This Replica Medieval Shield
. . .
Similar Style With Reverse Coloration Below
Shield of St. John
The St. John Shield
. . .
SH4PHG-A St. John Display Shield
SH4PBR-A St. John Battle-Ready Shield
The Crusader Shield
For nearly two hundred years,
Western Europe sent waves of soldiers into the Middle East to liberate and hold
Jerusalem and other Holy sites for Christianity. Many noble families sacrificed
younger sons to the cause as well as many who were too poor to support their
families any other way. Persons excommunicated from the Church came in order to
be forgiven and many went as a form of penance. For whatever their reason for
going, they faced the wrath of the Muslim Empire.
The word ‘Crusade” comes from the Spanish word “Crusada” and later, “Croisade” (Middle French) which literally means “going to the Cross.” This referred to the cloth cross that served as their badge of honor. It was worn over the outer garments of those who marched to the Holy lands and most expected not to return.
“God wills it” was their battle cry and eventually the Red Cross on a white background became a feared symbol for the non-Christians who populated the lands and who lost their lives to them. Unfortunately, as in all war, many innocents were killed in the paths of these armies as well. It is ironic that the symbol was taken by the Red Cross of present times as an international symbol for aid.
In the seventh century, Jerusalem was taken by an early Caliph named Umar. All was well, with Christian pilgrimages allowed to continue to visit the most Holy of all Christian sites, but in the late 11th century, the original Crusade was provoked when the Caliph Hakim, desecrated the Holy Sepulcher and began to persecute the Christians residing in Jerusalem. By the end of the 9th Crusade, the Byzantine Empire was weak and the European support stopped as much of the land gained in earlier crusades, had been re-conquered by the Turks. After 1291, this all became the problem for Eastern Europe who continued to fight and hold the line against the Turks.
We honor the memory of those who dedicated their lives to the task of holding back those who wished to destroy Christianity by having Shields made with their symbol. In art, this began to appear on shields depicting later crusades but little is known about the actual history of the Crusader shield. Was it used in the Crusades in the Mid-East? Probably not. Is it a symbol that we all recognize? Yes, it is. God wills it.
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