XXXI: An execution

To those who may be receiving one of these post-notifications for the first time: This is not a blog; it’s actually part of a book, and will make little sense to you without knowledge of what has come before—which you can easily obtain, along with a goodly amount of satirical theatre as matters progress, by simply entering into your web browser, opening the menu, and starting at page one. J.J.

Scene 6

And then next morning, he assembles the heads of the twelve most important divisions of his priesthood—by his own reckoning, those representing the earth, sea, rivers, rain, wind, stars, moon, sun, sky, agriculture, commerce, and industry—and invites them to serve as his advisory council.

“Well, sure—but why twelve, exactly?” One of them wonders aloud as he nonetheless takes his own seat at the long council table.

“Oh, it’s just that with the growing acceptance of the solar calendar, with its twelve months and all, a certain mystique appears to have arisen around that number in people’s imagination,” Gaim replies. “I mean, it’ll give us just that much more credibility among the masses.”

* * *

While afterward, he summons his recently appointed Official Scribe—that is, someone conversant with the newfangled art of digging word-symbols into clay and baking the whole into a fixed tablet—and directs that his modern message of a fundamental unity about everything should thus be set down: starting at the upper right-hand corner and proceeding left.

Actually, he wanted four copies.

And finally, from among his younger priests, he chose four earnest missionary types to carry his tablets down along the Four Paths and read them to all the world’s sundry, constantly bickering cerebrators.

“Wherefore all people will soon become catechized into that single mind,” he bravely assures them at their farewell dinner, “of which all people naturally dream!

“Or to put it another way,” he concludes with a final toast to his young heroes, followed by a confident gaze about the table, “from now on, all legitimate culture shall be understood as emanating from the modern ‘Fount’ atop this very hill—until in the end, it will be said that all paths ultimately lead back here.

“Oh, and while you’re out there,” he shouts after them as he finally sees them and their respective entourages down the hill next morning, “find us some gold!”

Scene 7

And well, the first reports that their runners bring back are certainly anything but discouraging!

For the average person out there is so awed by the sight of their strange tablets and all, one of them notes with some amusement, the mere introductory phrase, It is written . . . is usually enough to make them doff their caps and snap to attention before apparent author-ity.

* * *

However, at least one man eventually proves less receptive to them.

For in time, one of his missionaries finds it necessary to inform him, “There’s some old priest out here who absolutely refuses to acknowledge your superior position in all this! So what do you want me to do with him? I mean, I can’t just brand him evil and banish him, since we’re supposed to be bringing everyone into our new World Order.”

“Oh, just warn him of some dire consequence unless he might immediately yield before my sacred ring,” Gaim sent back his reply.

“The sassy fellow says you can stick all that up your ass,” came back the quick response. “So now what?”

* * *

So now Gaim has this rude individual brought personally before him—and after considerable argument with the old geezer, determines that it was indeed a waste of time to try and reason further with him.

And so he obtains a death warrant from the Queen.

Now it only remains to decide by what method the condemned should be returned to the Great Mother.

“I suppose we could just seal him in some token Cave,” one member of Gaim’s council suggests as the discussion soon gets underway.

“Or hang him from some token Tree,” someone else offers.

“What about throwing him into a den of Serpents?” another puts in.

“Or we might rope him to some cliff-side and let some big Bird tear out all his organs,” still another proposes.

“Or maybe affix him to some Wheel and rack it around and around until every bone in his body was eventually break,” yet another imagines.

“Or we could always stake him out on the earth with his head pointing north, his feet south, and his arms east and west, and just leave him there to die,” came another suggestion.

“Or better yet,” Gaim himself finally noted, “we could tie his four limbs to four horses and send them galloping off into the Four Directions, thereby drawing and quartering his sorry ass; after which, I say we leave his bloody, torn remains in plain view as an example of what will happen to anyone else who’d still think to defy my ultimate authority around here!”

And it was thus decided.

Grisly, yes; and by anyone’s reckoning, an atrocity—a religious atrocity. But read on before proposing to label such behavior inhuman.

So let’s see just what entering ‘religious atrocities’ on Google brings us—dating, say, from the early days of our own Judeo-Christian tradition (with apologies to those among us who may identify with another).


We shall begin with a mass murder at the very beginning of Judaism itself.

According to the Bible’s Book of Exodus’ Chapter 24, verses 12-18, after Moses had led his people out of Egypt and subsequently disappeared up Mt. Sinai to receive the Divine Laws from God—and been gone for well over a month—those awaiting his return began to worry that something had happened to him and that they might never see him again.

