The Periphery of Francia:

Kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus,
Counts of Edessa, Princes of Antioch, Counts of Tripoli, Kings of Thessalonica, Dukes of Athens, Princes of Achaea, and the Grand Masters of the Military Monastic Orders

For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George.

They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them.

On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ's heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it is meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.

Pope Urban II (1088-1099), Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, account of Fulcher of Chartres (d.c.1128); translation in Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal, A Source Book for Medieval History, Scribners, 1905.

Outremer, "across the sea," means the states created and maintained by Crusaders and their descendants in the Middle East between 1098, during the First Crusade, and 1489, when Cyprus passed to Venice. These states fall into two groups:  (1) those recovered from Islām, which was the purpose of the Crusades, and (2) those obtained at the expense of Romania, which had originally appealed for help against the Turks, but which was a tempting target both for its wealth and for its heterodoxy after the Schism of the Churches in 1054.

Crusader states can also include the lands of the Teutonic and Livonian Knights in the Baltic, which lasted until Prussia was secularized in 1525 and the last Grand Master of the Livonian Knights was made Duke of Courland by Poland in 1561, and the island of Malta, famously under the Hospitallers, the "Knights of Malta," until 1798.

The Crusader kingdoms were a portent of what could happen the next time European power spilled over its borders. As it was, the involvement in the East, military, commercial, and cultural, helped pull Western Europe out of the Dark Ages and back into world history. It also knocked Constantinople out of the cultural, political, and moral preeminence that it had enjoyed since Germans overran the Western Roman Empire. A couple centuries of distractions, like the Black Death, would slow Europe down; but soon European incursions, conquests, and colonies as far away as Indonesia and the Americas would make the Crusader kingdoms look like very small potatoes.

Currently, what may be the matter of greatest interest about the Crusades are expressions of liberal guilt and self-hatred about them, assimilated to anachronistic modern narratives about "imperialism," "colonialism," and "Islamophobia." All of this is rarely illuminating about the Crusades themselves, which may be presented with ignorance, distortions, falsehoods, and self-righteous "virtue signaling"; but it is all very illuminating about our contemporary politics and politicized culture, especially involving biases against Christianity, if not religion in general, anti-Semitism, and dishonest apologetics for militant and fundamentalist Islām, whose crimes and reactionary attitudes, including the revival of slavery, often appear to be exempt from any general condemnations of religion (or even of slavery itself).

The sensible person would ask, "What in the world is going on?" Reviews of several recent distorted, tendentious, and ignorant treatments are included on this page, both in the text and in footnotes. These range from what is simply a silly movie to a painful and discrediting performance by art critic and historian Robert Hughes, who otherwise comes in for positive notice, as an insightful philosopher, in these pages. Even the Crusader states in the Baltic are subject to biased hatchet jobs [note].

The Kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus, 1099-1498

First Crusade, 1096-1099
Godfrey of Boulogne,
Duke of
Lower Lorraine
Protector of
Baldwin I
of Boulogne
Count of Edessa,
King of
Baldwin II
of Le Bourg
Count of Edessa,
Queen Melisende1131-1152
Fulk (V) of Anjou1131-1143
Baldwin III1143-1163
Second Crusade, 1147-1149;
homage to Manuel I, 1159
Amalric I1163-1174
Baldwin IV the Leper1174-1185
Battle of Montgisard, Saladin routed, fled back to Egypt, 1177; Battle of Jacob's Ford, loss of castle of Chastellet, 1179
Queen Sibylla1185-1190
Baldwin V1185-1186
While the
popular impression now is that the Crusades came out of nowhere and were motivated by nothing more than hostility, intolerance, or greed, Pope Urban II was in fact responding to a plea for help. The Seljuk Great Sulṭānate only briefly held its greatest power, but that was sufficient for the Turks to defeat the Romans at Manzikert (1071) and permanently penetrate the historic Christian heartland of Anatolia. If no one else remembers this, Armenians certainly do.

The Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, with no money, virtually no army left, and the Turks at the Bosporus, could only turn to his fellow Christians in the West. Urban, less interested in helping the Schismatic Greeks, thought that, nevertheless, the time might be ripe (after 459 years) to undo the Islāmic Conquest of the Holy Land itself. So on 27 November 1095, he called on Christians to "take the Cross" and go to Constantinople and then on to Jerusalem. As it happened, the First Crusade (1096-1099) defeated the Turks, enabling Alexius to recover western Anatolia, and it did take Jerusalem.

Godfrey of Boulogne (or Bouillon), the leader of the First Crusade, held that there could be only one King in Jerusalem, Jesus Christ, but his successors exercised no such scruple. The Kingdom of Jerusalem included three significant feudal dependencies:  the County of Edessa (1098-1144), the Principality of Antioch (1098-1268), and the County of Tripoli (1109-1289). Antioch and Edessa ended up acknowledging Roman suzerainty, which had been claimed from the first as part of the agreement with the Crusaders when they passed through Constantinople. The fall of Edessa to Islām in 1144 set off the Second Crusade (1147-1149), but the city was never recovered.

While Outremer would end up covered with castles built and staffed by the Monastic Orders of Knights, the Hospitallers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights, an early, major castle was built by King Baldwin I in 1115, while on his way down to capturing ʿAqaba in 1116. This was the Mons Regalis (Mont Real, Montreal), "King's Mountain," or the Castrum Saboach/Scobach. In Arabic this would be , Qalʿat aš-Šawbak. Arabic qalʿah, , is "fortress, citadel."

The castle passed to a vassal, the Lord of Oultrejordain, in 1142. The infamous Reynald of Châtillon inherited the castle when he married the heiress, Stephanie, in 1177. After helping to defeat Saladin at Montgisard, Reynauld began preying on Pilgrimage caravans that passed on the way to Mecca and Medina. This was in violation of prior agreements. In 1183, Reynauld was even attacking ships in the Red Sea. Saladin vowed to kill him with his own hand.

After defeating the Crusaders at Hattin, Saladin put Mons Regalis under siege. It did not fall until 1189; and it then stayed in the hands of the Ayyubids until the Mamlūks took it in 1261. It then fades from history.

The Kingdom of Lesser Armenia on the map represents the local Christian power that got along best with the Crusaders. There was intermarriage, the adoption of feudal customs, and even the possibility of conversion to Catholicism. It didn't go that far, but the role of these Armenians gives the lie to the narrative that the Crusaders were an alien and hostile force to the locals, or at least to local Christians. The refuge for Armenians in Cilicia was due to the same Turkish invasions that brought on the Crusades themselves. Intermarriages of Armenians with Cyprus produced the interesting and mysterious "Damsel of Cyprus," who traveled and contracted marriages with Flanders and Toutouse. The final fall of Outremer in 1291 left Lesser Armenia in the lurch; but it held out, often much reduced, until the Mamlūks came in 1375.

For many years I was under the impression that the castle shown on the reverse of the Lebanese 25 pound note was Beaufort castle, which stands on cliffs above the Litani River. Now, however, it has been pointed out to me that this is not Beaufort, but Moussalayha Castle, or Qalʿat al-Musayliḥah, . This is reduced to , Mseilḥa, in colloquial Arabic. It is actually not a Crusader castle at all but was built by the Ayyubids. This is in a narrow valley on the strategic road from Batroun to Tripoli in Lebanon.

It has been long since Beaufort Castle has displayed so charming an aspect. It was largely destroyed by the Turks in 1615. Since in recent history it was still being used as a Palestinian base, the Israelis demolished more of it in 2000, after using it for their own base for a while. I think some efforts are underway now to restore it.

1186-1192Guy of LusignanKing of
Battle of the Horns of Hattin, Fall of Jerusalem to Ṣalāḥuddīn, 1187; Third Crusade, Richard I the Lionheart, 1189-1192
Queen Isabella I1192-1205Amalric II
(I of Cyprus)
de Lusignan
Henry II
of Champagne
Fourth Crusade, 1202-1204
Queen Maria
of Montferrat
1205-1210Hugh I1205-1218
John of Brienne1210-1225
Fifth Crusade (#1), Crusaders get goofy idea to invade Egypt, defeated and captured, 1217-1221
Queen Yolanda/
Isabella II
1210-1228Henry I of Cyprus1218-1253
Frederick II
Fifth #2/Sixth Crusade, Frederick II, 1228-1229; Jerusalem ceded by Ayyubids, 1229
Conrad IV
Jerusalem Falls, Defeat by Ayyubids, using mercenaries fleeing the fall of Khwārazmia (1231), at La Forbie, destruction of sites in Jerusalem, massacres of Christians, 1244
1254-1268Hugh II of Cyprus1253-1267
Sixth/Seventh Crusade, St. Louis IX captured in Egupt, 1248-1254
1268, Charles of Anjou
claims Kingdom of Jerusalem;
claim accepted by Pope, rejected
by Nobility of Outremer
Hugh III of Cyprus
(I of Jerusalem)
Seventh/Eighth Crusade, St. Louis gets goofy idea to invade Tunisia, probably to help out Charles of Anjou, 1270-1272
When Saladin captured King Guy at Hattin -- and killed Reynald of Châtillon, by his own hand, just as he vowed, and as in the movie (see below) -- and he recovered Jerusalem and most of the rest of Outremer for Islām -- only Tyre remained of the Kingdom of Jerusalem -- this set off the Third Crusade (1189-1192).

While the Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and King Philip II Augustus of France went on the Crusade, Frederick died on the way, Philip soon left, and operations were mainly conducted by a third monarch, the King of England, Richard I, the Lion-Heart.

Judging that Jerusalem was out of reach, "operations" principally meant the recovery of Acre, whose inhabitants, after a long siege, surrendering on terms. It is often said that the defenders were then massacred, reinforcing the reputation for savagery and treachery that the Crusaders already had. However, that is not quite right. Richard observed the terms, which included the exchange of prisoners and the restoration of Relics seized in Jerusalem; but Saladin kept postponing the settlement, until Richard decided that it was a ruse. Then, he killed the prisoners, as Saladin then killed his -- just as he had executed the Templars and Hospitallers after Hattin. The Relics were never restored.

Richard is particularly remembered for this, with a distortion of the facts; and betrayal and massacre by Muslim forces after sieges and battles was not unheard of. Surrender did not protect Christians from forced conversion, torture, or death -- indeed, the choice of conversion or death, even extended over years of captivity, is something we see before the prisoner exchange recounted here.

Hearing of the misrule of his brother John back in England, and of plots against him by Philip, Richard reluctantly had to head home. Unfortunately, an insult to the Duke of Austria, denying him the right to fly his banner over Acre, resulted in his kidnapping and ransom on the way home.

One gets the sense that historians, and certainly Mediaeval and modern Muslim, or anti-religious secular Western, historians, overlook savagery in the Jihād while exulting over lapses, misrepresented or not, like those of Richard. Meanwhile, Jerusalem was not recovered. Acre would end up being the last possession of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, often then called the "Kingdom of Acre," falling to the Mamlūks in 1291.

The Kingdom of Cyprus, seized by Richard from the Roman rebel Issac Comnenus, who had made the mistake of taking as hostages Richard's shipwrecked wife and sister. Isaac and his family then became Richard's hostages for a while. Cyprus was given to the former King Guy, survived under its kings until 1489 and then under Venice until conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. While originally a separate line from Jerusalem, Hugh III of Cyprus was elected King of Jerusalem in 1269. This was disputed by Charles of Anjou, with the Pope's backing, but that was of no practical consequence on the spot, and the title of Jerusalem soon (1291) became merely nominal.

When the Turks conquered Cyprus, 1570-1571, the Venetian fortress of Famagusta (at right in 1970, flying the Turkish flag) held out against them and then surrendered on terms of safe passage. However, the Turks betrayed these terms, massacred the garrison, for two days tortured the Venetian commander, Antonio Bragadin, and then flayed him alive. We might compare this with the behavior of Richard the Lionheart. It was not a similar betrayal; and, with more conspicuous savagery in the later example, this impeaches any idea we might have of the faithfulness of Muslim rulers to their agreements -- however faithful and magnanimous Saladin often actually had been -- indeed, there were rarely others like him.
Titian, Punizione di Marsia, "The Flaying of Marsyas," a Satyr (1570-1576), Kroměříž Archdiocesan Museum, Czech Republic; understood to stand for the torture and execution of Antonio Bragadin.

As it happens, torturing and executing Christians who had surrendered in battle was not unusual in ʾIslām, however little, for various reasons, we hear about it -- practices gleefully revived by ISIS and Boko Haram in the course of their Jihadist revivals. The Turks had no particular complaint against the Venetians, who remained eager to trade with them on peacefully terms; and they had no previous claims on Cyprus. The long term goal of Ottoman strategy, however, was to obtain all the Venetian lands in the Mediterranean, and beyond that all Christian lands, whose progress was only interrupted by brief truces or some daunting defeats. The failure of the Ottomans before Vienna in 1683, although it depended on the timely arrival of King Sobieski of Poland, permanently broke the Ottoman potential for serious offensives, even as it soon broke their long hold on Hungary.

The fall of Cyprus alarmed Christendom; and later in the year a combined fleet of Venice, Spain, Malta, and the Pope, under the command of Don Juan of Austria (a natural son of the Emperor Charles V), destroyed the Turkish fleet at Lepanto, where the Turkish commander, Ali Pasha, was captured and beheaded. The loss of ships was of less consequence to the Turks -- they were rebuilt by the next year -- than the loss of trained personnel. That was not admitted by the boastful Ottomans, but it hampered their operations for some time. But Cyprus was not recovered, and it remained under Ottoman sovereignty de jure until 1914, although obtained de facto by the British in 1878.

Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven

The events leading to the fall of Jerusalem to the Sulṭān of Egypt, the great Ṣalāḥu d-Dīn, Saladin, are now recounted in a movie by Ridley Scott, Kingdom of Heaven [2005]. This movie is somewhat less fictionalized that Scott's previous historical epic, Gladiator, but it still falls far, far short of real historical faithfulness. Unfortunately, the History Channel program, "History vs. Hollywood," although previously providing good historical perspective on some Hollywood movies (like The Passion of the Christ), failed to do so in this case and ended up being nearly as much Hollywood, and as little real history, as the movie is.

The protagonist of Kingdom of Heaven, played by Orlando Bloom, has the name and some of the history of a real person, Balian of Ibelin (not a bastard, and with two active brothers in Outremer -- see genealogy below), but otherwise has been modified for dramatic purposes and, most annoyingly, in order to introduce 20th century political clichés into a 12th century story. Larger inaccuracies serve to make politically correct multicultural points. Thus, King Baldwin IV, the Leper, did not simply live at peace with Saladin. He also died two full years before the Battle of the Horns of Hattin. By then he had lost the use of his limbs and was nearly blind. Guy of Lusignan had already then served as Regent for the King, but he had been removed simply for incompetence.

Historian Steven Runciman says that Guy was the kind of ruler who always agreed with the last person who had talked to him. He was certainly not the secret instigator of the lawless Reynald of Châtillon. Nor was Queen Sibylla (see genealogy below) unhappy with him. Indeed, Sibylla's unhappy arranged marriage, described in the movie, was with her short-lived first husband, William of Montferrat. She had then married Guy out of love, or at least lust. Guy was succeeded as Regent by Raymond III of Tripoli.

During the short reign of Sibylla's son by Montferrat, Baldwin V, Raymond continued as Regent. It was he who arranged the truce with Saladin that apparently is in force as the movie begins (anachronistically with Baldwin IV still alive). After the death of the young Baldwin, Sibylla wants the Throne for herself and Guy, while Raymond and others (like Balian) want the succession to pass to her younger half-sister, Isabella.

Sibylla is successful, and the Patriarch Heraclius crowns her. But he doesn't want to crown the foolish Guy, and leaves his crown at Sibylla's side. So she crowns him, as in the movie, though for a reason not there explained. While Guy was not controlling Reynald of Châtillon, this was because Reynald was uncontrollable and because Guy did not have the personality for command, especially over a nobleman who was nearly his lone sympathizer among the barons of Outremer. "History vs. Hollywood" didn't mention any of these true circumstances.

The worst thing about the movie are the tendentious distortions. The priests are all bad, and religion appears to be bad, except maybe for Islām. Guy and Reynald are presented as Templars, although they weren't and the Templars were, in any case, celibate monks. The Templar red cross on white, , is used, except for the assassins sent against Balian, who wear the black cross on white, , of the Teutonic Knights, who didn't even exist yet.

The Hospitallers, , are never even mentioned (not by "History vs. Hollywood" either -- a very grave bit of malpractice among the historians), and one would not know that they were supporters of Raymond and Balian and opposed people like Guy and Reynald. The speech given in the movie by Balian about the folly of marching through waterless country was actually given by Raymond, while he and Balian were indeed present at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin. They were simply able to fight their way out.

Balian had nothing to do romantically with Sibylla, he was already married to a former Queen of Jerusalem, Maria Comnena, Sibylla's step-mother -- unmentioned either in the movie or on the History Channel. He traveled to Jerusalem after the battle to fetch her and their children, with Saladin's safe passage. Since no one more competent than the Patriarch was organizing the defense (unlike the movie, where the cowardly Patriarch wanted to flee), Balian thought he should stay. Saladin excused him to do so and escorted Maria and the children out himself. Sibylla had already left.

Saladin had sworn to take the city by the sword. We are not told that in the movie (or any of this in "History vs. Hollywood" -- more malpractice), although we are given to understand that it might be difficult to surrender on terms. Balian did organize a successful enough defense to move Saladin to offer terms, though the negotiation took place during an assault, not with a truce. Saladin expected ransoms and did not simply offer safe passage as the movie has it. We are also not told that, while Saladin was generous with ransoms for the nobility captured at Hattin, he had all the Templar and Hospitaller Knights executed. Celebate monks were offensive to ʾIslām; and even Saladin was not free of the Islamic habit of selling captives into slavery.

The descendants of Maria and Balian remained active in Outremer and Cyprus. At least two daughters of Ibelin, one a descendant of Balian, married Cypriot royalty, as can be seen in the genealogy below. It is possible there are living descendants of Balian, but I have not noticed how that might work.

The History Channel seemed to abandon "History vs. Hollywood" shows after the one about Kingdom of Heaven. It was certainly a foolish and shameful performance, and should have embarrassed everyone involved. Perhaps that is what happened, although such follies have never slowed down Hollywood, and the History Channel in general has given up on history, replacing it with reality shows about pawnbrokers and others. Well, without the Kardashians, what can you do? Television as the "vast wasteland," thus devoured and wasted all the promise held out by the original History Channel [note].

On Hollywood


The principal genealogical problem with the Kings of Jerusalem seems to be the relationship of Godfrey and Baldwin I of Boulogne to their successor Baldwin II. They are frequently said to be cousins, but pinning down just what this is supposed to mean is very difficult. Steven Runciman (A History of the Crusades, Volume II, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East 1100-1187, Cambridge University Press, 1951, 1993, p.492) traces the former back to Eustace I of Boulogne and Baldwin II back to a grandfather, Baldwin of Le Bourg; but he doesn't show any connection between these lines in the 1993 edition. In a 1965 edition, he had something different. He showed Baldwin of Le Bourg married to Ida, a sister of Eustace II of Boulogne. Ida has simply disappeared by 1993.

The recent Historical Atlas of the Crusades by Angus Konstam (Checkmark Books, Facts on File, New York, 2002, p.190) shows Baldwin II's mother, Melisende of Monthléry (Runciman writes "Montlhéry"), as the sister of Eustace II of Boulogne. This is contradicted by the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 2001, p.185], where Melisende is unrelated to the house of Boulogne. Thiele doesn't even show Baldwin of Le Bourg as the father of Hugh I of Rethel, but Manassès II. Melisende's father is also given as a "Guy I." So this contradicts Runciman's diagram without adding any clue about how Boulogne and Baldwin II were related.

John I1284-1285
Henry II of Cyprus
(I of Jerusalem)
Fall of Acre to Mamlūks, 1291;
End of Outremer
Amalric of Tyre
(II of Cyprus)
father of Guy, King of Armenia
Hugh IV
(II of Jerusalem)
Peter I1359-1369
Peter II1369-1382
James I1382-1398
titular King
of Lesser
John II1432-1458
Queen Charlotte1458-1464
James II the Bastard1464-1473
James III1473-1474
Queen Caterina
Cyprus passes to
Venice, 1489-1571;
Turkish Conquest, 1571
What I originally showed above was the suggestion of a correspondent, that Eustace I had a daughter Ida who was the mother of Hugh I of Rethel -- this suggestion was apparently based on the older editions of Runciman. Now I have heard from another correspondent, Ann Ferland, who found a French website for the genealogy of the family of Carne which gives the mother of Hugues de Rethel as "Judith," who is a daughter of Eustache de Boulogne and Mahaut and brother of Eustache II. This makes as much sense as anything else, is consistent with Thiele, and at least introduces a new name. So that is what is shown above.

