The beginning of the second millennium was an extremely controversial one for the human society, having numerous historical events and multiple connotations in other areas of interest. An apparent chaos dominated the world at a time when a certain stage of ordering things was being attempted, of achieving a new and relative state, religious, economic and social stability. We cannot clearly invoke a paradigm of those times, but solely some singular and isolated attempts to control a certain type of power and to achieve certain plurivalent stabilities.
The previous millennium has left a legacy of a series of events and personalities, which have imprinted their mark on history in different expressions, without definitively solving the continuous challenges to which a multitude of peoples in the geographical area of Europe were subjected.
The first three centuries of the first millennium impose a maximum expansion of the Roman Empire in Europe, but also multiple limitations to the management of the new geostrategic situation. The political unity, the provincial administration, the empire and the federations of cities, the cultural unity, the religious integration, the way of life were major concerns in this real existence of the empire./1/
The existential problems mentioned above were doubled (starting with the last two centuries B.C.) by an increasing spiritual, philosophical and religious crisis, generated by the beginning of the dismemberment of the Greek culture and civilization, in line with the first manifestations of weakness and inconsistency of the Roman action in the various provinces and imperial regions.
In a first stage, K. Armstrong sends us back a few thousand years ago: “In the beginning … people had recognized a single Supreme Divinity, who had created the universe and established people’s lives from afar … believing that He was watching over them and would punish them for their wrong deeds. However, it is bizarre that He is absent from their daily lives, that there was no cult dedicated to Him, and His image is never represented. ”/ 1a /
After this … beginning, there follows the period and mythology of the ancient gods.
In all the treatises on the history of the world, of Europe, of religions and religious beliefs, etc. what matters is that their approach starts alongside the beginning of the human societies and the various forms of divine spirituality associated with them. Historians, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians and sociologists record a multitude of deities in each people, emphasizing in each analyzed situation a certain constant: the existence of a supreme god, an exposure in the collective mind of the God of Gods, and they are mostly associated with the Sun …
The crisis that was foreseen in that temporal space of the spirituality (both religious and philosophical) would last for centuries, it would determine profound religious changes in the European and the Middle East regions. We are witnessing the twilight of the gods, against a background of conceptual confrontations and contradictions and almost endless dogmas, with many oppositions or appreciations on certain categories of deities. The emergence of Christianity involves not only an acceptance of a new spiritual order, but also a huge and long organizational and spiritual activity, sometimes controversial in pragmatic terms. The first Gospel of Mark appears almost forty years after the events in which Christ was involved. K. Armstrong brings a series of clarifications for the early stages of Christianity. /1b/
After the year 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine becomes a follower of Christianity, all his future actions being carried under this banner. In 315 he proclaimed the Christianization of the whole Europe, from Constantinople to Wales. He convened the Council of Nicaea (325) for doctrinal clarifications and the achievement of a unity of the Christian world /2/. This dialogue between the Christian elites failed to impose the much desired complete unity.
Starting with the beginning of the fifth century, the first millennium, we witness the falling and dismemberment of the Roman Empire, with all the subsequent historical, social and religious consequences. In a brief analysis, there were two main causes often invoked. Fights, conflicts, wars, dissatisfaction, various religious disputes, tendencies of autonomy within the Roman provinces and regions (which were extremely inhomogeneous from an ethnic point of view), but also between them and the central power.
The fourth and fifth centuries bring the beginning a massive wave of migrations of barbarian peoples from Eastern and Northern Europe: the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, Vandals, Alans, Gepis, English, Saxons, Franks, etc. Their impact, after the Christianization, will be major in shaping the future states of the Western Europe. /3/
In 800, the Merovingian Dynasty laid the foundations of the first centralized state of the Franks. „Charlemagne is crowned Emperor of the West in Rome by Pope Leo III, despite the protests of Byzantium” /4/. Some reforms were taking place. At the same time, poverty, famine, epidemics and disease were wreaking havoc, not only in the land of the Franks, but in most of Europe. The death of Charlemagne causes a fight over power that ends with the disappearance of the Merovingian Dynasty. Along with Charlemagne, Otto I was to lead the Christian people to salvation. The pope, in the spectrum of the spiritual order, and the emperor in the perspective of the temporal order.