And so by Exodus 32:1-4, we find them daring to approach his brother Aaron—described in the Bible as a prophet, who would soon become Israel’s first High Priest—for help.

We’ll let the Bible itself (Exodus 32:5-28) take it from there—save for a few verses that we shall skip since they just have to do with a threat by God to wipe out the Israelites and a subsequent plea by Moses persuading him to relent.

“Aaron answered them, ‘Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.’

“So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.

“He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘This is your god, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.’

“So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

(verses skipped here)

“Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.

“When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.

“He said to Aaron, ‘What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?’

“’Do not be angry, my lord,’ Aaron answered. ‘You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, Make us a god who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him. So I told them, Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off. Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’

“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.’ And all the Levites rallied to him.

“Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’

“The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.”

While as for the trials and tribulations of Christianity . . .

  • Back when Christianity was a mere sixty-four years old, a colossal fire broke out in Rome that burned for six straight days and wound up destroying most of the city before it could be contained; and afterward, it was widely rumored to have been started by the Emperor Nero himself, who wanted to raze and rebuild the city center but just a week or so before had been refused permission to do so by the Roman Senate. So he sought to deflect attention from that embarrassing accusation by declaring that the city’s Christians—a steadily growing, but generally despised, pacifist group—should be rounded up and killed. Some were subsequently put to the sword. Others were torn apart by dogs while unsympathetic citizens gambled on how much longer that they might manage to remain alive. Still others were set afire as human torches. (8 Atrocities Committed in the Name of Religion, Roman Persecution of Christians)
  • In response to complaints by the priests and priestesses of the traditional Roman gods that Christianity was seriously encroaching on their respective domains, costing them a lot of support, later emperors issued edicts banning Christian practices outright, ordering the imprisonment of all Christian clergy, and finally, commanding that all Christians either sacrifice to the Roman gods—that is, bring their priests suitable offerings—or face immediate execution. (8 Atrocities Committed in the Name of Religion, Roman Persecution of Christians)
  • After the decriminalization of Christianity in 315 C.E. by Constantine I, who would famously go on to become the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity—albeit twenty-two years later on his deathbed—emboldened Christian mobs began killing the old, ‘pagan’ priests and destroying their temples; according to historians, eventually murdering thousands. (Christian Atrocities, Ancient Pagans)
  • In 356, Constantine II made conducting pagan services punishable by death. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962, p. 462)
  • Shortly before he died, Constantine had the distinguished Greek philosopher Sopatros of Apamea executed, purportedly for practicing magic, on demand of Christian authorities. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962, p. 466)
  • Later in that century, Emperor Theodosius—a devout Christian described by Catholic chroniclers as having “meticulously followed all Christian teachings…”, and since canonized for having made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 380—reportedly had children executed just for playing with the remains of pagan statues. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962, p. 469)
  • In 372, Christianity began a determined campaign to stamp out Manichaeism—at the time, Christianity’s main rival for replacing Classical Paganism. Millions of Manichaeans were killed before the severely weakened religion finally gave up the ghost more than a thousand years later in faraway Southeast Asia.
  • In 381, Christians requested the Roman emperor Theodosius I to strip Manichaeans of their civil rights. (New World Encyclopedia, Manichaeism, History)
  • In 382, responding to Christian urging, Theodosius issued a decree of death for Manichaean monks. (New World Encyclopedia, Manichaeism, History) (Wikipedia, Manichaeism, History, Spread)
  • In 385, Bishop Pricillian of Ávila, Spain and five of his followers were accused by rival churchmen of sorcery—a capital offense—and after being forced to confess that they’d studied obscene doctrines, held nocturnal meetings with shameful women, and prayed while naked, were convicted and beheaded. (Christian Atrocities, citing K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 26)
  • In 388, a Jewish synagogue along the upper Euphrates River in Asia Minor was ordered destroyed by the Bishop of Kallinikon; as the first recorded attack on Judaism by Christianity, it might have gone more or less unnoticed by historians, except that it was closely followed by the fiery takedown of another in northern Italy at the command of Bishop Innocentius of Dertona. (Christian Atrocities, citing K.Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962)
  • In 393, Theodosius issued a law that specifically prohibited the public observance of any non-Christian religious custom. (Wikipedia, Christian Persecution of Paganism under Theodosius I)
  • In 415, world famous female philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer Hypatia of Alexandria, a self-described pagan but good friend of Christianity, was cut to pieces in an Alexandrian church by a hysterical Christian mob using shards of broken glass and egged on by their official reader of Scripture for the benefit of the illiterate. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, pp. 19-25)
  • During the sixth century, pagans were declared void of all rights. (Christian Atrocities, Ancient Pagans)
  • In 694, the Seventeenth Council of Toledo in the Roman province that would eventually become Spain issued eight ‘canons’, or official Church Rulings, the last of which decreed that all Jews living under the rule of the local king—who’d called for the council, and now presided over it—were to immediately (1) turn all of their property over to their Christian slaves, (2) thereafter become enslaved themselves to Christian masters for all time, to be chosen by the king and contractually prevented from allowing the Jews to ever again practice their own religion, and (3) agree to give up their children at age seven to be raised as Christians and subsequently married to Christians. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962) (Wikipedia, Seventeenth Council of Toledo, 8th canon)
  • During the eighth century, Charles I, King of the Franks—better known to history as Charles the Great, Charles the Magnificent, or as the French would put that last, Charlemagne—whose late father, the previous king, had reformed Frankish law to bring it in line with Catholic teachings, continued the ecclesiastical reforms of Pope Boniface, intervened in favor of Pope Stephen II against the powerful Lombard family in Italy, subjugated several cities hostile or at least indifferent to the Pope and then given them to the Church, and so forth—continued in that vein by removing the troublesome Lombards from power in northern Italy, leading an incursion into Muslim Spain, Christainizing his eastern neghbors the Saxons under penalty of death, and then unceremoniously beheading 4,500 who refused to convert. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 30) (Wikipedia, Charlemagne)
  • On Christmas Day of the year that began the following century, this proponent of conversion by the sword was in Rome, ostensibly having accepted an invitation to attend Pope Leo III’s midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica; however, after kneeling briefly before the Pope, he left bearing a new crown: that of the first Holy Roman Emperor, or secular ruler of what by then was beginning to be called the Holy Roman Empire! (Wikipedia, Charlemagne)

