Historians Weigh in on Obama's Comparison of ISIS Militants to Medieval Christian Crusaders

Historians weigh in on whether the president's comparison is a fair one.

“I don’t think the president knows very much about the crusades,” Thomas Madden, a historian at the University of St. Louis, told ABC News.

The Crusades, which began in 1095 with the call of Pope Urban II to recover Jerusalem from Muslim rule, were a series of wars that lasted nearly two centuries. Although no reliable estimate of casualties caused by Crusaders exists, the massacre of over 2,700 Muslim prisoners by Richard the Lionheart outside Acre during the Third Crusade has been well documented and is remembered in the Middle East to this day.

Thomas Asbridge, a historian at the University of London, said in a statement to ABC News, “It is true to say, that by modern standards, atrocities were committed by crusaders, as they were by their Muslim opponents, it is however, far less certain that, by medieval standards, crusading violence could be categorized as distinctly extreme in all instances.”

Asbridge said he doesn’t have a problem with the president reminding the world that the Christian Church “advocated violence, and at times even encouraged its adherents to engage in warfare” but to suggest a causal link between ISIS and the distant medieval phenomenon of the Crusades is “grounded in the manipulation and misrepresentation of historical evidence.”

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