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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 8:53 am    Post subject: Reconquest of Spain compared to the Crusades         Reply with quote

It is interesting how the West today accepts the Reconquest of Spain as a noble deed but looks down on the attempted reconquest of Byzantine lands as opportunistic. How are these different? It seems to me the Arabian conquest of Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Palestine and Spain were all part of the same movement. The Byzantines had made numerous attempts to gain back their lands but failed. While the Crusades are linked more directly to Papal direction, I think the pope was just following a growing trend in thought.

It is my observation that as European population growth stagnated after the collapse of Roman dominance and the Arabs filled that vacuum. When European population began to grow after 1000 AD, the Europeans set out to reclaim their lands that the lost in the Muslim expansion that started around 650 AD. The crusades lost momentum for the same reason they started. After the Black Plague in the 1340's they lost a quarter of their population and they no longer needed more land. By the time their population recovered it seems that better land was found in the America's and the European expansion took a detour.

I am not advocating some sort of redistribution of land in this post. I am only trying to give a different prospective of history.

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Tomas Kringen




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even though the crusades were a response to the attack on christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, I think the crusades have a bad reputation due to how it all got out of hand. French and English crusaders sacked and plundered Constantinople, and all in all it perhaps changed the perception of crusaders. The children crusade also might have had something to do with it.

Just my personal opinion.

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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I would say that neither event had any special aspect of nobility to it, however noble the intentions or actions of individuals involved might have been.

In my opinion, attacks on Christian pilgrims in "The Holy Land" had much less to do with the origin of the First Crusade than did the disastrous mismanagement of Roman "foreign policy" and military administration following the battle of Manzikert.

The Romans actually had gained much of their territory in Syria back from the Arabs (under Basil II). Unfortunately, the Ghuzz were pushing into Anatolia and Syria in the 11th century, the most successful clan of which became the Seljuks.

There was never an Arab conquest of Turkey (Anatolia)--southern Anatolia/Cilicia/Northern Syria was a disputed border zone for most of the Arab-Byzantine wars. The Seljuks, however, were able to take advantage of Roman political infighting to make significant territorial gains in Asia Minor and points southward.

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Nathan Keysor




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 8:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The negativity about the Crusades comes in large part from post WWII historians. The Crusades saved western civilization. They stalled the advance of Islam which had reached France, Italy, Sicily and Spain and would have continued. Control of the mediterranean became the provence of the Genoese and Venetians. After the fall of Acre there is even more in fighting among Christians so no real Crusades. The the Black Death etc... The plagues shook everyone up but then you see Christianity losing ground again (Constantinople falls...Hungary is threatened. The trade routes are now in muslim hands. Ferdinand and Isabella take Grenada and Spain is back in Christian hands. Crusades are contemplated. Portugal finances voyages of discovery down the coast of Africa to the Indian Ocean bypassing a muslim lock on trade. There is also the Canary Island conquests and soon after the New World. The mediterranean had been the center of the world as far as trade goes. That orbit sort of shifted to the Atlantic and Christianity wins out economically.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The Crusades saved western civilization.


That's a big leap. I don't see good reason to believe any of the various Islamic powers would have successfully conquered Western Europe without the Crusades, much less that such a conquest would have destroyed Western civilization.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 9:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Keysor wrote:
That orbit sort of shifted to the Atlantic and Christianity wins out economically.


Just to pick up were you left off... the influx of gold and silver from the New World diluted Islamic wealth. The growing trade between Europe and the New World sparked the industrial evolution which took the West to further heights. The shift of economic activity to the Atlantic not only hurt Islam but other Mediterranean countries too like Greece and Italy when their ports fell out of use as trading hubs. The Mediterranean was no longer the center of the Earth (medi-terra).

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
The Crusades saved western civilization.


That's a big leap. I don't see good reason to believe any of the various Islamic powers would have successfully conquered Western Europe without the Crusades, much less that such a conquest would have destroyed Western civilization.


