After Rome: Holy War And Conquest

Ratings: 7.91/10 from 44 users.

After Rome - Holy War And ConquestIn the first episode of this two-part series, Boris Johnson travels to France, Spain, Egypt, Israel, Syria and Turkey to investigate the early beginnings of what some people now call 'the clash of civilizations.' This is the idea that the two historically opposed religious cultures of Christianity and Islam are locked into a never-ending cycle of mutual antipathy, distrust and violence. Is this really true?

There have been many 'clashes' between Christianity and Islam in the period Boris Johnson examines in this series, 632 to 1492. But the real historical picture is far more subtle, interesting and optimistic than the clichés of a clash of civilization might suggest. This first programme looks at the early history of Islam; the extraordinary series of conquests that gained for it half the territories of the old Roman empire in just 80 years; the rich and sophisticated civilisation Islam produced; the relationships between Muslims, Jews and Christians; and the background to the crusades.

In the second part Boris Johnson travels to France, Spain, Egypt, Israel, Syria and Turkey to continue his investigation into the early beginnings of what some people now call 'the clash of civilizations'. He begins by looking at the crusades, and the way they are viewed in the west and in the Muslim world today. But Boris finds that the realities of the crusades are far more subtle than modern attitudes to them would have us believe.

As with many current entrenched positions about the so-called 'clash of civilisations,' such attitudes are often a rewriting of history in the light of later events. In this programme Boris Johnson also looks at the Sack of Constantinople, when Latin Christians fought eastern Christians, leading eventually to the fall of the city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. He looks too at the Reconquista in Spain, which culminated in the wholesale expulsion of Jews and Muslims. At every turn of his journey, Boris Johnson finds that the real history is a good deal more subtle and interesting than the fictions that have grown up around it.

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50 Comments / User Reviews

  1. jono

    Good doc. Boris handles the subject well in his eccentric fashion. Take a look if you get the time at the doc about Boris and Dave (Cameron).

  2. Greywall
  3. Greywall

    I watched it about three months back... It is somewhat one-sided expression of a predetermined mindset. Doco like these apread more hatered then doing anything good between christianity and islam.

  4. ez2b12
  5. ez2b12

    # Greywall
    Are you reffering to this doc? I didn't think it demonized any one side at all, a good doc. I learned a lot about the foundations of Islam and their beliefs, I couldn't finish it though, I fell asleep. It does get a little boring in some places. Yeah the guy narrating does seem a little carried away at times, I bet he spits while he talks. Overall, a good doc but a little boring at times. Narrator seems a little crazy at times as well, just the way he talks not what he says.

  6. Insomniac
  7. Insomniac

    @greywall: From previous post I've seen from you I think you're the one whos very one-sided.

    @everyone else: Doc is balanced and well made. Worth a watch.

  8. garbonzo
  9. garbonzo

    I think it was fairly well-balanced. I downloaded this awhile ago in HD and it looks great, another good one that is similar and fills in some of the gaps in this show is Islamic History of Europe with Rageh Omar.

  10. olly
  11. olly

    thats the mayor of london peeps

  12. hugie
  13. hugie

    This doc makes arabs in general and islamic arabs specifically sound like an evil empire that is bent on taking over the world. It seems to me that the documentary makers tried to be objective but were unable to conquer bias

  14. Scott Henthorn
  15. Scott Henthorn

    Is the starting point, that Rome was a paradise of civilization, correct

  16. Scott Henthorn
  17. Scott Henthorn


  18. Krissto
  19. Krissto

    Abraham and Jesus...Snow-white and the Big Bad Wolf....

  20. Scott Henthorn
  21. Scott Henthorn

    Which is Which?

  22. anbu
  23. anbu

    i cant find the documentary?

  24. Greywall
  25. Greywall

    "From previous post I’ve seen from you I think you’re the one whos very one-sided."
    Actually you are trying to be though, I wouldn't start any stupid debate just for the sake of debate. U R at liberty to think what suits you.