Detlev Schwennicke, in the Europäische Stammtafeln, Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge, Band III, Teilband 4, Das feudale Frankreich und sein Einfluß auf die Welt des Mittelalters [Marburg 1989, Tafel 625], gives the house of Rethel as shown, with a Judith married to Manasses II and the mother of Hugh I, but indicates no parentage for Judith. I was hoping that all these problems would be laid to rest by The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, A Dynastic History 1099-1125, by Alan V. Murray [Prosopographica et Genealogia, Linacre College, Oxford, 2000], but it actually adds nothing to the other sources. Murray gives the father of Melisende as "Guy the Great" (rather than Bouchard) of Montlhéry. I have not yet examined the whole book carefully, but I don't even notice a discussion of the kings being cousins.

Other interesting survivors of Outremer were the military Orders of monastic knights. The most durable was the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers, who held Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and Malta from 1530 to 1798. It still exists as a "sovereign" entity, retaining its original charitable mission. Meanwhile, the other great Crusading Order, of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, the Templars, came to an untimely end in 1314, through the greed of Philip IV of France. Less conspicuous than these two, there was another important Crusading Order in Outremer, the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem, the Teutonic Knights, who were not founded until 1191 at Acre. Their century of service in Palestine, however, is overshadowed by their contemporaneous conquest, with the Livonian Knights, of Prussia, Latvia, and Estonia in the Baltic, where they relocated after the fall of Acre.

At right is part of the old fortifications on Cyprus, which date from the Kingdom of Cyprus or from the tenure of the Venetians. When I visited, in 1970, the old fortified town at Famagusta contained the Turkish population, while outside the walls the city was Greek. When the Greek dictators tried to take over the Island in 1974, and Turkey counter-attacked, many of the Greek areas, like at Famagusta, and Greek cities like Cyrenia on the north shore, were made Turkish. The independence of Greek Cyprus was restored, and the Turkish areas became their own state, which is recognized by no one but Turkey. I am not aware that the cease fire lines have ever changed.

Not long ago it was reported that a group of Christian pilgrims travelled to Israel to apologize for the Crusades. One may be forgiven for thinking this one of the silliest examples of liberal guilt in history. If the pilgrims truly believed that Christians should just never use force, even in self-defense, or against the likes of Hitler or Stalin, then at least they can be credited with some consistency and idealism, despite its naiveté, otherworldliness, or folly.

But if not, then it is not clear why Christians should apologize for the Crusades but not Muslims for the original Islāmic conquest. When many Muslims regard conquests for the Faith as a religious duty, and all at least meritorious, the last thing one would ever expect is for anyone in Islām to apologize for such achievements.

To be sure, the Crusaders in the 12th century displayed a great deal more brutality than the armies of the Caliph 'Umar had in the 7th, with Jews and even Christians as well as Muslims falling in the occasional indiscriminate slaughters; but they also came from what was actually a much more barbarous place. The judgment of Muslims that the Franks possessed no virtue but courage was fully shared by the Greek-speaking Romans of Romania. Yet we find that ʾIslām was not without its outrages, such as, as we have seen, the massacre and torture of the surrendered Venetian garrison at Famagusta in 1571. Why could not the Ottomans have been more civilized than Saladin? The customary looting of Constantinople, taken by storm, was limited and somewhat restrained, after all, by Meḥmet II. Nothing warranted worse behavior more than a century later.

But, for all anyone's complaints, the Crusades themselves would kick-start civilization in Western Europe by exposing it to the commercial and cosmopolitan culture of Romania, the Levant, and Egypt. And if Mediaeval Islām now sometimes seems more civilized than its Frankish counterpart, today it is Modern Islām that revels, at least in part, at the sight of kidnappers decapitating civilian hostages or suicide bombers blowing up women and children -- it is Christians and Jews in Islāmic lands (not many Jews left, actually), not Muslims in Europe, who cannot practice their religions, or even live in peace and safety [note].

Outremer Index

Counts of Edessa
First Crusade, 1096-1099
Baldwin I
of Boulogne
King of Jerusalem,
Baldwin II
of Le Bourg
King of Jerusalem,
Joscelin I
of Courtenay
Joscelin II
of Courtenay
d. 1159
Conquest of Edessa by
Zangī of Mosul, 1144

In Late Roman times Edessa became the center of intellectual life of the Syrian Orthodox Church. As such it also became the center for the translation of Greek philosophy into Syriac, which provided a stepping stone for the subsequent translations into Arabic.

When the Crusaders arrived, it was still an important city, enough to tempt a side-expedition after the fall of Antioch. The first two Counts of Edessa became Kings of Jerusalem, and subsequent Counts were their cousins. The genealogy of all of them thus is given under the Kings of Jerusalem. The eastern border of Edessa is shown at the Tigris River, but the County may not have extended quite that far. The fall of Edessa in 1144 was the first major setback for Outremer and provoked the Second Crusade.

All the later Crusades, however, were troubled by strategic uncertainties and disagreements. The Second Crusade didn't even try to recover Edessa, calculating that it was be strategically better to take Damascus. Well, perhaps so; but the campaign against Damascus failed, and so absolutely nothing was accomplished. Edessa was lost forever. The idea of many later Crusaders to secure Palestine by conquering Egypt was even more Quixotic than the goal of the Second Crusade. Among other follies, this led to St. Louis IX of France, on the Sixth Crusade, being captured in Egypt.

Edessa is the modern city is Urfa in Turkey, which retains nothing of its former importance; and the Orthodox Christian community is largely gone, after Turkish attacks (as on Armenians and other Christians elsewhere) during World War I.

Outremer Index

Norman Princes of Antioch
Bohemond I1099-1111
son of Robert Guiscard,
Duke of Apulia; becomes vassal of Romania, 1108
& 1104-1112
Roger of SalernoRegent
Baldwin II
of Jerusalem
Bohemond II(1111-)
Princess Constance1130-1164
Raymond of Poitiers1140-1149
Personally killed by Shirkuh,
uncle of Ṣalāḥuddīn, 1149
Reynald of Châtillon1153-1160,
d. 1187
homage to Manuel I, 1158;
Personally killed by
Ṣalāḥuddīn, Battle of
Hattin, 1187
Bohemond III
the Stammerer
Bohemond IV
the One-Eyed
Count of
& 1219-1233
Bohemond V1233-1252
Bohemond VI1252-1275
fall of Antioch to
Sulṭān Baybars, 1268
Bohemond VIItitular prince

The Princes of Antioch were Normans from the recently established Norman Duchy, soon to become a Kingdom, in Southern Italy. Their genealogy is thus given there. Bohemond IV also came into possession of the County of Tripoli, combining the two Crusader states for the rest of their histories. Antioch was still at this time, as it had been since Roman Times, the principal city of the area. When the Mamluks drove out the Crusaders, however, in 1268, they largely destroyed the place, so that there would be no stronghold if the Franks returned. Thus Antioch became, as it remains, just another city. Although the area was predominantly Arab, Antioch and Alexandretta were ceded by the Mandatory authority, France, to Turkey in 1939. As the principal city of Roman Syria, the Patriarchate of Antioch was one of the key centers of early Christianity. St. Peter is supposed to have founded a church there, in cliffs outside the city, which the author visited in 1970.

Outremer Index

Counts of Tripoli
First Crusade, 1096-1099
Raymond ICount of
d. 1105
Siege of
Fall of Tripoli, 1109
BertrandCount of Tripoli,
Raymond II1137-1152
Raymond III1152-1187
Behemond IV
of Antioch
Prince of Antioch,
& 1219-1233

The first Count of Tripoli, Raymond, was the Count of Toulouse and was never actually in possession of Tripoli. He simply began its siege. The genealogy of the Counts is given with that of Toulouse. Raymond's cousin William-Jordan became Regent at Tripoli for his son Alfonso-Jordan, while his illegitimate son Bertrand took over Toulouse. However, the final arragement was just the opposite, with Bertand in Tripoli and Alfonso-Jordan in Toulouse. Raymond III died shortly after the catastrophic battle of Hattin in 1187, and the County passed to the Princes of Antioch.

Outremer Index

Grand Masters of
the Hospitaller Knights
Gérardc. 1080, founds Hospital in Jerusalem
Raymond de Puy1120-1158/60
Krak des Chevaliers Castle occupied, 1142; Second Crusade, 1147-1149
Auger de Balben1158/60-1162/3
Arnaud de Comps1162/3
Gilbert d'Assailly1163-1169/70
Gaston de Murolsc.1170-c.1172
Roger des Moulins1177-1187
killed in skirmish, Battle of Hattin, Fall of Jerusalem to Ṣalāḥuddīn, 1187
William BorrelCustodian, 1187
Ermengard/Armengol d'Asp/de AspaCustodian, 1187-1190
Third Crusade, 1189-1192
Garnier de Naplous1190-1192
Geoffroy de Donjon1192-1202
Alphonse de Portugal1202-1206
Fourth Crusade, 1202-1204
Geoffroy Le Rat1206-1207
Garin de Montaigu1207-1227/8
Fifth Crusade (#1), 1217-1221
Bertrand de Thessy1228-c.1231
Fifth #2/Sixth Crusade, 1228-1229
Bertrand de Comps1236-1239/40
Pierre de Vieille-Bride1239/40-1242
Guilaume de Châteuneuf1242-1258
Battle of Gaza, Grand Master taken hostage to Egypt, 1244; Sixth/Seventh Crusade, 1248-1254; Grand Master ransomed
Hugues de Revel1258-1277
Seventh/Eighth Crusade, 1270-1272; Krak des Chevaliers lost, 1271
Nicolas Lorgne1277/8-1284
Jean de Villiers1284/5-1293/4
Fall of Acre to Mamlūks, 1291; End of Outremer; Hospitallers based in Limassol, Cyprus, 1291-1310
Odon de Pins1294-1296
Guillaume de Villaret1296-1305
Foulques de Villaret1305-1319
Siege and capture of Rhodes, 1307-1309; Hospitallers based in Rhodes, 1310-1523
Templars arrested and suppressed, 1307-1312; Last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, tortured & burned by Philip IV of France, 1314
Hélion de Villeneuve1319-1346
Dieudonné de Gozon1346-1353
Pierre de Corneillan1353-1355
Roger de Pins1355-1365
Raymond Bérenger1365-1374
Robert de Juilliac1374-1376
Jean Fernandez de Heredia1376-1396
Richard Caracciolo1383-1395
Philibert de Naillac1396-1421
Antoine Fluvian de la Rivère1421-1437
Jean de Lastic1437-1454
Jacques de Milly1454-1461
Pierre Raymond Zacosta1464-1467
Jean-Baptiste Orsini1467-1476
Cardinal Pierre d'Aubusson1476-1503
Siege of Rhodes by Meḥmet II, repulsed, 1480
Emery d'Amboise1503-1512
Guy de Blanchefort1512-1513
Fabrice del Carretto1513-1521
Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam1521-1534
Fall of Rhodes to Süleymān I, 1523; donation of Malta by Charles V, 1530; Hospitallers based on Malta, 1530-1798
Baltic domain of Teutonic
Knights secularized, 1525
Pierre del Ponte1534-1535
Didier de Saint-Jaille1535-1536
Jean de Homedes1536-1553
Claude de la Sengle1553-1557
Jean de La Vallette-Parisot1557-1568
Great Siege of Malta by Süleymān I, repulsed, 1565
Pierre del Monte1568-1572
Battle of Lepanto, naval defeat of Turks, 1571
Jean L'Evêque de la Cassière1572-1581
Cardinal Hugues Loubenx de Verdala1581-1595
Martin Garzez1595-1601
Alof de Wignacourt1601-1622
Louis Mendez de Vasconcellos1622-1623
Antoine de Paule1623-1636
Jean de Lascaris-Castellar1636-1657
Naval defeat of Turks at Dardanelles, with Venice, 1656
Martin de Redin1657-1660
Annet de Clermont-Gessant1660
Raphael Cotoner1660-1663
Nicolas Cotoner1663-1680
Grégiore Carafa1680-1690
Adrien de Wignacourt1690-1697
Raymond Perellos y Roccaful1697-1720
Marc Antoine Zondadari1720-1722
Antoine Manoel de Vilhena1722-1736
Raymond Despuig1736-1741
Manuel Pinto de Fonseca1741-1773
Francis Ximenes de Texada1773-1775
Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc1775-1797
Ferdinand von Hormpesch1797-1799, d. 1805
Fall of Malta to Napoleon, 1798; to Britain, 1800
Paul, irregular election,
not recognized by Pope
Emperor of Russia, 1796-1801
Grand Master, 1798-1801
Jean Baptiste Tommasi1803-1805
Headquarters at Catania
Innico-Maria Guevara-SuardoLieutenant, 1805-1814
André Di Giovanni1814-1821
Antoine Busca1821-1834
Headquarters at Ferrara, 1826
Charles Candida1834-1845
Philippe di Colloredo-Mels1845-1864
Alexandre Borgia1865-1871
Jean Baptiste Ceschi a Santa Croce1871-1879
Grand Master,
Galeazzo von Thun und Hohenstein1905-1931
Pius Franchi de'CavalieriLieutenant,
Ludovic Chigi della Rovere Albani1931-1951
Antoine Hercolani
Fava Simonetti
Ernesto Paternó
Castello di Carcaci
Angelo de Mojana
di Cologna
Grand Master,
Jean Charles PallaviciniLieutenant,
Andrew Willoughby Ninian Bertie1988-2008
Giacomo dalla Torre del Tempio
di Sanguinetto
Matthew Festing2008-present
An interesting and romantic survivor of Outremer was, and is, the Sovereign Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta, the Hospitallers, who held Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and Malta from 1530 to 1798. Starting with a hospital in Jerusalem, before the Crusades even started, the Order was recognized by the Pope in 1113 and soon acquired a military branch, staffing some of the most famous castles of Outremer, like the Krak des Chevaliers in Syria.

The Grand Master and all the Knights present were killed after the Battle of Hattin, 1187, since Saladin did not show the mercy to the Military Orders that he always did to everyone else -- he may have been in some horror of the warrior monks, since in Islām celibacy might be regarded as unnatural.

The Crusading surplice or habit of the Hospitaller Knights included a white cross on red. After the fall of Rhodes, however, they switched to a white cross on black. Red and white, however, have remained the distinctive colors for Malta, even after independence.

A white cross on black is also found on the flag and shield of Cornwall, England, and for its Patron Saint, St. Piran -- who is also the Patron Saint of tin-miners, who over thousands of years have mined the tin of Cornwall and Devonshire. This was probably never carried or worn by any Crusaders; but in the history of war, miners were often recuited to undermine fortifications with tunnels and explosives.

Besides the Krak des Chevaliers, other Hospitaller castles, as given in the Historical Atlas of the Crusades by Angus Konstam (Checkmark Books, Facts on File, New York, 2002, p.87) included Akkar and Megedel in Lebanon, Subelba at the headwaters of the Jordan, Belvoir in the Jordan Valley, Letaria and Seleth (Shiloh) in the Judean Hills, and Sabarim, Rentie, Huldre, Bothme, Deirnachar, Deirelcobebe, Agelon, and Semsem along the Palestinian coast and southwest of Jerusalem.

With the Fall of Acre in 1291, the Hospitallers first moved to Cyprus and then on to Rhodes, which they invaded in 1307 and took from a rebellious Roman. For two centuries they held out against the Mamluks and the Ottomans, until the young Süleymān the Magnificient himself forced their surrender in 1523.

After the fall of Rhodes, a new base of operations was soon obtained in 1530 through the fateful gift of the Emperor Charles V:  The rocky and isolated island(s) of Malta, where the local population, although staunchly Catholic, actually speaks a language descended from the Arabic brought to the island by the Islāmic Aghlabid conquest of 870. The Order soon became identified with Malta, and Malta with it. The distinctive Cross of the Order became for all time the "Maltese Cross."

As the young Süleymān had driven the Knights from Rhodes, the old one sent a force to drive them from Malta. In the horrific Great Siege of 1565, the Turks failed, leaving perhaps 25,000 dead on the island. The Hospitallers thus secured their new home for two centuries.

When Charles V offered Malta to the Knights, all he asked in return was tribute of a single falcon a year. From this we derive the story of the "Maltese Falcon," the inspiration of the great Dashiell Hammett detective story of 1930 and the John Huston movie of 1941.

Click on these maps for full size popup versions of the maps.

These maps are adapted from The Cross and the Ensign by Peter Elliott [Naval Institue Press, 1980, pp. 13, 36, & 37].

British Governors of Malta
Thomas Maitland1813-1824
Francis Rawdon-Hastings1824-1826
Alexander George Woodford (acting)1826-1827
Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby1827-1836
George Cardew (acting)1835-1836
Thomas Evans (acting)1836
Henry Bouverie1836-1843
Patrick Stuart1843-1847
Richard More O'Ferrall1847-1851
Robert Ellice (acting)1851
William Reid1851-1858
John Le Marchant1858-1864
Henry Knight Storks1864-1867
Patrick Grant1867-1872
Charles van Straubenzee1872-1878
Arthur Borton1878-1884
John Linthorn Simmons1884-1888
Henry Torrens1888-1889
Henry Augustus Smyth1890-1893
Arthur Lyon Fremantle1893-1899
Francis Wallace Grenfell1899-1903
Charles Clarke1903-1907
Henry Grant1907-1909
Leslie Rundle1909-1915
Paul Methuen1915-1919
Herbert Plumer1919-1924
Walter Norris Congreve1924-1927
John Philip Du Cane1927-1931
David Campbell1931-1936
Charles Bonham-Carter1936-1940
William Dobbie1940-1942
Great Siege, 1940-1942
John Vereker (Lord Gort)1942-1944
Edmond Schreiber1944-1946
Francis Douglas1946-1949
Gerald Creasy1949-1954
Robert Laycock1954-1959
Guy Grantham1959-1962
Maurice Henry Dorman1962-1964
The long tenure of the Knights came to an end when
Napoleon stopped off on his way to Egypt in 1798. The Knights didn't even try to resist. But for all their talk about "liberty, equality, fraternity," the French quickly made themselves so hated that the Maltese themselves rose against them, on 3 September 1798, and put the French garrison under siege.

With the help of the British, not the Knights, the French were finally starved out and surrendered on 4 September 1800. The ability of the French to hold out for two years behind the walls of Valletta was a tribute to the fortifications built, but then abandoned, by the Knights. Obviously, if the Knights had had their previous spirit, the French could not have taken the island.

Malta then passed to the British, and for a time it looked like this might be the end of the Hospitallers altogether. The Emperor Paul of Russia even managed to get himself recognized as Grand Master, though his interest was more in Malta than in the Order, and he was not even, of course, a Catholic.

Between 1805 and 1879 the Pope did not even sanction the election of a new Grand Master. When the Order was completely revived, it was to concentrate on the charitable works with which it had begun.

Although no longer with a territorial base, the Hospitallers, headquartered in Rome, are, however, still accorded the status of a Sovereign nation, issuing their own passports and maintaining their own embassies. A unique and extraordinary remnant of the Crusading Era.

Malta then entered a new era as one of the most strategic possessions of the British Empire. The day would come when Dreadnoughts would become as familiar in the Grand Harbor as Spanish and Turkish galleons had once been. The castle of St. Angelo, which had been the ultimate redoubt against the Turks in 1565, was actually commissioned in 1912 as a ship in the Royal Navy (first as H.M.S. Egmont and then in 1933, more appropriately, as H.M.S. St. Angelo) to be the fleet base ship in Malta, flying the distinctive White Ensign.

British tenure in Malta climaxed with another Great Siege (or even the "Greater Siege"), when in World War II Italy and Germany tried to reduce the island by bombardment and starvation.