I think its fairly certain.I think the Crusades had the effect of sending a small crack team into Muslum back lines that disrupted their routine. The Muslims ran into some hardships as they advanced north but they would have overcome them if left undisturbed.

The only reason the advance into France was stopped is because of the shift of terrain and the effort of Charles (The Hammer) Martel. The Arabs/Muslims liked hit and run tactics in open fields. They could then disappear into the desert. This aided them well though North Africa. As they got further into Spain and near France they ran into forests and they were not use to this environment. Constantinople was a hard nut for them to crack because of its peninsula defense plus they could be supplied by sea. They did however go around it and into Bulgaria and eventually came back to Constantinople. They attempted to go into Romania. If not for the merciless efforts of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), they would have pressed further into Europe. They would have kept going until they were stopped. It was Roger I, a decedent of Norman Vikings, that stopped their advance into Italy.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tomas Kringen




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:


In my opinion, attacks on Christian pilgrims in "The Holy Land" had much less to do with the origin of the First Crusade than did the disastrous mismanagement of Roman "foreign policy" and military administration following the battle of Manzikert.


The first crusade was started to re capture Jerusalem. Sigurd 1 of Norway who was the first European king to go o a crusade, teamed up with king Balwdin of Jerusalem on request. The knights templar themselves were born out of the need to protect pilgrims who were under increasingly attack.

Your theory is certainly an interesting one. If you have any sources on the matter I would be very interested in reading them Happy

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
The Crusades saved western civilization.


That's a big leap. I don't see good reason to believe any of the various Islamic powers would have successfully conquered Western Europe without the Crusades, much less that such a conquest would have destroyed Western civilization.


Well there is the " Battle of Vienna " in 1683 where the Turks where stopped in their invasion of Europe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vienna

Now this is way after the Crusades but without the crusades the Turks might have been bolder, stronger and Europe a much less " Martially Competent " or confident place ? The only way the crusades or some other clash wouldn't have happened would be if Medieval Europeans had been much less warlike and aggressive i.e. weak, scared and helpless ! Would have been conquered by an aggressive Muslim culture centuries before with Charles Martel losing the " Battle of Tours "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Martel

Now when playing with alternate histories the outcomes could be " variable " and above is one possible scenario !

The World was a hard and nasty place where the weak get killed or if lucky ruled by the strong ( The strong can be good, bad or in a grey zone somewhere in between ). Oh, with all our pretence at " civilization " the World hasn't changed that much.

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The weak may have virtue but no power to do good.

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tomas Kringen wrote:

Your theory is certainly an interesting one. If you have any sources on the matter I would be very interested in reading them Happy



The whole "recapture Jerusalem" thing was developed along the way as The Goal. Alexious I, Byzantine Emperor, asked the Pope for help in gaining back some Byzantine lands after he was devastated in battle. They discussed the possibility of rejoining the two churches down the road. It is debated if going to Jerusalem was in the discussion. It is also debate if the Pope mentioned Jerusalem in his speech in Rome (there are multiple versions). Alexious was only looking for about 300 heavy Calvary. What he got was a land-charge similar to the California Gold Rush of 49 that neither the Pope nor the Emperor expected.

The First Crusades came in two parts. The first was a bunch of yocals and yahoos that first went up to Germany and terrorized Jews so that they could finance their trip.They all perished in Turkey when they met a real army. The second part was the Baron's Crusade. These guys made a deal with Alexious that they would recapture lands on behalf of Constantinople and turn them over to the Emperor. He in turn would feed and supply them. After the Barrons seized the first city they broke their agreement, kept the city and kept going.

My point is that both movements, the reconquest of Spain and the Crusades were for the purpose of taking back recently lost lands from Muslims. If you disapprove of one, you disapprove of the other. Perhaps the Spain should revert back to Muslim possession?!?!?!?

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:54 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Now this is way after the Crusades but without the crusades the Turks might have been bolder, stronger and Europe a much less " Martially Competent " or confident place ?


Maybe, but there's a big difference between trying to conquer Europe and pulling it off successfully. European society would have had to shift dramatically to allow such a thing. Were the Crusades really that important? No one knows. I suggest entering the field of counterfactual history cautiously.

