April 26 2016
4th Crusade and Religious War
For the first half of my Istanbul class, I focused on the 4th Crusade and its effect on the city of Constantinople, as well as how religious war effects the world still to this day.
To start off with some background information about the 4th Crusade, I first wrote one paper depicting the events that happened during it. The original goal of the Crusade was to bring Christianity to Cairo by liberating it from the Muslim population that existed there. The crusaders had an arrangement with the Venetians of Venice in the Roman Empire, where they would sail the Crusaders across the Mediterranean to Cairo. The first issue that came up was that, since not as many Crusaders showed up as expected, they did not have enough money to pay the venetians for their fleet. The way that they compensated for the payment originally was to attack the Port of Zara for the Venetians because the people there owed them money. This was the first act where religious war, effected people outside of the participants. The people at Zara were also Christian in fact.
After ransacking Zara, the Crusaders were still in need of more money in order to fund their Crusade to Cairo. While the Crusaders were spending the winter in Zara, they were approached by an Alexios III Angelos, of Constantinople. He made a deal with them where if they overthrew the Emperor of Constantinople, Alexios II, then he would fund the rest of their journey to Cairo, as well as give them additional troops to aide in the upcoming battles. The Crusaders agreed to this deal and went on to be the first group to ever penetrate the walls of Constantinople, another mostly Christian society. The city was ransacked and most historians mark this as the end of the Byzantine Empire as a whole. The people of Constantinople were never part of this religious war, they even largely practiced the same religion, yet still they fell victim to the Crusade.
For my next paper of the semester I went on to look at how this trend of religious war effecting people who are not participants, effects the human population to this day. On this paper I mostly looked at the ongoing war in Syria between the Sunni Muslims and ISIS, and the Shia minority group which is in control of the area. This war has driven more than four million people from their homes in Syria to this day, and the neighboring countries are now struggling with one of the largest refugee crisis’s that the world has ever seen. ISIS has gone on record saying that they are not afraid to kill anybody who does not agree with their very particular interpretation of the Islamic religion.
The main connection that I wanted to draw between the 4th Crusade and today was the fact that war, and in particular religious war, effects people who do not wish to participate in the conflict. In the 4th Crusade this could be seen when the Crusaders destroyed Constantinople, despite the people there having nothing to do with their conflict, and not doing anything to get involved. They in fact killed other Christians while in the process, despite, having orders from the Pope, not to harm anybody who was Christian. This particular portion can be seen through attacks in the Middle East by ISIS that cause other Muslim casualties. They do not care who dies as long as it brings them closer to fulfilling one of their agendas.
Religious war and conflict is not only seen through Syria and ISIS, it is also found all throughout the world, but mainly in the Middle East. Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan have had conflicts with each other many times that were fueled for religious purposes. Each conflict that has happened has destroyed people’s homes and caused people to evacuate the area of conflict into other areas. When people flee on country and into another as refugee’s, it then causes issues for that country, as they are now experiencing a rapid growth in their population, and do not usually have the resources to provide for this sudden increase. The surrounding countries that people flee too usually have nothing to do with the conflict, so if effects these places and the lives of the people who live there as well. Events like the 4th Crusade have been going on forever, and they still happen to this day. Religious War, more often than not effects large populations outside of the conflicting parties.