HFM 149 | Cannibalism During the Crusades

August 29, 2016



References to acts of cannibalism are sprinkled throughout many religious and historical documents, such as the reports that cooked human flesh was being sold in 11th-century English markets. But the world’s first cannibal incident reported by multiple, independent, first-hand accounts took place during the Crusades by European soldiers. These first-hand stories agree that in 1098, after a successful siege and capture of the Syrian city Ma’arra.

Some accounts say that soldiers ate the flesh of dead Muslims at the point of complete starvation, and even then they sliced off tiny parts of flesh. Other accounts claim to boil adults alive in cooking pots.

Which account is correct and why such a wide discrepancy. Furthermore, how do we understand this story in the context of the Crusades, which the chroniclers normally cover with heavy layers of chivalry and bravery. Lastly, what do Muslims themselves think of this particularly gruesome story?


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About Michael Rank

Michael writes history books on dictators, the Middle East, and insane rulers, not necessarily in that order. He lives somewhere between Europe and Asia (literally)

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