But I’m afraid we’re just getting started; for modern Christains who might assume that their religion hasn’t blatantly committed its own share of atrocities down the centuries would benefit as we proceed by familiarizing themselves at this point with some of its darker history.

On the 18th of November in the 1,095th year of the new Christian world, Pope Urban II and some three hundred of his cardinals, archbishops, bishops, ordinary parish priests, abbots, deacons, and an assortment of influential noblemen convened at the church of Notre-Dame-du-Port, in Clermont, Auvergne—at the time, part of the Duchy of Aquitaine in central France—supposedly to discuss and debate routine church business. (The Latin Library, The Council of Clermont) (Wikiwand, Council of Clermont) Historians would later come to call this conference simply the Second Council of Clermont—sounds pretty innocuous, doesn’t it?

This council, which went on for ten days, issued thirty-three canons—the first thirty-two of which just dealt with run-of-the-mill stuff such as reaffirming the Church’s centuries-old prohibition of clerical marriage, excommunicating the Bishop of Cambrai for selling church privileges, extending the excommunication of the King of France for having committed adultery by daring to divorce and remarry, and so forth. (Cornell University, Decrees of Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont 1095, A List of Decrees Used by . . . ) But the thirty-third, or last to be announced to the throng waiting outside the church to find out what decisions had been made inside, was about to launch one of the longest, bloodiest holy wars in all recorded history.

For that’s precisely how the Pope referred to it as he addressed the crowd—not only a bellum justum, or ‘just war’, he told them, but a bellum sacrum, ‘holy war’. (The Latin Library, Council of Clermont – 1095) (Wikipedia, Council of Clermont, Speech, Fulcher (Wikipedia, Christianity and Violence, Wars, Holy War)

As for Urban II himself, he’d been in office for about seven years by then, had already acquired a reputation as both a reformer and an exponent of the old Charlemagnian idea that the Christian world should continue its steady expansion by whatever means necessary; and back in March, he’d received a letter from the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople, (1) expressing his personal outrage about the growing Muslim persecution of Christians making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the city where Christ himself had been crucified and of course Christianity itself was born, and (2) appealing to him for help in repelling the Muslim army that had spectacularly defeated his own mighty one some fourteen years before and was now seriously threatening to overrun the whole of Eastern Christendom. (Ancient History Encyclopedia) Encyclopedia Britannica

Though the two main, eastern and western divisions of the Christian world had more or less survived and increased their holdings independently of each other ever since agreeing to go their separate ways more than forty years before—among other things, the eastern church had refused to accept the spiritual authority of the Pope, thus bringing about what historians would come to call the Great Schism—the current leader of the western Church was disposed to send his ecclesiastic rival military assistance and join up with his army in a glorious, united fight for Jerusalem, if only because doing so promised to increase the prestige of his papacy as his own forces led the fight; while it also offered him a perfect opportunity to fulfill a long held personal dream: he wanted to reunite the two halves of the Christian world and go on to become its undisputed head, to be ranked above the now-weakened Patriarch of Constantinople. Moreover, the Emperor had suggested that after beating back the Muslims, the combined, eastern and western Christian forces should pursue them all the way back to Jerusalem—which had been in Muslim hands for the last four hundred years—and ultimately seize it for Christians everywhere. (Ancient History Encyclopedia)