Thus, the first millennium imposes on the collective mind: a long process that has ensured an almost total completion of the Christianization of the European populations and the invading barbarian peoples. A sinuous, difficult and controversial stage begins (under the conditions of the duality between Rome and Constantinople) of asserting the first feudal states, in the form of kingdoms, doubled by the assertion of some reference elements of the noble aristocracy and of a special social category, the knights. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great and his mother Elena (who would later be sanctified) definitively tipped the balance of the transition from the polytheistic religion to the Christian (monotheistic) religion, in which he himself, as emperor, called himself „the bishop from outside”, being the equivalent of an apostle. The other reference personality is Charlemagne (Karolus Magnus), who, according to some historians and researchers, has Jesus Himself in his genealogical ancestry. Socially, we were witnessing the beginning of a demographic explosion, with a social spectrum at the minimum level of survival for the majority of the population, but also the persistence of numerous social and military conflicts.
The second millennium begins under these auspices of a religious, organizational and social nature, some of the mentioned events and phenomena still persisting. It is more and more obvious that there was a Latin Christianity and a Greek Christianity, with all the consequences that derive from this state. From many points of view, but especially from the religious perspective, we are witnessing a process of division of Europe (as in the present times) rather than a unitary historical and organizational construction.
The inevitable occurs in 1054, through the Great Schism that determines the final separation of Rome from Constantinople. Although the medieval foundations of many states that began to assert themselves on the map of history at the beginning of the second millennium have many common connotations (Spain, Portugal, England, the Western Roman Empire, etc.), it is difficult to assess the impact of this schism by reference to those temporal annotations. The unfolding of events in the coming centuries will clarify some aspects, but it would also cause the appearance of aspects that would affect the Catholic Church.
A religiously divided Europe in the first century of this millennium provided the defining elements of triggering a systemic and existential crisis on the European continent.
Starting from this incongruous context, a slow process of economic revival is beginning in Europe, doubled by a significant demographic expansion. They were searching for solutions, even geopolitical and military ones.
In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a crusade. The Pope’s sermon at Clermont, in favor of the crusade, is described in detail by T. Asbridge*. The enthusiasm is almost general. Emperors and kings, high clerics, aristocracy and nobility, knights, the middle classes that were just forming and the ordinary people support the papal calling. The general motivation was simplistic and easy to understand to all. The occupation of the Holy Land that was in the hands of the pegans! A call that represents a rather geopolitical interest, the religious motivation appearing somewhat in the subsidiary. The multitudes and elites of the time understood the papal message. If you want access to the holy places, we will occupy the Holy Land through war.
Who were the pagans in the Holy Land? There is a somewhat surprising answer: “… They found its inhabitants divided in terms of faith between Islam and a large number of Christian heresies (Monophysitism, Nestorianism and others), all the latter depicting the pre-Islamic efforts of the Syrian souls to clean Christianity of its Greek ideas and forms… As a result of the Crusades, this process was diverted… Two Islamic societies were born from the ruins of a dead Syrian society, the Arab and the Iranian societies”/5b/. Let’s not forget about the Jews!
Coming back to the papal call, the general motivation invoked does not decipher other interests or concrete objectives, if they existed. Historians, researchers and the academic world have applied the gnoseological attention needed to identify the other „pragmatic calls” of the high-ranking crusaders.
Can we identify a relevant definition of the crusade? Of course we can. „The term crusade is commonly attributed to those Western military expeditions started because of the papal initiative and with the blessing of the pope, in order to conquer, maintain or recapture the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem. We will use this term here in a broader sense, defining it as the whole war activity of the Western Christianity carried to its borders in the medieval period of the Western history. The opponents were the Islam in Spain and Syria, but also the rival Christianity in the Eastern Roman Empire, and the pagan barbarians on the northeastern borders of Europe” /5/. The complete vision offered by the renowned historian A. Toynbee offers us a different kind of introspection into the events that marked the beginning of this millennium for almost two hundred years. The onset of the first crusade was inevitable, their end was unpredictable and temporarily indeterminate. The historian I. Weiss also found that the six crusades had different targets, even if some were complementary: the Holy Land (first, third and fifth), Byzantium (fourth), Egypt (sixth), and the last was the defeat of the Crusaders at Accra (1291) and the conquest of the city by the Mramluks /6/.
