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A pathogen is "any agent that can cause disease."
A disease is "a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment."
A crusader is a participant in "any of the military expeditions undertaken by the Christians of Europe in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries for the recovery of the Holy Land from the Muslims" and "(formerly) any holy war undertaken on behalf of a religious cause [BTW 'any' includes 'jihad']."
So, the crusader pathogen and the disease it causes are the subjects of today's post and of this series.
The books used as sources for quotes are listed at the bottom of today's post.
Links to blog quotes have been placed into the text where helpful or useful for readers to research the sources of those quotes.
II. Crusaders & Wars: The Core Consideration
The core context for this post comes from a surprising source, an American Statesman who penned the Bill of Rights in our Constitution:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Those truths are well established.(Madison, 491-492, Toxins of Power Blog). President Madison used the word "germ" which is synonymous with the word "pathogen" (defined above) for the purposes of today's post and for this series.
As President (& congressman & cabinet member & author & statesman) Madison described it, war is the mother germ which "comprises and develops the germ of every other" enemy of public liberty.
III. Where Did Madison Learn About Germs?
We probably don't sufficiently consider some of the dynamics that were ongoing in the days of yore when Madison (& the other framers, forefathers, & foremothers) struggled to get us off to a good start as a nation by designing a good constitution that would resist cultural germs/pathogens (The Constitution Is Quite A Medicine).
In terms of strictly biological matters, the "germ theory" was talked about in our culture back then (What Is Pseudo Science?).
But, it was not implemented into the practice of medicine until a long time after the constitution was written (see e.g. The Germ Theory - of Government).
The history of culture in Europe also informed Madison about the dynamics of war, as well as the cultural diseases which war causes (Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala).
For example, feudalism was one epidemic that sprung up in Europe directly from the machinations of the germ of war:
"Warfare was endemic in the feudal period, but feudalism did not cause warfare; warfare caused feudalism." - American FeudalismThe Dredd Blog series "American Feudalism" addresses, among other things, the question about where neoFeudalism in America today came from.
"And as war begat the King and the military noble, so it also begat the slave. There had always been a slave class, a class of the unfree, among the English as among all German peoples; but the numbers of this class, if unaffected by the conquest of Britain, were swelled by the wars which soon sprang up among the English conquerors." -American Feudalism - 2
You may be wondering "what does that have to do with crusaders and the crusades Dredd?"
Fair enough, let's get into that now.
III. The Crusader Epidemic
The power of the war pathogen can be envisioned by noting the history of how the Christian Church was infected beyond recognition:
The Church, too, had her place in the feudal system. She too was granted territorial fiefs, became a vassal, possessed immunities. It was the result of her calm, wide sympathy, turning to the new nations, away from the Roman Empire, to which many Christians thought she was irrevocably bound. By the baptism of Clovis she showed the baptism of Constantine had not tied her to the political system. So she created a new world out of chaos, created the paradox of barbarian civilization. In gratitude kings and emperors endowed her with property; and ecclesiastical property has not infrequently brought evils in its train. The result was disputed elections; younger sons of nobles were intruded into bishoprics, at times even into the papacy. Secular princes claimed lay investiture of spiritual offices. The cause of this was feudalism, for a system that had its basis on land tenure was bound at last to enslave a Church that possessed great landed possessions.(American Feudalism - 2, quoting The Catholic Encyclopedia). The war infection caused a radical morph within that institution, even before the Western Roman Empire fell:
Pope Urban’s call to crusade was made possible by the earlier work of St. Augustine on Christian violence. After all, on the surface Christianity appears as a faith of pacifism, demonstrated by Jesus, whose life reflected the rejection of all violence, as well as the Hebrew Bible in which the commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill” is revealed. How is it that St. Augustine and then Pope Urban II enabled violence to be an option for Christians? “From the fourth century onwards, Christianity underwent a gradual but deep‐seated transformation as it fused with a Roman ‘state’ for which warfare was an essential feature of existence.” (Asbridge 13‐24) Urban secured thousands of participants for his cause when he promised rewards in the afterlife, including a guarantee of eternal salvation to those who died in the struggle. “For the first time in Christian history, violence was defined as a religious act, a source of grace.” (Carroll 239‐340)(First Crusade). The outbreaks of violence were events evolving from blind hatred seething within the religious culture of that time.
