their conquests, the famous speech by Pope Urban II, and the path the Franks took through Constantinople and into Antioch on their way to Jerusalem. The film, however, gives deep insight into the debaucherous types of killing delivered by the Christians in their battles with the Turks, as well as the key role that the ‘gifts’ or ‘supportive signs’ from god played in their conquering of Jerusalem.

Today we still see holy wars taking place… especially in this same part of the world as where Franks and Turks defined their battle grounds. While today’s wars are not nearly as massive in scale, or spread out over wide territories, they continue to be centered around religious conflict in these areas. Other commonalities between past and present include the constant innovation of warfare. Today, countries continue to refine their ability to be swift and deceptive in their approach to battle. Countless technological military improvements have taken place over the last eight hundred years since the Crusaders, both Muslim and Christian introduced their cunning war tactics to the world. Another important comparison to make is how influential a country’s leader, even today, remain to be on the decisions to wage a war. Pope Urban II was paramount in inspiring the Christian Franks to enter into war against the Turks. Without his candid and persuasive speech to the Franks they may not have entered in to battle. Regardless of reason, whether it be for religion, for land, or for money we look at the causes of war in very similar ways today as cultures did several hundred years ago.


Who gained more from their battle efforts… the Muslim Turks or the Christian Franks?

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