M. Eliade, through an outline of eschatology and politics, offers an interesting perspective on the crusades and their consequences: “… The Crusades were a first-rate fact in the medieval history. Before the beginning of the Crusades, the center of our civilization was in Byzantium and in the countries of the Arab Caliphate. Before the last crusades, the hegemony of civilization had passed into Western Europe … What will hold us back will be the religious meanings of the crusades ”/7/. The geopolitical and religious nuances are clearly expressed. **
I would consider the consequences of the crusades, during their development, but also after their end, using a metaphor: from agony to ecstasy and vice versa. In a collection of studies included in the volume Crusades (French researchers), C. Morrisson claims as positive consequences: obtaining economic and financial benefits (the beginning of a banking system), the development of the trade, the access to some unknown technologies in Europe, overlapping elements of oriental art in the various artistic creations that will follow, etc. /8/. K. Ralls invokes the first participation of the Knights Templar in the Second Crusade (1147-1149), representing a new symbol and the first symbolism of a trained organized military group, with distinct and uniform military equipment for all these combatants./9/***
T. Asbridge, in an extensive work, The Crusades, has a final chapter entitled The Legacy of the Crusades. Being rigorous and analytical, based on facts and events, through the subtitles invoked, it places us mentally in a hard, bloody past, with many sacrifices, in which the European royal families were represented at the highest level, with an undisguised enthusiasm, but who, in the end, collapsed an entire strategy (if it even existed!?) of permanent occupation of the Holy Land during almost two hundred years: Causes and Consequences, A Conflict Different from Any Other?, Explanations of Victories and Defeats, Consequences in the World (the East of the Mediterranean Sea, Western Europe), Late Influences, Principles of the Parallelism with the Crusades, Modern Islam and the Crusades …. /10/
Some studies also invoke the crusade of the poor and of the children in the sum of the two hundred years. They were somewhat controversial historical events, but they did not resonate in this essay.
Up to this point of the approach, we have used minimal historical information to configure the context to which we refer to in order to achieve the proposed goal: approaching the Crusades from the perspective of the philosophy of history.
We will resurrect the analysis by introducing two new groups of reference vectors into the equation of the evaluation.
From the beginning, the crusades had multiple objectives (visible/invisible):
Religious related to the Catholic Christianity.
Military, with the precise objective of occupying the Holy Land.
Geopolitical, expanding influence in the Mediterranean area and the Middle East
Demographic, generated by the sharp increase of the population in the Western part of Europe.
Historical and archaeological, recovery and discovery of as many artifacts, manuscripts, works of art, etc. which were related to the beginnings of Christianity, its divinities, the period of transition, etc.
Technological, by positioning Jerusalem as an important commercial center (not only in regard to consumer goods) between the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. The interest (for example) in gunpowder was real.
Secret, initiated and supported by the Vatican through the religious orders operating in the area: Priory of Sion, Order of the Knights Templar (1128), Order of the Knights Hospitaller, later the Order of the Knights of Malta, Order of the Teutonic Knights. Their missions are unknown, shrouded in mystery, likely to create much speculation, legends, famous people, etc. I have two certainties. Absolute discretion (both then and now) in regard to the activities and actions of the Priory of Sion. The second observation refers to the Order of the Knights Templar (or the Order of the Temple) ****. From the military point of view, they were the sacrificial heroes who supported various royal and noble military structures in five crusades. Beyond their exceptional military behavior, we can attribute to them an early functional beginning of banking activities. It seems that some important historical, religious and archaeological discoveries, but also the complementarity of understanding other cultures with which generations of Knights Templar came into contact over the years, made them vulnerable to the actions of the Vatican and French King Philip the Fair. Let’s not be naive! The famous „treasure of the Templars” that no one really saw much of was not limited to „piles of gold and precious stones.” Let’s add to the possible evaluation also documents, artifacts, other discoveries, etc. which can outline the beginnings of Christianity, the role and place of the various characters and deities involved, etc. which could collide with the official claims of the Catholic Church at the time. The brutal suppression of the Order occurred in 1312 (Vox in Excelso Papal Bull), and the Grand Master, Jacque de Molay and other Knights Templar were burned at stake, as heretics, after the first political trial in history (March 18th, 1314). One more remark is needed. „It is strange that the Gothic movement (or the great esoteric architectural adventure) appears suddenly, without preparation, in the twelfth century and disappeared at the same time as the Templars, many monuments remaining forever unfinished” /11/.