And so he informed the waiting crowd that every able-bodied nobleman, knight, artisan, monk, beggar, and even lowly thief and murderer among them would soon be needed for a great Crusade to drive the Muslims from Jerusalem. (Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook, Urban II, versions of the speech at Clermont: Fulcher of Chartres, 5th para.; Archbishop Balderic of Dol, 4th para.) (Wikipedia, Council of Clermont, Speech, Fulcher)

That the capture of Jerusalem and extermination of every Muslim and Jew who refused to leave it would be their primary objective, with the defense of Byzantium being of secondary importance. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Clermont Indulgence) (The Latin Library, Council of Clermont – 1095)

That those who joined him in this endeavor, which Christ himself had ordered (“Christus autem imperat,” ‘Christ commands it’, he said), would be embarking on a religious pilgrimage during which all of their sins would be washed away. (Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook, Urban II, versions of the speech at Clermont, Fulcher of Chartres, 5th para.) Encyclopedia Britannica

That those who answered the call would be compensated in this life with material rewards and in the next with spiritual ones. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Clermont Indulgence)

That whether they died on the way to the Holy Land or in battle, they were still guaranteed a place in Heaven. (Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook, Urban II, versions of the speech at Clermont, Fulcher of Chartres, 5th para.) (Wikipedia, Council of Clermont, Speech, Fulcher)

That the families and property of those who answered the call would be guarded by those who were left behind and would ultimately be protected by God himself. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Clermont Indulgence)

That while due to local weather conditions and the time that it would take to recruit and adequately train a sufficiently large army and build it some siege weapons, the long, twenty-five hundred mile march probably wouldn’t begin until the following summer. (Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook, Urban II, versions of the speech at Clermont, Fulcher of Chartres, 5th para.)

That everyone except the very young and very old, along with women and the priests who’d be needed to look after the spiritual needs of those remaining behind, should immediately step forward, take the Crusader’s oath, and start spreading the word. (Fordham University Medieval Sourcebook, Urban II, versions of the speech at Clermont, Robert the Monk, 7th para.)

Concluding his speech with the words “Deus vult!”, ‘God wills it,’—which was subsequently adopted as the Crusaders’ battle cry—the Pope then appointed Adhémar de Monteil, the Bishop of Le Puy as his personal representative for the expedition and effectively its supreme commander; who promptly announced that his plan called for the Crusade to be organized in five sections, to be assembled at various points throughout the Catholic lands; and then he named an emotional, zealous monk from Amiens, Peter the Hermit, as one of their commanders. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, Council of Clermont) Encyclopedia Britannica (The Latin Library, Council of Clermont – 1095)

The latter presented as his credentials a letter that he claimed had been written by God himself and delivered to him by Jesus. He also informed his troops that he’d been assured that any of them who died during the Crusade would automatically be admitted to Heaven as martyred ‘Soldiers of Christ’. (Theology Mix, Peter the Hermit) (Wikipedia, People’s Crusade, Massacres of Jews in Central Europe)

As it happened, Peter was so eager to get underway that after preaching rousing sermons all over Western Europe exhorting people to follow him to Jerusalem, he decided not to wait for the rest of the Crusaders to finish their own recruiting, much less training, but set out from Cologne, Germany in early April with an undisciplined peasant horde numbering in the thousands—under the protection of the Holy Ghost, he assured them—which historians have since come to call the ‘People’s Crusade’. (History Channel, Crusades, First Crusade) (Wikipedia, Peter the Hermit, Before 1096)

They didn’t make it past Constantinople; but along the way, they did manage to storm the homes of thousands of Rhineland Jews, steal whatever of value that they could carry and destroy the rest, desecrate and burn their Torahs, torture and rape their women, and massacre their men until according to eyewitnesses in town after town, the bodies of the dead couldn’t be piled any higher. (Wikipedia, People’s Crusade, Massacres of Jews in Central Europe) People%27s_Crusade#Massacre_of_Jews_in_Central_Europe (Wikipedia, Peter the Hermit, Crusade to the Holy Land) (Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook, Albert of Aix and Ekkehard of Ayra, Albert of Aix)