Quote:
The only way the crusades or some other clash wouldn't have happened would be if Medieval Europeans had been much less warlike and aggressive i.e. weak, scared and helpless !


No, I reject the idea that the only possibilities were the Crusades or helplessness. I can imagine countless scenarios in between. I doubt the lack of major foreign campaigns to the Middle East would have made Europeans unable to defend their own lands. I certainly accept that the Crusades provided certainly military advantages. Remember that they had their costs as well.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 10:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
Now this is way after the Crusades but without the crusades the Turks might have been bolder, stronger and Europe a much less " Martially Competent " or confident place ?


Maybe, but there's a big difference between trying to conquer Europe and pulling it off successfully. European society would have had to shift dramatically to allow such a thing. Were the Crusades really that important? No one knows. I suggest entering the field of counterfactual history cautiously.

Quote:
The only way the crusades or some other clash wouldn't have happened would be if Medieval Europeans had been much less warlike and aggressive i.e. weak, scared and helpless !


No, I reject the idea that the only possibilities were the Crusades or helplessness. I can imagine countless scenarios in between. I doubt the lack of major foreign campaigns to the Middle East would have made Europeans unable to defend their own lands. I certainly accept that the Crusades provided certainly military advantages. Remember that they had their costs as well.


Oh, just one " alternate history " among the infinite possibilities so don't take it too seriously Wink Cool

Just thinking that if there hadn't been a clash between European Christians and Muslims with the Crusades they would have clashed a some other time or place unless the Europeans where very isolationists and the Muslims content to not try some sort of invasion: Again just speculation ?

Oh, and the Europeans where anything but timid and helpless increasing the odds of some sort of alternate to the Crusades clash happening.

As far as real history is concerned I was just hypothesizing that the earlier clashes of the Crusades may have strengthened Europe while slowing or moderating the strength of the later Turkish incursions like the one I mentioned at Vienna. Also, the Turks being a credible " invader " in 1683 means that it could have gone the other way with a part of the whole of Europe being conquered i.e. tipping points where history could have been radically changed by a few victories becoming defeats !? If the Byzantines had won at Manzikert or at least not had a disaster a strong Byzantine Empire surviving to the 20th century would have radically changed history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Manzikert

Anyway, change one small thing and you can have a very different World so if the Crusades hadn't happened I was trying to think of reasons why and what the consequences might have been.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Sep, 2008 11:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Just thinking that if there hadn't been a clash between European Christians and Muslims with the Crusades they would have clashed a some other time or place unless the Europeans where very isolationists and the Muslims content to not try some sort of invasion: Again just speculation ?


That seems likely, yes. It's entirely possible a devoted Muslim force would have won temporary success in Western Europe, much as the Crusaders managed in the East. More than strikes me as doubtful. Eventually, the Europeans would have banded together, same as the Muslims did in actual history.

Quote:
As far as real history is concerned I was just hypothesizing that the earlier clashes of the Crusades may have strengthened Europe while slowing or moderating the strength of the later Turkish incursions like the one I mentioned at Vienna.


Maybe. But were the Crusades a net loss to the Turks? I imagine they gained value experience from fighting the Franks, as the Franks gained from them.

Quote:
Anyway, change one small thing and you can have a very different World so if the Crusades hadn't happened I was trying to think of reasons why and what the consequences might have been.


Well, you can go almost anywhere with this. That's why I take issue with Nathan's claim the Crusades saved Western civilization. While conceivable, it's a trick to use past for political purposes. I'd be just as justified saying Charles Martel's victory at the Battle of Tours deprived Europe of prosperity and culture under Muslim rule.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
Just thinking that if there hadn't been a clash between European Christians and Muslims with the Crusades they would have clashed a some other time or place unless the Europeans where very isolationists and the Muslims content to not try some sort of invasion: Again just speculation ?


That seems likely, yes. It's entirely possible a devoted Muslim force would have won temporary success in Western Europe, much as the Crusaders managed in the East. More than strikes me as doubtful. Eventually, the Europeans would have banded together, same as the Muslims did in actual history.

