The Crusades: An Arab Perspective

The Crusades: An Arab Perspective

2016, History  -    -  Playlist 35 Comments
Ratings: 5.46/10 from 220 users.

An ambitious four-part documentary produced by Al Jazeera, The Crusades: An Arab Perspective features handsome production values, convincing historical reenactments and a wealth of revealing information on this much dissected period of world history.

The first episode sets the groundwork for one of history's most infamous and lengthy conflicts.The filmmakers illustrate a stark contrast between the Western European Christians, who struggled greatly through poverty and injustice, and the Muslims who resided in a Holy Land rife with political unrest and religious tensions. We witness how an empowering speech given by Pope Urban II in November of 1095 set the stage for military conflict, and soon led to the conquest of Jerusalem four years later.

Muslim rulers had reigned supreme in the region for over four centuries prior to this shattering loss. Episode two traces their rise from the ashes of defeat. Galvanized into action, the Muslim people embarked on a jihad against the Crusaders, regained territories with great determination and efficiency, and claimed a well-fought victory by the end of the Second Crusade in 1149.

Episode three begins with another major Muslim victory, the Battle of Hattin, which led to the recapture of Jerusalem and represented a significant weakening of Crusader forces. Two years later, the Third Crusade was born. This three-year conflict ended with the signing of a peace treaty granting Muslims control of the holy city while maintaining Christian visitation rights.

The Crusades may have come to an end, but the fight against Western occupation did not. The final episode considers the lasting remnants of these conflicts as it relates to events in their immediate aftermath all the way to 20th century, including the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Sprinkled throughout the film are enlightening interviews with a panel of noted historians and academics. Collectively, their insights serve as a terrific compliment to the impressive reenactment footage as they work to interpret the motivations of all involved and to separate fact from folklore.

The Crusades: An Arab Perspective is an impressive achievement that manages to play more like a riveting sword and sandals saga than a dry and studious documentary.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fergus Lampton
3 years ago

Very balanced perspective of the evil war that divided the Muslims and Christians, deep rooted in envy, greed, desperation and ugly politics that still dominates the current world. The problem with some contemporary Christians minds is they still live in the past, never been able to whisk off the past revenge and dark psyche. Christians need to move on and repent for what they did to others in their abdominal colonization in Asia, Africa, Americas and small islands around the world.

Jeffrey Simpson
4 years ago

The written translations of the spoken words are not only inaccurate but at times very funny without that being the intention. These errors made me question the authenticity of what was being presented.

4 years ago

This documentary is really nowhere near as bad as some people are suggesting. Of course, it's an Arab perspective and you can quibble over some of their perceptions, but no doubt many people in Muslim countries would complain of what they perceive as inaccuracies in Western documentaries' perspectives.
If you are genuinely interested in this historical period, take a look at this, if you've read a bit, seen other documentaries and so on you'll understand where the makers of this documentary are coming from.
Personally I was very interested to have the opportunity to see a real Arab perspective on this period. I would ask people who are seriously interested in history not to have an angry knee jerk reaction because different cultures have different perceptions. A documentary like this doesn't have to be taken at face value - but it will increase understanding.

4 years ago

I wish there had been voice over translations instead of subtitles. I listen to documentaries in my car. Having said that, I think it is always valuable to take a look at history from the other side than one is usually presented with.

5 years ago

Is this a KKK chatroom?
Full of racists.

Stewart - South Africa
5 years ago

Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel. Leon Uris, The Hají

Stewart - South Africa
5 years ago

What a load of nonsense and propaganda!

The Crusades were the Roman church's response to 400 years of Islamic incursions, depredations, warlike territorial expansion and conquests advancing into Europe.

Poverty in Europe which existed but nowhere near what is claimed here, can be laid also at the same door - Islamic disruption of trade across southern Europe and the knock-on effects of that!

None of that seems to feature here though!

5 years ago

Chapter 3.

