Did Arab Christians take an active role in the crusades in the Holy Land or at any point on their trip to the Holy Land. Or were they victims of the crusaders? Did the crusaders typically differentiate between Christian Arab or Jew upon reaching Jerusalem?

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    Good question. It's easy to forget sometimes that there were many Christians (and to a lesser extent Jews) in Arabia/the Middle East before even the dawn of Islam.
    – Noldorin
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 14:01
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    Just another note - a majority of the Middle East's Christians would have been non-Arab, although in the main areas of fighting (the Levant), the Christian Arabs would have outnumbered the non-Arab Christians. Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:40
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    And another note: Arab Christians would most likely have been former subjects of the Bizantine Empire (and thus Orthodox) or from the other Eastern Christian churches (Syriac, etc.). In the eyes of the Crusaders, they probably were only one slightly better than Muslims.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 8:35
  • I believe you mean Middle Eastern Christians, not "Arab Christians". In fact, it's most likely that an Arab was no Christian, and vice versa.
    – John Dee
    Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 4:52
  • Christians in the Levant for the most part were Monophysites and had no love for Byzantine Orthodox Christians.
    – ed.hank
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 19:22

3 Answers 3


Most of the information I have found indicates that the Arab Christians were caught in the crossfire between the Muslims and the Christian Crusaders. In fact, they were often slaughtered along with the Muslims. Most likely this was because the Crusaders did not want to risk being infiltrated by Muslims posing as Christians.

Ironically, the Crusades indirectly contributed to the decline of Christianity in the Middle East. At the time they took place, Arab Christians actually constituted a majority of the population in many areas. This was not only due to the deaths attributed directly to the Crusades, but also to the introduction of diseases brought into the area by the Crusaders. Also, the eventual and gradual diverting of internationl trade led to many of the Arab Christians leaving the area to follow the trade routes that they depended on for survival.

Ultimately, it does not appear that the Arab Christians at any time were ever significant contributors to the Christian war efforts during the Crusades.

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    If christians were slaughtered along with muslims then i would say that the crusades also directly contributed to the the decline of Christianity in the middle east.
    – Chad
    Commented Nov 4, 2011 at 16:39
  • israel-lightontonations.blogspot.com/2011/11/…
    – YUASK
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 3:54
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    I have also read (I'll try to dig up where) that entire besieged cities were slaughtered regardless of the actual religon of individual inhabitants. I suspect the concept of an Arab Christian would have seemed an oxymoron to your typical Crusader (as it probably does to a lot of "low-information" Christians today).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 19:29
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    It may be useful to mention the attacking and sacking of (then Christian) Constantinople by Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade.
    – Juicy
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 22:31
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    They were not Arabs but it does show the general attitude of the Crusaders against Eastern Christians. There is a source that I unfortunately can't find at the moment, that claims that some Syrian Christians actually presented themselves armed in front of the Crusaders, their intention was to assist the Crusaders. They were slaughtered.
    – Juicy
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 22:41

Most of the Christian population were fairly non-militarised during the crusader period. SO generally they did not participate in military affairs. Exceptions being the Armenians and Maronites.

Various Armenian Christians were allied withe the crusaders, the county of Edessa was some sort of mixed state, with a lot of intermarriage with the locals and crusaders.

The Maronites (Christians in what today is Lebanon) did ally themselves with the crusaders.

  • +1 for pointing out the Armenians. But your first sentence might be an over-generalization: even if you are non-militarized, being slaughtered by those who are does make you a participant in military affairs. Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 7:14
  • What I mean is most of the orthodox christians in the Palestine area were simply not required or allowed to bear arms for some generations, thus "fairly non militarised". There might have been some Christian Bedouin tribes around too.
    – pugsville
    Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 8:56

The Crusaders never really cared about the religion. They only wanted to expand their sovereignty using the religion by inciting the people to go to war and free the holy land from the Muslims.

It was not because the Crusaders did not want to risk being infiltrated by Muslims posing as Christians but instead because of the nature of the Crusaders who came from Europe with little experience on what is called coexistence.

Europe as a continent did not accumulate such experience in it's historical inheritance if I may say that because it was a one religion society with some Jews persecuted from time to time. The same problem showed again with the native Americans few centuries later.

The Crusaders didn't merge together neither, each group of people stick together based on nationality. Christians were slaughtered with anybody and everybody else at the hands of their brothers in faith, a fact that led many of the Christian villages to forsake Christianity and join Islam.

Christian Commander led the army of Saladin, a Palestinian from Ako called Isa Alwam. Christians in the Middle East were ignored by the Christians of the west, maybe because they are loyal to their Arab nation. I am wondering what else is there?

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    First of all a warm welcome to history@se. Although your answer does contain sound arguments, that can be found e.g. in A. Maalouf, you should source them thoroughly paying attention in particular to mark a clear separation between facts from historical interpretations, and to avoid generalizations (e.g. "The Crusader Never really Cared about the religion" is - in general - false, especially for the first phase and for the common laymen)
    – astabada
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 17:34
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    Agreeing with astbada here. I actually rather like a lot of the content in this answer. If nothing else, its a cool perspective. But this isn't supposed to be a forum for general pure-opinion pieces.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 19:35
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    +1 for trying. I am nice to noob :) Try again. Put sources.
    – user4951
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 2:00
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    can't find isa alwam.
    – user4951
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 23:20
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    The Christian commander you quoted seems apparently to be a Muslim according Arabic Wikipedia ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/… even if his name was 'Isa =(Arabic.) Jesus and called the diver or swimmer because he entered the besieged city of Ako diving and brought food ...
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 11:12

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