Now, instead of Turkish cannonballs, there was a rain of bombs from the Luftwaffe, killing 1,104 Maltese, devastating the cities, and sinking many ships in the harbors. From 11 June 1940, when Italian bombers first hit, to November 1942, when the defeat of Rommel in Egypt and the American invasion of French North Africa made it possible to run convoys through regularly and without punishing losses, Malta suffered much more than London ever did in the Blitz. In 1942 alone, there were 2040 air raids -- yes, more than five a day for a whole year, many at night. Malta was only saved from an airborne invasion by the losses that German forces incurred in the airborne invasion of Crete, and by Hitler's determination to invade Russia.

of Malta
Sir Anthony Joseph Mamo1974-1976
Anton Buttigieg1976- 1981
Albert Hyzler (acting)1981-1982
Agatha Barbara1982-1987
Paul Xuereb (acting)1987- 1989
Vincent Tabone1989-1994
Ugo Mifsud Bonnici1994-1999
Guido de Marco1999-2004
Edward Fenech Adami2004-2009
George Abela2009-2014
Marie Louise Coleiro Preca2014-present
But Malta was also a thorn in the side of the Axis, with air, destroyer, and submarine attacks harrying convoys attempting to reinforce their forces in North Africa. King George VI awarded the entire island the George Cross ("Malta, G.C."), Britain's highest civilian decoration, which is still featured on the flag of the independent state.

When independence did come to Malta, in 1964, it began to return the island to the obscurity whence it had come in 1530, though for a time the Prime Minister, Dom Mintoff, under the influence of his friend Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, tried to play the great powers off each other, styling the country a Republic in 1974 and expelling the Royal Navy in 1979. Mintoff even removed the ancient Maltese Cross from the now hallowed Fort St. Angelo. Today, Malta's best hope is tourism, though in a world of peace, as one may hope, there is plenty on Malta of history and diversion to attract travelers from all nations.

The list of Grand Masters is from The Knights of the Order by Ernle Bradford (Dorset Press, 1972). The British tenure on Malta, and especially the period of World War II, is covered in The Cross and the Ensign by Peter Elliott (Naval Institute Press, 1980). British governors and subsequent presidents of Malta are from Wikipedia.

Outremer Index

Grand Masters of
the Templar Knights
Hugh de Payens1119-1136
Robert I de Craon1137-1149
Everard des Barres1149-1152
Bernard de Trémélay1152-1153
Andrew de Montbard1153-1156
Bertrand de Blanquefort1156-1169
Philip I de Milly &
de Nablus
Otto/Odo de St. Amand1171-1179,
Battle of Jacob's Ford, loss of castle of Chastellet, de St. Amand captured, 1179; dies in captivity, c.1180
Arnold de Torroja1180-1184
Gérard de Ridfort1185-1189
vacant, 1189-1191;
Third Crusade, 1189-1192
Robert II de Sablé1191-1193
Gilbert Erail1194-1200
Philip II de Plessiez1201-1209
William I de Chartres1210-1219
Fifth Crusade (#1), 1217-1221;
dies at Damietta, 1219
Peter de Montaigu1219-1232
Herman de Périgord1232-1244
Richard de Bures1244-1247
William II de Sonnac1247-1250
Reynald de Vichiers1250-1256
Thomas Bérard1256-1273
William III de Beaujeu1273-1291
Fall of Acre to Mamlūks,
End of Outremer, 1291
Tibald de Gaudin1291-1293
Jacques de Molay1293-1314
Templars arrested and suppressed, 1307-1312; Last Grand Master tortured & burned by Philip IV of France, 1314
The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon were, with the Hospitallers, the greatest of the monastic Crusading Orders. The Templars got their name from their headquarters at the al-Aqṣā Mosque, interpreted as the Temple of Solomon, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The fates of the Templars and the Hospitallers, however, would be very different, and the Templars are now mainly remembered for the manner of their end rather than for what they had been doing in the Crusades.

The Crusading surplice or habit of the Templar Knights included a red cross on white. However, the flag or banner of the Templars seems to have only consisted of black and white stripes on a short fly. Today representations are seen that combine the red cross over both white and black fields, but I do not know about the historicity of these flags.

Unlike the Hospitallers, the Templars were not originally a charitable order, but were conceived from the first as a military force, to protect pilgrims and to defend Outremer itself against Islām. In this capacity, the Templars staffed various castles in Outremer.

As shown in the Historical Atlas of the Crusades by Angus Konstam (Checkmark Books, Facts on File, New York, 2002, p.87) the castles included the famous Beaufort (Belfort) Castle in Lebanon, Manawat, Sumeriya, Juddin, Chastelet, and Safed in the north of Palestine (Galilee), Taiybe al-Bira and St. John in the Jordan Valley, Beit Dejan near Jaffa, and Kerak, or the Krak of Moab, southeast of the Dead Sea.

The Templars later also got into financial services, the sort of the thing where with a letter of credit a traveller could have ready access to funds in distant places, e.g. Jerusalem. From this the Templars became a sort of international banking concern.

This progressive and useful function was nevertheless a dangerous business to be in during the Middle Ages. Kings got interested where large sums of cash were concerned, especially if they had already borrowed some and were in debt. A particularly ruthless and interested monarch was King Philip IV of France. After robbing and expelling Lombard bankers and the Jews, Philip conceived the scheme of suppressing the Templars, many of whom had died not twenty years previously vainly defending the last of the Kingdom of Jerusalem against the Mamlūks, accusing them of all sorts of outrageous crimes, and then confiscating their wealth.

This had to be done with at least a show of legitimacy since the Templars operated directly under the authority of the Pope and in theory were not even subject to French criminal justice. Philip, however, had already showed how he was prepared to deal with Popes. In 1303 his agents had kidnapped, assaulted, and humiliated Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303), hastening his death. Soon he would engineer the removal of the Papacy itself to Avignon. Only a particularly independent and courageous Pope could then be expected to stand up to Philip, and Boniface's second successor, Clement V (1305-1314), a creature of Philip, does not seem to have been of that caliber.

Philip thus simply arrested all the Templars in France, including the Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. They were accused of outrageous blasphemies, heresies, and unspeakable secret rites, and, questioned under torture, many Knights actually confessed to such things.
The Temple Church, Inns of Court, London, 2006
With such confessions in hand, Philip got the Pope to order a general seizure of the Templars and their possessions everywhere.

Although Clement made some attempts to distance himself from Philip, morally and physically, and although Avignon was technically in the Kingdom of Burgundy rather than of France, there was no escaping the proximity of the King and his Kingdom, unless the Pope actually went to turbulent and dangerous Italy, or threw himself on the protection of an Emperor whom Papal policy itself had helped strip of real power.

Clement may have gone along with events in part to humor the King into undertaking a Crusade. If so, it was an empty expectation. Eventually de Molay was burned at the stake, abruptly on the authority of Philip and without even Papal notification, much less agreement, in what turned out to be the last year of the lives of both Philip and Clement (1314). Unbroken in spirit himself, de Molay invited the two of them to appear with him before the Throne of God. Since they both soon followed him to Judgment, one might be excused the thought that such an Invitation was tendered as mortals cannot refuse.

Despite the appalling and outrageous nature of these events, the most interesting thing about the Templars continues to be the charges begun by Philip and the stories that continued to build upon them, even today.
Intertior of the Temple Church, 2006
It is not uncommon to find people even now casually affirming that the Templars had developed a secret neo-pagan society with sensational, orgiastic practices. Victims originally of Royal greed and tyranny, the Poor Knights today must posthumously endure the lurid scandalmongering, or New Age romanticizations, of confused and credulous moderns.

Much of this, however, is not of recent origin, since the Masons, undoubtedly with their own secrets rites and principles, liked the idea that they were derived from refugee Templars. There is no evidence for this, but a couple centuries of Masonic assertions have built up a certain venerable weight behind it.

One very intriguing story is that the Templars had in their Paris church the great Menôrāh of Herod's Temple, which Titus had taken to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. The treasures of the Temple, which may or may not have still included the Menôrāh, were looted from Rome by the Vandals in 455, were then recovered by Belisarius in 533, and so were forwarded to Constantinople. The Menôrāh, if it survived that far, is unaccounted for after its arrival there. According to Procopius, Justinian sent all the treasures back to Jerusalem [Procopius, History of the Wars, II, Book IV, ix 5-10, translated by H.B. Dewing, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard U. Press, 1916, 2006, p.281].

I have now heard one assertion that the ship carrying the treasures sank on the way, but I am not aware of the textual basis for this. The Templar story doesn't help much, however. It is quite plausible that, if hidden in Jerusalem, the Templars might well have ended up with it. But then, even if present in the Paris treasury, it is unaccounted for after that. Another item said to have been there, on the other hand, was a shroud that may turn out to have been what is now known as the Shroud of Turin.

Other stories about the Templars attribute to them possession of things like the Ark of Covenant (just as likely to have been found on the Temple Mount as anywhere), the Holy Grail, even the embalmed head of Jesus Christ (from sources that don't seem to accept the bodily ascension of Jesus to heaven) -- though now it looks like such a head may have existed but been thought to be a relic of John the Baptist:  What is believed to be the head of John the Baptist is still kept in the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus. Since the Shroud of Turin appears to be a forgery, it is entirely possible that other items were similarly fraudulently or mistakenly passed off at the time.

In recent years we have gotten two large public additions to Templar lore. These are overtly fictional, but many of the elements in them are regarded as fact, apparently, by many people. First we got a book in the form of a mystery novel, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003), and then a 2004 movie, National Treasure. Both of these involve notions that the Templars found something important on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and that the Masons have simply carried on the task of the Templars in preserving what was found.

In the novel, Brown rather carelessly speaks of the Templars digging under the "ruins" of the Temple, not realizing, it seems, that by then the ruins, such as there may have been, had long been replaced by the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqṣa Mosque, with the Temple Mount looking much like it does today. Be that as it may, his take is that the Templars simply found documents attesting to various non-canonical truths of early Christianity, i.e. that Jesus wasn't God, married Mary Magdalene, and had children who subsequently became, or married, the Merovingian Kings of the Franks.
The Royal Courts of Justice, London, 2005
This "bloodline" was the true meaning of the Holy Grail (Sang Real, "royal blood," instead of San Greal).

National Treasure avoids the theology and just makes out the discovery to have been of a vast treasure of art, valuables, and historical documents of a more general sort. At the time of the American Revolution, this all had ultimately been secreted deep under Trinity Church on Broadway in New York City -- without problems, apparently, with the water table or flooding from hurricanes.

In both stories, the protagonists, a man and a woman who meet and conveniently fall in love, flee both the police and the bad guys and follow a trail of obscure clues to the hidden goal. In the book, we don't get a complete payoff, since the documents themselves and the Tomb of Mary Magdalene are not uncovered (the 2006 movie of the Code remedies these deficiencies), but, most essentially, the living bloodline is found.

The "bloodline" now seems to be a popular take on the Grail legends. As part of a story that debunks traditional Christianity, the "bloodline" legend curiously and ironically implies that there is some mystical quality or status to the descendents of Jesus and Mary, as though they are the proper rulers of the world, or at least numinous authorities in true religion, like the Imāms of Shiʿite Islām.

This is less mysterious if the whole "bloodline" legend is actually the invention of a French monarchist, claiming some living person as the proper King of France by Divine Right, as discussed under the Merovingians. All that is missing from the book and the movie is the Ark of the Covenant -- but then the Ark already was the subject of another movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), without the Templars having anything to do with it. Of course, a new movie could treat the story of Raiders as itself part of a false legend that the Ark had been removed from Jerusalem by King Sheshonq I of Egypt.

One sequence in the Da Vinci Code is in the Temple Church in London. This is in the Temple, which is between Fleet Street and the Thames Embankment, south of the Royal Courts of Justice. The Temple was indeed the quarters of the Templars in London.

When the Templars were disbanded, first the Hospitallers and then lawyers began to use the facilities. In time, the lawyers of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple developed into two of the four "Inns of Court" of London (with Lincoln's Inn and Gray's Inn). The Inns are a combination of barristers' quarters and law schools. In British practice, only barristers argue cases in court. They take briefs either civil or criminal, for defense or prosecution. They are not, strictly speaking "professionals," but more like clerics or academics, accepting fees as honoraria. Clients hire solicitors, who are professionals, who then engage a barrister.

In 1970, as I discovered myself, the Inns also provided a kind of crash pad for travelling students.

The list of Grand Masters is taken from The Templars by Piers Paul Read [St. Martin's Press, 1999, p. 324] and Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies (though, as he notes himself, it is not, strictly speaking, "regnal"). The map of the Temple is the very one that is posted, as a guide, in the Temple itself.

Outremer Index

Grand Masters of
the Teutonic Knights
Hospital, Resident at Acre
Heinrich (duplication?)1196
Monastic Military Order
Heinrich I Walpot1198-1200
Otto von Kerpen1200-1208
Heinrich II Bart
von Tunna
Hermann von Salza1209/10
Resident at Montfort,
Konrad I von
Gerhard von Malberg1240-1244
Mongols defeat Poles & Teutonic Knights at Liegnitz, April 1241
Heinrich III von
Gunther von
Poppo von Osterna1252-1256
Königsberg founded, 1255
Anno (Hanno) von
Resident at Acre, 1271-1291;
Fall of Acre to Mamlūks,
End of Outremer, 1291
Hartmann von
Burchard von
Resident at Venice, 1291-1309
Konrad II von
Gottfried von
Resident at Marienburg,
Siegried von
Karl Bessart1311-1324
Werner von Orselen1324-1330
Lothar, Duke of
Dietrich of Altenburg1335-1341
Königsberg joins Hanseatic League, 1340
Ludolf König
of Wattzau
Heinrich IV (III)
Lithuanians defeated, Battle of Strawen, 1348
Winrich von
Konrad III Zollner
von Rothstein
Konrad IV von
Konrad V von
Ulrich von Jungingen1407-1410
killed, Battle of
Tannenberg, 1410
Heinrich V (IV) Rseuff,
Count of Plauen
von Sternburg
Paul Belenzer von
Konrad VI von
Ludwig von
Thirteen Years' War, 1454-1466; Resident at Königsberg, 1457-1618
Heinrich VI (V) Reuss,
Count of Plauen
Heinrich VII (VI)
Reffle von
Martin Truchsetz
von Wetzhausen
Johann von Tieffen1489-1497
Friedrich, Duke
of Saxony
Albrecht von
Margrave of
Duke of
Albert Frederick
of Hohenzollern
Duchy Inherited by
Brandenburg, 1618
The Teutonic Knights, or the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem, was founded at Acre in 1191 (or thereabouts), after Jerusalem had fallen (1187) and the Third Crusade (1189-1192) was trying to recover the Crusaders' position in Palestine. Originally an order of monks running a hospital, like the
Hospitallers, founded because the Hospitallers favored French and English knights (since it consisted largely of French and English knights), it soon became a military order as well. When Acre fell to the Mamlūks in 1291, the Seat of the Grand Master was moved to Venice, and then to Marienburg in Prussia in 1309.
Grand Masters of the Brethren of the Sword, the Livonian Knights
Wimo von Rohrbach1202-1208
Volkwin von
attached to
Teutonic Knights, 1237
Hermann Balk1237-1238
Ditrich I
van Groningen
Andreas I von Velven1241-1244
Heinrich I
von Heimburg
Ditrich II
van Groningen
Andreas II
von Stirland
Eberhard I von Seine1253-1254
Hanno von
Burchard von
Georg von Eichstadt1261
Werner von Breithausen1261-1263
Konrad I von Manstadt1263-1266
Otto von Lutterberg1266-1270
Andreas III
von Westphalen
Walther I von Nordeck1271-1273
Ernst von Ratzeburg1273-1279
Gerhard I1279-1280
Konrad II von
Mangold von Sternberg1282
Wilhelm I1282-1288
Konrad III von
Balthasar Holte1290-1293
Heinrich II von
Gottfreid von Rogga1298-1305
Wennemar I1305-1306
Gerhard II
von Jocke
Eberhard II
von Monheim
Burchard I von
Golwin von Hericke1345-1360
Arnold von Vietinghof1360-1365
Wilhelm II
von Frimersheim
Robin von Eltz1383-1391
Wennemar II
von Bruggenei
Konrad III von
Dietrich II Tork1413-1415
Siegried Lander
von Spanheim
Cysse von Rutenberg1424-1433
Frank von Kersdorf1433-1435
Heinrich III
von Buckenorde
Heinrich IV Vincke
von Oberbergen
Johann I von Mengden1450-1469
Johann II Wolthusen
von Heerse
Bernhard von
dem Borch
Johann III Freitag
von Loringhof
Walther II von
Hermann II Brugsenei1535-1549
Johann IV von
der Recke
Heinrich V von Galen1551-1557
Wilhelm III Count
of Furstenberg
Gotthard Kettler1559-1561
Duke of
Federick Casimir1682-1698
Frderick William1698-1711
Anne Romanov1711-1730,
Ferdinand of Brunswick1730-1737
Ernest John1737-1741,
Russian occupation,
Charles of Saxony1759-1763,
annexed to Russia, Third
Partition of Poland, 1795

The Crusading surplice or habit of the Teutonic Knights included a black cross on white. This ended up providing the colors for the Duchy and then Kingdom of Prussia, and black became characteristic of the German Empire. Black is still the color of the Iron Crosses -- -- on modern German aircraft, as it was on those of the German Empire and Nazi Germany.

Since black is also the color of death, the black uniforms of Hitler's SS matched well their death's head symbols and murderous mission. This is not, of course, a happy association.

As shown in the Historical Atlas of the Crusades by Angus Konstam (Checkmark Books, Facts on File, New York, 2002, p.87), Teutonic castles in Palestine included Monfort north of Acre, Doc, Sephorie, Recordane, and Atlit, all around Haifa (Caiphas), which was also a Teutonic stronghold, Qaqun between Haifa and Jaffa, and, at the southern end of Outremer, Gaza. For map popup, click here.

Even while the primary business of the Order was still Palestine, it had also taken on the job of subduing pagans in the Baltic. They began at the invitation of the Polish Dukes, who had long fought with the Prussians (who tended to raid into Poland and capture people who were then sold into slavery through Russia and the Mongols), and joined another crusading Order that had already gotten started in Latvia, the Brethren of the Sword, now usually called the Livonian Knights, which had begun a Crusade in 1198 and founded Riga in 1201.

But the Brethren of the Sword became attached to the Teutonic Knights in 1237 after a devastating defeat by the Prussians and Lithuanians in 1236. While the Brethren occupied Latvia and Estonia, the Teutonic Knights proper got started on Prussia in 1226. By 1283 the conquest was complete.

Although the Prussian language eventually disappeared, the Prussian people either converted, surrendered and converted, or fled to pagan Lithuania in the course of the Crusade. Some parts of Prussia became depopulated as populations fled or were deported away from border areas.

Most of the fighting actually employed Poles and Prussian Christians aiding the Knights -- mounted Knights were only a fraction of any actual Crusader army. The only effort to actually expel the natives of Prussia did not occur until 1945, when Josef Stalin deported most of the German speakers, which would have included descendants of the Prussians.

Although the Knights are sometimes actually said to have exterminated the Prussians, there were large enough populations of Prussians still speaking their Baltic language (Prusiskan) at the time of the Reformation that catechisms survive in it from efforts to convert them to Lutherianism. There is sufficient material in Prussian that its linguistic affinities, to the Baltic languages, can be well confirmed.

At its height, the territory of the Knights included Prussia, Latvia, Estonia, and a large slice of Lithuania. As long as Lithuania was pagan, and engaged in slaving and in human sacrifices, the task of the Knights still seems a worthy one. However, after Jogaila/Jagiełło, Grand Duke of Lithuania, converts to Christianity, marries Jadiwga of Anjou, and becomes King of Poland in 1386, the contest between the Knights and Lithuania-Poland immediately is no longer Crusading but simply a war.

The Teutonic high water mark ended with a defeat by Jagiełło at the Battle of Tannenberg (called "Grunwald" in Polish or Polish-sympathizing sources) in 1410. The defeat was a catastrophic slaughter, with the Grand Master falling, but the Knights actually ended up (1422) with little territorial loss -- only the recently acquired Lithuanian land of Samogitia (or Samagotia). Most of the real damage was in loss of Knights, wealth, and prestige.

Later, Imperial Germany thought it was avenging Tannenberg by driving the Russians, who had nothing to do with the original battle, out of Prussia in 1914, a battle they also called "Tannenberg."

Much worse for the Knights was the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466), which actually began with the revolt of the burghers and nobles of Prussia itself. By 1457 Marienburg had been lost and the Grand Master fled to a new capital at Königsberg. The treaty of 1466 ceded possession of West Prussia, Marienburg, and other territories to Poland; and Prussia itself became a fief of Poland -- though Latvia and Estonia were kept separate, with the Brethren of the Sword emerging autonomous again.

