Crusades: Medieval Worlds in Conflict

Article excerpt

Crusades. Medieval Worlds in Conflict. Edited by Thomas E Madden, James L. Naus, and Vincent Ryan. (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2010. Pp. xiv, 212. $119.95.)

In recent years, St. Louis University has become the epicenter of the study of the Crusades in the United States, if not the world. The Crusades Studies Forum there routinely hosts prominent scholars from across the world and, as of 2010, has held two international symposia. This collected volume represents some fruit from the first symposium held in 2006. The harvest is not equal in ripeness or quality but does showcase the diversity of topics contained in the orchard of "crusade studies."

The volume is divided into four parts: "The Crusades and Conflicting Worlds of Sanctity," "The Crusades and Contested Worlds of Ideas," "The Crusades and the Byzantine World," and "The Crusades and the World of Louis IX." The twelve contributors range from senior, internationally known scholars; some midcareer academics; and several graduate students publishing their work for the first time. Together the contributions reveal that crusading was not simply about Christian-Muslim wars but was far more nuanced and complex.

Carole Hillenbrand informs readers that the language of jihad, which faded from Arabic poetry after the conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries, became more prominent after the First Crusade, even if many who heard it, including Kurds and Turks, could not understand it. C. Matthew Phillips suggests that the loss of the True Cross in 1187 caused crusade preachers increasingly to use the cross as a metaphor in their sermons, while Sam Conedera concludes that Iberian military brotherhoods, Hermandades, cooperated in ways that the military orders never did in the Holy Land. Robert Hillenbrand asks, though does not answer, if a classical revival in Islamic art, occurring between 1100 and 1250, resulted because of the Crusades or simply as an independent artistic development. The "mechanisms of crusades" (the cross, crusader vows, and privileges) became increasingly important on the Iberian Peninsula, particularly during the reign of Alfonso the Battler of Aragon (d. 1134), according to Jennifer Price. Walker Cosgrove dissects the term crucesignatus, commonly used as the root for "crusade" and "crusader." Based on an analysis of papal correspondence, he concludes that as late as 1216 the term remained only one among many to describe this activity and those who engaged in it. …