Hans tidligere bøker om hvordan gudstro har påvirket historien (som hans banebrytende The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries og de noe mindre politisk korrekte One True God og For the Glory of God) inneholdt mange nyttige vinkler, tall og konklusjoner.
Selv om researchen har gått stadig raskere, noe som særlig merkes på sistnevnte.
Det er ingen tvil om at Stark er blitt ganske kontroversiell, og ikke bare fordi han har beveget seg fra en ateistisk orientert agnostisme til en kristen orientert.
Denne gang er det altså korstogene som er tema. I anledning boken God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades er religionssosiologen intervjuet i medievalist.net av en historiker som nok ikke er like enig på alle punkter.
According to its publisher, “Stark reviews the history of the seven major Crusades from 1095 to 1291, demonstrating that the Crusades were precipitated by Islamic provocations, centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West, and sudden attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places.Historikerens hovedkritikk handler om Starks påstand om at korstogene i stor grad var en reaksjon på muslimsk provokasjon, og ikke primært en effekt av pavens og vestlige fyrster egne politiske og religionsstøttede behov.
Although the Crusades were initiated by a plea from the pope, Stark argues that this had nothing to do with any elaborate design of the Christian world to convert all Muslims to Christianity by force of arms.
Given current tensions in the Middle East and terrorist attacks around the world, Stark’s views are a thought-provoking contribution to our understanding and are sure to spark debate.”
One of the premises of your book is that the Crusades were a reaction to what you describe as “Islamic provocations: by centuries of bloody attempts to colonize the West and by sudden new attacks on Christian pilgrims and holy places.” As a scholar of the Crusades, I disagree with this idea - for the most part Islamic expansion had ended by the middle of the eight century, and for the next three hundred years, warfare between Christian and Muslim states was motivated by political relations and not necessarily religious reasons. It was not even uncommon for Muslim and Christian kingdoms to be allies and co-exist peacefully with each other. Moreover, the bulk of the people who took part in the First Crusade seem to have little or no knowledge of who they were actually fighting, and simply saw them as random pagans. With this in mind, I was wondering how you came to your conclusions that somehow the Crusades were “a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression”?La nå den debatten ligge akkurat nå (og her er det noe å si for begge vinkler, litt avhengig av hvordan man velger å betone og begrunne - det er ingen tvil om at det oppstod en ny situasjon i området mot slutten av 1000-tallet), men boken er ihvertfall bestilt som en nyttig motvekt til de sedvanlige oppslagene der korsfarerne får skylden for alt for jihad til dagens terrorister.
The conflict with Islam surely had not ended by the eighth century-although the conquest of the Middle East and North Africa was over by then. Warfare continued in Spain, often quite intensively, until the end of the fifteenth century. A war of reconquest raged in Sicily and Southern Italy until only a few years before the start of the First Crusade. And the initial call from Emperor Comnenus for a Crusade was prompted by an invasion of Seljuk Turks who had driven to within 100 miles of Constantinople. It is all well and good to say these later wars were motivated by “political relations and not necessarily religious reasons.” No doubt all of the Muslim conquests had political aspects, but wars across the Christian/Muslim divide always had religious implications that usually did not apply to wars within each faith. To say that the bulk of those who took part in the First Crusade “seem to have little or no knowledge of who they were actually fighting” might apply to those who followed Peter the Hermit. But the real Crusaders knew rather a lot about whom they were fighting. Many had relatives who had suffered or even died at the hands of Muslims while making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and a few had themselves been on a pilgrimage and had encountered Muslims at first hand. In addition, the Normans had recently beaten Muslims in Sicily and, even more recently, Bohemond had fought Muslim mercenaries hired by Byzantium.
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