In 1185 on the Beykoz mountain near Yoros the Emperor Andronicus-Christ was crucified. The outraged provinces, led by the Russia-Horde, started a war the goal of which was vengeance and 'the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre', i.e. capture of Czar-Grad = Jerusalem, the Empire's capital. This was the Trojan War also reflected in various documents under the names of: the Tarquinian War in 'ancient' Rome (allegedly in the VI century BC), the Gothic War in Italy (allegedly of the VI century), the Nika revolt in Czar-Grad (allegedly of the VI century), etc. See [2v].

The Trojan War was one of the biggest events in the history of Europe and Asia. The war was described by Homer, Herodotus and other 'ancient' classical authors, as well as by the Mediaeval Dare, Dictys, etc. 'Ancient' Titus Livy describes it under the name of 'Tarquinian War. While Prokopi Caesarian uses the names 'War with the Goths' and 'the Nika revolt', for example.

The same war is well known under the collective name of the Crusades of the XIII century, seizure of Czar-Grad in 1204, and then the fall of Czar-Grad in 1261. The Trojan War was essentially represented in a series of bloody battles. And as such it was described by 'ancient' Homer who lived in the epoch of the XV-XVI cc. Today in place of 'ancient' Czar-Grad = Troy there survive the ruins of the Yoros fortress on the Bosphorus, where the strait enters the Black Sea, 35 kilometres from Istanbul [ЗИ].

Czar-Grad was captured in 1204 during the Crusade which today is erroneously called the Fourth. The city was ransacked and burnt by the Horde-Cossacks crusaders and their allies. They are the same 'ancient' Achaeans-Greeks described by Homer in 'The Iliad'. The Achaeans were led by 'ancient' Achilles, aka Russian-Horde prince Svyatoslav [НОР]. Those responsible for Andronicus-Christ's crucifixion were captured by the Hordians and were brutally executed. The fall of Czar-Grad was reflected in many chronicles as the fall of 'ancient' Troy allegedly in the XIII century BC; also as the seizure of the biblical Jerusalem by the Roman army allegedly in the I century; and as the seizure of 'most ancient' Babylon, etc.

Modern history attaches a great importance to the Crusades. In our reconstruction their role will grow in significance. The Trojan War of the XIII century was the FIRST WORLD WAR OF THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES. Its outcome predetermined several centuries of the course of world history.


In [ЦРС] we quote the Church-Slavonic book 'The Passion of the Christ'. As it happens, according to church tradition in order to capture Jerusalem the armies marched not from the WEST, but from the EAST. In other words, from Russia-Horde. Also the fact, that the great = 'Mongolian' conquest started shortly after, supports this view. The Scaligerian history later began to claim that The Crusades allegedly advanced to the Holy Land from the West. This is just another distortion of the true history and geography. In [v1] and [v2] there are given many examples when the ancient maps were turned upside down, i.e. North was drawn in the bottom and South - on the top. Consequently East and West were changed places. It is quite possible that on account of this confusion Eastern crusades 'turned into' Western ones and vice versa.

Historian tohtori
5 years ago

This seems to follow the cultural left's narrative of christians being those close-minded fundies. We are being invaded again through mass immigration, that is why this rhetoric is being enforced everywhere.

I agree with the part where it says the Pope in Vatican is about power, not faith. Listen to the current pope, how he has turned his back against catholics and christians.

Vatican secretly hates jews, and enjoys the tension between islam and Israel.

6 years ago

at the parts where they called Christians ignorant and barbaric for not being able to read cracked be up. Like you know your prophet could do neither of those things, right?

