I’m still reading up on the Crusades. With two hundred years of history and a cast of thousands, it’s bound to take a while to get a good handle on it. (There were more than 200 years of Crusades all together, but I’m only dealing with the ones to the Arab world).
It’s becoming clearer and clearer why the people of the Levant thought of the Crusaders as barbarians. And this is so at odds with how the western world views the Crusaders that it’s kind of funny.
Over here we’re used to thinking of the Crusaders as admirable hero types. People to emulate.
A June 2, 1944 message to Allied troops before the Normandy landings, began with General Eisenhower stating, “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.” His later bestselling memoir was entitled Crusade in Europe.
[French General Henri Gourard] is remembered in the Levant primarily for this role, and for an attributed anecdote which portrays him as the epitome of Western triumphalism in the Middle East. After marching into Damascus in July 1920 to put down an anti-colonial rising, Gouraud is reputed have stood upon Saladin’s grave, kicked it and said: “The Crusades have ended now! Awake Saladin, we have returned! My presence here consecrates the victory of the Cross over the Crescent.”
And there was also the Crusader 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer that the military stopped developing in 2002.
The Crusader self-propelled howitzer was being developed for the US Army as a replacement for the Paladin and the US Army requirement was expected to be for over 800 vehicles. In May 2002, the Crusader program was officially terminated by the Department of Defense because it was not considered sufficiently mobile or precise for the evolving security needs of the 21st century. In August 2002, United Defense received the formal termination which ends all further work on the program.
And whereas, predictably, I was able to find several high school sports teams in the US named the Crusaders, I also found a professional rugby team in England called the Saracens.