Crusades (TV Mini-Series 1995– ) Poster

(1995– )

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Both a superb documentary and an excellent black comedy.
Mephisto-2412 March 2001
Terry Jones, Oxford history graduate and former member of the Monty Python team, helms an unromantic and sometimes irreverent look at the political, economic and religious machinations behind the Crusades, with a particular emphasis on the absurdities and atrocities. Travelling along the crusader trail, he uses interviews with historians and traditional weapon-makers, translations of Arab folk tales and medieval letters, clips from old movies and some startling visual effects to create an unforgettable documentary.
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An excellent documentary for the common man
=G=1 March 2005
"The Crusades" is a 4x45 minute British TV miniseries and documentary of one of history's greatest faux pas made in the name of Christianity, the Crusades of the 11th and 12 centuries AD. The always jovial Terry Jones (Monty Python) hosts this documentary as he travels from England to Istanbul to Jerusalem and beyond explaining the who, what, where, why, and when of the more notable of the many European forays into the Holy Land. An excellent production laced with humor and supported by plenty of film clips, maps, reenactments, expert commentary, etc., "The Crusades" makes an enjoyable primer for the common man. A worthy effort as a stand alone documentary this series also offers a historical foundation for a better understanding of present day tribulations in the middle East. (B+)
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you wan't the truth? you can't handle the truth ....
vincent-271 September 2005
... to quote the great Jack Nicholson. while it is true that in any conflict there are atrocities on both sides, not one of the negative commentators can refute any of the claims made in this series, they can only point out that it is one sided. well yes, that is the point, it is about the Christian crusades, if it was about the side of the muslims it would have been called "jihad" or something. it is very suitable that a python would handle this subject since much of it verges on farcical, if it weren't so utterly horrible. just the fact that when they finally get to to Jerusalem not only is it not occupied by the people that were supposedly oppressing it (the turks were already kicked out) that in fact everybody was getting along quite well. that's a python moment if there ever was one! i can hear the dialogue now

Christian: "We have to come to rescue you from the infidel blasphemers!"

jerusalem resident: "No thank you, we're doing just dandy actually, perhaps you would like to save the next city?"

Christian: "But we have travelled for years through untold hardship and struggle to kick out the infidels! God has willed it!"

jerusalem resident: "Look, it's not my fault we're not being oppressed, what do you want me to do, beat myself over the head?"

and so on .... and of course they end up looting and pillaging the "holy city". and you know, i don't think the Arab world has forgotten this period as much as we have, and we are still paying for those dark and bloody times. i'm glad this series was made, we must face the truths of history, no matter how ugly they are or how much they shatter our fragile myths we have created to shield ourselves from the true horrors of our past.
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Take with morning coffee!
jdburkitt10 October 2006
This is a great little gem of ancient history that still affects us in modern times. I watched it over several mornings with my coffee so that I could begin the day laughing at human folly (THAT has not changed) and learning some history. One of the few things Marx got right was saying that religion is the opium of the people--if that's an accurate quote. The world still suffers from religious fanaticism. I only hope that the more rational global economy can conquer and behead the religious fanatics in America, the Middle East and elsewhere! Today we send young women and men to war to die for oil: back then it was for "salvation"!!

Big Panda Bear
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Well produced and entertaining but very biased.
gooncnt13 May 2007
Terry Jones as the host was a brilliant choice. The series is an excellent mix of history and humor. However it is quite biased against the Crusaders. It appears that the producers tried to make it seem that the Crusades were unprovoked hostility toward the Muslims who were living in peace with their Christian and Jewish neighbors. This is inaccurate. The Crusades were a provoked response by Europeans against increasing encroachment of Jihadists into European territory. Let's not forget that Spain was conquered by the Muslims in the 8th century (300 years BEFORE the Crusades). After that they conducted several invasions into France and Italy. Read about Charles Martel and Tours. The Muslims had been attacking Constantinople for centuries and were also attacking Christian Pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. As far as Muslims living in peace with their non-Muslim neighbors...true, to a point. Before invading a territory, Muslim commanders were required to give their enemy three choices: 1. Accept Islam and everything that is required of a Muslim (you know, fun stuff like, no pork, no alcohol, paying zakat, praying five times a day, oh yeah...and circumcision). 2. They could pay the non-Muslim tax and live as Dhimmi. Which means protected or a liability or guilty. These were Jews and Christians sometimes others such as Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and Zoroastrians whose right to practice their religion is tolerated under Islamic law, but with lower legal status. 3. Die. Not much of a choice. For a person just becoming interested in the Crusades period of history, this miniseries is just right. However, research on your own is important. Do not take everything in this program at face value. You will be much the wiser for it.
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It's tendentious, mocking, and utterly unbalanced.
gpower7 June 2004
"The Crusades" makes no attempt to enter into the minds of medieval Christians. In fact, the film suggests that Medieval Christianity (and specifically Catholicism) is utterly irrational, bloodthirsty, and a forerunner to Nazism. No attempt is made to interview academics who might provide an even minimally sympathetic (or at the least, neutral) account of these events. All the Popes, cardinals, bishops, and priests are motivated solely by greed, ambition, or religious superstition. "The Crusades" is highly recommended for those who've already made up their minds about this chaotic period of European history and merely want to see their bigotry confirmed.
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Well done and engaging
Bielebog19 December 2004
Terry Jones is not only a talented comedian, he is also an accomplished historian. I found this series to be a well crafted and accurate view of a particularly dark time in history when ambition and zealotry brought terrible violence to western Asia. Jones blends humor and insight with storytelling to give a vivid picture of the motivations and fears of the different players. Unfortunately, the pacing in the 3rd and 4th episodes seemed a bit hurried, but this is a minor criticism of an otherwise fine documentary.

