„Deus lo vult!”, the Crusaders shouted 900 years ago

What are the reasons for today?

Heino Matzken

This Latin saying („God wants it“) reverberated in 1095 first through the alpine town of Clermont, then through southern France, and later throughout Europe. Pope Urban II. had proclaimed the will of the Lord. „Deus lo vult!“ He, the representative of Christ on earth, knew what Christ preaching to mercy expected from his followers. Liberation of the holy places from the hands of the „infidels“: The recapture of Jerusalem from the rule of the Turkish Seljuks. The Holy Father launched an unprecedented propaganda machine at the Council of Clermont, which inspired an army of countless knights for the „just“ struggle against the „demonized“ Muslims. The Pontifex commissioned the most famous orator of the time, 55-year-old Abbot Bernhard of Claivaux, to ignite a storm of faith. After more than 400 years of Muslim rule, Christianity was to reclaim the city of the three religions. The successor Gregory VII. (already called one of the most important popes in his lifetime due to his „Gregorian“ reforms) had initiated a movement that was to dominate the next two centuries. More than 30 times, hundreds of thousands of French, English, Germans, Italians and many other Christians followed „their dream“ to the Holy Land. It is not for nothing that the Muslims call the city „Al-Quds“. For in this city, which at that time had a population of 100,000, the temple of the Jews once had stood, the Prophet Mohammed had ascended to heaven and found Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, only to be resurrected just three days later. A mighty struggle of religions, as well as an inner and foreign political aspiration were born, which have found many imitators to this day. Various western military operations led to the same region during the past two centuries - in retrospective certainly not to the advantage of the Middle East.

A real reconciliation between religions, honestly desired by many both now and at that time, can only succeed by deferring all interests of power and economic policy. Only their moral authority can bring people back together who live in different cultures and whose God only has a different name. Only then will the clash of civilizations” prophesied by Samuel P. Huntington be a matter of the past, and the prophecy of the historian Francis Fukuyama will also be fulfilled in the Middle East. In his 1992 work The End of History and the Last Man”, he postulated that the principles of liberalism in the form of democracy and market economy will prevail definitively and everywhere. It will, however, take a long time before the victory of the democratic system and Western values over oriental traditions and ways of life is won, if at all. This makes the task of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence all the more important for the leaders of the world. Only then can one rightly say deus lo vult”.