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Christopher B Lellis




Location: Houston, Texas
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Aug, 2013 11:52 pm    Post subject: Crusaders eating muslims? Yes cannibalism         Reply with quote

I honestly don't even remember how I ended up on this site.
here is the link;
http://www.radioislam.org/sindi/croisades.htm

Clearly it's written by a Muslim who didn't have a favorable "understandably" view of the Crusades. It's probably mostly emotional hog wash concerning the details but I'm curious about some of this.



Were there actual documented incidents of Europeans eating Arabs during the crusades? I have never heard this before.

Here is a sample under V. Butchery and Cannibalism in Ma'arra


Actually, even before the massacre of Ma'arra took place, its Arab inhabitants knew very well that there would be cannibalism by the European Christians. The Arabs had seen the fanatic Crusaders, the Tafurs, "roam through the countryside openly proclaiming that they would chew the flesh of ... [Arabs and Muslims] and gathering around their nocturnal camp-fires to devour their prey." [28] In fact, the barbaric Western Crusaders not only enjoyed cooking and eating the flesh of Arabs and Muslims, but they also found it even "better than spiced peacock."


Anybody on this forum ever come across any historical writings talking about this before?
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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2013 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am no expert but looked on the web a little while and found the below:

It was an accusation reported not by one, but by several chroniclers in the late eleventh and twelfth century – and not just by Islamic writers, but Christian writers as well. So is it true?

The culprits are often identified as people described by the chroniclers as “Tafurs”. These were the very poor people who had joined the crusade enthusiastically from the start though viewed with suspicion and alarm by the aristocracy. Desperation may have driven them on crusade and they were often slaughtered pitilessly by the Saracens. Their arms were substandard and their military training non-existent. If anybody was going to be hungry in the Holy Land, then it was going to be the Tafurs, who normally came from northern Europe – France, Flanders, etc.

Whereas there was a degree of gentlemanly conduct between aristocratic knights and Saracen lords, the Tafurs showed a brutish and bloodthirsty determination. When the opportunity presented itself to put muslims to the sword – or dagger if they couldn’t afford a sword – they took it. Clubbing and knifing whoever got in their way. They may have put it about that they ate their enemies’ bodies to engender more fear in their enemies or the stories may have been circulated by disdainful aristocrats looking down their noses at the Tafurs.

Fulk of Chartres, who wrote extensively about the crusades, was adamant that cannibalism was real and happened. At one particular and prolonged siege, the bodies of Saracens were eaten by Tafurs. He wrote:

“I shudder to tell that many of our people, harassed by the madness of excessive hunger, cut pieces from the buttocks of the Saracens already dead there, which they cooked, but when it was not yet roasted enough by the fire, they devoured it with savage mouth.”

This siege was at Ma’arrat al Nu’man where thousands of inhabitants were massacred. Expecting to find great wealth within its walls, they found nothing of the sort. Now empty-bellied, the Tafurs eyed the corpses around them and got the cooking pots out. Radulph of Caen wrote:

“In Ma`arrat our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots, they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2013 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It shouldn't come as a surprise. You are likely to find instances of cannibalism in any large military campaign where there were inadequate provisions for the troops and camp followers. It was common during sieges too. There are societal taboos and religious problems but from a rational and practical point of view it makes sense. Why waste all that fresh meat? I would hope that if I died and my body could help keep my companions alive then they would tuck in. There is kuru or cretzfeldt jakob disease to be wary of, but it is usually only associated with eating the brain.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2013 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also be aware that this was a very common tool in literature to demonize people. Just because there are Christians claiming other Christians did this does not mean they cannot be doing it to attack certain social or rival groups. As well there are several Christian writers who claim Muslims did the same thing during the Crusades.

If you want to make someone into a bad, evil, depraved monster over just an enemy eating another human is and was a way to do so. I want to say there was something in either WWI or WWII where the Allies claimed the enemy was doing this. Sadly I just read well over 2000 pages of primary content last week so could not even say where to start for what the account specifically is but it still carried a very negative connotation and was used to make a rival/opponent looks less than human so be aware that many of these accounts could be simply attacks at a group or individual and there may have been no cannibalism present in all cases.

Could it happen yes but could it be used to assassinate someone or a groups character and make it easier for one side to hate, fight and kill you bet.

RPM
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Aug, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A starving dog will eat another dead dog...no remorse or pity. We, as humans, are no different. Absolute need overpowers social stigma and taboo. Look at the Donner party...absolute need. Look at Jeffery Dahmer...........Give him the electric chair. Totally different scenarios..............McM
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Christopher B Lellis




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 2:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Seems like this might have been true after all. It always fascinating to learn details about historic events that aren't told by the mainstream.
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 3:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have time to read the article in question but would suspect its written from a the view point of someone wanting to defend/promote his religion and put down another.

