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Saturday, April 02, 2011



Just finished watching (again) the old 1997 series (BBC and A&E production) of Ivanhoe. Even Sir Walter Scott was a little more circumspect in the novel, but among other things the story did, perhaps unintentionally, was refute Paul Crawford's second myth, because the great accusation against Richard Lion-Heart was the bankrupting of England to finance his crusading, causing John's heavy taxes in his absence.

However, I had forgotten the abysmal lack of knowledge of the sacraments of the Church when they described the sacrament of "penance" as distinct from "confession" and one which could be only done once in a life-time. And in enacting it, part of the sacrament was receiving of the body and blood of Christ, which as we know is the sacrament of the Eucharist.

And of course there were the obligatory fat bishops and abbots and the lean priests (other than Friar Tuck of course, the round jolly perpetually inebriated hermit).

The funeral rites for Lord Athelstane are a curious mix of pagan and Christian ritual, seemingly sanctioned by the Saxon priest present. And the portrayal of the Knights Templar was predictable.

But it did open up another myth about the Inquisition as well, while not explicitly stated as a reference to the Inquisition. The Church authority, in this case the Grand Master of the Knights Templar was the one railroading the innocent Jewish maid in a charge of sorcery and witchcraft, twisting her words and those of witnesses in a superstitious lynching, while the reasonable one was Prince John, the attending secular authority.

The reality, we know, was the reverse, such that the reason for the Inquisition in the first place was to bring sanity, knowledge and authority to the out of control secular courts who condemned people for heresy on any kind of spurious evidence or accusation.

It has been awhile since I read Ivanhoe, but that was before I was Catholic so much of the distortion of the crusades would not have caused my notice. It conformed well with the public school version of such events.


There is a wonderful series on EWTN (which I don't have access to but my friend does) by Jaime and Joanna Bogle called "The Military Orders and the Crusades." We purchased the DVD, a bit pricey but very worth it, so we can watch it again and again, as it contains a wealth of information.

A blurb from the cover: "This illuminating documentary series is sure to captivate you, as we examine the causes and geopolitical situations that led to the Holy Wars. Furthermore, this EWTN Home Video will expand upon the military orders that were established to defend Christian interests."

MaryMargaret Goff (Maggie)

Sandra Miesel

That's an excellent article. Let me add that the mad Caliph of Egypt who destroyed the Holy Sepulcre, el-Hakim, was the son of a Christian mother and came to be revered as a manifestation of God by the Druze.

Robert Miller

Crawford's destruction of the maligners of the Crusades is beautifully succinct.

The Crusade is a pilgrimage -- an armed pilgrimage, to be sure. But its fundamental structure remains pilgrimage.

It is an expression of the foundational mission of Christendom to defend and share the Faith.

The Crusade embraces the historicity of Christ and draws from that fact the imperative of reinstating the Cross in concrete locales that have been "christened".

More: as Crawford demonstrates, the nation of Islam has been a clear and present enemy and danger to Christendom for almost 1,500 years, besieging Vienna as late as 1683 and New York as late as 2001. For the leading "lights" of the West, however, there was a 300-year era of forgetting of the menace to Christendom -- partly because the West gained superiority in military technology, and partly because the leading lights themselves were leading the charge to deconstruct Christendom.

And so, here we are in 2011, mired in wars and upheavals in the Middle East, frantically denying that we are "Crusaders". And of course we're not, and more's the pity.

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