One of my favorite parts was the account of the Byzantine emperor's handling of successive waves of peasants and soldiers that arrived at his gate during the first crusade. He was a clever statesman that was struggling to keep his imperiled world safe from threats from every direction.

If you enjoyed this work, I also recommend Terry Jones' Medieval Lives.
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Excellent and reasonably accurate
ctreusch1 September 2005
Excellent, beautiful and amusing account of the Crusades. For those who think that the account is a little one sided and harsh on Catholics should consider this. Pope John Paul II himself apologized for the mistakes committed in the name of the Church during the Crusades to Muslim leaders in March of 2000.

As a Catholic, i never felt for one moment that Catholisism was being portrayed as "..utterly irrational, bloodthirsty, and a forerunner to Nazism" in the series. To call that suggestion a ridiculous hyperbole would be an understatement. I hope some people here realize that the Church never was or ever will be infallible.
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Long on image, short on fact
cthulhu-2310 March 2004
While a very well-crafted, creative, and funny documentary, it unfortunately falls short in the fact department, glosses over long periods of history, and falls yet again in the "Christian Bad--Everyone Else Good" camp.

I found most interesting the use of "never before published" accounts written by Muslims at the time of the Crusades. What a treasure trove, if they are legitimate. Additionally, building and testing siege engines and actual armor long before Discovery and TLC made such things commonplace was a masterstroke.

I found least interesting the very end of the show, detailing the sack of Constantinople by showing a topless woman (the prostitute on the throne) singing Louisiana blues in Venice.
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More revisionist nonsense
sebpopcorn2 December 2010
Terry Jones has previously done a series about the barbarians that uses selective and unrepresentative titbits to "prove" that the classical barbarians were actually a million times more advanced than we commonly think. They weren't, but they can be made to appear to be.

This continues in The Crusades where a few out of context points, a wry look and a bit of tired Monty Python comedy is thrown in to persuade the viewer that Muslims were innocent victims and Christians warmongering monsters.

It's pathetic that people are so keen to have their own bigotry propped up that they'll twist history to suit themselves. If this show did the same thing to malign Muslims instead it would probably have a score of around 2. Tell idiots what they want to hear though and you're set for success. Read about the crusades from a history book and you'll find quite a different story. What really galls me is there is little enough historical content on TV, what's the betting he'll get yet another series where he'll spin similar drivel while proper historians don't get a look in.

Really, this is sad stuff though I'm not at all surprised to see it has such a high rating.
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Exceptional but it could have used captions.
MartinHafer31 October 2013
Many viewers might be surprised to see "Monty Python" alumnus Terry Jones doing a historical documentary, but he has made some wonderfully entertaining film in this genre. My favorite of these is "Medieval Lives" and I used portions of this show back when I was teaching World History. "Crusades" is also exceptionally good as it puts a different spin on the significance of these wars. Unlike conventional wisdom, Jones explains in this lengthy four-part series that the end result of the Crusades was the STRENGTHENING of the Muslim world---uniting the various Islamic kingdoms and the creation of a spirit of Jihad that we still feel today.

To provide this history lesson, Jones uses some amazing visuals--with actors dressed like living mosaics. You just have to see and marvel at them to believe them. Additionally, his anachronistic and droll sense of humor makes the film well worth seeing and enjoyable. Worth your time. The only negative is seeing Jones in a Speedo! I could have done without this.
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Right depiction of events
cheema76123 September 2012
Today I watched this movie second time.(First was in 1995). I always remain a student of Medieval days Crusades, their impacts and relation to current worlds.

Terry Jones did a great job to gather information from all available sources and presented them without any prejudice. He combined both of his interests, History & Media in this Great Piece of Art. Best part of this series is his neutral view point of all the events. Script is strong a research is thorough. He tried best to show how use of different warfare in Medieval time, their evolution and techniques to use.

I am giving him 9 out of due to the reason that this movie doesn't link Medieval day crusades with current conflicts of civilization. There might be an explanation as this movie was developed in post 9/11 scenario.

Still it this series is good first hand knowledge from a historian, for anyone who wants to know how current conflict of civilization started.

Great to Watch
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