  26. JCWOLF
  27. JCWOLF

    Hey Krissto, the big bad wolf, is more non-fiction though!

  28. nico
  29. nico

    another pompous english twit scholar---having a go at the romans.
    the old propganda that monphysites wanted to be released from their roman masters is pure b@##$%^&.
    the monophysites and jews betrayed the roman to the muslims.---simple as that and they were herectics

  30. JCWOLF
  31. JCWOLF

    "Relive the good bits..."
    The broad spectrum was how each side would proclaim to be the good bits, through divisive means of control. Intimidation, propaganda, oppression, and down right blood shed. The whole message was viewed behind a rose shaded elton john glass'; even then it was impossible to sweep under the rug the senseless killing over a alah vs yahwa vs jehova pissing contest.

  32. Placebo
  33. Placebo

    I found it mildly entertaining, and any bias is left for oneself to dig up. The lack of mentioning the actual causes of western ascend, being the never ending crusades, slavery, banking and/or countless other atrocities was surely done to keep the Roman empire centred throughout.

    It was very light on jewish history imo. Four or five sentences, of an hour long doc...

    “Relive the good bits…” Romantic ending to a bloody tale... great host in my opinion.

  34. Shaz Mkenzy
  35. Shaz Mkenzy

    Excellent Documentary - Boris does very well, contrary to other comments below.

  36. Ryan
  37. Ryan

    I must say, the video and audio are incredible. Beautiful looking documentary at least.

  38. pamela
  39. pamela

    Historically inaccurate, not done by a review of world class documents of the actual crusades. Better to read "a concise history of the crusades" by Thomas Maddison...a world class historian. Muslims had sacked and desecrated the Chritian worlds holy sacred sites...the aim was not expansionist, but to reclaim the sites, they were largely unsuccessful. Unfortunately, some jews along the Rhine were killed by soldiers who were not instructed to kill them did was tradjic and the church did apologize to jews then and pope john paul II did say prayers for the jews at the wailing wall. Christians did not "sack" the Dome of the Rock, and this shows the fundamental difference of what the Crusaders were...not militaristically expansionist as the muslims were.

  40. Ted
  41. Ted

    Interesting but overly romantic about Islamic Cordoba. As the piece mentioned there was not this tolerant equality that people imagine.

  42. sinan
  43. sinan

    what's the name of the opening song ?

  44. tomregit
  45. tomregit

    nico. Where do you get the idea that he is "having a go at the Romans"? Then calling someone a heretic. A term I've not actually heard to describe anyone. A term used in antiquity and having no place in modern speech. Did you actually watch any of this? Perhaps you could enlighten me; are you a monophysite after their betrayal of the Romans, or are you in the Nestorian camp? And how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Pray for guidance and let me know please. ;0)

  46. meo
  47. meo

    I guess most people here has missed the point of the documentary & still holding on to their provincial territorial mindsets of possession and domination; instead Boris sought to understand the present differences that still exists today by delving into the past.

    If you actually watched it till the end, he did urge for the 'religious' differences to be put aside & for mutual respect to arise but alas, his idealism is commendable for it is a future that I too hope to see, but the reality is vastly different as cultural jealousies still predominate the sub-concious landscape of the Abrahamic descendents & henceforth the frequent nit-picking & pin pointing over events long gone.

  48. Kratos
  49. Kratos

    In my view, the documentary was as unbiased as it could afford to be. As much as I would like to believe or wish what he says at the end, it is unattainable. A clash of civilizations is inevitable. It is happening as we speak and will not cease until one civilization has won over the other comprehensively as is evident from the history of the two cultures. The problem here is that both cultures think that, they are the best or the only possible solution of human race and have and will try to impose their views on the other.
    Anywayz, a nice documentary and worth watching.

