The idea that tolerance existed in the Crusade Ages seems to contradict the notion of the Crusades. The Crusades seemed aimed at protecting their interest through eliminating those individuals that did not agree with, or hindered, their goals. For instance, the First Crusade traveled to Jerusalem in order to send the knights of Europe elsewhere so they could do all the fighting they wished without killing Europeans. The Church allowed the Crusaders to murder those that stopped them in their trek to capture Jerusalem. Another occurrence of this selfishness was the Albigensian Crusade when the Dominicans murdered Cathars for not acting as ‘true Catholics’. This does not equate to tolerance. Through the various essays within the text, various perspectives were offered that analyzed the levels of tolerance and intolerance present during the Crusades. Tolerance and Intolerance focused on the problems that occurred during the time of the Crusades in relation to social issues and how this established tolerance, or even intolerance in various time periods and geographical areas.
The text explained that the concepts of tolerance and intolerance emerged as a matter of compromise. Religious and ethnic differences that lead to intolerance were actively not incorporated in the text as the differences did not relate to issues of compromise. The editors, Michael Gervers and James M. Powell, did not believe that those differences added value to the conversation of tolerance. The authors wanted lesser researched ideas to emerge that discussed the establishment of either tolerance or intolerance in times of the Crusades. However, religion and ethnic diversities have, and continue to, played a major impact on issues of intolerance and discrimination. One of the ideas that emerged from the various essays within the text, that seems to be the main theme, was that tolerance emerged as compromises were formed. The essays approached various aspects of life to explain how tolerance between the Christians and other groups, Muslims or Greeks for example, emerged due to compromise and not to a change in moral beliefs.
One attempt where compromise did not lead to tolerance occurred between Christians and Armenians. James D. Ryan, professor of history at the City University of New York, Bronx Community College, wrote an essay titled “Toleration Denied: Armenia Between East and West in the Era of the Crusades”. Ryan discussed the attempt of religious compromise that occurred between the Franks and Armenians following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 until around the middle of the fourteenth century. The two groups had a few differences that the Roman Catholics attempted to resolve through ‘compromise’. One region of the Armenians agreed to the ‘compromise’ but the Roman Church believed otherwise and required “continued reassurances of Armenian goodwill and devotion to real church union”. As the two groups coexisted with each other, the level of intolerance rose as they discovered the truth about each other. This contradicts the main theme that emphasis compromise, but shows that religious differences where too strong -to fully allow these two groups to coexist peacefully.
“From Intolerance to Tolerance: The Humanitarian Way, 1187-1216” was written by Giulio Cipollone. Cipollone, a professor at the Università Urbanian in Rome, “emphasized that the dual phenomena of intolerance and tolerance have their basis in the religious belief of Christians and Muslim” and that tolerance is the answer to intolerance between 1187and 1216. Tolerance being the answer to intolerance seems obvious, but to truly tolerate another group, true tolerance has to be met, which cannot be met through compromise. Another interesting point made by Cipollone regards the belief that violence leads to tolerance; “the very experience of killing and capturing as the outcome of holy war… caused the turn to tolerance from intolerance”. The belief that violence reaches tolerance contradicts the very word of tolerance. Killing of the group showed that views of hate and disdain motivated the murders, not ideas of tolerance.
As mentioned previously, Tolerance and Intolerance focused on issues of tolerance in manners that were not as researched. Paul L. Sidelko, assistant professor of history at Louisville, wrote “Muslim Taxation under Crusader Rule”. Sidelko focused on the daily struggles and encounters between Muslims and Latins between the 11th and 13th centuries. Sidelko viewed how the infiltration of a foreign nation, the Latins, altered the existing government “with regard to rent and taxation”. The Muslim government practiced taxation on land paid to the state, as opposed to the lord of the land as practiced in England. Sidelko does not provide an answer to the existence of the Muslim taxation but states that the Crusaders could have adopted the Muslim practice, or “that the crusaders responded to the labor shortage and impracticability of living on their lands in a manner similar to… their counterparts in Europe”. This taxation policy does not seem to have much research however, as Sidelko provided the reader with two opposite conclusions. This essay portrayed the intolerance that the Latins showed towards the Muslim by the fact that they were forced to pay taxes, regardless of who received the payment.
“Gender Bias and Religious Intolerance in Accounts of the “Massacres” of the First Crusade” by David Hay, associate professor of history at the University of Lethbridge, focused on the sieges that occurred after the First Crusade by the Christians and how the “tendency to exaggerate, desire to promote the crusade and the reforming papacy, and their gendered focus and language” influenced a negative view of the sieges and why historians fell into the trap of accepting sources at face value. “Prisoners of War During the Fatimid-Ayyubid Wars with the Crusaders” by Yaacov Lev, senior lecturer at Bar Ilan University, Israel, examined the treatment of prisoners and factors, mainly religion, that altered the treatment received by the enemy prisoners. “The Rhetoric of Ransoming: A Contribution to the Debate over Crusading in Medieval Iberia” by James W. Brodman, professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas, focused on the effect ransoming had on the “Mercedarians and by their clients and patrons during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”. These essays each focused on the relationship between the Muslims and Christians and mainly conveyed intolerance. The first essay mentioned, written by Hay, argued that misconceptions led people to believe that intolerance was present and argued for tolerance. However, the essays by Lev and Brodman showed acts of intolerance through the prisoners and ransoming that occurred.
The last essay within Tolerance and Intolerance, “Willaim of Tyre, the Muslim Enemy, and the Problem of Tolerance” was written by Rainer Christoph Schwinges. Schwinges, professor of medieval history at the Historical Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland, studied William of Tyre and the level of tolerance he showed to Muslims. William did not identify the “Muslims as pagans”, as was done to other non-Christians, “but as believers, although of a different kind”. The Cathars, who identified as Christian, were deemed as pagans; a deadly name to give a group. It is interesting to note that Muslims, the enemy, did not receive this name by William.
The various essays in Tolerance and Intolerance examined how Christians and Muslims dealt with each other and concluded whether or not each group achieved tolerance in a certain time period. Many of the articles tended to show levels of intolerance towards each other. One group, mainly the Christians, took advantage of the other, mainly the Muslims, and forced them under their rule. This intolerance seemed to emerge as a result of religious differences, which does not agree with the authors belief that religious conflict was the top of the intolerance that resulted. However, mistreatment towards groups would not have occurred if differences did not exist. The difference in this instance was religion. Tolerance and Intolerance examined the interaction between the two groups and the resulting effect of such an interaction.
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