The Concise History of the Crusades
The Concise History of the Crusades when the first edition of this book appeared in 1999 the world was a different place. Then, the crusades were a faraway concept, an odd series of events in a distant and murky medieval past. Wars of religion seemed largely irrelevant to citizens of modern secular civilization.
The Concise History of the Crusades Pdf
The heightened public interest in the crusades after 9/11 created a strong market for new general histories, and popular authors did not disappoint. Yet many of those new works simply retold myths long ago dispelled by professional historians. It took several years before additional crusade specialists responded to the public demand.
But that trickle soon became a torrent. Today there are so many histories of the crusades by scholars that they are in danger of depleting the supply of innovative names to place on their covers. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Yet despite the avalanche of new studies, the fundamental purpose of this book has not changed since 1999.
It aims to tell the story of the crusades in a concise, understandable, and engaging manner based on the extraordinary fruits of more than half a century of modern scholarship. Any historian who seeks to explain the crusades must first make peace with the length, breadth, and complexity of the subject. What were the crusades?
When did they begin, and when did they end? What were the important milestones of the movement? Who was a crusader, and who was not? Traditionally, authors have defined the scope of the crusades in terms of expeditions to the Holy Land. In this, they followed the structure of medieval sources like the Gesta Dei per Francos.
The crusades, therefore, begin with Pope Urban II’s call to arms at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The twin poles of such studies are the major expeditions to the East (i.e., the “numbered” crusades) and the history of the crusader states in Syria and Palestine.
The narrative thread then weaves itself between conditions in the Levant and conditions in Europe, bringing the two together in the events of the greater crusades. From this perspective, the crusades come to a close with the extinction of the mainland crusader states in 1291. The movement, therefore, is nicely packaged in an organized fashion and in the space of two centuries.
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