Quote:
As far as real history is concerned I was just hypothesizing that the earlier clashes of the Crusades may have strengthened Europe while slowing or moderating the strength of the later Turkish incursions like the one I mentioned at Vienna.


Maybe. But were the Crusades a net loss to the Turks? I imagine they gained value experience from fighting the Franks, as the Franks gained from them.

Quote:
Anyway, change one small thing and you can have a very different World so if the Crusades hadn't happened I was trying to think of reasons why and what the consequences might have been.


Well, you can go almost anywhere with this. That's why I take issue with Nathan's claim the Crusades saved Western civilization. While conceivable, it's a trick to use past for political purposes. I'd be just as justified saying Charles Martel's victory at the Battle of Tours deprived Europe of prosperity and culture under Muslim rule.


Wait, when a civilization is conquered by another, it withers, while the winning one sucks any possible energy out of it.

Europe would have been a conquered country, with a servant population to the conquerors. The effort to islamize the population would have been a major source of violence and divisions.

Islamic civilization after Al Gazhali crystallized as this interpreter of Kuran stopped any possible development of scientific research, imposing religion as source of any knowledge: so modern science would never have been born (or reborn, as modern Science was largely born in classical Greece), while the initial flourishing of science in Islamic lands had to wither off because of the subjugation f science to religious dogma, which Europeans were able to escape off somehow until the establishment of galileian principles.

Actually Christianity, even if born in the same area as Islam, had been born by melting its roots with Greek philosophy, so saving the basis of the ancient graeco-roman heritage.

And if Islam had conquered Europe no Renaissance masterwork would have been possible, as Islam forbids any representation of human figure: no Leonardo, no Michelangelo ... no Durer.

Obviously the Islamic civilization, being imperial in its wide reach, did gather a wealth of knowledge from conquered populations and distant neighbors, most notably India (from which came the decimal system, an innovative positional system): it also spread itself over the southern remains of the roman empire, so it could count on the ancient classical civilization as a ground to which it could develop its own one, and for a certain period there was a continuity.

So by conquering Europe it would not certainly have wiped off civilization in toto from the map of Europe: but it would have wiped off any of the peculiar characteristics of our civilization as we know it today, starting from the impressive corpus of visual arts we have.
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Nathan Keysor




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To quote Jean

"Well there is the " Battle of Vienna " in 1683 where the Turks where stopped in their invasion of Europe. "

This was after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and it wasn't the only incursion. The Byzantine Empire was a buffer for Europe. After its fall the buffer was gone.
Prior to the Crusades, Sicily was under Muslim control. They had ports in Italy, most of Spain and had made forays into France. The Byzantine Empire was contracting. Major land trade routes were in Muslim hands along with the wealth that went along with them. They had control of the mediterranean. During the Crusades maritime Italy took control of the mediterranean. Now, it can be argued that later Crusades were difficult because they didn't want to disrupt their trade connections with Muslim powers and the land routes were basically closed.
The Crusades did save Western Civilization by preserving the buffer for long enough for ship building technology to allow Europe to bypass the Muslim held land trade routes and reach India and China (and eventually the New World) independently. This allowed Europe to prosper and not export more and more wealth into Muslim hands which would then be used to outfit more campaigns into Europe.
There were big time failures in the Crusades and attrocities committed by Crusaders. The motivation of many of them can be debated. But, prior to the Crusades, Christendom was under attack. Around a hundred years after the advent of Islam they were already in France. Some would like to think that, prior to the Crusades, the Muslims were singing koombaya and holding hands. They were not. They were on the offensive. There is the House of Islam and the House of War. If you are not in the House of Islam you are, by default, in the house of war. They are not allowed a truce lasting longer than 10 years with non Muslim neighbors. Under "Gaza" which is the term for gaining territory for Islam they must further the faith.
To be counterfactual for a moment:
Now, if it hadn't been for the Crusades and The Reconquista (which could be considered a Crusade since Papal Indulgences were issued for it) shipping in the mediterranean would have been under Muslim control. Also, the ship building resources of Spain would have been at theri disposal. Sorry, Columbus, no ships for your voyage or De Gama or Magellan. Europe becomes an Island with less and less world influence. The New World is eventually discovered by someone with an Arab surname.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Wait, when a civilization is conquered by another, it withers, while the winning one sucks any possible energy out of it.