Mythological, in the sense that it does not have to explain, but Christianity, on its long way of emancipation and development has taken over, with specific subtleties, some of the landmarks of the ancient mythology. Let’s consider an example. At the Council of Nicaea (325), Emperor Constantine the Great (who was initially polytheistic, then became monotheistic) proposes that the establishment of the Holy Passover be related to the spring equinox (March 21st), one of the most important holidays of the ancient polytheistic religions, after approval of a calculation formula. Proposal accepted! The winter solstice (December 25th, according to the Julian calendar) was a major Roman holiday called the Saturnalia (as the planet Saturn). Special events took place on the day of the solstice (the last day of the holidays). Among other things, many candles were lit, gifts were handed out… Coincidentally or not, on the same day, December 25th, it is Christmas for all Christian peoples. Let’s not forget about the lily, the symbol of the Babylonian trinity (Nimrod – Samiramida – Tammuz), prior to the Christian trinity, the obelisk related to the powerful and last god-pharaoh on Earth, present in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome….
The second group of vectors includes the scientific fields that allow rational, logical and pragmatic analyzes of crusades. Interesting perspectives open up.
From the perspective of the Christian theology (Catholic and Orthodox), of Islam
From the perspective of history
From the perspective of the secret societies
From the perspective of sociology
From the perspective of the social and group psychology
From the perspective of the Freemasonry
From the perspective of the conspiracy theory
From the perspective of the philosophy of history
From the perspective of philosophy
From the perspective of mythology
From the perspective of journalism
From the perspective of the pragmatic (field) research
From other perspectives
THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY. SOME CONSIDERATIONS
In order to reach an assumed logical outcome, the consideration of the crusades in their entirety is required. Initiated and assumed by the papacy, beyond the specific rhetoric of those times, we could evaluate the multiple complexities of their objectives and could intuit some consequences in the medium and long term even in the structure of the fundamental references of the Christian spirituality. The reason, the substance (it is reason that by itself and in itself gives existence and persistence to the whole reality) and the content (essentiality and material truth that it gives to its activities for processing) will be the concepts that ensure the Hegelian philosophical vision on history, in particular on crusades. There was a long philosophical dispute over the continuity/discontinuity of philosophy between the medieval and post-medieval stages of our existentiality. F. Copleston suggests that both options should be considered. “… The old accentuation of the discontinuity was mainly due to the failure to recognize that there was any philosophy in the Middle Ages that deserved this name. The subsequent recognition of the existence and importance of the medieval philosophy produced an emphasis on continuity ”/12/.
Overcoming the crisis of the dispute, a series of thinkers (from all over Western Europe), not affiliated with the Christian Universities, begin a continuous process of launching theses, speculations and original works belonging to the area of philosophy, in the new postmedieval context.