The Livonian Knights collapsed in a three-way contest between Russia, Poland, and Sweden. Between 1558 and 1582, Russia was repulsed, Sweden got Estonia, and Poland ended up with the rest. The last Livonian Grand Master became the Duke of Courland, in southern Latvia, under Polish suzerainty (1561). Then, between 1621 and 1629, northern Latvia (Livonia) fell to Sweden, indeed, to the great Gustavus (II) Adolphus himself.

Grand Masters of
the Teutonic Knights
at Mergentheim
Walter von Cronberg1527-1543
Wolfgang Schutzbar1543-1566
Georg Hund von Wenckheim1566-1572
Heinrich von Bobenhausen1572-1590/95
Maximilian of Austria1590/95-1618
Karl of Austria1619-1624
Johann Eustach von Westernach1625-1627
Johann Kaspar von Stadion1627-1641
Leopold Wilhelm of Austria1641-1662
Karl Joseph of Austria1662-1664
Johann Kaspar von Ampringen1664-1684
Ludwig Anton of the Palatine-Neuburg1684-1694
Franz Ludwig of the Palatine-Neuburg1694-1732
Clemens August of Bavaria1732-1761
Karl Alexander of Lorraine1761-1780
Maximilian Franz of Austria1780-1801
Karl Ludwig of Austria1801-1804
Anton Victor of Austria1804-1835
at Vienna, from 1809
Maximilian Joseph of Austria1835-1863
Wilhelm of Austria1863-1894
Eugen of Austria1894-1923
Spiritual (Geistlicher) Order
Dr. Norbert Klein1923-1933
Paul Heider1933-1936
Robert Schälzky1936-1948
Dr. Marian Tumler1948-1970
Ildefons Pauler1970-1988
Dr. Arnold Othmar Wieland1988-2000
Dr. Bruno Platter2000-present
In a way, the Reformation finished what the Poles could not. The last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia became a Protestant and secularized the domain. Prussia became a Duchy. He was a Hohenzollern, and when his son and successor died without male issue, Prussia was inherited by Brandenburg. Brandenburg, the Kingdom of Prussia, and Imperial Germany then inherited the black and white colors of the Knights. Russia took Livonia and Estonia after the Great Northern War, 1700-1721.
Church of the Teutonic Order, Church of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, Deutschordenskirche, Vienna, 2019
The remaining part of Latvia (Courland) and Lithuania were taken in the Third Partition of Poland in 1795.

The lists of Grand Masters of the Teutonic and Livonian Knights were originally taken from Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies. Unfortunately, Gordon only gave the Grand Masters of the Teutonic Knights after the Order relocated to the Baltic. Fortunately, a correspondent in the Netherlands drew to my attention the fact that all the Grand Masters could be found at Die Hochmeister des Deutschen Ordens (Ordo domus Sanctae Mariae Theutonicorum), whose site domain has now disappeared. So the Masters skipped by Gordon were then provided.

Modern heads of State of Latvia below are from Regentenlisten und Stammtafeln zur Geschischte Europas by Michael F. Feldkamp [Philpp Reclam, Stuttgart, 2002]. As it happened, Feldkamp also gave all the Teutonic Grand Masters, starting with Hermann von Salza. Now there is available a good English history of the Knights, The Teutonic Knights, a Military History by William Urban [Greenhill Books, London, Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, 2003]. Urban provides the list of Teutonic Grand Masters, but not the Livonian Masters. Also, he mentions that the Order survived the secularization of Prussia, was disestablished by Napoleon, but today, after revivals by the Hapsburgs, has its headquarters in Vienna. Unfortunately, he does not provide any of the Grand Masters after Albrecht of Hohenzollern. This has now been provided by my correspondent in the Netherlands and is shown at left.

The Baltic states remained under Russian rule until after World War I. Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia were then independent until conquered by Stalin in 1940, after he was given a free hand in the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Many Western states never recognized this loss of independence, but nothing was done about it (or could have been, short of another World War) all the years of the Cold War.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, in 1991, all again became independent. Latvia is blessed with an important and historic city, Riga. The language, Latvian or Lettish, is, with Lithuanian, the last remaining Baltic language (which had included the extinct Prussian -- related to the Slavic languages more closely than to other Indo-European languages), but about a third of the population of Latvia is Russian.

A large element of the population had also previously been German, but Hitler was already arranging to "repatriate" them to Germany in 1939. In practice, this ended up meaning settling many of them on seized lands in Poland. The Russians expelled all such people to Germany, and what Hitler hadn't finished in Latvia, the Russians certainly tried to. Nevertheless, a recent President of Lativa, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, bears a name that is partly German. Indeed, my colleague at Los Angeles Valley College, Gunar Freibergs, with an entirely German name, was born in Latvia. Even those not expelled have now mostly grown up just speaking Russian. Lithuania is treated along with Poland, and Estonia with Scandinavia.

While the Baltics are again independent, we have the anomaly that the northern half of East Prussia has remained part of metropolitan Russia. The southern half is now part of Poland, as the whole territory was partitioned in 1945. The name of "Prussia" was erased, and the district was the Soviet "Kaliningrad Oblast." Now, Kalinin was President of the Soviet Union under Stalin (1919-1946), and such Soviet era names have generally been replaced in Russia; but there is a dilemma with "Kaliningrad."
Junis Chakste1922-1927
Gustav Zemgals1927-1930
Albert Kviesis1930-1936
Karlis Ulmanis1936-1940
Soviet Occupation,
German Occupation, 1941-1944
Anatolis Gorbunovs1991-1993
Guntis Ulmanis1993-1999
Vaira Vike-
Valdis Zalters2007-2011
Andris Berzinsh2011-2015
Raimonds Vejonis2015-present
The original name of Kaliningrad was, of course, Königsberg. Since the name is German, the Russians naturally don't want to return the city to a German name, lest the Germans begin to think that it should belong to Germany again. One suggestion has been naming the city after Immanuel Kant, who lived and is buried there -- "Kantgrad." But then Kant himself was German.

However, the German name of the city itself is perplexing. "Königsberg" means the "King's Mountain" (Mons Regius in Latin; Karaliaučius in Lithuanian; Królewiec in Polish). As it happens, there is no mountain in the area -- it is flat as a pancake -- and no King -- Prussia was no where near being a Kingdom until 1701, and Königsberg never would be the capital even of the later Brandenburger Kings of Prussia.

As it happens, when Königsberg was founded in 1255, the Knights named it in honor of King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who supported and even participated in the Baltic Crusade. Since Ottokar was not German but Czech ("Ottokar" itself is the Germanized version of "Otakar"), the Russians could easily render Königberg into Russian as Korolgrad, with the understanding that this honored the historical Slavic king, not some German, and without any implication that the Czech Republic might have some residual claim on East Prussia. Even better, the German name could be completely translated as Korolyagora, Королягора -- "King's Mountain" again. This has a nice ring to it. Perhaps the city was called a "mountain" because in a flat landscape there was some rising ground for the city, or the buildings of the city, especially a Mediaeval city with churches and a castle, might look relatively mountainous.

The identity of the "King" in the name of Königsberg puts in perspective the later constructions of the conflict between the Knights and Poland as a struggle between German and Polish, or German and Slavic, nationalism. These terms meant close to nothing in the 13th century. At the time, the only differences that really counted were between Christians and everyone else, especially when the everyone else -- pagan Lithuanians and Mongols especially -- were engaged in the slaving and possible human sacrifice of Christians. In those terms, the Knights and the Poles were natural allies, and it is not surprising that the actual Army of the Knights contained many Poles, or that the Knights and the Poles together fought the Mongols at Liegnitz in 1241. Only the conversion of the Lithuanians and the diplomatic revolution occasioned by the marriage of Jagiełło to Jadiwga changed the terms of the relationship between the Knights and Poland, with the Poles suddenly part of the now secularized inertial conflict between the Knights and Lithuania [note].

This section is cross-indexed with Jerusalem, Outremer, Francia, and the Periphery of Francia (as part of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia). The story of the Teutonic and Livonian Knights bridges all of those. It is even part of Francia because in 1239 Prussia was granted to the Order by the Emperor Frederick II, after it was declared subject to the Pope in 1234.

Outremer Index

Dukes of Athens
Otto de la RocheLord, 1205-1225
Guy I1225-1260
Duke, 1260-1263
John I1263-1280
William I1280-1287
Guy II1287-1308
Walter de Brienne1308-1311
Joanna de Chatillion1311
Catalan Company seizes Athens, 1311
Roger Deslaur1311-1312
Manfred of Aragón1312-1317
William II of Aragón1317-1338
John II of Aragón1338-1342, d.1348
Aragonese Kings of Sicily, 1338-1385/8
LouisSicily 1342-1355
Frederick III (or II) the SimpleSicily, 1355-1377
MaryQueen of Sicily, 1377-1401
Acciaiuoli Dukes, 1388-1458
Ranieri/ Nerio I AcciaiuoliLord of Corinth, c.1370-1394
Francesca/ Frances1394-1395
To Venice, 1395-1402/5
Anthony I1405-1432/5
Nerio II1435-1439, 1441-1451
Anthony II1439-1441
Francis I1451-1455
Francis II1455-1458, d.1460/3
Ottoman Conquest, 1456
The taking
of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 began an era of Crusader states in Romania. Venice claimed 3/8 of the Empire, mainly islands. Otherwise, we find the Latin Emperors in Constantinople (1204-1261), the Kings of Thessalonica (1204-1224), the Dukes of Athens (1205-1456), and the Princes of Achaea (1205-1432), with the latter three lists given here.

Kings of Thessalonica
Boniface of Montferrat1204-1207
Demetrius1207-1224, d.1230/9
Thessalonica taken by Epirus, 1224
The leader of the Fourth Crusade, Boniface, Margrave of Monteferrat, was the first King of Thessalonica. The Venetians prevented him from being elected Emperor in Constantinople, perhaps because they thought his abilities would be too much of a threat. Able as he was, he did not long survive. Subsequent Kings and titular Kings of Thessalonica were from Montferrat, where the genealogy may be examined, until the line was inherited by the Palaeologi, where likewise the genealogy is provided. Until inherited by the Palaeologi, the Kingdom of Thessalonica was mostly fictitious, since Epirus had overthrown the Franks in 1224.
of Athens
Don Berengar
William Toma1316
Don Alphonso
Nicholas Lancia1330-1356
Don Jacob
Don Gonsalves
de Arenos
Don Matthew
Don Peter
de Bon
Roger de
Don Matthew
de Peralta
Don Frederick
of Aragon
Don Philip
Raymond de
Bernard de
Don Peter
de Pau

For a long time, I had simply never seen complete lists of the Dukes of Athens or the Princes of Achaea. I could only find the first few lords in The Encyclopedia of World History, edited by Peter N. Stearns [6th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001, p.237]. Finally, I noticed that Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies gives all of them, as given here, including the Sicilian Vicars-General of Athens.

An interesting episode in the history of Athens was:  the seizure of Athens by the Catalan Company in 1311. This was a mercenary band from Aragón that had been fighting for the Emperors of Romania. They mutinied and ravaged the area, ending up at Athens, where the Duke Walter hired them in 1310. They then murdered Walter in 1311 and took over the Duchy. Before long, sons of King Frederick II of Sicily, brother of King James of Aragón, succeeded as Dukes, but then sovereignty began to be exercised by Kings of Sicily themselves, starting with Louis. The Vicars-General of Athens have what usually look like Spanish names and so must largely be of Aragonese derivation.

The founder of the Acciaiuoli (or Acciaioli, or Acciajoli) line of the Dukes of Athens, Ranieri, Neri, or Nerio I (1388-1394), was a nephew of the Florentine banker Niccolò Acciaiuoli (b.1310-d.1365 -- he also became grand seneschal and virtual ruler of Naples for Joanna I in 1348). Considering the hostility between the Neapolitan Anjevians and the Sicilian Aragonese, it is easy to imagine the Sicilian loss of Athens as part of this conflict. It is intriguing that at precisely the same time that the Acciaiuoli were becoming established at Athens, Catalan troops were temporarily in control of Achaea (1386-1396).

Uncovering the genealogy of the Acciaiuoli line has proved very challenging. A correspondent in the Netherlands drew my attention to the GeneWeb site (it now returns a dead link), which actually gave a family tree for the Acciaioli [sic] Dukes of Athens. This diverged in several respects from Gordon's list:  (1) It does not identify the "Francesca" Gordon has ruling 1394-1395; (2) it has a different sequence of Dukes, with Nerio II and Anthony II following rather than preceding Francis I; and (3) there is no Francis II, but the lone Francis is said to have died (been murdered) in 1463, which would be after the Ottoman Conquest. I have also seen another list on the Internet which is like Gordon's except that it leaves out the Francesca, giving Anthony I ruling in her stead before the Venetian occupation, lists a "Chiara Giorgi" instead of Francis I as the Duke who succeeds Anthony II, and gives only one Francis, who is nevertheless confusingly characterized as "Francesco II."

My impression, therefore, was that the history and genealogy of the Acciaiuoli Dukes of Athens is simply not known very well. While the GeneWeb site did not give the name of the daughter of Nerio I who married Theodore Palaeologus, Despot of Morea, the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Volume III, Second Edition, 2001, p.232] does give her name as "Bartholomäa". Now, however, my invaluable Dutch correspondent then found a German website (which now also returns a dead link) with the text of a book by Ferdinand Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Athen im Mittelalter, von der Zeit Justinians bis zur türkischen Eroberung (1889), which gives the full genealogy with the figures missing, or scrambled, in the Geneweb site. That is the genealogy now given, though still with some uncertain dates.

We might wonder about a literary appearance of feudal Athens. Thus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare, is said to be set in Athens. It is largely a mythical Athens, since it is ruled by Theseus, who killed the Minotaur, and who is here set to marry Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons -- who in the mythology may or may not have married Theseus. In any case, we know from these figures that we are dealing with myth, and the play also includes Oberon, King of the Fairies, and his Queen Titania. These names are now given to moons of Uranus, along with other fairies and names from Shakespeare plays, including "Miranda" from The Tempest.

But there is something odd about the play. Theseus is said to be, not the King of Athens, but the Duke of Athens; and there is a reference in the play to the "Duke's Oak," which is unexplained. Richard Paul Roe, who researched the Italian locations of the Shakespearean plays, says:

No ransacking of the legend-history of the hero Theseus reveals such a place or name. Nor were there any dukes, per se, in ancient Athens... "Duke" (duc in French, duca in Italian; Herzog in German) is a Western European title. In French and Italian "Duke" is dervied from the the Latin word dux, and while there were none in Greece, there were plenty of them in Renaissance Italy. [The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels, Harper Perennial, 2011, p.184]

Roe, of course, has made some serious mistakes here. There was also a Greek version of "duke," δούξ, which retained the original sense of Latin dux, the title, not of a feudal lord, but of a frontier military commander. This persisted in Romania all through the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, German Herzog looks to be based, like Russian воевода, voyevoda, not directly on dux, but on Greek στρατηλάτης, stratēlatēs, "army" (stratos) "leader" (elaunein, "to lead"). Thus, the German and Russian words do not look at all like those in the Romance languages, or English.

Just as serious, is the falsehood of "there were none in Greece," when, as we have seen, there was the feudal Crusader State, the Duchy of Athens -- albeit not in "ancient Athens."

But Theseus, no Crusader, still would not have been the "Duke of Athens"; and Roe has actually touched a sore point. There are no details given for this "Athens" of Theseus that would enable us to identify it as the Athens of Greece. All we know is that there are woods outside, which have some relation to an unexplained "Duke's Oak."
Princes of Achaea
William I de Champlitte1205-1209
Geoffrey I de Villehardouin1209-
Geoffrey II1218/28-
William II Great Tooth1246-
captured, Battle of Pelagonia, with Nicaea, 1259; ransomed with the Morea, 1261, 1262
Charles I of Anjou1278-1285
King of Sicily, 1266-1282
King of Naples, 1266-1285
Charles II1285-1289
King of Naples, 1285-1309
Isabella Villehardouin1289-1307
Florent of Hainault1289-1297
Philip I of Savoy1301-1307
Philip II of Anjou1307-1313
Mathilde of Hainault1313-1318
Louis of Burgundy1313-1316
John of Anjou1318-1333
Robert (II)1333-1364
Catherine (II) of Valois1333-1346
Marie I of Bourbon1364-1370
Philip III of Anjou1370-1373
Joanna (I)1373-1381
Queen of Naples, 1343-1382
Jacques of Baux1381-1383
Charles III of Anjou1383-1386
King of Naples, 1382-1386
King of Hungary 1385-1386
Catalan mercenaries in control, 1386-1396
Peter de St. Superan1396-1402
Maria II Zaccharia1402-1404
Inherited by Palaeologi, 1432
Also, there is reference to a "Temple" in the play, but Athens had many temples, and none was so unique as to be identifed in that way alone. Even the
Parthenon, which we might think of as uniquely representative, was crowded onto the Acropolis with two other temples, the Erechtheum and the temple of Athena Nike.

Quite by chance, Roe may have found the basis of the references in Shakespeare. On a recommendation, he visited the small fortified town of Sabbioneta, near Mantua. He quickly learned that this was called La Piccola Atena, "the Little Athens." On a tour, he was shown one of the city gates, the Porta della Vittoria, also known as il Quercia dei Duca. This was "the Duke's Oak." Roe says, "I gasped in disbelief." Outside this gate were, indeed, the local woods. And the town contained a ducal palace, because it was, of course, a possession of the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua. Adjacent to the ducal palace was a church, La Chiesa dell' Incornoata, also called "the Temple."

Thus, "Athens," "Oak," and "Temple" all seem indicate that A Midsummer Night's Dream was not set in the Athens of Greece, but in this small "Athens" in Italy. The players met at "the Duke's Oak" because that is the town gate where they all set out for the woods.

This bears on the issue of the authorship of the plays of Shakespeare. Richard Paul Roe had never heard of Sabbioneta before a visit was recommended to him. William Shakespeare of Stratford is unlikely to have heard of it either, and certainly not with any local details of the place. On the other hand, Edward de Vere traveled all over this part of Italy, over a period of more than a year. The Italian locations of the Shakespeare plays match up closely with where de Vere actually visited. The "Little Athens" caught his fancy.

All of the Mediterranean possessions of Aragón and its junior lines are shown above. The only possession never directly ruled by the King of Aragón was Athens, as we have seen. In 1713, Sicily, Sardinia, and Naples passed to Austria and Savoy with the settlement of the War of the Spanish Succession.

A noteworthy moment in the history of Achaea is when it came into the possession of Charles of Anjou, who had conquered Naples and Sicily and who planned an attack on Romania. He made an agreement in 1267 with the deposed Latin Emperor, Baldwin II, to restore Baldwin in Constantinople in exchange for Achaea, which could provide a foothold and base for that. Charles' plans were destroyed in 1282 when Sicily revolted and brought in Peter I of Aragon, who had married Constance of Hohenstaufen, as King. This began what soon would be the reach of Aragon all the way to Athens.

In the genealogy below, we see the last Villehardouins of Achaea, Prince William II and his daughter Isabella. William had been captured by John, brother of the Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, in 1259 and was ransomed with the cession of Laconia to the Romans in 1261 (beginning the Despotate of the Morea). Isabella was at first married to a son of Charles, Philip, who soon died. Charles apparently was able to set Isabella aside at the death of her father. But Isabella and her new husband, Florenz of Hainault, got the Principality back from Charles II. At the death of Isabella, Philip II of Taranto, a son of Charles II was then able to set aside her second husband, Philip of Savoy, and her daughter, Matilda, and return Achaea to the Anjevians.

With the death of Philip, we get the succession of Matilda and her husbands, Louis of Burgundy and then John of Naples, who was also an Anjevian. John was followed by his nephews Robert and Philip, including Robert's wife, Marie of Bourbon. At the end we have a tug-of-war between Anjevian cousins, including Joanna I of Naples, Jacques de Baux (a nephew of Robert and Philip), and finally Charles III of Naples. But with the death of Charles III, Achaea passed out of Anjevian control. I am not aware of the means or occasion whereby Peter de St. Superan came into possession of Athens. The Zaccharias (or Zaccarias) had been Lords of Chios until ejected by the Palaeologi in 1328. From the Zaccharias the Principality passed to the Palaeologi, when Catharine, daughter of Prince Centurione, married Thomas, Despot of Morea. The enjoyment of the Greeks in recovering Achaea, however, was shortlived, since Thomas and Catherine fled the Ottoman Conquest in 1460. The last bit of Achaea-Morea retained by Thomas was the fortress of Monembasia, which he turned over to the Pope in 1461. The succession jumps around a great deal in the genealogy, but I think everyone is accounted for.