And so perhaps it was only to be expected that early in August, following their brazen takeover of a Byzantine castle just outside Constantinople, these particular Soldiers of Christ would be ambushed and all but annihilated by several thousand Soldiers of Muhammad sent to stop them before they could make any real progress. (Wikipedia, People’s Crusade, Cologne to Constantinople, Battle and Outcome) (Wikipedia, The People’s Crusade)

Thus ended the Crusade’s so-called first wave; but midway through that same month, a much more powerful, better organized, and properly disciplined second wave that included some four thousand mounted knights, twenty-five thousand infantry troops, and almost half that many non-combatants, moved east from France on its own divinely ordered mission to rid Jerusalem of all non-Christians. (History Channel, This Day in History)

Crossing into the Byzantine lands early the following year, by late-May they’d definitely established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, first capturing the Muslim-held Turkish city of Nicaea, then defeating a massive Turkish army sent to take it back, and subsequently marching on to Antioch—which immediately closed its gates and sent its soldiers to the parapets. (Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook, The Siege and Capture of Nicaea, Collected Accounts)

Thus began a difficult, six-month long siege during which the Christian army successfully repulsed a number of attacks by would-be relief forces. ‘Repulsed’—such an antiseptic way to put it. Actually, the Crusaders brought hundreds of the severed heads of their Muslim opponents back from the battlefield, and shouting, “God wills it!”, took to catapulting some of them over the walls into the besieged city, while impaling the rest on stakes stuck into the ground in plain view of the enemy soldiers manning the ramparts. (Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook, The Fall of Antioch, The Gesta Version) (Fordham University, Medieval Sourcebook, The Fall of Antioch, The Version of Raymond d’ Aguiliers)

When the Muslims sometimes crept out of the city at night in an effort to bury their dead, the suspicious Christians watching in the dim light from their campfires would remain clear of them; but then in the morning, they’d hurry forth to dig up the corpses and rob them of their gold and silver jewelry and any other items of possible value. (The Society for Medieval Military History, The Battle for Antioch in the First Crusade According to Peter Tudebode)

The siege of Antioch ended only when one of the more persuasive Christian leaders managed to convince one of the tower guards, an Armenian whom history appears to record only as ‘the traitor Firouz’, to accept a sum of money and a title in exchange for hanging a rope ladder from his tower just before daylight next morning and looking the other way while sixty of the crusaders’ best men ascended it and rushed to open one of the nearby city gates—allowing the rest to pour in. (Wikipedia, Siege of Antioch, Capture of Antioch) (Wikipedia, Firouz) (Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Siege of Antioch, The Fall)

In the orgy of killing that followed, the Holy Warriors are known to have massacred thousands of Muslim soldiers and ordinary citizens—men, women and children—until the only inhabitants left alive were some who’d managed to take refuge in the city’s heavily fortified citadel. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, The Siege of Antioch, The Fall)

According to the Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres, a witness to this mayhem, the invaders didn’t rape the women that they inevitably came across in the enemy tents, but “just ran their lances through their bellies.” (Christian Atrocities, citing P. W. Edbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985, p. 60)

Later that month, when a huge Turkish army attempted to re-take the city, again only to be defeated, the citadel too surrendered, and all Antioch finally belonged to the Europeans. (History Channel, This Day in History)

After resting, attending to their wounded, and carefully reorganizing themselves over the next several months, the crusaders—by now reduced to less than half their original number—marched on toward Jerusalem. (History Channel, This Day in History)

Finally arriving before the Jerusalem walls the following June—and finding it more heavily fortified than expected—they immediately set to building some enormous siege towers. (History Channel, This Day in History)

Early that winter, the Crusaders took the Syrian city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, where they killed thousands more; after which, according to the Christian chronicler Albert Aquensis, “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians,” due to a famine in that area. (Wikipedia, Siege of Ma’arat, Cannibalism) (Medievalists, Cannibals and Crusaders) (History Channel, Crusaders Become Cannibals) (Christian Atrocities, citing H.Wollschlger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973, p. 36)

Six days later, the towers were complete and the Christians began fighting their way across the city’s walls; and by the next day, they’d penetrated the Muslim defenses to the extent that a few of them were able to open one of the gates from the inside—and the slaughter was on. Not thousands, but tens of thousands now fell before the Christian swords—Jews and Muslims alike; men, women and children—with the killing continuing all night and into the next day and then the next. Some Jews who’d taken refuge in a synagogue were burned alive when the Christians set it ablaze. And according to an Arab historian, when some seventy thousand Muslims, including many renowned scholars, managed to squeeze into the vast al-Aqsa mosque under the protection of a Christian banner and lock themselves in, the Holy Crusaders simply forced an entry next morning and massacred them all. As the city’s defenses collapsed, some Moslem soldiers who’d sought refuge in the citadel managed to fight on for three days, but in the end were forced to surrender to the invaders in return for safe passage to Ascalon. They were the only Moslems to escape Jerusalem alive. (Wikipedia, Massacre) (Bar-Ilan University, Jerusalem in the Crusader Period, Massacre of Jews and Moslems) (Fordham University, Fulcher of Chartres, The Capture of Jerusalem, Chap. 27)