  50. Kratos
  51. Kratos

    What are you talking about?? You can not defend or justify the acts of crusaders; there fight was legitimate in the sense of taking back territory but the means by which they did it was 'medieval'. Were you watching the part where he was describing what happened after the First crusaders took Jerusalem and massacred masses. Don't you know about Raynald of Châtillon and the atrocities he commited. Likewise what happenned after Mehmet captured Constantinople was an atrocity. There haven been and are atrocities commited by both the civilizations whether they be bombings all over the world or Guantanamo bay.
    And one more thing; Do not blame the Religions for these, the perverts who use religion for political or personal means are the culprits.

  52. Jade
  53. Jade

    Unless that religion commands subjegation of unbelievers and rewards fighting and dying in the cause of their god.

    Watch- Islam: What the West Needs to Know.

  54. Kratos
  55. Kratos

    Well I dont personally feel that Islam or for that fact any other religion justifies or propagates the killing of innocents. And I hold this view by reading scriptures of the religions, not believing the sayings of the clerics of the religion. If you look at this documentary itself, the Pope gives his blessings and assurances that killing and capturing the lands from unbelievers would erase sins and will be a direct way into heaven. I dont find that very different from modern terrorist who hold similar doctrines for political gains. At that point of time the christian civilization was in decline and now its the muslim civilization, history repeats itself. As i have said before, they will fight for superiority until the end of one of the two religions.
    So, read the scriptures of the religions in their entirety( not extracts) and then judge the religion. Don't judge it by some misguided followers.

  56. MIchael22541
  57. MIchael22541

    no video encoded?? what up?

  58. R. S. Fonseca
  59. R. S. Fonseca

    One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Concise, illustrative and above all objective.

  60. MohammedSafwan
  61. MohammedSafwan

    One of the worst documentary on accounting History & Especially of Crusades.

    A Master Piece on how a Secularist sell Secularism
    see in contrast to this(very bound by facts, figures, social & political system of then world):
    Documentaries: (1) Crusades (2) When the Moors Ruled in Europe

    The Objective of this Secular Documentary was to make us understand history in this way:-

    1) Ok, here its start Clash of Civilization = Once upon a time there was Clash of two monkeys lets generalize them as "War Lords" Civilization - Simple isn't it(Can be Sold to an Atheist)..

    2) Lets speak first: First Christian Monkey "War Lords" were the peaceful some what holy-cow, non-political in-inheritors of the "Great Roman Empire"

    3) Roman Empire was Great very peaceful very tolerant.

    4) Roman Empire was based on the Great teaching of the very peace loving, very educated (Oh) Epitome of Knowledge = The Greeks or probably not so...

    5) Therefore it was Great Roman Empire & Great Greeks Parents of Modernism, Democracy, Peace... But after the monkeys came it was lost...forgotten. The Christian "War Lords" entered the "Dark Age".

    6) Yes of course the dark age was for just Europeans. Comes to scene another monkey: Muslim Monkeys or Muslim War Lords.

    7) Muslim war lords inspired by their new found the so called "War Lord" supportive faith Islam, just within few years conquered the whole of Roman & Persian Empire... Yes of course by that time some how the holy cow Christian War Lords were taking a nap till the Muslim War Lords continue conquer their territory.

    8) The Muslim Monkey (war lord) was very smart it somehow managed to gain knowledge from various part of the world(most of it from Greeks of course) in continuation with its conquest by war & also smart conversion process(yes how can the documentary simply accuse of "Islam spread by Sword" it is disproved & sounds childish)

    9) By the time the Muslim Monkey was very advanced, then suddenly wakes up the Christian Monkey very unaware of whats going on...The Christian Monkey some how was so un-aware that it didnot even know what faith was of the Muslim Monkey! Very Funny!!!!

    10) Suddenly the Christian monkey is bombarded by e.mails(oops letters) from the other holy cows complaining about the tyranny of the Muslim Monkey & therefore those letters seeking Christian Monkey's help.

    11) Abracadabra...The Sleeping Dragon or the Sleeping War Lord within the Christian Monkey comes to conscious gains all its super power & sets to take on Muslim Monkey.

