The Crusades

The Crusades

The Crusades

The Crusades

Synopsis

Taking recent scholarship into account, and using boxes, case studies, marginal directions and chronologies at the beginning of each chapter, the book is well laid out and easy to follow and provides a clear and concise introduction to the history of the Crusades.

Excerpt

The crusades—or, more properly, what has been associated with them whether justly or unjustly—have again become a central issue in recent years. The term “crusade” is threatened with loss of clear definition in public discourse, which is reason enough to issue a survey of the crusades. Not that there aren’t already rigorously scholarly presentations. But for a long time there has been no short, scholarly handbook in the German language. The work that lies before you differs in approach from some earlier studies. It approaches the theme systematically as well as chronologically and also gives considerable emphasis to placing the phenomenon in the context of the history of ideas. In each chapter a primary source is showcased that elucidates the essential features of the section and invites the reader to deeper exploration of the text.

This book lays no claim to be an original contribution to the decadeslong debate over what constitutes a crusade. For a long time there have been two schools of thought on this question: the first regards only expeditions to the Near East as crusades, while the second advocates a broader definition that also encompasses other regions. This volume follows a middle path. “Crusades” are understood to be all campaigns against enemies of the faith and the Church that were called by popes and included the promise of an indulgence. Thus the book includes expeditions against heretics, Muslims on the Iberian Peninsula, and the pagans of the Baltic region. But it also takes into account the fact that contemporaries regarded campaigns in the Near East as superior in importance, and it was these expeditions that had the power to mobilize people to the greatest degree. For that reason, the Near Eastern crusades receive special emphasis in this overview.

Besides the scholars whose research findings have been brought together into this synthesis, many others have contributed to the creation of this volume. Dr Nikolaus Bötcher, Professor Marie-Luise Favreau-Lilie, Matthias Maser, Dr Johannes Pahlitzsch, Dr Andreas Rüther, and Professor Dieter Weiß read all or parts of the manuscript. Their suggestions improved the work immeasurably, for which I give sincere thanks to them all. I am also indebted to Mr René Hurtienne for his help in . . .

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