To sum up the remembrances of one participant: Now that our men had taken control of the city, wonderful sights were to be seen. The city was filled with corpses and blood. Some of our men chopped the heads off their enemies; others shot them with arrows until they fell from the towers; others tortured them for as long as possible by casting them into one of the many fires. Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen everywhere. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon. If I were to tell the full story of that, it would exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say that at the Temple and on the porch of Solomon, our men rode with enemy blood dripping from their bodies and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that the place was absolutely filled with the blood of the unbelievers, since it had suffered for so long from their blasphemies. (Center for Online Jewish Studies, Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, Raymond of Aguilers)

On the other hand, another participant, the Archbishop of Tyre, simply wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them.” (William of Tyre, “The Capture of Jerusalem”) (Elea Publishing, The Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders)–1099.html

So the crusaders indeed achieved their goal; and when a numerically superior Egyptian Muslim army marched on the city shortly afterward to challenge the Christians’ claim on it, it too was routed—thereby ending Muslim resistance to the Christans for the time being; while in the end, five small, Christian states were set up in the region, each under the rule of one of the Crusade leaders. (Wikipedia, Battle of Ascalon)

But it didn’t end there.

For over the next couple of centuries, there were several more Crusades. No less than eight are generally recognized, although there were far more. Many collapsed before they got out of Christendom. Some, such as the so-called Children’s Crusade, are now disowned as true crusades. Others were directed not against Muslims, but at fellow Christians in both Europe and Byzantium, the Church at Constantinople, Christian kings and sects who remained opposed to the Roman Church, and even ordinary Italian families who came to be regarded as hostile to the pope of the moment (Ancient History Encyclopedia, Crusades, Definition)

Of course, not all of the Church’s priests approved of all this wanton violence in the name of their god; so what about them?

Well, while various factions within the overall Christian community had more or less been going their own way—or trying to—almost from the beginning, we might pick up that part of all this in 1209, when the first and last Crusade to be aimed squarely at other Christians was ordered by Pope Innocent III—a truly laughable name for someone who many historians have come to regard as responsible for one of the greatest mass genocides in history. (Ancient History Encylopedia, Cathars, Albigensian Crusade) (History Collection, Albigensian Crusade and Cathar Genocide) (Midi-France Info, Pope Innocent III)

His order was simple: stamp out the Cathars (sometimes referred to by historians as Albigensians, since their movement was more or less rooted in the French commune at Albi), an anti-materialist faction of the Church that had reacted to the increasingly scandalous, dissolute lifestyle of the Catholic clergy in at least their southern part of the country by calling for a return to the original Christian message of spiritual values, poverty, and preaching as the proper, rightful way to seek converts. (Saissac, Cathars) (Twelve Tribes, The Cathars)

As for the man who sought to rid the world of them, he was born simply Lotario dei Conti di Segni, ca. 1160, into a powerful, aristocratic Italian family that over some five centuries would come to count no less than thirteen popes, three antipopes, a few cardinals, and even a queen among its number. A mere 37-year old deacon in the Church at the time of his election to the papacy, Conti de Segni had needed to be rushed through ordination into the priesthood before he could be consecrated as Pope. (Papal Artifacts, Pope Innocent III) (, A Noble Background)

As one of the youngest Popes in history, the 38-year old Conti di Segni took the name of Innocent—the third to do so—and had hardly gotten comfortable on the Throne of St. Peter before he set about making it the seat of power throughout western Christendom. (, Innocent III Sees the Papacy As a Powerful Office)

That is, the new Pope boldly claimed supremacy over all of Europe’s kings—the first ever to do so—more or less introducing the argument that henceforth he and all the Popes to come should be viewed as the sun, the world’s sole source of light; and the kings, up to and including the Holy Roman Emperor, as but so many moons who merely reflected that light and were of no value, much less grandeur without it. (Wikipedia, Sun and Moon Allegory) (Enyclopedia Britannica, Innocent III, Early Pontificate)

