Inevitable, I know.

They're an absolutely fascinating part of history but they do tend to get kicked around like a football in religious debates. There are a dazzling number of complexities, reasons and driving forces behind the crusades and it seems hardly fair to just say "because religion is evil" just as it's daft to claim religion had nothing to do with it.

My personal favourite insight into the crusades was the effect of ergotism. Ergotism is a condition derived from eating spoiled corn. When you're eating this infected corn it looks the same and tastes as you'd expect, but you then get some seriously freaky visions and hallucinations. There's been some interesting speculation that this had something to do with causing the religious fervour that encouraged weird things like the Peasants' Crusade.

Has anyone else studied the crusades?

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I read something the other week that facinated me about the Reformation but like most people I am woefully illinformed of the Crusades.
"Terry Jones"give's a great historical run down on the crusade's, pretty darn funny as well, I also like his historical account's of the rise of Rome doco, some interesting and unknown version's of event's were discovered.

unfortunately i know nothing about the crusades... but i have read a bit about ergotism (caused by a hallucinogenic fungus) and it's some freaky stuff! I think the first documented cases of ergotism were on Barley in ancient greece (no corn in Europe until after contact with the Americas) but the fungus also grows on wheat so they could have def. been tripping on it at some point before/during the crusades. 

Also, not to digress, but on the subject of visions and war- i have heard a lot about Joan of Arc possibly suffering from what would be diagnosed as schizophrenia today. Any thoughts about the role of mental illness in religious visions and "messages from god"? 

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