But a human eating another is unlikely to be doing it to insult Islam/Christianity/whatever, just to stay alive. In many towns of the area there was a mixture of races and creeds so how would you tell who you were eating? Not sure medi-care bracelets were about then. All humans can rise to great heights but also sink to great depths, particularly where basic survival is concerned.

And is it worse to eat sunni or sufi, devout RC or cathar?
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the dead Cathar was "perfect" I suppose. ;-)
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Michael Parker




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The way I see it, these reports of cannibalism in the chronicles serve partly to emphasize the hardships that the crusaders endured. People turn to cannibalism in desperation, and I imagine that men who stooped to such things might have been pitied as well as feared. Anyone might have done what they did in that situation.

I think that maybe the Syrian Muslims who were most affected by the crusaders' invasion had to raise the cry of atrocity in order to motivate the Powers that Be to do something about it. It wasn't until the 1140s that the Muslims started to make some progress kicking the Franks out of the region. Before that, anybody who petitioned for a military expedition against the crusader states was largely ignored because Jerusalem was kind of an unimportant backwater and rulers had bigger fish to fry. First the Quadi of Damascus went to the Seljuk sultan in Baghdad to report the fall of Jerusalem and call for a response, but he was ignored. In 1110 the Quadi of Aleppo went to Baghdad, and he was also ignored. I suspect that these Syrians, who were being ignored by the Seljuks in Baghdad and the Fatamids in Fustat/Cairo were frustrated that nobody was listening to them and wanted to shock somebody into action.

"This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries."
-Sir Walter Raleigh, upon being allowed to see the ax that would behead him, 29 October 1618


Last edited by Michael Parker on Mon 05 Aug, 2013 9:21 am; edited 3 times in total
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Also be aware that this was a very common tool in literature to demonize people. Just because there are Christians claiming other Christians did this does not mean they cannot be doing it to attack certain social or rival groups. As well there are several Christian writers who claim Muslims did the same thing during the Crusades.

If you want to make someone into a bad, evil, depraved monster over just an enemy eating another human is and was a way to do so. I want to say there was something in either WWI or WWII where the Allies claimed the enemy was doing this. Sadly I just read well over 2000 pages of primary content last week so could not even say where to start for what the account specifically is but it still carried a very negative connotation and was used to make a rival/opponent looks less than human so be aware that many of these accounts could be simply attacks at a group or individual and there may have been no cannibalism present in all cases.

Could it happen yes but could it be used to assassinate someone or a groups character and make it easier for one side to hate, fight and kill you bet.

RPM


While I agree with your analysis, there are documented incidents of cannibalism in relatively modern times. You mentioned WWII for example. Flyboys, a book by James Bradley, devotes a lot of ink to cannibalism committed by Japanese soldiers in the Pacific. Specifically several downed US air crew, who were the subjects of the book, were executed and body parts consumed by the Japanese. This is well-documented in the book and Bradley even interviewed surviving Japanese soldiers who were present. This was not propaganda, of course, because it was written long after the war ended. There certainly was plenty of propaganda on both sides in WWII which demonized the enemy, unfairly in most cases.

During the French and Indian War several tribes on the French side actually cannibalized captives from time to time. This was documented not only by captives who survived but by French soldiers who were present. The Native Americans justified this act by saying they had not had meat in quite awhile but in at least one incident they cut off the legs of the victim while he was still alive and threw them into the cook pot. This seems more like torture than a simple need for food. Sorry for the gruesome image but it is part of the history.

It is quite possible that Crusaders and Muslims resorted to cannibalism in extremis in spite of cultural and religious prohibitions against such acts. Demonization of the enemy could be a motive for reporting such things but I do not doubt that they may have happened from time to time.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin,

Sure but the danger here is are we making an uncommon event into a common one. I think that is indeed the case. We have evidence from 100ks of years ago of people being eated by other people at times so of course it happened but if this was a large scale thing I'd expect more evidence in text and remains.

And for every group like the donner party there are others that simply starve to death. I do not see this as universal a practice at any time or place but a few that usually already have a similar practice in place. Does it happen, as I said before, for sure. Is it common I doubt it or it would not carry such a negative stigma throughout history.