Secondly, he was determined that everyone in Christendom should follow his spiritual lead: that the Church should suffer no freethinkers within, nor certainly outright backtalkers. And here, he found the Carthars especially annoying—since while presenting themselves as good Christians, they bristled under his spiritual leadership, absolute prohibition of birth control, and many, burdensome Church taxes. (Wikipedia, Pope Innocent III, Crusades and Suppression of Heresy) (Christian Atrocities, citing K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987)

Setting out in the summer of of 1209 under the command of papal legate Arnaud Amalric, Innocent’s new Crusaders managed to capture a few small French towns with little resistance, and then headed for the town of Béziers, population about twenty-five thousand. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Massacre at Béziers)

Arriving before its gate on June 21st, Amalric called for the city’s Catholics to come out and join his forces, and then demanded that its Cathar community surrender immediately. But neither group complied. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Massacre at Béziers)

Apparently deciding to make an example of the place, after the town had fallen the next day, he ordered his troops to first break into its church and kill its Cathar clergy in front of their own altar; then slaughter the town’s entire population—men, women and children including Catholics simply because they’d refused to turn over their ‘heretical’ friends and neighbors—and finally, burn whatever was left to the ground. No Nazi officer would ever make his point more splendidly. (Wikipedia, Catharism, Albigensian Crusade, Massacre) (Christian Atrocities, citing H.Wollschlger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973, pp. 179-181)

And it worked—sort of. News of the disaster quickly spread, and for awhile afterward, many Cathar settlements would surrender without a fight. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Massacre at Béziers)

On the other hand, when the Crusaders attacked the town of Lastours and the adjacent castle of Cabaret the following December, they were smartly repulsed by the castle forces led by its lord, Pierre-Roger de Cabaret. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Lastours and the Castle of Cabaret)

And after laying siege to the town of Minerve for a month and managing to gain its surrender only when it ran out of drinking water, one hundred forty-seven Cathars who refused to re-convert to Catholicism were burned at the stake. Some reportedly entered the flames voluntarily, also refusing to allow their captors the satisfaction of forcing them there. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Lastours and the Castle of Cabaret)

In August, with the Cathar stronghold of Termes under a seemingly unbreakable siege despite repeated attempts by Pierre-Roger de Cabaret to come to the aid of the defenders, the Cathars avoided a similar fate only by managing to slip beyond the walls one night and escape. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Lastours and the Castle of Cabaret)

By the spring of 1211, the actions of Amalric and his Crusaders had alienated several important French lords, including a properly outraged Raymond de Toulouse—who was promptly excommunicated, though it was hardly his first time. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Lastours and the Castle of Cabaret)

In May, the Crusaders took the Cathar castle of Aimery de Montréal, hanged its lord and some of his more defiant knights, and then burned several hundred of its Cathar refugees at the stake. (, Guirande De Lavaur)

Raymond de Toulouse subsequently gathered some forces and soon went on the offensive against the Pope’s; but after managing to take more than thirty towns back from the Crusaders, his counter-attack ground to a halt after he was defeated by a far superior army at Lastours as winter approached. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Military Campaigns, Lastours and the Castle of Cabaret)

The Pope’s crusade against the Cathars would ultimately last twenty years and cost an estimated million lives; while in the end, the Cathars would be virtually wiped out. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Legacy, Genocide)

Which brings us to the Church’s infamous Inquisition.

In 1232—only three years after the end of its long campaign to put down the Cathar ‘heresy’—the Roman Church set the Inquisition in motion specifically to rid itself of not only all of its its remaining religious rivals, but even its critics: that is, as many of them as might yet be uncovered and exterminated. (Christian Atrocities, citing J. T. Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992)

And most of those too would eventually go the way of the Cathars—with the Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada alone reported to have ordered 10,226 heretics burned at the stake. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 28)

Meanwhile, the Church was beginning to lose ground in some quarters. In 1234, much to the dismay of German Catholics, some eight thousand of their peasant countrymen—men, women, and children—were slaughtered by papal troops for being unable to come up with enough money to pay the Church’s growing number of taxes. (Christian Atrocities, citing H.Wollschlger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973, p. 223) (History of Christianity, 1234)

In 1244, more than two hundred newly discovered Cathars were burned at the stake. (Wikipedia, Albigensian Crusade, Inquisition)

In 1337, a Jew-burning craze by Christan zealots swept through fifty-one towns and cities in Bavaria, Austria, and Poland. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 41)

In 1348, the Church ordered some two thousand Jews to be burned at the stake in Strasburg, France. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 41)

In 1349, more than three hundred fifty towns in Germany burned all their resident Jews. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 42)

In 1389, the citizens of Prague slaughtered more than three thousand Jews. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 42)

