Sunday, November 27

Say sorry Richard

In the year of our Lord 1191, the then Archbishop of Canterbury died of disease whilst taking part at the siege of Acre in the Crusades in the Holy Lands.

The formidable citadel of Acre was perched on a promontory and very hard to capture. On the plane below stretched the vast armies of Chrissendom from all over Europe. The beseigers were themselves besieged. Their supplies were dwindling and the fighting elite of Europe were ravaged by disease.

English King Richard the Lionheart, arrived on the scene and saved the campaign through strength of leadership. Acre was recaptured.

centuries later the present Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, left, in a lecture at the Islamic University in Islamabad has apologised for the Crusades saying that they were a ''serious betrayal of many of the central beliefs of Christian faith.''

Well hang on here - what is His Grace actually saying ? Let's examine some basic facts and remember that in the 12th century life and standards was very different from what we accept in the 21st.

Pope Urban II ordered the start of what became known as the Crusades in 1095 as a counter measure against the forcible take over of the Holy Land by Muslims who had progressively made it more and more difficult for Christians to visit their holy sites on pilgrimage.

What does Dr Williams believe would have been the better course of action, trade sanctions ?

The Crusades were indeed brutal, as was warfare at that time. The Archbishop is no doubt trying, in his own way, to improve Christian-Muslim relations. Apologising for our national history only makes himself and consequently his office look ridiculous. Perhaps, His Grace will be issuing a rebuke to the impressive statue of Crusader King Richard I ( couer de lion) on his way into the House of Lords next week.

Above, Statue of King Richard Richard I (1189-1199) outside the members entrance to the House of Lords

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