RPM
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends on what you mean by "common". You could have cannibalism in every military campaign since the dawn of man but, if only a handful of people practised it out of thousands, is it common?
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Aug, 2013 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lets not forget the pogroms...
A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Aug, 2013 6:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,

It could be but I doubt it happened in every campaign, and when it did for the most part I expect was indeed small groups for the most part. A group of soldiers is far more likely to desert the army and walk if they are hungry than eat each other on a scale of things. I think people are more likely to strip down almost anything one can eat first, small critters and bugs, grass and moss in places they cannot desert. In Europe we have far more examples of people simply starving to death than eating each other during the medieval period. In fact the times they do mention eating each other it almost always seems to follow artist conventions of they were so evil they eat people (Mongols come to mind as a common group Euros did this to) or they were sooooo hungry they had to eat their own feet. These events are easily just as likely to be fictitious or in part so than real events. Unless you want to take writers at face value which we should throw some swords cutting mail armed men in half on the pile.

I agree it likely happened but doubt it was that common. I think the only likely reason we see it is in siege like situation and other dire lack of food scenarios but I think in many cases it was a small number of people involved.

RPM
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Robert B. Marks




Location: Kingston, Ont.
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Aug, 2013 7:15 am    Post subject: Re: Crusaders eating muslims? Yes cannibalism         Reply with quote

Christopher B Lellis wrote:
I honestly don't even remember how I ended up on this site.
here is the link;
http://www.radioislam.org/sindi/croisades.htm

Clearly it's written by a Muslim who didn't have a favorable "understandably" view of the Crusades. It's probably mostly emotional hog wash concerning the details but I'm curious about some of this.



Were there actual documented incidents of Europeans eating Arabs during the crusades? I have never heard this before.

Here is a sample under V. Butchery and Cannibalism in Ma'arra


Actually, even before the massacre of Ma'arra took place, its Arab inhabitants knew very well that there would be cannibalism by the European Christians. The Arabs had seen the fanatic Crusaders, the Tafurs, "roam through the countryside openly proclaiming that they would chew the flesh of ... [Arabs and Muslims] and gathering around their nocturnal camp-fires to devour their prey." [28] In fact, the barbaric Western Crusaders not only enjoyed cooking and eating the flesh of Arabs and Muslims, but they also found it even "better than spiced peacock."


Anybody on this forum ever come across any historical writings talking about this before?


I have.

This is the Christian record of it, from Fulcher of Chartres (an eyewitness), with the context:

"[Bohemond and Count Raymond] , with their people, seized Barra and Marra, by a courageous attack. After the former city had been captured quickly and completely depopulated by the slaughter of its citizens and everything which they found there had been seized, they hastened to the other city. Here, when the siege had lasted twenty days, our people suffered excessive hunger. I shudder to tell that many of our people, harassed by the madness of excessive hunger, cut pieces from the buttocks of the Saracens already dead there, which they cooked, but when it was not yet roasted enough by the fire, they devoured it with savage mouth. So the besiegers rather than the besieged were tormented."

(Chapter XXV, Edward Peters edition)

As far as the crusaders wandering around declaring their intentions to eat people, that sounds pretty unlikely to me. The cannibalism at Marra happened because of extreme desperation, not because Arab hindquarters was a delicacy. However, it would not have surprised me if a rumour of that sort had gotten out, particularly after Marra. It would also not surprise me if some enterprising Crusaders decided to use that atrocity as leverage to force a city to surrender.

And, the Christians and Muslims did have a history of accusing each other of ridiculous things. In Moorish Spain, both Christian and Muslim sources accuse the other side of holding orgies in their mosques/churches...

(As far as depopulating cities goes, that actually comes down to the rules of warfare at the time, rather than any particular bias against Muslims. As Thomas Asbridge points out in his book The Crusades, both sides followed a rule wherein a town or city that surrendered immediately would be spared, while one that held out would be subject to pillaging and atrocity. The idea of the "barbaric Christians" invading the peaceful holy land and destroying everything they see falls apart fairly quickly under closer scrutiny.)

PS: I just read the linked article, and what a load of BS. In all seriousness, the author needed to read somebody like Asbridge - at the very least, he needed to put the atrocities in the context of the rules of warfare at the time, and distinguish between the People's Crusade, which was an unexpected and uncontrolled mass movement, and the proper First Crusade, which during the Siege of Antioch had maintained open diplomacy with the other Muslim powers in the region. For that matter, the entire website looks like antisemitic trash. Seriously - an editorial by Ernst Zundel?

[Edit: For those who don't know, Ernst Zundel is Canada's most famous Holocaust denier - he was actually jailed and deported for it.]

Robert Marks
Darksword Armory, Inc.
www.darksword-armory.com
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