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Western Civilisation

Until the advent of materialism and 19th c. dogma, Western Civilisation was  superior to anything Islam had developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Proof of this resides in the 'modern' world and the unending political-economic and spiritual poverty of Muslim states and regions.  Squatting on richer civilisations is not 'progress'.  Islam is pagan, totalitarian, and irrational.   

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

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The Monks of War, by Desmond Seward

A great one volume history of the Military Orders.

by Ferdinand III

It is highly unlikely that Oprah viewers, or those enthralled by Dancing with the Stars are going to read a book about the key Religious Orders of the Middle Ages, who were instrumental in European civilisation including its survival. Pity. One doubts that the good Universities which receive millions in Arab/Moslem monies to fund 'degrees' [propaganda] in the glories of Islam, would bother to post such a book on their reading lists. Pity again. There is much to learn from Seward's book. Defending Europe from Moslem invasion was after 'controversial'. Or so it is for the Marxists and Western Leftists. Apparently endless Moslem Jihad is not so very controversial.

The Catholic military orders were busy on many front from about 1120 until the 18th century. The Templars and Knights of St. John, who became the Knights of Malta, focused on pushing back Islam and protecting Christianity and Christians. The St. John Knights set up the world's first professional hospitals replete with professional staff and scientifically based surgery – another European first that no doubt Moslems will take credit for, since of course the Arabs and Moslems invented everything. The Teutonic Order was instrumental in civilising vast tracts of Poland and the Baltics. They then tried to convert Orthodox Russia and failed rather spectacularly. The Teutons, like the Templars were not averse to political and military alliances with the Moslem, indeed in many cases they rode into battle against their foes at the side of Moslems.

Holy War was a Moslem import and the Moslem armies hammered away at Christendom for 450 years before the Crusades, eradicating Christian, Jewish and Romano culture around the Mediterranean and into Spain. The military Orders were never huge in number, usually numbering less than 20.000 each, and in the words of Seward, 'The Knight Brethren of the military orders were noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity, obedience, living a monastic life in convents which were at the same time barracks, waging war on the enemies of the cross.' The Orders were an elitist institution.

Seward's excellent book makes it clear that the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights were not only inspired by a devotion to the cross and to the ethos of Christian civilisation, but that they were the first professional fighting force since the days of Rome. The brethren literally tried to fight their way into heaven. The Orders were first and foremost a religious calling; 'Who fights us, fights Jesus Christ' was the rallying cry of the Teutonic Knights in Poland and Livonia as they attacked and converted various pagan tribes.

Because of the sacrifices of these Orders, the Christian state of Israel survived an improbably 2 centuries surrounded by countless Moslem enemies, and bereft of needed manpower. The fact that Outremer or the Holy Land lacked men puts a lie to the myth that the Crusades were some form of imperialist venture. The Holy Land was hot, lacking in water, poor, unworked, and under constant attack. It is highly unlikely that such a place attracts pioneers in any era. Instead the flow of money and specie was one way – from highly taxed Europe to Outremer. The only reason that the Christians were able to hold Jerusalem was the presence of the military Orders after 1120. After the First Crusade most of the crusaders simply went back home having fulfillled their duties and vows. When the Christian kingdom fell in a bloody Moslem assault in 1291 at Acre, the Knights Hosptillars protected Christian shipping and merchantmen first from Rhodes and then after that was captured by the Turks in 1522, from Malta which the Turks tried to conquer but were bloodily repulsed in 1565, saving Sicily and perhaps even Rome from Moslem domination.

There is no question as Seward eloquently relates with great detail, that the Teutonic Order was instrumental in shaping the destinies of Germany and Poland. All the countries of north-eastern Europe were influenced by the Teutons politically, militarily and spiritually. The 'Drang nach Oder' or the drive to the Oder river by Germans, finds its genesis in the Teutonic Order which controlled lands from present day Prussia, to almost St. Petersburg. In fact the Teutons created Prussia, by defeating the local heathen tribes and colonizing the area greatly enhancing the Prussian economy, culture and social development. The Teutonic campaigns against the Lithuanians – related by Seward in rolling prose – were probably the most vicious wars in the Middle Ages. The slaughter inflicted by the combined Polish-Lithuanian forces on the Knights at Tannenberg in 1410, was 'avenged' by Hindenburg's victory over the Russians in 1914, a victory named Tannenberg by the German army. As well the German army adopted the silver and black cross of the Teutonic Knights as the model for the Iron cross. The 1410 disaster marks the high water mark of Teutonic influence in the East. In over 250 years of crusading they had completely transformed north-eastern Europe and in the case of their conquests in Poland and the Baltic, this endless expansion and imperialism was highly beneficial.

Seward also spends a large amount of time on the Orders in Spain – another relatively unknown story. In the Reconquista which lasted from about 1000 AD to 1492 AD [though the battle of Covadonga in 720, which was a Christian victory is probably the real starting point]; the Orders were vital in consolidating and fortifying Christian advances against the Moors [many of whom were Hispanics who had converted to Islam]; and developing agriculture and vibrant economies along the front lines including the ranching of cattle and sheep. They kept the frontier safe and prosperous. In Portugal a Brethren Knight one Enrique, presided over the world's most advanced naval research center at Sagres, in which the best geographers and nautical minds developed maps and technologies to make sea-faring more profitable and efficient. This would lead directly to the voyages of discovery.

Seward's excellent book is well-researched, unbiased, factually based and devoid of Marxian cant and illogic. He presents the Orders as they were – the great, the good and the very ugly. They are central to European survival and development. Yet how many people know of the fight to the death by the Hospitallers and Templars at Acre in 1291 when the Moslems massacred the entire population of 40.000; or the Teutonic Head Master refusing to leave the field at Tannenberg in 1410 dying with his destroyed army; or the vision presented by the Russian film-make Eisenstein of the Teutons being eradicated by the Russians under Nevsky in 1242 in the winter battle on Lake Peipus; or the Knights of Malta too badly wounded and exhausted to stand, who sat in chairs in the breaches waiting for the next Turkish Moslem assault; or the burning of the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay by a greedy French King who coveted the Templars money and who owed the Order millions in debts but could not afford a repayment. I doubt that few if any Europeans know anything about the above. If true that is a shame. If you don't know your history, you can't understand the value of your own civilisation. If you disparage events and organisations such as the Crusades or the Military Orders, you are engaging in impoverished intellectual ahistory. Self-loathing might fill some emotional need, but it does not enlighten. It usually destroys.

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