The genealogy of the Anjevians below duplicates the genealogy of the Latin Emperors from Baldwin II onward. These are mostly titular Emperors, but at least it can be said of them, starting with Philip II, that they had a pied à terre in Romania through the possession of Achaea -- which was Charles I's idea in obtaining the Principality in the first place.

The genealogies for Achaea and for the Dukes of Athens before the Acciaiuoli have been assembled from various places in the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 1, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser I, Westeuropa, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II, Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa, and Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Volume II, Part 1, Third Edition, 2001, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, and Volume III, Second Edition, 2001]. This has been supplemented with the help of a correspondent in the Netherlands with information on the Villehardouins, Zaccharias, and de la Roches from the Europäiche Stammtafeln, Stammtafeln der Europäichen Staaten, Neue Folge, Volume III, Part 1, Herzogs- und Grafenhäuser des Heiligen Romischen Reiches. Andere Europäische Fürstenhäuser, Volume III, Part 3, Andere grosse Europäische Familien. Illegitieme Nachkommen Spanischer und Portugiesischer Königshäuser, and Volume III, Part 4, Das feudale Frankreich und sein Einfluß auf die Welt des Mittelalters [Detlev Schwennicke, Verlag J.A. Stargardt, Marburg, Part 1, 1984, Part 3, 1984, & Part 4, 1989].

Francis of Baux was actually a distant cousin of the Baux Princes of Orange. The genealogy shown here for Baux is from the Genealogie delle Dinastie Italiane.

A curiosity in Volume II, Part 1, of Thiele is that various Dukes of Burgundy, and Louis of Burgundy, the husband of Princess Matilda above, are listed as titular Kings of Thessalonica (pp.142-143). This seems to begin with Duke Hugh (Hugo) IV (1218-1272) in 1266. This would still have been in the lifetime of the Margrave William IX of Montferrat, the titular King of Thessalonica by direct inheritance from Boniface of Montferrat, the original King. I see no explanation there what happened in 1266 to provoke or motivate such a claim. Perhaps this was the doing of Baldwin II in lining up support for the Latin cause in Constantinople, like his agreement with Charles of Anjou in 1267.

Now, in November 2006, I hear from Tarek Peeters in Belgium, who wrote a thesis on Philip of Courtenay, that my guess seems to be about right. Mr. Peeters writes, "In 1266, on 21 January to be precise, the former emperor [this would be Baldwin II, father of Philip of Courtenay] promised the sum of 13.000 livres tournois to Hugh IV, duke of Burgundy, followed the next day by the rights for the kingdom of Thessalonica and its fiefdoms." Hugh accepted the offer; but then, Peeters says, "Of course, Montferrat never accepted the ruling of Baldwin, and continued to call themselves kings of Thessalonica, but so did the Burgundian dukes..." Peeters gives sources:  R. L. Wollf, "Mortgage and redemption of an emperor's son: Castile and the Latin Empire of Constantinople", in Speculum XXIX (1954), pp. 45-84, and in the first volume of J. A. C. Buchon's Recherches et matériaux pour servire à une histoire de la domination française aux XIIIe, XIVe et XVe siecles dans les provinces démembrées de l'Empire grec à la suite de la quatrième croisade (1840). This seems to clear up the matter.

Robert Hughes on the Crusades, in Rome, A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History, Vintage, 2012

Norman Davies and the Fantasy of Jagiellon Liberalism, in Vanished Kingdoms, The Rise and Fall of States and Nations, Viking, 2012

A Letter to Patrick J. Geary, Institute for Advanced Study, about a review in The Wall Street Journal, “Clerics, Conquerors & Quartermasters,” October 21, 2017

The State of Israel

Outremer Introduction, Index

Philosophy of History, Outremer

Philosophy of History, Periphery of Francia

Philosophy of History

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Copyright (c) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

The Periphery of Francia: Outremer; Note 1

To anticipate some of the problems we get, in a mild version, let me look at a statement by historian Bettany (no relation to Robert) Hughes, who also has come in for positive notice in these pages:

The most potent legacy of the Crusades had been, in the long term, to unite the Arab Near East against the Christian powers in the region and, in the short term, to expose the Christian world's Eastern bulwark [i.e. Romania] to the ambitions of their sometimes friends and oft-times enemies, the Turks. [Istanbul, A Tale of Three Cities, Da Capo Press, 2017, pp.366-367]

First of all, the Arabs had nothing to do with it. After the decline of the Abbasid Caliphate, there would be no Arab state, let alone an Arab power, until the 19th or even the 20th century. Resistance to the Crusades began with the Turkish Seljuk states that had precipitated the Crusades in the first place (by, in fact, already piercing the "bulwark" of Romania and exposing its heartland), particularly the Zangid Atabegs, who captured Edessa in 1144.

Directly inheriting the counter-attack of the Zangids were the Ayyubids, who were Kurdish, and then the Mamlūks, slave soldiers who overthrew the Ayyubids and then filled their ranks with Turks and Circassians. None of these states would "unite the Arab Near East." Ayyubid and Mamlūk power was based on Egypt and Syria, with influence extending to the sacred Islamic sites of the Ḥijāz, and to Yemen.

All of that, in fact, was "in the short term." In the "long term," the Ottomans were the only players. Hughes has gotten this all backwards. The Ottoman domain began on lands taken from Romania, where Arabs had never lived. While Hughes lumps them with "sometimes friends," the friends had really only been Turks north of the Black Sea, specifically the Khazars. Those were real friends, but there is no reason to confuse them with the Turks of Anatolia, who were always enemies, even when periods of truce and co-existence might occur. Far from working to "unite the Arab Near East," the Ottomans began to fatally damage Romania while they were still a relative minor power. When the Emir Orkhān first landed in Europe in 1354, he barely controlled a quarter even of Anatolia -- lands that look like the minor Hellenistic state of Bithynia.

Thus, Bettany Hughes at least betrays no hatred of her subject (or of herself), which is more the Emperors of Constantinople than the Crusades, but she does exhibit a certain level of carlessness and confusion here, which contributes to some false impressions. The Mamlūks were able to finally extinguish the Kingdom of Acre, not because they had united the Near East, Arab or otherwise, but just because they were the adjacent and hostile power. The Crusades exposed Romania to nothing to which it was not already vulnerable, and the Ottomans were the Turkish successors to the Turks who created that vulnerability in the first place, and to whom the Crusades were actually a response. The Crusades in one sense delayed the decline of Romania, but then undid that good work by attacking Constantinople itself in 1204, which of course had nothing to do with the unity or otherwise of any Islamic state. For Christendom, it was an "own goal," engineered by the cynicism of Venice, whose commitment to Crusading was never more than opportunistic.

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The Periphery of Francia: Outremer; Note 2,
Season of the Witch, 2011

From the tendentious, we move to the ridiculous. This was the 2011 movie, Season of the Witch, where the talents of Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, and Christopher Lee are wasted. The movie was poorly reviewed and bombed at the box office. Filmed in Austria and Hungary, it is not a bad movie to look at, and its depths of confusion, incoherence, and farce make it worthy of some kind of passing notice. The most objectionable feature is the vicious, ridiculous, and anachronistic picture presented of the Crusades, as well as of history and geography in general. We meet Cage and Perlman ready to fight a battle at the "Gulf of Edremit" in 1332, which is glossed as in the "Age of the Crusades." However, we might think that the "Age of the Crusades" was over with the 7th Crusade in 1270, or with the fall of Acre in 1291.

There were indeed subsequent "Crusades" proclaimed in the following two centuries, mostly as part of an effort to stem the tide of Turkish conquest in Anatolia and the Balkans. Thus, there was in fact a battle in the Gulf of Edremit, the Turkish name for Greek "Adramyttion," in 1334 (or 1344), not 1332. This was part of a combined effort, involving Italian and Roman fleets, to meet the naval threat posed by the Beys (Begs) of the Aydın Oghulları, who had captured Ephesus in 1304 and Smyrna (Turkish "İzmir") in 1334. Cage and Perlman, however, look like they are fighting in the desert, not in a naval battle, and we have no sense that this is a response to Turkish conquest. Subsequent battles listed in the movie, Tripoli in 1334, Imbros in 1337, and Artah in 1339, are entirely fictitious or are moved from different eras. Tripoli in Lebanon had long been lost to the Ayyūbids (1233), and Crusader sieges of the city were in the 12th century.

The final battle listed in the movie, which disillusioned Cage with Crusading, is given as that of Smyrna in 1344. This was a real effort of the Christian allies, which recovered the harbor of Smyrna from the Turks, and so for 60 years inhibited the naval threat of the Aydın Oghulları. We would know none of this from watching the movie, however. Cage seems to be charged with slaughtering civilians, who are condemned as heretics, or something. Thus, without any real historical context, the narrative of the movie is that Crusading was merely an exercise in intolerance, not a desperate effort, as it certainly was in the 14th and 15th centuries, to stem the tide of Islamic Conquest. That tide only crested at the gates of Vienna in 1529.

Cage and Perlman then walk from Anatolia to the "coast" of Styria, which in 1344 was already a (landlocked) dependency of Austria. This puts us in the area where the film was actually shot but is otherwise senseless.

Meanwhile, the status of Cage and Perlman themselves is an absurdity. They seem to be part of some kind of Papal army, are paid wages, fight on foot despite being knights (who we expect to be mounted), and are subject to the death penalty for "desertion" when they leave the army. However, there was no such Papal army -- and we are never told who this person is supposed to be who is apparently in command. Crusading had always been an individual commitment whose crushing expense meant that few could participate for more than a short period. Duke Robert II of Normandy borrowed the money he needed to go on Crusade from his brother, King Henry I of England, with the Duchy as collateral. He defaulted on the debt in 1106 and lost his domain to Henry.

This is an example of the hard truth wherein we are usually deceived by Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon [1941], who says that the Crusades were mainly a matter of plunder. The Italian cities grew rich off the Crusades, but mainly at the expense of the Crusaders who themselves were usually impoverished -- and sometimes betrayed while away by their retainers and relatives back home (hence, in legend at least, the invention of the chastity belt to prevent adultery in restless wives). In the battles against the Turks in the 14th century, we are mainly looking at the regular forces of powers like Venice, Genoa, and Romania. Mercenaries would figure in those armies, and mercenaries do get paid, but they can also quit and leave when they feel like it. But we don't get the idea that Cage and Perlman are supposed to be mercenaries. So there is no clue about what their obligation was to be in their army in the first place.

Finally, the ultimate, rather bizarre, twist in the movie is that the Church isn't so bad after all, because the Plague of the 14th century is actually being caused by a demon in possession of a young girl's body. Cage and Perlman die in the course of effecting the demon's exorcism. Thus we are left with the politically correct view that the Crusades were gratuitous murder, tossed together with the decidedly politically incorrect view that sometimes it was necessary to kill witches because they in fact might embody supernatural evil. It would have made a bit more sense, morally and historically, if the Turks had been the enemy -- despite the danger of "Islamophobia" -- and the witches the victims.

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The Periphery of Francia: Outremer; Note 3,
Robert Hughes on the Crusades

For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George.

They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impurity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them.

Pope Urban II (1088-1099), Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, account of Fulcher of Chartres (d.c.1128); translation in Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal, A Source Book for Medieval History, Scribners, 1905.

We really can't expect much in the way of historical accuracy, or even coherence, from something like the Hollywood movies I've examined here, but with Robert Hughes (1938-2012) we have something a little different. Hughes has come in for comment on these pages because of his sensible views about the relation of art to morality, which correspond to the theory here of the polynomic independence of value. Thus, Hughes began as an art critic, and an art historian, but then he began to expand into history proper, with a book about his native Australia, The Fatal Shore, and subsequent efforts.

In one of his last works, Rome, A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History [2011, Vintage Books, 2012], we get doses of history, art history, and personal recollection in relation to the City of Rome. As history, however, he jumps almost directly from Constantine to the Renaissance. Along the way, in what are then essentially asides on the Middle Ages, Hughes includes a good blast about the Crusades, whose relevance to either Rome or art, or his own recollections, seems rather tangential. But we do get the full bore of how he feels about the Crusades, full of the self-righteousness of the bien pensants, although mercifully lacking some of the liberal guilt and even self-hatred such as just noted above. Unfortunately, how he feels often betrays his relative ignorance about the period, as well as a moral confusion, anachronistic and otherwise, about the issue. It is more in sorrow than in anger that I must take him to task.

It seems extraordinary, looking back on the Crusades from nearly a thousand years later, that they could ever have been conceived as anything but a mirage, a long bout of collective religious delusion. What good could it do to "free" a portion of the Middle East from its inhabitation by Muslims, for no better reason than that a Jewish prophet had once lived, preached, and died there? But territoriality, especially when conceived in religious terms, heightened by the hope of eternal life and sharpened by xenophobia, is a murderous and intractable passion, and many Christians in the Middle Ages felt it intensely. Crusades were the ultimate form of that fear and hatred of the Other which underlies the sense of racial and religious selfhood, and a man conscious of his honor would have needed an almost superhuman detachment to resist their impulse, once it was aroused by preacher and pope. [p.184]

It seems extraordinary, that Robert Hughes, a man who usually seems so sensible and perspicacious, should be found spouting this poltically correct nonsense. The motive for the Crusades, apparently, is just "territoriality," "xenophobia," "fear and hatred of the Other," in a "sense of racial and religious selfhood." This would not get him expelled from any cocktail parties in Georgetown, Manhattan, or San Francisco; but, curiously, he never attributes such motives, prejudices, or passions to ʾIslām. This double standard is characteristic of the attitude. At the same time, he seems wholly ignorant of the historical origin of the Crusades. The Franks did not up and invade the Middle East from some random religious inspiration, xenophobic or otherwise, but they were responding to an appeal for help from the Emperor Alexius Comnenus, after the Turks had destroyed the Roman Army at Manzikert (1071) and broken into Anatolia. Alexius was unable to stop the Turkish flood. Hughes could have asked any Armenian about this.

So why wasn't ʾIslām consumed by "that fear and hatred of the Other" or a "murderous and intractable passion," with a "sense of racial and religious selfhood," which led it to invade lands that had never been Muslim? Hughes seems unaware of this circumstance. Indeed, as I have examined in detail elsewhere, it is characteristic of Hughes's sort of moral high horse that much Islamic conquest is never even noticed, let alone condemned with equal passion when it is. Hughes cannot have been wholly ignorant of the fact that the Turks only entered Anatolia in the Middle Ages, and he later mentions the Fall of Constantinople to them; but, like many such prophets of righteousness, he never reflects or applies the same critique to their invasion as to Christian attempts at self-defense or counterattack. Indeed, his fury over the Fourth Crusade is not matched by even the slightest distaste for the Ottoman conquest, looting, and (permanent) subjugation of the same city, which he does, by the way, mention.

But Hughes is nowhere near being done. He continues:

All over Europe, and not least in Italy, men were seized by a common delusion: that, as Christians, they collectively owned a tract of territory on which none of them had ever lived, that they had an unquestionable right to it because their Savior had once walked and prayed and died on it; and that the most meritorious of acts imaginable would be to wrest control of it from nonbelievers, the sons of the Prophet, the Arabs, whose mere presence in the Holy City of Jerusalem defiled that Saviour's memory -- despite the fact that the "Holy City" had been in Muslim hands since the seventh century. [pp.184-185]

From this remarkable statement, we gather that Hughes is at least aware that there was an Islamic Conquest, that the Arabs seized "a tract of territory on which none of them had ever lived," that they believed "they had an unquestionable right to it because their... [Prophet] had once walked and prayed...on it" in a dream, and "that the most meritorious of acts imaginable would be to wrest control of it from nonbelievers," i.e. the Christians who already lived there. However, what was perfectly fine for the Arabs to do in the 7th century is now morally beyond the pale, a "delusion," for Christians to do, in response, in the 11th century.

Most terrible evils has Romania suffered from the Arabs even until now.

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (d.959) quoting The Chronicle of Theophanes (c.815) [De Administrando Imperio, Greek text edited by Gy. Moravcsik, Dumbarton Oaks Texts, 1967, 2008, p.94]

Also, Hughes again is ignorant, or fails to recollect, that the state and government from which the Arabs seized Jerusalem in the 7th century, the Roman Empire, still existed in the 11th and thus had as much "right" to it as any nation which has lost territory to an invader and would rather like to get it back, especially when much of the population was still Christian, while many Muslims, over the years, had mainly converted to get a tax break, and higher status, from the regime imposed by the invaders.

The combination here of ignorance, self-righteousness, and a moral double standard is truly appalling; but it is also a little surprising and disappointing in Robert Hughes, who otherwise does not seem to suffer from the kind of moral and racial self-hatred, or anti-Americanism, that is characteristic of so many other modern Western intellectuals. As someone who seems to be a lapsed Catholic, perhaps what sparks Hughes's animus is the bitterness and atheistic tantrum of the disillusioned Catholic with a "Jewish prophet" -- not something any kind of Christian would call Jesus Christ -- although a Muslim might.

But Hughes still isn't done, although we don't need to reproduce his whole rant. He does say, "So the crusaders engaged in what their enemies would call a jihād, a holy war..." [p.185]. Again, this seems to say that the jihād, , is fine, as long as it is done by Muslims rather than Christians, since there is no parallel condemnation of ʾIslām, or even discussion of jihād in Islamic terms; and we are certainly given no clue that ʾIslām perhaps has been engaging in the Jihād in quite recent history and memory. After all, the Crusaders had to fight their way through the Turks in Anatolia, allowing Alexius to recover a great deal of territory.

Fortified by a sense of their own [certainly hypocritical!] holiness, bound to one another by the red crosses reverently sewn to their tunics, the Christian soldiers or crocesignati talked obsessively about the "recovery" of the Holy Land -- in total disregard of the fact that it was never lost, because they had never possessed it, except in collective fantasy. [p.185]

Hughes seems particularly taken with the idea that the Crusaders "never possessed" the Holy Land, since he has already said much the same thing in the text already; but again he ignores the circumstance that the Arabs had "never possessed" the Holy Land when they conquered it, that, by treaty, the Crusaders were agents of the Emperor Alexius Comnenus, whose government and people had actually "possessed" the land for six centuries when the Arabs arrived, and that Hughes was hardly in a position to know whether the Crusaders "obsessively" talked about "recovery" or not. It does, however, seem to obsess him a bit.

Also, whether or not Romania had ever existed, the Crusaders were agents of Christendom, from which the Arabs had conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, to add to the territory of their own comparable and parallel conception, of the , Dāru-l-Islām, which every Muslim warrior was conscious of representing. Thus, Christendom had indeed "possessed" the Holy Land, as the House of ʾIslām had come to possess it, through the Jihād -- as outside the Dāru-l-Islām, there is only the , Dāru-l-Ḥarb, the "House of War." But Hughes does not seem like the kind of person, a lapsed Catholic, who would give "Christendom" the time of day, or allow its shadow to fall on any analysis or consideration, even if Muslims were thinking in exactly the same terms.

In the course of this, we have several indications that Hughes doesn't know the history very well -- as opposed to history that he probably does know, like the Turkish invasion of Anatolia, but seems to forget. Thus, while the Crusaders have "talked obsessively" in their racist and imperialist way, they wear their "red crosses reverently sewn to their tunics." Hughes seems to think that all the crosses worn by Crusaders were red, and he actually says so again on page 193 -- "the red insignia of the cross so [righteously] hated by [blameless] Arabs and Cathars alike." However, some crosses were red (the Templars, ), some crosses were white (the Hospitallers, or ), some were black (the Teutonic Knights, ), and some were even green (as agreed upon by Count Philip I of Flanders before the Third Crusade, ). The flags of Scandinavia preserve crosses of many colors (I can just see the Swedes like this, -- although I don't think Swedish Crusaders were already using such colors). So Hughes doesn't seem to know about this variation.

But he does know what the Templars wore, and he has even got the idea that Muslims "recaptured Jerusalem from the Knights Templar" [p.185], as though nobody else was defending the city, which is quite false. So we are almost left with the impression that the Templars were the only Crusaders and that their red cross was the only cross. That would be consistent with what Hughes actually says. He also refers to the Second Crusade, for which "the papacy gave permission," without the slightest indication of what occasioned it, namely the fall of Edessa. He seems to think it also has something to do with Spain, where "Alfonso I of Portugal" (actually, "Afonso" in Portuguese) recovered Lisbon, despite Muslims remaining "firmly in command of Spain." This doesn't have much to do with the proper business of the Second Crusade, which was a fiasco, or with anything, unless Hughes somehow resents the Reconquista in Spain, where perhaps the Spanish too "never possessed" the lands they were recovering from ʾIslām. They certainly earn as sour a tone from Hughes as anyone else fighting ʾIslām.