The classical German philosophy is an essential point of reference. G. W. F. Hegel, this Newton of philosophy, has major concerns about the course of history. In order to understand the complex mechanisms of the history of its thinking, Hegel imposes his own typology in historical approaches (schematic presentation):
Philosophical perspective /13/
For Hegel, the philosophy of history represents the history of its rational. From this perspective, Hegel imposes, at the center of his vision, the rational as a central concept with an initial reference to Anaxagoras. „The question of determining reason in itself coincides, insofar as rational is viewed in relation to the world, with the question of the ultimate purpose of the world … Two aspects are to be examined in this regard … The content of this ultimate purpose, the determination in itself as such and its realization”/14/. Hegel’s preoccupations in regard to history concern only the area of the spirit, although the world encompasses both a psychic component and a physical (external) one. Hegel includes in the nature of the spirit its abstract determinations, the means used by it to conform its idea, the identification of the structure that allows the perfection of the spirit within existence. The nature of the spirit is generated by its freedom, perceived as the only truth of the spirit. Two things must be separated at the level of the consciousness: “..first the fact that I know, and secondly what I know. They both coincide within the self-awareness, because one knows oneself spiritually. He is the judgment of his own nature and at the same time the activity to reach his inner being and thus to create himself, to do something, what it is in himself” /15/. The theoretical coordinates invoked allow an extrapolation of these abstractions to the universal history that has the present “… exposition of the spirit in the elaboration of the knowledge of what it is in itself … Likewise, the initial manifestations of the spirit contain virtually the whole history now.”/16/
This epistemological perspective of approaching history imposes an abstract cycle, somewhat subjective, in which each historian can ensure a certain relativity and inevitability of his scientific approach, related to ideology and societal behaviors. Beyond this consideration, Hegel’s merit is that “it gives a poignant definition to the philosophical history, in fact to philosophy or the theory of history. It is portrayed by Hegel as a necessity of the mind, which manages to discover the leading soul of events and facts and not their mere external order” /17/. It is one of the first attempts to disprove sociological empiricism and historical positivism. There are no unanimous opinions in this Hegelian spiritual ascendancy of history. The four rational coordinates that allow the abstract analysis of history in the Hegelian way include: Reason, Spirit, Freedom, Idea.
HEGEL AND THE CRUSADES
It came to the point where the Christian doctrine was placed in an abstract position of total hermeticism. Hegel introduces, in accordance with his own theory, the need for self-awareness, “the fact that he knows, as much as he knows…” (see Chapter III) for a new perspective of evaluation, from within the dogma, of another individual perception. “Christ, this man has disappeared, his temporal existence is a fact of the past, that is, something mostly represented … But how does the church still have Christ as this? “/18/. The sacrament of the supper, understood as a religious service, reveals the life, suffering and death of the true Christ. In this context, God is only a spiritual entity, with an external presence, generating infinite diversity. The presence of Christ is one that can intervene in many events, but the divine appears only in miracles. Hegel finds that the divine no longer has a general form in this context, but it represents a singular way.
The German philosopher wonders why the church wants something else, without giving itself up. He also offers the answer; „The supreme host existed in countless churches … Christ is trans-substantiated in a singular presence …” /19/. In an essay, referring to ancient mythology (The Obelisk) I underlined the need for this optimal relationship between the divine order and the human order: ”It clarifies the functionality of the divine order-state order duality
The god is immortal. When the death of an incarnate god occurs, another incarnate god takes his place.
The continuity of the divine order is ensured./20/
The Crusades mobilized the divided Christendom for the occupation of the Holy Land. They succeeded and temporarily transformed it into a Latin kingdom. An observation is required. The same phrase is invoked in all the studies that were carried out, even through similarity: the occupation of the Holy Land, which mainly included Jerusalem and the geographical area in its vicinity. They do not mention directly (maybe I do not have all the information) about which holy places they were interested in. Was it a simple communication error? Because the Hegelian dilemma and the less explicit desire of Christianity for the pilgrims, that they will find there their abstract harmony between the manifestation of divinity, the human order and the individual spiritual balance seem to be placed in different constructions.
The Crusaders and the Pilgrims found the Holy Sepulcher empty: “But the authentic point of conversion lies in the tomb, for the whole vanity of the sensory lies in the tomb. At the Holy Sepulcher, any vanity of opinions is extinguished”/21/. This holy location emptied of content did not allow Christianity to realize that link between the worldly and the eternal. Hegel provides the necessary abstract consistency from the perspective of the philosophy of history: “This, what was sought is only the subjective existence, and not an external thing, that This is the connecting element between the temporal and the eternal, it is the spiritual existence for the person… Man must seek himself in Him who is of a divine nature…”/22/.
This finding calls for a definitive abstract solution to the major consequence of the Crusades. The Holy Sepulcher was no longer a major concern for the West. From the perspective of the Christian spirituality, the leaders of those times did not have all the necessary clarifications, both in the process of initiating the crusades, but especially in regard to the consequences for Christians to an individual spiritual level … The fact that you know, as much as you know … The end of the crusades forced the Catholic Church to turn the meaning of Christian freedom into servitude, and the meaning of the divine spirit and of the religion was reversed.
Considering the perspective of his own concepts and abstractions, Hegel did not intend to make a critical analysis with reference to the Christian dogma or to the fundamentals of Christianity. He analyzed, in this strict approach, important historical and sociological events (the crusades), with reverberations to several areas of knowledge. It is true that his approach was from a less frequently used perspective, that of the philosophy of history, but that was still useful.
Approaching the crusades from the perspective of the philosophy of history is one of the theoretical opportunities to know and evaluate them. This perspective does not preclude any other similar opportunity.
The phenomenon of crusades that marked the Western Europe and the Middle East regions is in a direct correlation with the interests of the Catholic Church at the beginning of the second millennium.
The objectives of the crusades were multiple, although formally the access of Christian pilgrims to the holy monuments located in the Holy Land was desired.
Without affecting the Catholic dogma, the introspection proposed by Hegel, in relation to the Crusades, proposed to clarify the link between man and the Christian God and Christ from a spiritual perspective (… the fact that I know, as much as I know …).
The Crusades brought the Order of the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple to the forefront of the historical phenomena, with a major impact for more than nine centuries.
The end of the crusade era had multidimensional consequences in all spheres of political, economic, financial, and military activities, but also to those that were included in the sphere of the Christian-Catholic divine order.
The occupation of Constantinople (the first Christian-Christian war) by the Crusaders (1204) weakened the Christian Orthodoxy, in view of the forthcoming Ottoman offensive.
The Crusades provided a new geopolitical vision of the place and role of the Mediterranean Sea in the reference area equation.
The end of the crusades did not mean the end of wars and military conflicts in Western Europe.
/1/ J. Carpentier, F. Lebrun ( coord.), Istoria Europei, Editura Humanitas, 1997, pp. 82-99
/1a/ K. Armstrong, Istoria lui Dumnezeu, Editura Nemira, 2009, p. 25
/1b/ Vezi K. Armstrong, op. Cit., Capitolul III, O lumină pentru oameni, pp. 108-138 și Capitolul IV, Treimea-Dumnezeul Creștin, pp. 139-166
/2/ Ibidem, pp 100-102.
/3/ I. Geiss, Istoria lumii, Editura All, 2012, pp. 642-643
/4/*** Cronologia universală, Editura Lider, p. 123
/5/A. J. Toynbee, Studiu asupra istoriei, Editura Humanitas, 1997, p. 259
/5b/ Ibidem, p. 264
*/ T. Asbridge, Cruciadele, Editura Polirom, 2013, pp. 39-43
/6/ I.Weiss, op. cit. p. 285
/7/M Eliade, Istoria religiilor și credințelor religioase, Editura E.S.E. vol. III, 1988, p.100. A se vedea și pp. 100—104
**/ Some clarifications on the „clash of medieval civilizations” during the Crusades can be identified in A. Toynbee, quotation pp. 259-275 (medieval west vs syrian world, Greek orthodox christianity)
/8/ C. Morrisson, Cruciadele (colaboratori multipli), Editura Artemis, pp. 223-227
/9/K. Ralls, Enciclopedia cavalerilor templieri, Editura Polirom, 2008, p. 77
*** Vezi, M. Vasold, Cruciadele, Editura Rao, 2001
/10/ T. Asbridge, Cruciadele, op. cit pp. 455-470
****/ In a work signed by J.F. Signier, Societățile secrete (Secret Societies), (Editura Rao, 2005) their typology is made. The Knights Templar are included in the secret initiation societies.
/11/ C.T. Popescu, Templierii, Istorie și Mistere, Editura D:M.F., Timișoara, p. 286
/12/ F. Copleston, Istoria filozofiei, vol. IV, 2011, p. 3
/13/G.W.F. Hegel, Prelegeri de filozofie a istoriei, 1968, pp. 5-20
/14/ Ibidem, p. 19
/15/ Ibidem, p. 20
/16/Ibidem, p. 21
/17/ C. I. Gulian, Hegel, Editura E.S.E, 1981, p. 190
/18/ G.W.F Hegel, op.cit. pp. 366-374
/19/ Ibidem, p. 368.
/20/ V. Radovan, The Obelisk, https://asociatia-zamolxe.ro/the-obelisk/
/21/ G.W.F Hegel, op.cit. p. 369
/22/ Ibidem, p. 370