A simple look at Spain under Islamic rule casts doubt on this assertion. While I reject some of the wilder claims about this period, there's no doubt art, eduction, and commerce flourished. Spain didn't wither. Both Western culture and Christianity remained. Scholars from the region worked with the Greek texts you considers so critical.
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Nathan Keysor




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes there were great commentaries on Aristotle written by Muslim authors and other cultural exchange. Spain, however, wasn't under complete Islamic control. Also, due to a split in Islam, the Caliphate in Spain was separated politically from that in Baghdad. There were alliances of Christians and Muslims vs other Muslims too.
Christians were often allowed to stay in Muslim lands because the local rulers collected a tax called the Jiz'yah (spelling probably incorrect on that) and they liked the money. Now these Christians were second class citizens and couldn't bear arms or ride a horse. Eventually they would, for the most part, convert. There was also cultural exchange between the Byzantines and the Turks but that didn't stop the Turks from conquering them.
Now, none of this should be construed as suggesting that one culture is "good" and the other "bad". This depends on point of view. For Christendom the expansion of Islam is "bad" and for Islam it is "good". Since I'm a fan of Western Civilization I'm glad the expansion was halted (or slowed down).

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regardless of such values, I have trouble with the idea of some Islamic empire taking and holding Western Europe without the Crusades. Can you imagine such a force attempting to invade the British Isles? Sending armies thousands of miles strikes me as an odd way to limit expansion. Particularly when we're talking about the Ottomans, it's my understanding that the Eastern European powers limited their advance. I don't see how the lack of those 12th- and 13th-century campaigns would have prevented this.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
Wait, when a civilization is conquered by another, it withers, while the winning one sucks any possible energy out of it.


A simple look at Spain under Islamic rule casts doubt on this assertion. While I reject some of the wilder claims about this period, there's no doubt art, eduction, and commerce flourished. Spain didn't wither. Both Western culture and Christianity remained. Scholars from the region worked with the Greek texts you considers so critical.


Well, it was an Islamic civilization with Spanish autoctonous population living with gravely diminished political rights, the so called dhimmitude status.

But what are you referring to, the Andalusian myth of a pacific under enlightened foreign conquerors, is a modern myth that has very modern implications that go well beyond the scopes of this forum.

So I can go no further as it would become a very modern discussion.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Can you imagine such a force attempting to invade the British Isles? Sending armies thousands of miles strikes me as an odd way to limit expansion. Particularly when we're talking about the Ottomans, it's my understanding that the Eastern European powers limited their advance. I don't see how the lack of those 12th- and 13th-century campaigns would have prevented this.


Britain has been successfully invaded by Romans, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. They probably would have been invaded by Germans too if not for the support they got through the Atlantic form the U.S. plus Hitler getting himself into a two front war with the Russians.

I don't think Muslims would have invaded England directly by Sea in a single campaign. They slowly conquered the rest of Europe and would have got to England too. Given that British relations with the U.S. were cold right up until WWI, I don't think think they would have been supported by sea.

Likewise, if not for the anti-colonialism polices of the U.S. after WWI, Africa would still be a European colony.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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And if Islam had conquered Europe no Renaissance masterwork would have been possible, as Islam forbids any representation of human figure: no Leonardo, no Michelangelo ... no Durer.
There's plenty of Afghan, Iranian, turkish and Adulasian painting around contradicting that notion, never mind all the indian mughal miniatures.

Of course, unlike any paintings being doned in europe at the same time, these were private affairs of kings and princes and at best meant for a small public. I suppose having to work for such a restricted audience would have put a serious damper on european art indeed.
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