In 1378, following two centuries of struggle between the Popes and their Holy Roman Emperors in which the Emperors would often impose their own papal nominees on the Church in an effort to advance their own causes, some French cardinals claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI had been invalid elected Clement VII—nicknamed “the butcher of Cesena” by many of his contemporaries for having authorized the massacre of over two thousand civilians at Cesena, Italy just the previous year after they’d dared to exhibit an independent religious streak—as their antipope, to be headquartered at Avignon in their own country. (Wikipedia, Antipope Clement II, Biography) (Encyclopedia Britannica, Clement VII, Antipope)

In 1389, more than three thousand Jews were massacred in Prague. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 42)

In 1391, Seville’s Archbishop Martinez led the slaughter of four thousand Jews and the sale of twenty-five thousand more into slavery. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962, p. 454)

In 1415, Jan Hus, a scholar-become-Catholic priest who came to question many of the Church’s teachings and policies was ultimately convicted of heresy and burned at the stake after speaking out against Antipope John III’s selling of indulgences. (Wikipedia, Jan Hus) Christian Atrocities, citing H. C. Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961, pp. 475-522)

In 1492, Spain expelled more than a hundred fifty thousand Jews from the country. (Christian Atrocities, citing M.Margolis, A. Marx, A History of the Jewish People, pp. 470-476)

In 1521, following a direct, public challenge to the more decadent practices of the Catholic Church and to papal authority in particular by its reform-minded German priest Martin Luther, the Church responded by officially condemning him and forbidding Catholics everywhere to attempt to defend his ideas or even debate them. Soon excommunicated by the Pope and subsequently denounced as an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor, his challenge ultimately launched the Protestant Reformation. (Wikipedia, Martin Luther)

Around 1530, French theologian Jean Cauvin—better known to us as John Calvin—also broke from Roman Catholicism and joined the growing Protestant movement. (Wikipedia, John Calvin)

In 1534, King Henry VIII of England renounced the Pope’s authority and replaced it with that of his own Archbishop of Canterbury, thereby breaking with the Roman Church because his petition for a marital annulment had been refused. (Wikipedia, Henry VIII of England)

In 1538, university professor and renowned German theologian Balthasar Hubmaier was convicted of heretical teachings and burned at the stake. (Christian Atrocities, citing K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 59)

In 1553, Spanish anatomist Miguel Serveto—a brilliant scientist, self-described humanist, and poet who was the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation, and who at various moments in his life had also successfully served as a physician, pharmacologist, mathematician, cartographer, astronomer, meteorologist, and jurist, all while pursuing a personal interest in theology, the Protestant Reformation, and an ability to read the Bible in its original languages—rejected the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and other mainstream Catholic teachings; for which he was roundly condemned by Catholic authorities in France and forced to flee to Geneva, Switzerland, where John Calvin had earlier taken refuge. But alas, Calvin and others denounced him for having what they considered to be a heretical view of the Trinity, and he too was burned at the stake. (Wikipedia, Michael Servetus)

In 1568, the official tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition ordered the extermination of three million rebels in the then-Spanish Netherlands, although “only a few thousand” were actually slain. K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 59)

In 1572, Pope Pius V ordered that twenty thousand Huguenot Protestants in France be exterminated; while that same year, one of their most respected leaders, Gaspard de Coligny, was assassinated in Paris by a Catholic mob that subsequently cut off his head, hands and genitals before dumping everything in the nearby Seine. K. Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987, p. 31)

In 1600, the Dominican monk Giordano Bruno was imprisoned and tortured for seven months before finally being convicted of heresy and burned at the stake. (Wikipedia, Giordano Bruno) (Christian Atrocities)

In 1619, Ferdinand II of the House of Hapsburg was elected Holy Roman Emperor and promptly set out to impose religious uniformity throughout his domain by forcing Roman Catholicism on all its peoples—thereby angering the northern Protestant states and bringing about the Thirty Years War. (Wikipedia, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor),_Holy_Roman_Emperor

In 1631, the Protestant city of Magdeburg, Germany—at the time, the largest in the country, with a population of some twenty-five thousand—refused to pay a monetary tribute demanded by the current Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II. An army comprised of a combined forty thousand Imperial troops and Catholic League forces subsequently sacked it, completely destroying seventeen hundred of its nineteen hundred buildings and killing four-fifths of its inhabitants—the worst massacre of the Thirty Years War. A census conducted the following year listed only four hundred forty-nine remaining Magdeburgians. (Christian Atrocities, citing D. Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992, p. 191) (Wikipedia, List of Massacres in Germany)

And on and on it went—and of course, not just in Europe . . .