Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Tafurs

Some accounts of the First Crusade seem to agree that crusaders would sometimes resort to cannibalism when actual food was lacking. I assumed that it was a general accusation but I just saw a site that asserts that such atrocities were attributed to one particular group: the Tafurs. The nature of this groups is debated but a disturbing proposition is that the Tafurs lay at the core of crusading atrocities. It was rumored that they raped any women they captured, looted everything they could get their hands on, and simply reveled in butchery. Led by a former knight, Le Roi Tafur, the Tafurs dressed in sackcloths and used only the crudest of weapons. Yet Muslim sources refer to them as being "living devils" who fought with almost beast-like fury in combat. Apparently their reputation was so fierce that even the crusader nobles required an armed escort to pass by their tents. The Tafurs were also motivated by greed, with Le Roi Tafur leading the first assault on Jerusalem exclaiming, "Where are the poor folk who want property? Let them come with me!....for today with God's help I shall win enough to load many a mule!" Although the Tafurs' exploits are undoubtedly exaggerated, their legacy is definitely an interesting of the crusades often overlooked. (There is also a wiki article on them but it only comes in French)

1 comment:

  1. The name "tafur" is thought to have been derived from the name of the light shield that many of them carried called the "talevart."