    12) Now the Muslim Monkey is sleeping. I just wonder how come an empire that has spread so vast, that too acquired by War Lord style tyrannical conquest just sit and wait, unaware of whats it enemy is planning, Dont they know anything in the name of Politics!!..Well thats how the documentary want us to be it...

    13) Christian monkey still waits for some solid, hard hitting e.mail to start off its "Savior" mission called "Crusades"...Just like Spider-man or any super hero. And Voila there comes the most awaited highly motivation letter from one holy-cow Alexis and here comes out the Christian Super-Hero in Defense of its great lost empire and to of course free the oppressed!

    14) Now the story goes into the action scene the war Starts between:


    15) Both fights like Dogs. Only problem is Somehow Advance Knowledge war lords could not make peace because they were arrogant. And therefore ignored even the so called fact "The People in Jerusalem were happy with Crusaders Rule" why not they would be happy they had called these peace loving super heroes!

    16) So finally the war ends in stale mate - An Anti Climax. Where in most of the part the holy-cows Christian war lords remain peace loving. Only now and then su*k*ng blood of the people, which was ok. It was not bad as the advance war lords!

    17) There was a see-saw battle where in of course the good "Christian War Lords" Now almost highly civilized, modernized & secularized because of the re-union with the lost parents(Great Greek & Roman Culture...that were some how preserved by the "Muslim War Lords") prevailed. Hence the bitter enmity went deeply entrenched in the "Muslim War Lords" that has today given birth to the Extreme "ISLAMIC TERRORISM" see how the chain links...such a wonderful concise history covering upto to current day situations...

    18) The Conclusion therefore: Both War Lords were you know "ok kind of guys for their times" only fact is: One Evolved into accepting the Great Civilized, Secular state & became very democratic wherein the other just has spiraled backed to barbarism=Current Day Terrorist.
    So we need to learn & keep the Religion where it belongs within the closets. Especially that Religion called:Islam, a pro war lord religion.
    We need to move ahead and accept "Secularism" and move ahead with the glorious future that most developed Nations enjoy. And which is being highly coveted by these "Muslim War Lord Monkeys" when they see it on Television.

    So end the great saga. A Legendary one!!!

    Please, stop s*ck**g your thumbs & grow up...

  62. Bleue_Dry
  63. Bleue_Dry

    Seriously, whats wrong with you dude?

  64. urban deadite
  65. urban deadite

    Problem with all these Crusade programmes is it is usually always about Christians and Muslims when in real life a lot of Christian Crusades happened in Europe against 'Pagans' NOT Muslims as well as other Christians and the Muslims did the same against 'pagans' and other Muslims even when Christian Crusades where sent to the East they smashed their way there sacking many Christian Cities etc on the way likewise the Muslims did the same.
    Building a picture of two Civilizations fighting is so wrong on so many levels and ignores so much History.

  66. madscirat
  67. madscirat

    Religions are not people. They have no compassion. They do not get happy. They do no get sad. They only seek to reproduce themselves in as many minds as possible. This is the basis of the conflict. It is not a conflict between people but ideas and this is why it has been traditionally so brutal. Ideas lack human emotion, they are devoid of pity and when people get infected by such ideas they become nearly as merciless as their controllers.

  68. Kateye70
  69. Kateye70

    "Mine is better than yours." Awesome comment.

  70. Guest
  71. Guest

    if you are not muslim, do not use the word prophet unless you are everybody's puppet

  72. ne yaa zaw
  73. ne yaa zaw

    I think Muslim get a chance, when Europe was just recover yet from Great Plague. Not Muslim is strong nor Europe incompetence, just sharing.

  74. Timmy Poo
  75. Timmy Poo

    What a wonderful world this could be without the ignorance of ALL religion.

  76. lunawolve
  77. lunawolve

    1) you dont seem to have watched the documentary.
    2) if you want a documentary focused on "crusades againts the pagans" as you say it, then look for a documentary in which the description does not EXPLICLITLY say: Islam. Not that difficult for gs.