6 years ago

"their land"
"Western occupation"
Biased Muzzie shit.
FYI the middle East was CHRISTIAN before Islam came about. The religion o peace managed to drop the Christian population by single percentages per year until the EBIL EUROPEAN CHRISTIANS "invaded" "their" land

6 years ago

Guys, let's clarify some things: The show is, as is clearly stated, presenting history from an Arab perspective. History may involve tangible evidence, scientific methodology, etc., but as it is with the things we don't experience directly, this information is relayed to us by someone who interprets it from a certain perspective. They are not claiming to provide objective truths or a "this is how it really happened" scenario. I think the intention is rather about relaying how people on the other side experienced and felt about the events. In this sense, what I'm saying is, history is often written by the victors so it's great to get another point of view. Our history is, after all, what has contributed to much animosity nowadays, and I always find it helpful to break past our 'self-serving bias' (too lazy to explain, research it if interested) if we can just push ourselves to see past dogma, media fabrication and a neocolonial bias. It's equally important to ask the question (of everything that you are told or taught): Why am I being told this specific thing as opposed to something else? Who selected the information presented and what are they trying to convey? Why is it presented in this way? Who does the information serve?

That said, the show is more about how the crusades were experienced, not a factual account - therein lies its value. Don't assume that they're presenting facts - rather, they present their interpretations and experiences, and if that brings us a step closer to understanding one another then bloody hurray, it's about damn time.

6 years ago

Considerable effort and successful production. A different angle to look at things. Raises new question marks and feeds curiosity, indeed.

6 years ago

First leaving any and all principles, ethics, and morality out this is a terribly made film, it's, offensive, and so bad they could not even find a single English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Scandinavian speaking actor in the film. It's starts by attempting to give an account of how Europeans lived showing a scene with a European mother singing to her child Podo, wishing for death because life in Europe in so unbelievably miserable with a professor from some prominent Arab school telling us the worst stats of the time.
As a journalist and a former diplomat who has spent the majority of my life working to insure justice and dignity to all people this is pure PROPAGANDA!! Not only propaganda but it seems they were able to find a few European looking caucasians to play serfs and people in utter poverty but the actors playing European royalty suddenly their ethnic origin becomes very obviously middle-eastern not only in looks but in physical cultural idiosyncratic expression that quite distinctly emanate from the middle east.
This is racist trash.
AlJazeera has done well in producing ethically balanced worlds news programming but this is as bad as it gets!!!

stan wasserman
6 years ago

Typical cowardly response by people who don't read and watch more reality shows than news. ( Arab propaganda,i don't believe,) the all to common cry's of the uneducated when presented wit truth. Funny thing is these same hypocrites will believe anything out of Israel no matter how false or unproven it is. Sad really and I'm an atheist so i speak with an honest and clear mind.

6 years ago

A 1400 Years of Islamic wars, jihad and just a few defensive battles from Christians, that is basically whole story in the nutshell.
Best documentary/ interview with plenty new facts based on history and science you can find in great video called "Why We Are Afraid, A 1400 Year Secret, by Dr Bill Warner Ph.D".

came here for the butthurt christians/catholics
6 years ago

Didn't find as many as I thought I would.

6 years ago

This would have been a much more enjoyable documentary if instead of the text, audio translations were included. This is true of many documentaries. Filmakers, please be aware that many of us watch on very small screens!!

6 years ago

Arab propaganda... not worth anythin.

6 years ago

Gladys, are you thinking of Fox News? Actually, I am not hearing much from the Arab point of view. That the Crusaders were self interested murderers and deluded religious fanatics seems uncontroversial from just about any prospective.

6 years ago

Interesting. Who can say where exaggeration, falsehood, and fact lay? This is very old, blurred, emotional history. And, there are at least two partisan accounts, (East & West) as to what may or may not have occurred.
All that can be known with certainty is the religious nature of this on going conflict. Extirpate superstition, (religion + ignorance) and we might slow, confine, or even stop our relentless march toward self annihilation.
Uneducated, biased opinions are easy enough to the comments here evince.