Although Urban freely spoke of the wrongs done to Christians by Muslims in the Holy Land, other sources suggest Christians in fact enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence in these Muslim communities. Christians indigenous to the region were treated with “remarkable clemency. The Muslim faith acknowledged and respected Judaism and Christianity, creeds with which it enjoyed a common devotional tradition and a mutual reliance upon authoritative scripture. Christian subjects may not have been able to share power with their Muslim masters, but they were given freedom to worship. All around the Mediterranean basin Christian faith and society survived and even thrived under the watchful but tolerant eye of Islam.” (Asbridge 18)
Less than a year after Pope Urban II called Christians to arms, the First Crusade got its start in northwestern Europe in the spring of 1096. The first acts of hostility took place not against the Muslim enemy, but were targeted at the Jews close to home in the Rhineland. (Carroll 237) While anti‐Semitism had existed in Europe for centuries, the First Crusade marked the first mass organized violence against Jewish communities. As early as the 9th century, Jews of Europe had faced discrimination as “laws were passed to make sure that Jews did not exercise authority over Christians, and restrictions of numerous other aspects of Jewish life were enacted.” (243) But now, this discrimination took the form of violence as Jews instantly joined, or even replaced Muslims as the defiling enemy in the crusader’s mind.(253) ... These crusader attacks on Jews amounted to Europe’s first large scale pogroms, and the hostilities spread east through Germany in the cities of Speyer, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Cologne, Worms, Mainz and seven other locations. (248) Followers of Judaism were subjected to a ruthless program of violence, extortion and forced conversion. (Asbridge 86) The number of Jews murdered or forced to suicide in those weeks is estimated by scholars to have been as low as 5,000 or as high as 10,000, perhaps a full third of the Jews living in northern Europe.” (Carroll 257)
The war pathogen fuelled by old religious propaganda is still alive (but still not well) in today's crusader pathogen infected culture:
The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 it says when he comes back, he's coming back as what? A warrior. A mighty warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe ... I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies 'cause he's coming back as a warrior carrying a sword.(Hypothesis: The Cultural Amygdala - 4). Obviously that general in the U.S. military shares his crusader viewpoint with his faithful troops, with the public, and with some Christians today.
And I believe now - I've checked this out - I believe that sword he'll be
carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.
"Jesus is coming with an AR-15" - U.S. General
Now I want you to think about this: where did the Second Amendment come from? ... From the Founding Fathers, it's in the Constitution. Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus when he said to his disciples 'now, if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'
I know, everybody says that was a metaphor. IT WAS NOT A METAPHOR! He was saying in building my kingdom, you're going to have to fight at times. You won't build my kingdom with a sword, but you're going to have to defend yourself. And that was the beginning of the Second Amendment, that's where the whole thing came from. I can't prove that historically and David [Barton] will counsel me when this is over, but I know that's where it came from.
And the sword today is an AR-15, so if you don't have one, go get one. You're supposed to have one. It's biblical.
IV. A Closer Look At The Crusader Pathogen
It is understandable that some people will be aghast at the notion of "Christian warrior atrocities," which the historians who have been quoted in this post have laid out, and will also be aghast at the notion of "Military Christian Generals" of the type quoted above.
It is less mysterious if you consider the fusion of the Roman church with the Roman state in the last days of the Western Roman Empire.
Then, consider the subsequent domination of that feudal church by the kingdom of states that made up The Holy Roman Empire.
Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has isolated the crusader pathogen to an ancient dynamic at work then, and still at work now:
Mithraism ... was a mystery religion centered on the god Mithras, [which] became popular among the military in the Roman Empire, from the 1st to 4th centuries AD.(Doing the Right Thing - Mithraism). The import of this discovery becomes clear when the behavior conducted by the worshippers of Mithra is considered:
There is lots of debate on the origins of Mithraism, but as far as it went in the Roman Empire, where some scholars believe it originated (others do not) it clearly is a militaristic religion:
"Upon enlistment, the first act of a Roman soldier was to pledge obedience and devotion to the emperor. Absolute loyalty to authority and to fellow soldiers was the cardinal virtue, and the Mithraic religion became the ultimate vehicle for this fraternal obedience. The Mithras worshippers compared the practice of their religion to their military service."
“Polybius claimed that the [Roman army] deliberately caused as much destruction as possible, slaughtering and dismembering animals as well as people, to deter other communities from resisting Roman demands to surrender; mercy. Male inhabitants were usually slaughtered, women raped, though only in exceptional circumstances killed in the initial orgy of destruction. After that, as tempers cooled and the desire for profit took over, prisoners would be taken for sale as slaves, though at times any considered to have a low market value, such as the very old, were still massacred.”(Doing The Right Thing - Mithraism - 2). Our modern conditioning by propaganda may make it difficult for us to comprehend all of this, at least at first blush.
The morph that took place and which eventually led to the Crusades may not reach out and grab our comprehension immediately.
But perhaps it will be easier to see that some ancient cultural dynamic of mimicry was and still is at work.
Especially, if you take note of the similarities between Mithraism and Christianity:
1) Mithras was “the Light of the World“ (Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12).(On The Origin of The Bully Religion). Then take note of the fundamental difference in the midst of all that likeness (that difference is familiarity with peace).
2) Mithras was a member of a Holy Trinity (“Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ … ‘The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.’ St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47″; see also Mt 28:19).
3) Mithras was born of a virgin (Jesus was born of a virgin. see Matthew 1:18-25).
4) Worshippers of Mithras held strong beliefs in a celestial heaven and an infernal hell (“The Bible speaks clearly of the existence of Heaven … Hell is also spoken of in the Bible, but its nature is even more sketchy. When Jesus described the destiny of sinners who refused to change their ways, he compared it to Gehenna, which was a rubbish dump outside Jerusalem. People in wretched poverty picked their way through it to find scraps, and fires burned”).
5) Worshippers of Mithras believed they would be given endless life (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” I Cor 15:53).
6) Worshippers of Mithras believed in a final day of judgement in which the dead would resurrect (“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” I Cor 15:12).
Live by the sword=die by the sword
7) Worshippers of Mithras believed in a final conflict that would destroy the existing order of all things (“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” Rev 19:19; “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” Rev 16:16).
8) Mithras worshippers believed that a ritualistic baptism was required of the faithful (“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …’” Matthew 28:18-20).
9) Mithras worshippers took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of Mithras (“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” Matthew 26:26; “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” Matthew 26:26-28).
10) Mithras worshippers believed that Sundays were held sacred (“the majority observance of Christian Sabbath is as Sunday rest” - Wikipedia).
11) The birth of Mithras was celebrated annually on December the 25th (“Christmas … is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world” - Wikipedia).
12) Mithras took part in a Last Supper with his companions before ascending to heaven (“The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.” Wikipedia; “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11).
During the feudal times in the centuries following Constantine's decree that Christianity was to be an official Roman Empire religion, the morph, i.e. the change from peaceful to warmonger continued until it reached epidemic proportions.
If you care to look at a theory of toxins of power (one toxin being the crusader pathogen) check out: "About Toxins of Power".
The next post in this series is here.
The First Crusade: A New History.
Oxford: Oxford University Press,
Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,
Letters and other writings of James Madison
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
"But that was when I ruled the world"