  78. lunawolve
  79. lunawolve

    much better than Terry Jones "crusades", full of the old "islam was a far superior culture and so much religion tolerant" bias. I am not saying islam was not an advanced culture technologically speaking, which it was, its just that i hate the over simplistic historians that hold a view of type: "these were the good ones and those others were the evil ones".

  80. lunawolve
  81. lunawolve

    Sorry but have you read jewish, christian or muslim scriptures? I am sorry to disappoint you but there is violence, genocide and war in all of them. no holy scripture of either of these religions could pass a critical ethical-moral-politically-correct test today. And it is not that difficult to understand and accept, those writings are hundreds and even thousands of years old. Of course, ethical and moral values have undergone some changes since then.

  82. Black Scholar
  83. Black Scholar

    As a Black man in America with slave blood in my veins. I gotta agree with safwan. The eurocentric view is PLAYED. and for the most part it is killing the Earth. Kill/steal/plunder and horde, wtf? off to watch "when moors ruled Europe"

    I already know everything that is taught by Europeans is Backwards. If white people are black people's opposite; and Black people came first?

    Then white people are by their ICY NATURE distorting the truth. Besides, the white gene is recessive. The black gene is way more powerful. I would say look at Barak obama but his insides are captured by the plaguers.

  84. roxanne
  85. roxanne

    Indeed. Islam missed the Renaissance and Age of Enlightment. They are far behind, yet very proud of themselves.

  86. bdoon
  87. bdoon

    Have you ever noticed that Muslims (and their Western apologists)always say the same thing about Christian victories always the Muslims" Oh, it wasn't an important victory anyways". They also point to the Chritian slaughter of folks at the Crusader Fall of Jerusalem. All I can say is I wish I had a dollar for every person slaughtered and/ or raped bu Muslim soldiers when conquering Christian cities. I gaurantee I would be a millionaire.

  88. Dungbeetle
  89. Dungbeetle

    Current wars in the middle east will blow over to other countries like blazing fire. It will emerge in to a full race war.

  90. IrishInEngland
  91. IrishInEngland

    i do believe your comment above was a bit racist? very broad in your accusations and would not be acceptable being said by anyone about any race?
    as a black american with slave blood in your veins as you say, do you feel that that your attitude brings positive elements to the future of the human race, or is holding it back to a time which has long passed and the mentality of the human race i hope for all ur sakes has evolved?

  92. soronto
  93. soronto

    Typical BBC apologetics, aimed at making Westerners believe Islam has a "great" or "humanistic" side, with scholars studying the Greek classics, while "Oxford was still a place where oxen forded a river," and the inhabitants lived in mud huts. Give me a break, Boris. How many more cliches can you fish out of your political bag? As for Islam being a "program for the human race," what is so admirable about that? Naziism and Communism were such. Do we really want one dominant ideology on the planet? Where is human freedom in that? And, Islam "swept" through the Mediterranean world. Well, so did later imperial ideologies, and why not when your opponents are too weak to put up a fight? There's nothing superior to one set of ideas when those conquered are not a match.
    I would love to see a documentary about all of the preconceived, prejudiced ideas the Arabs especially have of the West. I think it would paint a horrifying picture, more so than what we in the West think about Muslims.

  94. soronto
  95. soronto

    Hey Black Scholar: have a look at slavery in the Arab (Muslim) world. Educate yourself. You'll find more Africans were enslaved by Arabs than Europeans ever did. And it was the English who ended slavery, not any Muslim nation. In fact, the Koran sanctions slavery. Get real.

  96. Geert
  97. Geert

    I saw that face. Can t believe Boris Johnson made doc. I won t bother watching. I am Londoner and had to put up with this clown. This guy pretends to care about environment, etc, going around on his push bike around London in public view, and for the cameras. He talked a lot about improving live in general for us Londoners. Yeah he talked a lot...

  98. Alicia
  99. Alicia

    Bojo, living proof that no matter how much one's parents pay for one's education, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the final result. Born a complete twat, will die a complete tawt.

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