Even apart from Crusaders, Hughes seems ill informed about the period. Thus, he says, "Italy had one Christian naval power, Venice" [p.186]. No, Italy had several naval powers in the era of the Crusades, including Naples, Amalfi, Pisa, and Genoa as well as Venice. The Genoese were enough of a "naval power" that in 1298 they captured one of the most famous sons of Venice, Marco Polo (c.1254-c.1324), who found himself imprisoned, which happily gave him the leisure and occasion to describe his travels to someone who could write them up.

But we see, with Hughes's references to "the stupider voices of American faith" and "ranting American fundamentalist bigots," that his animus is not just against the Catholic Church -- although he then does helpfully add a reference to "murderous lowbrow anaytollahs" [p.188]. So at least ʾIslām gets to share in some of the bile that Hughes directs at Christianity.

Now, why have I followed Hughes's rant with one of my own? Well, his blast against the Crusades is really off topic for his book, since the Crusades have little to do with the City of Rome or its art, only connected by way of the rulers of Rome at the time, namely the Popes, none of whom ever actually went on a Crusade. But then we otherwise do not really get a history of the Papacy, certainly not during the era of the Crusades. So Hughes has turned aside from his topic because of some kind of intense personal passion, by which Hughes wants to condemn intolerance, but then forgets to apply his lofty principles to ʾIslām also. Here, on the other hand, my topic is specifically Outremer and the Crusades, where what Hughes says seems all too typical of the shallow clichés that are tossed around both in the apologetic for ʾIslām and in the outpouring of liberal guilt and self-hatred that characerizes European and American intellectuals and other do-gooders. So Hughes, unfortunately, and despite the insight, moderation, and good sense of so many of his views, has stepped into the dock to represent so much else that is even more awful.

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The Periphery of Francia: Outremer; Note 4,
Norman Davies and the Fantasy of Jagiellon Liberalism

How the history of the Teutonic Knights gets distorted by multiple biases can be seen in the "Borussia" chapter of Vanished Kingdoms, The Rise and Fall of States and Nations, by Norman Davies [Viking, 2012]. Davies anachronistically projects back to the year 1410 both the modern liberal distaste for the Crusades and the modern Polish nationalist apologetic that attributes modern liberal political and religious tolerance to Jagiełło. The result is deeply preposterous:

The battle [i.e. Tannenberg/Grunwald] may equally be seen as a confrontation between two opposing strains of Christianity. The Teutonic Knights belonged to the brutal, supremacist crusading tradition of Western Europe, built on the assumption that infidels and 'other-believers' were for extirpating. The Jagiellons, in contrast, whose realms contained a great plurality of religious belief, deplored both the crusading tradition and the theory of papal supremacy behind which the Knights concealed their rapacity. On the eve of Grunwald, the Polish contingents intoned their 'Hymn to the Virgin', the Bogurodzica, thereby underlining their conviction that the Knights' own cult of the Virgin Mary was false. They were joined in the fray by ranks of Orthodox Ruthenians and by Muslim Tartar cavalry. [p.347]

We thus get the impression that Jagiełło leads a modern multicultural alliance of Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims against the "brutal, supremacist" intolerance and "rapacity" of the Knights and their Papal masterminds. Davies even needs to gratuitously impeach the sincerity of the Knights devotion to the Virgin. Since the Knights have "greedy crusading eyes" [p.253], perhaps they were also representatives of capitalist consumerism. All that's lacking here is to accuse the Knights of "Islamophobia." Elsewhere, Davies portrays the Polish cause as "based on concepts of freedom and liberty" [p.348], with the Knights reaching for the "absolutist ideas coming from the West" [p.350] eventually perfected by Louis XIV. This is equally anachronistic and distorted.

I have already discussed on this page some of the ridiculous and biased representations of the Crusades found in popular culture. Davies, with better academic credentials, here displays some of the moralistic relativism that is characteristic of academic political correctness, where conquests by ʾIslām are winked at or praised, because of the "tolerance" of ʾIslām for Christians and Jews, while Christian defense or counter-attack against ʾIslām is by definition therefore "intolerant." Indeed, such defense or counter-attack is a "brutal, supremacist" intolerance with an ideology that "infidels and 'other-believers' were for extirpating." The "other-believers" here are perhaps the pagans of Prussia and Lithuania, whose reputation for sunny peacefulness is undermined by Davies' own admission that originally the Poles called the Knights in for help against Lithuanian and Tartar depredations.

If the Jagiellons "deplored... the crusading tradition," somebody should have told King Wladyslav VI (1434-1444), Jagiełło's own son, before he got himself killed on the Crusade of Varna, against the Turks, in 1444. Perhaps Wladyslav had forgotten to just welcome the Turks into Jagiełło's alliance that "contained a great plurality of religious belief." They could all sing "Kumbaya" together. But, Davies undercuts his case by later mentioning that "Poland-Lithuania was sorely troubled at the time [c.1517] by marauding Tartar hordes" [p.351], despite the fact that the "Tartars" had been part of Jagiełło's enlightened multicultural alliance. They must not have gotten the message about Jagiełło's "opposing strain[s] of Christianity." Instead, in the run-up to Tannenberg, in 1399 Jagiełło had an army routed by the Crimean Tartars, after which "in the fifteenth century their raiding parties began to penetrate deep both into Moscovy and the grand duchy" [p.260]. Oops.

Thus, we find that King Sigismund I (1506-1548), Jagiełło's own grandson, considered "sending the Order to [the] Ukraine to crusade against the Tartars," but "He would have been advised that the Order had lost much of its potential" [p.352], because, let's see, the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy had turned against the Knights and broken their strength? Good work. So Jagiełło must have been mistaken that the Tartars were going to be eager participants in his tolerant alternative to the evil, Papal supremacist "crusading tradition." Prussia was secularized in 1525 anyway, so the Knights ceased to exist as a force in the Baltic during Sigismund's reign.

Then, when King John III Sobieski (1674-1696) sought to reimpose Polish sovereignty on Prussia -- the Hohenzollerns had maneuvered a grant of independence from Poland in 1647 -- he was distracted by those pesky Muslims again:  The Turks invaded Polish territory in 1672.
"King John III Sobieski blessing Polish attack on Turks in Vienna, 1683," 1871, by Juliusz Kossak (1824–1899)
Since Davies says that "By the mid-1670's, the Ottomans were overrunning Hungary" [p.364], when the Ottomans had already overrun Hungary in the 1520's, one wonders about how well up Davies actually is on the Islamic conquest thing. He certainly had not asked any Hungarians about it.

Since Sobieski repulsed the Turks from Vienna in 1683, with 81,000 Polish, Austrian, and German troops -- wasn't that like a Crusade? -- he had no time for further concerns with Prussia. Indeed, the charge of Sobieski's legendary heavy cavalry, the "Winged Hussars," at Vienna, one of the largest, most dramatic, and certainly most effective cavalry charges in military history, absolutely shattered the Ottoman army and precipitated its disorganized flight. Was Sobieski looking at the Turks with "greedy crusading eyes," denying them their God-given right to slaughter and enslave Christians? As it happened, the "Crusaders" found coffee, from Ethiopia, for the first time in Central Europe, in the captured Turkish camp -- it had arrived in England by sea earlier, with the first coffee house opening in 1652. The ability of the Turks to stay awake during the long siege was then attributed to this wonder drug.

Jagiełło's use of "Muslim Tartar cavalry" against the Knights at Tannenberg betrays, not his idealism, but his cynicism. The man who converted to Christianity, despite "no special love for the Poles, worshippers of 'the German God' and a target for his raiding parties" [p.254], in order to marry the Queen of Poland may be suspected of a Realpolitik on the level of Henry IV's "Paris is worth a Mass" (Paris vaut bien une messe). So, Poland was worth a Mass. This means that Davies misrepresents Jagiełło, who, by the information that Davies provides himself, did not represent one of the "opposing strains of Christianity," but only his own opportunism, skepticism, lack of interest, and even distaste for the faith. The incoherence of the presentation by Davies seems characteristic of the disordered and irrational animus that we sometimes find in those striving, with a smug self-righteousness, for political correctness. They know that they will never be called out by their bien pensants colleagues.

Again, Jagiełło's use of Muslim mercenaries, even as the successors of the Golden Horde continued their "maurading" and slaving against the Poles, puts a bit of a lie to the statement of Davies that the Poles and Jagiełło were demonstrating that the "Knights' own cult of the Virgin Mary was false." If we see Jagiełło as a Renaissance prince, it is not surprising that his actions might parallel the advice of The Prince in pursuing what had always been the interests of the Lithuanian monarchy, especially if Jagiełło's Christianity was insincere. We can admire Jagiełło for many things, but not for any kind of modern political or religious, anachronistic liberalism.

And, of course, the mission of the Teutonic Knights had nothing to do with "papal supremacy." Davies tosses in this red herring because of the coincidence of the era of Tannenberg with the Great Schism (1378-1415) and the Council of Constance (1414-1418). That's nice if Davies believes that the Catholic Church should be ruled by Church Councils -- Orthodox Christians agree -- or if he thinks that modern sensibilities are evident in the work at Constance of Paulus Vladimiri from Kraków ("Treatise on the power of the pope and the emperor with regard to non-believers" [pp.347-348]); but, if Vladimiri's treatise is not just an apologetic for Jagiełło, it would be nice to know how it is relevant to the actions of Christians in the face of hostile, aggressive, and rapacious pagan and Muslim raiders and slavers. Meanwhile, "papal supremacy" seems to have been as tolerant of Jews, including those fleeing Spain, as was the Polish monarchy, without engendering in Italy the sort of anti-Semitism that was not at all unusual in Poland, let alone in Germany.

Since Davies does not discuss or mention the complaint of the Christians against the Lithuanians for slaving and human sacrifice, perhaps this means that these are false calumnies against the tolerant and nature-friendly "defiant paganism" of the Lithuanians [p.253], which came complete with "vestal virgins" who "tended the sacred flame in oak groves" [p.251]. Probably under rainbows. Maybe Davies has ignored such ridiculous charges as beneath his contempt.

However, perhaps inadvertently, Davies provides examples of just these practices. The funeral pyre of the Grand Duke Algierdas (Olgierd/Algirdas, 1345-1377), Jagiełło's own father, included his "favorite servant and his favorite horse"; and "a group of German slaves, bound and gagged, were heaped on top for good measure" [p.254]. Sounds like human sacrifice to me -- something that also would have been supervised by no less than the new Duke, Jagiełło.
St. Boniface of Crediton chopping down the "blood oak" of Thor at Geismar, Thuringia, in 720, where the pagan chief Gundhar was about to sacrifice his child, Asulf. Thor didn't stop him, and the tree fell, so the Thuringians converted.
I hope he didn't burn himself when he "heaped" those "Germans" (probably and/or Poles) on the pyre. Probably had someone else do it for him, unless he really wanted to demonstrate his filial devotion.

Similarly, the treaty by which Jagiełło agreed to convert to Christianity in order to marry Jadwiga of Poland included the provision "to release all Polish prisoners and slaves" [p.255], which I take to mean that the Lithuanians had been capturing and enslaving Poles. Indeed. And a combination of sacred "oak groves" and human sacrifice probably meant such use of those groves, right in that "sacred flame" tended by those virgins -- as the Romans found the Gauls doing in their groves, and Charlemagne did the Saxons in theirs.

Finally, to the further embarrassment of his treatment, there is the obvious acceptance by Davies of the Polish nationalist apologetic that the Jagiellon cause was absurdly "based on concepts of freedom and liberty," in terms of which even the pagan Prussians were "a people born to freedom" [p.350]. I have discussed this issue separately in terms of Polish history; but even a careful reading of Davies exposes his confusion or dishonesty:  All this "freedom" is always in terms of burghers and nobility, not of common laborers, peasants, or serfs.

The power of the burghers was that of the merchant oligarchies that dominated the cities, such as those of the Hanseatic League, engaged in the rise of a Mediaeval commercial economy. There was potential there for the growth of republican institutions, but mostly that did not happen outside the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. We find that the Hanseatic League (the Hansa, or Hanse), founded in 1358, at times exercising powers that seem comparable to Venice at its height, rather suddenly disappears from political history. When the League formally ended in 1862, only Lübeck, the capital of the League, Hamburg, and Bremen remained as members -- these were all Free Cities in the German Confederation of 1815. At the last formal meeting of the League in 1669, only nine members had remained, out of the 200 some original members. The League had been steadily eroded by the rise of surrounding states. In 1442, Frederick II of Brandenburg removed all the cities under his rule from the Hansa. Poland took over Danzig and other Prussian cities in 1466. Riga was taken over by Poland in 1581. Sweden and Russia were also pushing in. Thus, real republicanism withered in the Baltic, right down to the last German Free Cities. But none of it had ever enfranchised peasants, serfs, or laborers.

On the other hand, the "liberties" of the Polish nobility would prove to be an unmitigated disaster for Poland and her people, who became playthings of European politics. Davies can hardly be unaware of this, yet he plays along with the discourse of "republican" Poland, referring to the Sweden as an "Empire" but to Poland as a "Commonwealth" [p.356]. He knows, unless he is a complete fool (), what the bitter fruit of the "Commonwealth" and the elective monarchy of Poland is going to be, but he has some kind of problem tracing it back to its cause. Thomas Jefferson worried that, without term limits, the American Presidency itself could become subject to foreign influence, as in Poland. So much easier for Davies to wax indignant, anachronistically, ahistorically, and self-righteously -- sadly like Robert Hughes above -- at Crusaders and Popes.


Return to Text

The State of Israel,

[Deuteronomy 7:1] When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations -- the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you -- [2] and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy...

[6] For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

[7] The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. [8] But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers, that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt...

[16] You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, pp.503-506.

Ἐπὶ τῶν ποταμῶν Βαβυλῶνος ἐκεῖ ἐκαθίσαμεν καὶ ἐκλαύσαμεν
ἐν τῷ μνησθῆναι ἡμᾶς τῆς Σιών.

Super flumina Babylonis ibi sedimus, et flevimus
cum recordaremur Sion.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and we wept
when we remembered Zion.

Psalm 137 (Septuagint & Vulgate 136); cf. tears.

I was 10 when mobs attacked the Jewish community of Baghdad, my community, with cruel and unimaginable violence. Rioters mained, raped, killed and robbed the unsuspecting Jews. This massacre, when began June 1, 1941, was called the Farhud [أَلْفَرْهُود], Arabic for "violent dispossession," or pogrom [погром].

Joseph Samuels

وَقُلْنَا مِنْ بَعْدِهِ لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ ٱسْكُنُواْ ٱلْأَرْضَ
فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ ٱلْآخِرَةِ جِئْنَا بِكُمْ لَفِيفًا

After this We told the children of Israel: "Dwell in the land [, arḍ; Hebrew , eretz]. When the promise of the hereafter comes, We shall bring you together as a multitude."

Qurʾān, Sūrah 17:104, سُورَةُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ, "The Children of Israel," or سُورَةُ ٱلْإِسْرَاءِ, "The Night Journey."

לְמַעַן צִיּוֺן לֹא אֶחֱשֶׁה וּלְמַעַן יְרוּשָׁלִם לֹא אֶשְׁקוֺט
עַד־יֵצֵא כַנֹּגַהּ צִדְקָהּ וִישׁוּעָתָהּ כְּלַפִּיד יִבְעָר׃

Διὰ Σειὼν οὐ σιωπήσομαι, καὶ διὰ Ἰερουσαλὴμ οὐκ ἀνήσω, ἕως ἂν ἐξέλθῃ ὡς φῶς ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτῆς, τὸ δὲ σωτήριόν μου ὡς λαμπὰς καυθήσεται.

Propter Sion non tacebo, et propter Hierusalem non quiescam, donec egrediatur ut splendor iustus eius, et salvator eius ut lampas accendatur.

For Zion's sake will I not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, and her salvation as a blazing torch.

Isaiah 62:1
צְדָקָה, is "justice, prosperity, charity." The vowels in צִדְקָהּ are due to the "construct form," צִדְקָת, which is used when attributed to the following noun, or, in this case, just because of a suffixed possessive pronoun. The related word, צַדִּיק, "just, pious, virtuous," is cognate to Arabic صَدِيق, "veracious, honest, upright." We also have צֶדֶק, "righteousness, justice." See the table of value terms here.

Editorial Note, 2018, 2020

My thinking about Israel has changed over the years. When I was a student in Beirut, 1969-1970, I had strong sympathies for the Palestinians, and little doubt about the justice of their cause. Since then they have managed to lose my sympathies, pretty thoroughly. The Palestinians, although I personally heard voices of reason and understanding among them, have largely settled into an ideology where violence and, apparently, massacre are the only goal and tactic -- something in common with more widespread Jihadism. Where in 1970 there were many Palestinian Christians in the "revolution," my understanding is that they have been leaving, or were purged.

My thinking has also changed about political justification, which allows me some criticisms of Israel here, without changing the steadily increasing Zionism of my views. Not everyone will like the reasons for that, since they are based on Machiavelli, but that involves issues of interest in their own right.

Otherwise, my support for Israel is largely just that the Jews have a right not to be dependent on the unreliable good will of others for their safety and survival. Terrorist murders in France, and even now in the United States, continue to demonstrate the dangers. The argument for Zionism is thus not "self-determination," but simply self-defense. If Palestinians had accepted the Partition in 1948, the checkboard nature of the division would have required many provisions that would have made the Israel/Palestine combination look like, for many purposes, a single state. But that was rejected in favor of war, which Israel won. Simiar opportunities have continued to be wasted, and the simple hostility of Palestinians, with Jihadist ideology, is now so overt that Israeli policy is the only prudent reaction. The biased hostility of the "international community" (i.e. UN agencies) is now so vicious that simple anti-Semitism seems the only explanation.

The quote from the Qurʾān above, Sūrah 17:104, could easily be taken to motivate a kind of Islāmic Zionism. It is argued seriously by some that this is exactly what it does, and that it justifies the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Others dismiss those who argue for this interpretation as "Zionist liars."

Like the rather common Christian Zionism, the affirmative argument would involve the belief that the Return of the Jews to the Promised Land is something accomplished by God as a Sign of the Last Days, the "Promise of the Hereafter" in the verse. So far, however, an Islāmic Zionism is rare to the point of invisibility, and common Muslim views of the State of Israel occupy a very different spectrum of opinion, to say the least. Some Muslims argue that the Jews had nothing to do with Jerusalem, a claim whose historicity and logic escapes me.

Zionism proper, Jewish Zionism, originally owed little or nothing to expectations of the Last Days. Instead, it developed in layers of ideology that reflected contemporary beliefs and changed with the times. This makes it a little hard to generalize about, just as it is a little hard to classify the State of Israel in terms of the cultural and historical categories used here. Dividing Europe and the Mediterranean world into Francia, Russia, Romania, and Islām leaves Israel as the odd-man-out. After a fashion, that is the idea, since Israel is supposed to revive something that antedates the Islāmic Conquest, the Roman Conquest, and even the Greek, Persian, Babylonian, and Assyrian Conquests. The last independent Jewish state had been that of the Herodians, but this was already Hellenized, even Romanized, in many ways. The revival of Hebrew, which by those days was no longer a spoken language of daily life, can be seen as part of a project to undo all the cultural assimilation since the Fall of Samaria to Sargon II and of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzer. This, of course, is impossible, since even the names of the Jewish months are Babylonian, but it is part of the ideological project. As it happens, Israel's cultural and ideological origin is transparent, but, like Zionism itself, the identity has drifted.

Zionism, as a modern nationalist ideology, can be said to have begun with a book by Theodor Herzl, the Jewish State, in 1896. At that point, it had already been a full century since the American and French Revolutions, which began the modern emancipation of Jews with the principles of individual natural rights and the separation of religion from political life. In those terms, there was no reason why Jews should not have been citizens of European states like anyone else, with the same duties and privileges. Their identity as Jews was only of significance in Civil Society, where religion becomes a matter of personal preference. By 1896, however, there had been some changes. The prosecution of Alfred Dreyfus in 1894 as a spy for Germany opened a wound in French society that did not heal for years. Even when evidence emerged that Dreyfus was undoubtedly innocent, strong institutional forces, with evident anti-Semitic animus, refusing to accept that Jews could properly be French, long refused to back down. Dreyfus ended up on Devil's Island. That this could happen in France, where the very term "enlightenment" had originated, was appalling.

