The History Channel turns the spotlight on the Crusades

MUMBAI: A thousand years ago there was a major clash between two religions the Christian Crusaders and Muslims. Each sought control of Jersulaem which they felt was the holy land of their people.

Now The History Channel chronicles the events of the Holy Wars in the show The Crusades: Crescent and The Cross every Sunday at 8 pm from 13 November 2005.

The four part show shows how the war started. It has inputs from Crusades experts including Dr. Jonathan Phillips from London University who has written books on the subject and Dr. Taef Al Azhari. This teacher in Saudi Arabia has re-examined original Islamic sources and has made discoveries.

The Pope at the time the Crusades started was a shrewd marketer these historians say. He delivered a brilliant open air sermon exhorting knights and common people to wage war under the banner of the Catholic Church against infidels He pushed the theory that it was okay to ignore the sixth Commandment - you shall not kill - as long as the harm is being inflicted on infidels.

Of course as the historians argue this is dangerous as it breeds a culture of intolerance towards outsiders. The Pope also promised the knights a free passage to heaven if they participated in the Holy Wars. After all the Knights had spent their lives indulging in crimes for which they would have gone to hell. This the Pope said was the way towards redemption. The evil deeds of Muslim rulers was also exaggerated.

Families bought what he was saying hook, line and sinker. Even though the journey was long lots of people left their homes not just to fight for their religion but also to hepefully acquire wealth along the way. The show brilliantly recreates battle scenes using high definition (HD).

The History Channel VP marketing Rajesh Sheshadri says that the show helps viewers understand the political unrest in places like the Gaza Strip is a direct consequence of the past. He added that towards the end of the year the channel would showcase a show about the wealthy and powerful. It looks at the like of J.D. Rockerfeller, Bill Gates. Another show it will air is Automaniac. As the title suggests this looks at cars both luxury as well as those designed for speed.

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