6 years ago

You poor ignorant, you claim to be fascinated by History, but you obviously, still have everything to learn about it. You are even more bias that Al Jazeera, who from the onset of the documentary proves by the language of its narrative, its’ clear cut subjectivity. It speaks of five centuries of Muslim wars to conquer all of the Middle-Est, a good part of Europe and all of North Africa, spreading like a wild fire, killing everyone that did not submit to their will, and decimating entire tribes and populations, simply as “the entire region had fallen under firm Muslim control” like if we were speaking of a natural disaster. But when it is attacked by the west, then it is “two hundred years of blood shade and murder”.
At lease Al Jazeera presents the documentary as “viewed by the Arabs”, so obviously to be taken with a grain of salt and learn what you may. But you the intellectual, you obviously pick and choose what you want to hear to support your bias. Israel Finkelstein in his book and documentary raised doubts as to the Hebrews ever being slaves in Egypt, but never even suggested a denial of the Temple of Jerusalem, and others alike structures in Israel, Judea and Samaria, as temples of the Hebrews, “the Jews”.
Soon you'll be saying that the Holocaust also never happened. Won't you?

6 years ago

Since its murderous beginnings Islam has waged war almost constantly against the West. The Crusades were carried out to push them back whence they came. Even Vlad Tepes, almost acting alone, attempted to stave them off from marching into what is now Eastern Europe.
The Middle East has been waging war against each other going back into antiquity. Anyone not realizing this has to go back about 2000 years and up to the present day. Land has always been moving between this or that country in that area of the world. The trouble with the Western mind is that it cannot comprehend the mindset of these people. Al Jazerra is just as bad as any major media outlet.

6 years ago

I too distrust al Jazeera, which I understand is almost just a branch of the BBC - but I am really pleased to find this film giving the Arab perspective, even if not quite accurate. I look forward to more. History is fascinating in any case but more importantly, it is so refreshing to be able to look at another point of view when seeking Truth. Finding TRUTH is what counts. ps. I recommend the book by Ashraf Ezzat called "Egypt Knew No Pharaophs or Israelites." The Bible Unearthed. by Israel Finkelstein and the Youtube video called The Walls Come Tumblin' Down. made by John McCarthy who was held hostage in Beirut for fivc years of solitary confinement and who had nothing whatever to do but read the Bible provided by his captors. It is VERY interesting.
Please also look into Ashraf Ezzat's website The Israelis or those presently occupying Palestine have NO HISTORICAL CLAIM ON JERUSALEM.
The Semitic Jews actually origninated in Yemen and there they had a city called something like "Salem" - and that is actually their home and they never actually had any claim on either Canaan or Palestine - or Jerusalem!

John turner
6 years ago

It's bad enough that we have to put up with lying western rhetoric! But this is just pathetic ! Straight out propaganda on a minuscule budget ! Production values stink ! Costumes settings pathetic ! Arab Scholars? Make Donald trump look and sound like a saint! You would think with all the oil money bouncing around AlJazera they could at least amuse ! Blah there's enough material in the history as it's stands to make Arab culture look good absolutely useless and embarrassing to have such rubbish foisted on me ! What a waste of the minuscule budget that was spent on it ! - 5 out of 10

J Dominic
6 years ago

One of the best News Channels in the world. Their interviews and discussions are incisive an informative. They also produce very good documentaries on many topics around the world.

6 years ago

@Gladys Matar
humans lie, media lies. You could, if interested in the topic, watch the documentary and do your own research. Cheers!

6 years ago

Reading Gladys' comment above made me sad. As a white westerner I too have been indoctrinated since a child to believe that anything contrary to my paradigm is "wrong", or "a lie". That is simply not true. Al Jazeera lies no more and no less than any other mainstream media outlet. Al Jazeera's reporting on Syria was absolutely shameful as they perpetuated the false western narrative. However their reporting on Israel and Palestine is accurate. In this age of disinformation it is incumbent on us, the readers, to obtain news from several sources, and decide for ourselves. But to close one's eye to the truth, or another person's experience of the truth, is all that is wrong with the world today.

6 years ago

"fight against Western occupation"?
The fight was about reclaiming the eastern roman empire territories under muslim occupation.... there were no victims in this conflict other than the civillians caught in it.

Gladys Matar
6 years ago

I do not believe in Aljazeer news or anything this station shows on its bloody screen . this TV channel lied enough to the public and falsify the truth . enough is enough.