The Nine Worthies

For your daily recommended requirement of Chesterton, the Apostle of Common Sense:

Christendom might quite reasonably have been alarmed if it had not been attacked. But as a matter of history it had been attacked. The Crusader would have been quite justified in suspecting the Moslem even if the Moslem had merely been a new stranger; but as a matter of history he was already an old enemy. The critic of the Crusade talks as if it had sought out some inoffensive tribe or temple in the interior of Thibet, which was never discovered until it was invaded. They seem entirely to forget that long before the Crusaders had dreamed of riding to Jerusalem, the Moslems had almost ridden into Paris. They seem to forget that if the Crusaders nearly conquered Palestine, it was but a return upon the Moslems who had nearly conquered Europe.” The Meaning of The Crusade. (1920)

My comment: having been raised on a wholesome diet of tales of Richard the Lionheart and Godfrey of Bouillon by writers like Sir Walter Scott, it was many, many years after the fashionable opinion-makers decided to add the Crusades to the list of glorious brave and great things that the West suddenly has to pretend have always been shameful that I even became aware of it. I did not get the memo.

I am old enough to recall the days when a ‘Crusade’ meant an devout effort for some great good, and when masculine sports like chivalry had been bred out of the boyhood of America, and made girlish and effete.

So it is one insult that always surprises me to hear anyone list the Crusades as anything other than a noble failure against an aggressive and merciless enemy. It is about the same as hearing King Arthur or Daniel Boone mocked and derided. I don’t have enough ignorance of history to have any sympathy at all with the thinking behind the insult.I am aware of the siege of Damascus and the conquest of Constantinople, and also of the massacre of Jewry by the mobs early in the First Crusade. I know about the atrocities of war. Indeed, I may know too much, because such events seem merely part of the terrible cost paid when Sons of Adam reenact the crime of Cain. I sympathize with Quakers who condemn all war, but not with fools who condemn only our war crimes and not those of our foes, or pacifists who condemn only our attempts to defending and spreading civilization, and cheer and applaud and aid and abet the attempts of socialists and national socialists and theocratic Sharia-spreading Jihadists to invade and destroy it.

It is not as if Christendom had not been in a long, losing battle with the heathens for four hundred years, eating away the Eastern Roman Empire, and Northern Africa, and Spain, all of which had been Christian lands for centuries before the invaders came.

Godfrey of Bouillon was found worthy to be one of the Nine Worthies. And if you don’t know what he did, or who they are, your knowledge of the period being discussed is insufficient for an informed opinion.


From left to right are the three Christians, Charlemagne bearing an eagle upon his shield, King Arthur displaying three crowns and Godfrey of Bouillon with a dog lying before him, then the three pagans, Julius Caesar, Hector and Alexander the Great bearing a griffon upon the his shield, and lastly the three Jews, David holding a sceptre, Joshua and Judas Maccabeus.

We live in a day and age when men no longer know whom to acknowledge as worthy, or even whether to acknowledge anyone as such. We live in a time when even major corporations are clueless as to which sort of man to honor, or when it is appropriate.