Dreyfus was eventually exonerated in 1906, and served in the French Army through World War I, but the affair sowed doubts. Would Jews ever really be accepted in European society? This became more problematic because of a shift in the ideological climate. Liberal society, with individual rights and a focus on individual life, was slowly ebbing in favor of more holistic conceptions of society based in nationality, ethnicity, language, history, and other collectivizing criteria. Even without explicitly religious criteria, this all would serve to highlight Jews as different, if not alien. It didn't help Dreyfus that many French Jews were from former German territories, like Alsace and Lorraine. The Jews in France proper had been expelled by King Philip IV. Only when later French Kings acquired lands from the Empire, like Alsace, did Jews, who were living there, return to French rule. Dreyfus's own name comes from the German city of Trier, or Trèves, where one of the ecclesiastical Electors of the Empire resided.

Things were a bit worse in Eastern Europe, where Jewish immigrants from Germany not only were economically more sophisticated than the Poles, Lithuanians, Russians, etc. but also continued to speak their dialect of German, locally called "Yiddish" after them. Jews had not been allowed to live in Russia, but the Russian acquisition of Lithuanian and Polish territory brought them under Russian rule. In 1881, the government began organizing pogroms (Russian for "devastation, rout, defeat, massacre" -- unrelated to "program" in English) against Jews, involving vandalism, massacres, and looting on a large scale. Much of the entire population of Jews in Eastern Europe ended up fleeing, in great measure to the United States. As statecraft, this was incredibly stupid, but then one could say that that very thing exposed the irrationality of anti-Semitism and would strengthen the argument that the Jews needed their own nationalism and their own national state. That was Herzl's suggestion.

There was a response, and Zionism was born. At first, various alternative possibilities for a Jewish state were considered. Since colonialism did not yet have the infamy that it would acquire later, one idea was even for Jews to settle in Uganda. There was not much emotional appeal to such proposals, however, and soon the focus for Zionist aspirations was Palestine, which had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire since 1517, and where a small Jewish population had existed through the Middle Ages. The Zionists, however, did not have a very traditional program. The ideology was nationalist and secular, not religious. It also quickly became socialistic. Jewish settlers in Palestine founded communes, which became the kibbutzim. The Turks were basically not sympathetic with this, but usually not consistently hostile either. It was a Turkish law that a house with a roof could not be demolished, so when Zionist settlers quickly built frames with roofs, Turkish authorities followed the letter of their own laws and tolerated them.

By 1918, when the British threw the Turks out of Palestine, the Jewish population was about 8% of a total of some 700,000. Meanwhile, the British had promised (1) independence for the Arabs, as part of the negotiations in 1916 for an Arab Revolt against the Turks, (2) a Jewish "national home" in Palestine (the "Balfour Declaration" in 1917), and (3) that Arab Ottoman territories would be divided between Britain and France, with French control in Lebanon and Cilicia, French influence in Syria, and a possible joint administration in Palestine (the "Sykes-Picot Agreement," leaked by the Bolsheviks, to embarrass the Allies, in 1917).
British High
for Palestine
Sir Herbert Louis Samuel1920-1925
Nebi Musa riots, 1920;
Jaffa riots, 1921
Herbert Onslow Plumer1925-1928
Sir Harry Charles Lukeacting, 1928
Sir John Chancellor1928-1931
Palestine riots, 1929
Sir Mark Aitchison Youngacting, 1931
Sir Arthur Grenfell
Arab revolt, 1936–1939;
Royal Commission recommends Partition, 1937
William Denis Battershillacting, 1937
Sir Harold MacMichael1938-1944
White Paper recommends
against Partition, 1939
Field Marshal Lord Gort1944-1945
Sir Alan Cunningham1945-1948
UN vote for Partition, 1947;
Mandate ends, 15 May 1948

This cocktail of conflicting commitments has aptly been called the "peace to end all peace." Nevertheless, British rule in Palestine did not begin that badly. The first British High Commissioner, Sir Hebert Samuel, was actually Jewish, and a Zionist -- in fact the first Jew since antiquity to govern Palestine -- but he wished to treat the Arabs fairly and kept things relatively quiet during his tenure -- although there were anti-Jewish riots in 1920 and 1921. Not all Arabs were hostile to Jewish settlement, but most soon became hostile to the idea of Jewish settlement leading to a Jewish state in which Arabs would be dispossessed or left as second-class citizens.

The impression grew that this was, in fact, no less than the purpose of Zionism, and opposition began to stiffen, leading to outright revolt in 1936, by which time the Jewish population had risen to about 30% of the total. In 1937, the British fatefully proposed that the way to resolve the growing conflict was partition. This was again put forward in 1938, but then in 1939 British policy reversed, turned away from partition and envisioned a bi-national state. This was not what Zionism was about, but then the whole issue quickly got shelved when World War II started. Many Palestinian Jews joined the British armed forces to fight a Germany that had realized Theodor Herzl's worse nightmare of resurgent anti-Semitism, while many Arabs saw Nazi Germany as their ticket to overthrowing British and Zionist influence.

The Nazis, of course, were defeated, though not without taking millions of Jews with them. By then the British had lost their stomach for choosing sides in the Palestinian conflict. The issue was tossed to the United Nations, which inherited the authority by which Britain, as the Mandatory power, had ruled Palestine (supposedly) for the League of Nations. The result in 1947 was another partition plan. This broke Palestine into no less than eight discrete, patchwork pieces, three Arab, four Jewish, and one for an international administration of Jerusalem. Elaborate border crossings were envisioned to connect the detached Arab and Jewish areas. For such an arcane and clumsy plan to work, it would have required such a degree of sympathy and cooperation between the parties that, one might imagine, partition would not have been necessary in the first place. When one side of the dispute, the Arabs, had never expressed the slightest intention of accepting or honoring the plan, it was clearly all an exercise in make believe.

What then happened when British rule ended at 00:00 hours of May 15, 1948, set off the first in a series of wars and violent conflicts that continues down to the present. The war in 1948 itself sent the house-of-cards partition plan into oblivion. The new State of Israel was able to assemble a continuous piece of territory, with about the land area of New Jersey, from the Gulf of Aqaba to Lebanon, including a salient that ended at the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The New City became the capital of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs, whom the British had prevented from forming much in the way of their own military forces, expected the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, etc. to intervene and save the day for them. Unfortunately for them, the combined Arabs armies ended up actually smaller than the Israeli army, Israel received arms from Czechoslovakia (with Soviet permission), while everyone else honored an arms boycott against all sides, and the best of the Arab forces, the Arab Legion of Jordan, actually still had a British commander! Indeed, King Abdullah of the Transjordan (and then, with the annexation of the rump of Palestine on the West Bank, "the Jordan," and then just "Jordan") had no animus against the Jews. The story is that in secret meetings with Golda Meir, he proposed a combined Jewish and Jordanian state that would shut out the radicals and ensure the security of Jews and Arabs. This was perhaps not even believed, and was rejected in any case, if the story is even true. When Abdullah did annex the West Bank, and did shut out the radicals, they repaid him with assassination.

Meanwhile, almost the entire Arab population of areas that came under Israeli rule had fled. Some left because they were warned to get out of the way of the conquering Arab armies. Some fled, naturally, out of fear of the fighting. And some were deliberately expelled by Israeli forces. Whichever it was, Israel refused to allow them to return, confiscating their property. It is still a good question whether this was legal under international law, and the U.N. shortly voted that refugees should be repatriated or compensated for their lands. This has never been done. Nothing of the sort, of course, has been done in many other cases of such expropriation, as when Germans were expelled after the War from the Baltic States, East Prussia, Silesia, Czechoslovakia, etc. Considering what Germany had done, no one has since seemed particularly worried about the justice of that. Why Palestinian Arabs should have deserved to lose their lands is less clear. King ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Saʿūd reportedly told Franklin Roosevelt that if the Jews deserved a state because, among other things, of what the Germans had done, then the state should be carved out of Germany, not out of Palestine. This gave Roosevelt some pause, but then he died shortly afterwards.

What is clear at this point is that the dominant ideological principles involved were not those of individual rights. In liberal society, with free movement and voluntary exchange, there would be no objection to Jewish settlers moving to Palestine, buying land, and living whatever life they wished. The idea that Jews had some collective national right to Palestine, however, would not even arise. Similarly, the idea that Palestine would be an intrinsic part of the Arab Nation would also not arise. The rights of individual Palestinian Arabs, however, to their own property would be sacrosanct, regardless of whether they fled their homes for whatever reason. Yet even today, the argument is often heard, sometimes, astonishingly, even from libertarians, that there was never any "Palestinian nation," Palestinian identity, or historic Palestinian state, and that therefore Palestinian claims to the land are simply void. Such an argument depends entirely on the notion that land ownership is a collective right, established by national identity or some historic precedent or political continuity. The origin of Zionism in collectivist and nationalistic ideology is conspicuous in this viewpoint.

On the other hand, collectivist ideology in general has been dominant for so long that the Palestinian case is usually stated in those terms also, with the approach that a "Palestinian people" does exist, just because that is what Palestinians think, whatever anyone else thinks about its origin, or that Palestine is historically part of the Arab Nation, ever since the Islamic Conquest, or that Palestine is an intrinsic part of the Dāru l-Islām, the House of Islām, ever since, indeed, the Islamic Conquest. In any case, the "national aspirations" of the Palestinian people are thereby legitimated. If what we want, then, is a clash of collectivist claims, there is a superabundance of them. In fact, the collectivist heat has increased steadily because of the phenomenon of Islāmic Fascism, which supersedes mere nationalist claims and combines Islāmic identity with most of the worse features of 20th century revolutionary, totalitarian, and terrorist ideology. This, of course, is now what drives Palestinian suicide bombers, who are "martyrs" in Islamist terms and who would certainly agree with Robespierre that, "Terror is naught but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue." Nevertheless, people who assume that a Palestinian state will fulfill Palestinian "national aspirations" are usually surprised when Palestinians continue to talk of going home to Jaffa or Haifa. If only "national aspirations" are at issue, little things like the orchards we used to own near Jaffa seem irrelevant.

The argument now can be made by Israelis that the loss of land by the Palestinians is simply the equal and opposite counterpart to the loss of property by Jews who have fled the Arab world to the refuge of Israel. This was not the case, however, in 1948. Middle Eastern Jewish emigration was more a phenomenon of subsequent years, when Arab governments realized that if they couldn't get at the enemy in Palestine, at least they could hassle the enemy, Jews, right in their own countries. Very few Jews, therefore, are left in the historic Jewish communities of Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, North Africa, Yemen, etc. While, in a practical sense, as even many Arabs are willing to accept (as in the recent Saʿūdi peace plan), this may result in a roughly proportionate balance of wrongs and compensation, it is cold comfort to individual Palestinians, and in terms of individual rights it is particularly without force as a principle of justice. If Egyptian, etc. Jews have been wronged by their countries of origin, then their claims are against them, not against Palestinians. As a matter of Realpolitik, it may be hopeless to adjudicate such wrongs, as it may be hopeless to adjudicate Palestinian wrongs. But none of this imposes a moral obligation on Palestinians to simply give up and forget their grievances. The actions of Palestinian terrorists, which are stupid and vicious, may serve to discredit their case; but, again, this does not discredit the case of individuals who are not terrorists. If all Palestinians support the terrorists, perhaps this discredits all of them; but then we are back, and hopeless entangled, in collectivist thinking.

Two questions are relevant:  (1) Does Israel have a right to exist? and (2) Is Israel a just state? For the first question, we must also ask what it means. If Israel does not have a "right" to exist, does this mean that Jews don't have a right to live there and should be expelled or "driven into the sea"? The answers to all these questions, of course, depend on one's principles. In liberal and individualist terms, no state has a "right to exist." States exist, as Locke believed and Jefferson said, "to secure these rights," i.e. individual rights of life, liberty, and property. In those terms, Israeli Jews have every right to be where they are, in safety and security. Whether Israel then has the right to exist as such then depends on whether, in liberal terms, it is a just state. Unfortunately, the answer is that it isn't. Israeli Arabs may be freer, safer, wealthier, and more secure than the citizens of any Arab country, but they are not citizens in the same way, with the same duties and privileges, as Israeli Jews. Israel is not a liberal state, where all citizens have the same individual and interchangeable rights and responsibilities; it is an ethnic state, founded and devoted to the Jewish People, whose rights and obligations, as a group, are different from non-Jewish Israelis. It is also a welfare state, where public money is directed to private benefit. In those terms, the differences between Jewish and Arab Israelis can be stark. Thus, Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel in 1967, is about 33% Arab, but the Arabs get about 12% of the welfare spending, even though their poverty rate is twice that of local Jews [cf. The Economist, April 15th, 2006, p.27]. They also get only 15% of education spending, where, one might imagine, the Arabs are considerably less advanced in education than Israeli Jews. Most shocking, when Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967, Arab residents were not made citizens of Israel. Non-Jewish natives of Jerusalem are thus only resident aliens of Israel, and they can easily lose their residence status by staying away too long. This is outrageous and would tend to justify Palestinian accusations that Israel never wanted to accept native Arab residents of Palestine -- and to expose Israeli bad faith in denials of the accusation.

This legal discrimination (of Israeli Arabs) is accomplished in a novel way. The founders of Israel, many of whom were atheists, did not believe in using a religious principle of distinction, and they wanted to present the picture that Israeli Arabs were as much Israeli nationals as anyone else. They also didn't want to claim that Jews who were citizens of other countries were already Israeli nationals, making every Jew in the world a dual national, and so a person of starkly divided loyalties in their country of residence. The solution was an intermediate level of identity, between religion and nationality, called "peoplehood." Jews everywhere thus belonged to the Jewish People, and have the right to immigrate to Israel and immediately assume Israeli citizenship and the benefits of Israeli social services, which educate and place Jewish immigrants. Israeli Arabs, however, were of Arab "peoplehood"; and Arabs, of course, even Palestinian refugees, do not have a "right of return" like the Jewish People. There are Israeli Arabs, indeed, whose own land was expropriated by the state, and who can't even return to that. Meanwhile, since it is rather significant who counts as a Jew, some criterion is necessary. This has been a matter of intense controversy. The traditional religious criterion of who is a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother or who undergoes conversion to Judaism. I am informed that the criterion for the law of return is now simply someone with a Jewish grandparent. But converts to Judaism are only recognized if they have undergone an Orthodox rite conversion. This excludes converts to Reform and Conservative Judaism. Traditionally, anyone who converts to another religion ceases to be Jewish, but the law of return now ironically covers, not only irreligious Jews, but Christians or members of other religions who can claim a Jewish grandparent. Thus, the "Jews for Jesus," Jews who accept the Messianic nature of Jesus (while rejecting Pauline Christianity's voiding of Mosaic Law), although regarded as renegades or worse by most Jews, would qualify as Jews under the law of return.

If one rejects collectivist principles, Israel is not a just state and does not have a "right to exist" as a state that contravenes the liberal principles upon which the existence of any state is justified. That there should not be more complaint about this in the Western press and opinion circles is curious, particularly when Western political figures, like Jean-Marie Le Pen in France or Pat Buchanan in the United States, are regularly damned for suggesting that immigration should be limited or ended because it is tending to subvert the ethnic and historic character of their countries. If Le Pen had been elected President of France, and instituted special laws and privileges for the ethnic French People, prohibiting immigration and limiting the rights of others, one can imagine the volcanic response of fear, horror, and recrimination that would follow. Le Pen only got 20% of the vote, even though his complaint was largely about Arab immigrants, whose crime, terrorist connections, and customs seem to have bothered many more French than those who actually voted for Le Pen (not long ago the film star Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined for "inciting racial hatred" by simply complaining about Muslim slaughter of sheep on the holiday at the end of Ramaḍān, the month of fasting).

Yet Israel was not only founded on principles of ethnic privilege, it immediately disavowed any responsibility for the Arab inhabitants of Palestine who had not remained in place once the 1948 War was over. Even after the 1967 War, when Israel ended up with all of Palestine in its hands, and Arabs could travel from Gaza or the West Bank to work in Israel, they still had no right to live there, while at the same time Israel began building Jewish settlements in the newly occupied lands. Such settlements were never allowed by any U.N. instrument and, if the international borders of 1967 are taken seriously, they have always violated international law. What's worse, the settlements have not always been on public lands, but often on land expropriated, on some pretext, from private owners. And, with bitter irony, considering the Turkish law that protected Jewish buildings with roofs from demolition, it has been the Israeli practice to retaliate against civilians for guerrilla or terror attacks (in violation of international law) by demolishing the houses of the families of the perpetrators.

The only justification for Israeli settlement policy now would be either a Right of Conquest to the territories or a pre-existing right of ownership of all of Palestine by the Jewish People. If the former, then no one can blame the Arabs for resorting to force in response, and of envisioning a Reconquest of all the Palestine, whether for Palestinians, the Arab Nation, or Islām. Where Might Makes Right, one has no ground to complain of being wronged, but a perfect ground to reverse any outcome by force. If, however, Jews have a right to settle in Gaza and the West Bank ("Judea and Samaria" as the settlers put it) because there never was a Palestinian Nation, because of historic rights of the Jews there, or because God gave it to them, then we are back with the same full blown collective rights that are so antithetical to liberal principles.

If Israel is not a just state, one might ask, does this mean that the Arab cause should simply be supported? Not if the Arab cause would fail to produce a state any more just than Israel. Israeli Arabs do not have much political power, but they have some. In Arab states, which are generally monarchies, dictatorships, or one party states, minorities (except in Lebanon), not to mention the mass of citizens, have little or no political power. If Israel were overthrown by force, it is hard to imagine, even if there was not a general massacre or expulsion, that a government could conceivably be established that would have the kind of freedom and political rights that would be necessary for a peaceful and equitable solution and for the communities to live together. What doesn't exist in any Arab state is not something that would be likely in a new Arab Palestine; and the way that Yasser Arafat ran the Palestinian Authority, with corruption, assassinations, etc., is not the kind of thing to suggest anything different. Arab countries simply do not have the kind of political tradition or cultural background that is necessary for democratic and liberal government. That a vicious, cynical, murderous tyrant like Saddam Hussein should be as popular as he was, and should have remained in power in Iraq so long as he did, is testament to the pathetic level of Arab moral maturity and political sophistication. We see this again, after the death of Yasser Arafat, when the radical Islamist and terrorist Hamas party won the general elections in the Palestinian Territories.

The Zionists, in short, bought themselves a world of trouble, and trouble for the rest of the world as well. Zionist ideology of collective national rights and aspirations was nothing special in 1900. It was never commensurable with the liberal principles of the Enlightenment, but now it pales in comparison to the overtly apocalyptic, totalitarian, and terrorist ideology of contemporary Militant Islām -- in reaction, not just to Israel, but to the liberal, tolerant, commercial principles of Western states whose laws make no religious, ethnic, or national distinctions themselves. The anti-Israeli cause is now an anti-Western, anti-capitalist cause. Israel can identify itself with the West to benefit from this conflict, even if it is not the best representative of those Western values.

It has occurred to me recently that I have never personally heard from Israelis, or even American Jews, much in the way of "this land is rightfully ours" claims, either on the basis of history or of divine gift. Instead, the most earnest and urgent arguments were always from necessity. For, as it happens, one area where collective identity is undoubtedly of moral significance is when one is targeted for being what one is; and Jews have indeed been target for centuries, culminating the effort of the Nazis to exterminate them. While Jews might reasonably feel safe in various Western countries, particularly Britain and the United States, their perilous status in others was painfully exposed in the Dreyfus Affair and in the horrific erruption of deadly assault by Germany, not to mention in the pogroms of Tsarist Russia and the hostility of Soviet authorities. When Jews had tried so hard to be good Frenchmen and good Germans, and had manifestly added to the achievements of French and German civilization, as well as being frequently identified in international consciousness with the Soviet cause, why should there still be so much hostility in any of those places? Even in the United States, the majority of "hate crimes" are still perpetrated against Jewish targets, despite the weeping of the Left for the hardships of Muslims, always unjustly suspected of being terrorists.

Much of the appeal of Zionism to Jews, then, was simply out of a sense of not being at the mercy of others. If you can protect yourself, you don't need to rely on the good will of people who, even if they actually are of good will, may change their minds or be replaced by lunatics. If nothing else, Israel changed the age-old impression of Jews as passive, frightened, weak, helpless, and, as any Nietzschean could tell you, contemptible. Instead, everyone knows what the Jewish army, the Jewish air force, and Jewish secret agents can do; and the hatred of the enemies of Israel has now for long been mixed with fear. Rather than a race of short, dark, stooped, and timid peddlers or bookworms, the modern Israeli emerges tall, golden, fit, confident, and forceful.

While it has always been possible to make reasonable arguments that are anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic, at this point things are well beyond that. The Islamic world is awash with a tide of naked Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism that draws on every source available, freely recycling Tsarist, Nazi, and Soviet propaganda, even while trying to label Israelis as the true Nazis. Lofty moral critiques of settlement policies rub shoulders with portrayals of Jews as pigs. Westerns may not see much of this, which mainly exists in Arabic and the other languages of ʾIslām and is carefully ignored, if not denied, by apologists speaking to European or American audiences. Fortunately, it is available to the curious and the concerned through tireless translation projects. Yet some of the worst stuff turns up in textbooks used in American, and not always Muslim, schools.

Nor is this a recent business that we can blame on reaction to Israeli intransigence. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (1921-1937), Haj Amin al-Husseini (1897-1974), although appointed by the Jewish British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel, eventually fled to Nazi Germany and spent the war promoting Nazi propaganda in the Arab world. The Vichy government in Syria and a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq briefly compromised the British position in the Middle East. Someone like Haj Amin never looked back, and in 1948 the hopes of the Arabs were entirely invested in an appeal to force. What if Palestinians had accepted the Partition? Would the checkerboard of a Palestine formally divided, but practically integrated, between Jewish and Arab states not really have looked like one state for multiple practical purposes? In other words, could not something like a bi-national state, as proposed by King Abdullah and by secularist Palestinians, not have become a reality through non-violence and a kind of Gandhian Satyagraha? Not with anything like the hostility that we saw then or see now.

Which brings me back to necessity. Zionists may not have believed that there was ever anything but anti-Jewish hostility on the part of the Arabs, and the development of events has provided little evidence that such a judgment would have been wrong. The mother of an Israeli friend of mine had come from Yemen, where Jews had lived since before the advent of ʾIslām. The Emperor Justinian got Christian Ethiopia to attack them. Were the modern Yemenis attacking the Jews because of Israel, or were Yemeni Jews fleeing to Israel because of such attacks? In the end, it doesn't make much difference. The Jews are gone from places like Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt. They were never all that welcome; and the treatment of Christians in Iraq and Egypt today inspires no confidence that Muslim attitudes were ever benign and tolerant enough to meet modern standards of civil equality. The "tolerance" of ʾIslām was always one of subordination.

In those terms, it is shame that Palestinians were displaced; but they might consider blaming those who have harried the Jews for centuries, and made them second class subjects in the Islamic world, more than blaming those who have now decided to fight for their own lives, their own identity, and their own community. Palestinians, indeed, might do the same, but they also might consider why rich Arabs have not succored them in their exile as much as Israel has done for Jewish refugees arriving from Arab countries, from Russia, Iran, or even from Ethiopia. Indeed, not long ago Palestinians seemed to have a clearer sense that they were being used by Arab governments. Even as many of those governments have now been overthrown, they may think that ʾIslām promises a unified force behind them; but the appeal in all this is still to a pure ethic of violence, in which no sensible Israeli is ever likely to find a hint of good will, let alone an inducement to compromise their security.

Recollecting arguments that I used to have, mainly in the late 60's and early 70's, with Israelis and American Jews, about Israel, one thing now strikes me as noteworthy and revealing. Although essentially taking a throughly pro-Palestianian position and denying the legitimacy of Israel, what I faced were always earnest arguments and never any kind of hostility, threat, insult, or abuse. I don't think I was ever even accused of anti-Semitism. This was driven home to me when I later ran afoul of Assyrian nationalists, whose initial response to questions about the historicity of their connection to ancient Assyria (which was annihilated in 609 BC) typically seemed to be threats and abuse, with strangely inappropriate doses of anti-Semitism thrown in. The behavior of the Assyrians seemed all too much like the attitude of Muslims who think that "insults" to ʾIslām must be immediately met with deadly force. In general, I have never known Jews to be like that.

And I have known some who came close. Irv Rubin (1945–2002) was a leader of the Jewish Defense League, for whose doctrine of Jewish self-defense and gun ownership I felt nothing but sympathy. But Rubin was a disciple of Meir Kahane (1932–1990) and believed that all Arabs should simply be expelled from Eretz Israel, meaning all of the former Mandate of Palestine. Much of this seemed fascistic and racist; but I rather liked the man, and much of the vibe that I got was simply a determination to stand and fight, after so many centuries of Jews being hunted, expelled, humiliated, and murdered. If the Left likes to accuse Israel of engendering the hatred of the Palestinians (Arabs, Muslims) by mistreatment, in Rubin I got the picture of someone whose own extremism was engendered by the hatred against Jews in evidence since Haj Amin and earlier.

And extremism it was. In 2002 Rubin was arrested for planning terrorist attacks. Officially he committed suicide in the Los Angeles County Jail; but I don't think anyone who knew him believed that. Kahane himself had been publicly assassinated by a Muslim. But I can believe Rubin was planning attacks. He thought that the war was on and that it was time to fight it. He would have been better advised, of course, to organize less violent actions, perhaps in defense of Jewish students being harrassed by Muslims and Leftists at American universities (with particularly ugly episodes at the University of California, Irvine). For the war is indeed on, against, as ʿUsāma bin Lādin himself asserted, Jews and Americans. The complacency of the anti-American Left about the Islamist threat is often little distinguishable from complicity. While in the 70's (or even the 80's or 90's) I never would have dreamed of describing myself as a Zionist, I must now tell people that I am becoming one more all the time.

This brings me back to the earlier question of where Israel fits into the cultural spheres of the Mediterranean world. I have listed it with Outremer, i.e. the Crusader states. As part of Francia, this reflects the ideological origin of Zionism and most of the human origin of early Zionists. The political foothold in Palestine was provided for Zionism by the British Empire. When the British arrived in 1918, it was the first time that a Christian power had ruled Jerusalem since 1244. But the British neither arrived nor ruled as Crusaders. Their purpose was not to free the Holy Land from Islām and reverse the religious and ethnic outcome of the Islāmic Conquest in 636, but simply to protect the flank of the Suez Canal. The British did not bring in Christian settlers, as the Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas did in 965 in the Taurus, to Christianize the area. Instead, the British allowed Jewish settlers to come in. And what did the Jewish settlers want to do? Reverse, indeed, not just the Islāmic but even Roman (and other) Conquest(s) -- the hilltop fortress-palace of Masada, where the Zealots all killed themselves rather than surrender to the Romans, became one of the principal national shines of Israel. This was more like what the Crusaders wanted to do, seeing themselves as Israel under the "new Covenant" of Christianity. Zionism was not at first a religious project (though there were religious and cultural varieties of Zionism, which did not necessarily want a Jewish state), but as a religious ideology it actually makes more sense than it did as a collectivist nationalism. If God really did give the Land (, eretz in Hebrew, cognate to Arabic , ard., as in the epigraph above) to the Jews, then that settles the matter, regardless of anyone else's subsequent claims, principles, or ideology.

PresidentsPrime Ministers
War of Indepedence, 1948
Itzhak Ben-zvi1952-1963Moshe Sharett1953-1955
Suez War, 1956
Zalman Shazar1963-1973Levi Eshkol1963-1969
Six Day War, 1967
Yigal Allon1969
Golda Meir1969-1974
Yom Kippur War, 1973
Ephraim Katzir1973-1978Yitzhak Rabin1974-1977,
Yitzhak Navon1978-1983Menachem
Peace with Egypt, 1979;
Invasion & Occupation
of Lebanon, 1982-1985
Chaim Herzog1983-1993Yitzhak Shamir1983-1984,
Intifada, 1987-1993
Shimon Peres1984-1986,
Ezer Weizman1993-2000Binyamin
Ehud Barak1999-2001
Intifada, 2000
Moshe Katzav2000-2007Ariel Sharon2001-2006
Ehud Olmert2006-2009
Shimon Peres2007-2014
Reuven Rivlin2014-2021
Naftali Bennett2021-2022
Isaac Herzog2021-
As the years have passed, and as some aspects of the secular ideology, like socialism, have faded, the religious aspect of Zionism has grown. Most Israeli Jews are secular and non-observant, but they also are the most tempted to leave, while new immigrants, especially from the United States, are more likely to be arriving for religious reasons. The incongruity of an obvious American speaking to a reporter from a West Bank settlement about how God has given him/her the Land, and those Arabs better just accept it, usually seems lost on the reporter. Religious political parties often hold the balance of power in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and frequently throw their weight around over controversies whether there should be pork sold in the country, television on Saturday, or civil marriages. Especially important has been the increasing influence of Middle Eastern Jews, who are more likely to be observant and less likely to scruple about harsh measures in defense against the Arabs. A watershed in that respect came in 1977, when Menachem Begin's Likud Party won power against the all-but-institutional Labor Party. On the table of Prime Ministers, Likud members are shown in white. Begin himself was no Middle Easterner, but the old commander of the overtly terrorist "Irgun" militia under the British, sometimes dismissed as a "fascist" by Israeli leaders. Begin made peace with Egypt and returned the Sinai, but he obviously had no intention of compromising about "Eretz Israel," all the land from Dan to Beersheba (or Eilat, actually). Instead, Begin undertook the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which did get the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) out of the country, but at great cost to the Lebanese, the Israelis, and to the Israeli image. The recent Likud Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, was the commander of Israeli forces who allowed the militia of the Christian Phalange Party into Palestinian refugee camps, undoubtedly knowing what they would do, which was massacre the inhabitants.

The removal of Palestinian power in Lebanon uncorked the Shi'ite genie, which for years made things worse in Lebanon than they had been, which is saying a lot. But the invasion of Lebanon also marked the last time that the Israelis could think that their principal enemy lay beyond their borders. Most of the trouble since then has come from within. In 1987 the Palestinian intifada ("shaking off") began, a continuous series of riots, strikes, harassment, rock throwing, and small scale attacks. Years of disruption and then negotiation led to agreements in 1993 and the establishment of a "Palestinian Authority" in 1994. Yasser Arafat was able to return to Palestinian territory. The reaction of some Israelis to this was exposed in 1995 when the Labor Prime Minster and war hero, Yitzak Rabin, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist.

A new Intifada began late in 2000 when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, with the implication of claiming it for Israel. The Temple Mount is the religious heart of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It is the site of the Temple, last rebuilt by Herod the Great, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Romans excluded Jews from the city, except for one day a year, when they were allowed back to the Wailing Wall, a retaining wall on the south side of the Temple Mount, traditionally the last existing part of Solomon's Temple. After the Islāmic Conquest, the area in Jerusalem near the Wailing Wall became the Jewish Quarter. Jewish forces failed to retain the Quarter in 1948, and Jordan did not allow Israelis to visit. When Israel captured Jerusalem in 1967, the Wall was once again accessible. It no longer seemed appropriate to associate "wailing" with it, so it has been come to be referred to as the "Western Wall" -- though this seems pretty bloodless and uninformative; the "Temple Wall" would tell more of what it means. Orthodox Jews actually do not go onto the Temple Mount, since it is not known precisely where the inner sanctum was of the Temple, and it would be improper to traverse the site, however unintentionally. And there is also the belief that return to the Temple Mount must await the advent of the Messiah.

In Islāmic lore, the Temple Mount is where the Prophet Muḥammad ascended to Heaven in a living dream, the "Night Journey." After the Islāmic Conquest, the Caliph ʿAbd al-Malik built a great shrine, the Dome of the Rock, one of the classic buildings of the Middle Ages and one of the monuments of world history. Nevertheless, after 1967, there began to be talk of rebuilding the Temple. This would be a deed of great portent, since there was a prophecy by Jesus that the Temple would be destroyed and not rebuilt. If Jews wanted to prove Christianity false, this would be a good way to do it. It would also infuriate Muslims, though one imagines that the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aksa Mosque, also on the Mount, would be moved rather than simply demolished. On the other hand, the scruple of Orthodox Jews, just mentioned, about the Temple Mount could actually preclude rebuilding the Temple, unless the previous location of the inner sanctum could be ascertained. There is no non-controversial theory about its location.

So nothing has been done in this direction, and not just because of a secular bias by the Israeli government. The legitimacy of the State of Israel itself was originally doubted by many Jews, and still by some (who also refuse to speak Modern Hebrew), on the principle that such a thing could only be established by the Messiah. Secular Jews could dismiss this, but then secular Jews would have no interest in rebuilding the Temple -- something else that would be the business of the Messiah. Something like this may also be the explanation for why Israel is called the "State" of Israel rather than what it is, which is a Republic. Calling it a "State" seems odd, especially when this was the habit of fascist governments, like Vichy France. But "Republic" would imply the sovereignty of the people, and "State" at least leaves this ambiguous, since some might think that God, or the Messiah, not the People, should be sovereign in Israel.

The "State of Israel" and the "People of Israel" are joined by the expresson "Land of Israel," , Eretz Isrāʾēl. There is an ideology there by which Eretz Isrāʾēl replaces "Palestine" as the geographical name of the area, with the argument that the Roman name, Palaestina, was deliberately chosen to erase the presence and the legitmacy of the Jewish population in their own land. Thus, in Zionist terms, the argument is made that there never was and is not now a "Palestine."

I long regarded this Eretz Isrāʾēl as a modern expression, an artifact of Zionism, since I did not remember seeing anything of the sort in the Bible. However, I did not know my Bible well enough. We get "Land of Israel," , ʾAdhmath Isrāʾēl, for instance, at Ezekiel 37:12. This is actually in a passage about God raising the dead of the Jews in Exile and returning them to the "Land of Israel." So it is directly relevant to the project of Zionism. It is a different word for "land," , ʾadhāmāh, "earth, soil, ground" (now not in the "construct" form used for a following genitive), from eretz.

Curiously, it looks like the same root as , i.e. Adam, where the verb from the root, , ʾādham, means "to be red." So we also get , ʾādhom, "red," and even , ʾôdhem, "lipstick" -- which all goes to show how much confusion there can be if we don't write the vowels in Hebrew (or Arabic). We also get , ʾaddemeth, "measles." We see another word with associations of "red" in relation to jealousy, , but the red there seems to go with a form of anger, while the red of Adam would likely be the florid complexion of life. The land being red, however, sounds more like what the Egyptians used to mean the desert (the "Red Land"). Be that as it may, "Land of Israel" does occur in the Bible, although it would not have used by the Philistines.

As Israel drifts towards a more conservative and more observant vision, the Temple Mount becomes more than just symbolic; but as contemporary Islām becomes more militant, the same effect also occurs. Sharon's visit, therefore, was incendiary. Israeli forces had withdrawn from most cities in the West Bank and Gaza, but negotiations were reaching an impass on a final settlement. Arafat was still asking for a "right of return" for Palestinians. This was probably more than any Israeli government could grant. So violent struggle again became the Palestinian approach, with the growing use of suicide bombers, even including young women. This continued for several years, despite devastating military action by Israel, with episodes of reoccupying Palestinian cities and refugee camps, often leaving them in ruins, either as retaliation or in the attempt to hunt down the bomb makers. Accusations of massacres have not been confirmed by neutral observers, but looting and vandalism by Israeli troops seems to have occurred. Considering the terror and horror of the suicide attacks, one can hardly blame them, but it is certainly not making things any better. The more suffering and humiliation that the Israelis inflict, it may be that the more determined and hostile that the Palestinians become.

Where this could all lead, unless some accommodation is reached, is an open and frightening question. The apocalypse, anticipated by Christian Zionists and Islāmic militants alike, is not, especially after the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, impossible. Although Israel has had generally peaceful and normal relations with Egypt and Jordan, the sympathies of the Arab public at large are entirely for the Palestinians, and increasingly for Islamic militants. In a way, only the non-democratic nature of these countries may have stood in the way of the general renewal of war. It was always possible that radicals could overthrow moderate governments, as almost seemed to occur when Anwar Sadat was assassinated. By 2012, of course, the Mubarak regime in Egypt has been overthrown and the (strictly speaking illegal) Muslim Brotherhood elected in both parliament and presidency. The military has displayed some reluctance to give this government real power, but the trend is clearly headed towards the worst result of Islamic radicalism, belligerence, and terrorism. The Christian Copts come under frequent physical and judicial attacks. Although Israel continues to be upbraided by the Left, including some radical Jews, for not making peace with the Palestinians, accommodation is now what is furthest from the minds of Hamas and its radical allies.

As it happens, of course, the Muslim Brotherhood government was overthrown by the Egyptian military, which now essentially dominates the state. Jihadists are imprisoned or executed, with some popular resistence. The dilimma is what has occurred elsewhere. When genuine democracy gives the government to radicals, it is hard to see how a military government is actually worse.

Israel, in one respect the hope of centuries of Jews to be "next year in Jerusalem," thus clings dangerously to a hostile shore, not unlike the Kingdom of Jerusalem itself. The Arabs see it as a European colonial imposition, even while it has steadily become more Middle Eastern in composition and spirit. As in other places, centuries of grievance press heavily on the present. When Israeli forces broke into the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, a reporter asked an Arab shopkeeper what he thought about it all. He answered, "The Crusaders were here for ninety years" (1099-1187). It has now been 53 (as of 2020), and the Arabs may not be wrong to think that time may be on their side. In Israel itself, the population is now 18% Arab.

There are now politically significant Arab populations in Italy, Spain, and France, and, as noted, complaints in Europe about Arab immigration are dismissed as racism. The combined might of the Arab world is still not a serious threat, since the political immaturity already noted also corresponds to cultural and legal conditions that have kept Arab states from modern levels of economic development. The combined non-petroleum exports of the entire Arab world are of less value than the exports of Finland. But there is no certainty that the Arabs will not before long get their act together and be able to project force commensurate with their numbers. I think this unlikely; but the recent intention of Iran to develop nuclear technology, which will certainly be used to make nuclear weapons, is a most troubling development.

What the prudent course is for the Israelis is not obvious. If the Palestinians in general are really irredeemably hostile and unreconcilable to Israel, then a hermetic division of the country and a sealing off of Israel, as it was from 1948 to 1967, may be the only way to prevent terrorism. But this would also mean returning Israel to something like an island existence, "outre mer" from the countries with whom it could have safe intercourse. That is not a life and world that anyone would like to have. This would also give the Arab world the impression of a people at bay. A dangerous people, to be sure, since it is an open secret that Israel has nuclear weapons, but the way things are going, there are many Arabs, and certainly many Palestinians, who would settle for a great deal of mutual destruction if only Israel itself could be wiped out. This is the very stuff of the apocalypse.

Since I wrote the last paragraph in 2002, Israel has gone a long way towards just such a hermetic division. A wall is being constructed dividing Israel from Palestinian territory. This already seems to be largely effective in ending the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel. However, it also encompasses more than pre-1967 Israel, including some West Bank settlements and strategic positions. This was vigorously protested by the Palestinian Authority and ruled illegal by the International Court in the Hague. On the other hand, Ariel Sharon removed Israeli settlements from Gaza, despite fierce resistance and protest from Israeli settlers. The wall implies that many West Bank settlements will be removed like the ones in Gaza. On Jerusalem, however, there seems to be no compromise contemplated. The wall will exclude some but include other majority Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, including the Old City.

The somber lesson of it all, however, is that collective rights easily produce large scale conflicts that often can be resolved only by force. With individual rights, conflicts are much smaller and can be addressed by the laws of property and contract. Where force is used in the large conflicts, it means war. Where force is used in the small conflicts, it is simply called "crime" -- or "self-defense," depending on the circumstances. The irony of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that the Palestinians, who would benefit the most from principles of individual rights, especially property rights, are politically in the camp of those who are the most hostile, not just to individual rights, but to the civilization and countries that are the originators and principal exemplars of such rights. After the modest hopes of the "Arab Spring" in 2011, it looks like the success of the radicals is making all of this much worse, not better. What Talleyrand said of one of Napoleon's judicial murders, we might now say of Palestinian and Islamic terrorism:  "It is worse than a crime; it is a mistake."

Kings of Israel and Judah

The Deportation of the Ten Tribes

Judaea of the Maccabees and Herodians

Islāmic Fascism and Satyagraha in Palestine

Ḥamās Kills Jews; Students Celebrate

Philosophy of Religion, Judaism

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy of History

Political Economy

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Copyright (c) 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved