The Oxford History of the Crusades

The Oxford History of the Crusades

The Oxford History of the Crusades

The Oxford History of the Crusades

Synopsis

In this collection of essays, the story of the Crusades is told as never before in an engrossing and comprehensive history that ranges from the preaching of the First Crusade in 1095 to the legacy of crusading ideals and imagery that continues today. Here are the ideas of apologists, propagandists, and poets about the Crusades, as well as the perceptions and motives of the crusaders themselves and the means by which they joined the movement. The book's coverage ranges from the elaborate social and civic systems that arose to support the Crusades to in-depth and vivid descriptions of the battles themselves. The contributors provide keen and insightful commentary on the reactions of the Muslims to a Christian holy war. Also included are studies of crusades outside the eastern Mediterranean region as well as post-medieval crusades. By describing the combat and homefront conditions, by evaluating the clash (and coalescence) of many cultures, by tracing a legacy that continues in our conflict-ridden present, and by documenting the enduring artistic and social changes that the Crusades wrought, A History of the Crusades offers an unsurpassed panorama of one of the great movements in western history. All students of medieval culture, religion, politics, and/or history will find in these pages a highly useful, thorough, and contemporary account of that movement.

Excerpt

The inclusion of the subject of the crusades in this series of Oxford histories and the fact that only one of the contributors is from outside Britain provide an opportunity to reflect upon the phenomenal rise in the number of British crusade scholars since the early 1950s, when there cannot have been more than half a dozen, only two of whom were historians, teaching in the universities. By 1990 twenty-nine history departments in British universities and colleges had members of the Society for the Study of the Crusades on their staff. The subject's strength in British academic circles probably owes most to a general public interest, a fascination with the Near East which has a long history, the reputation of St John Ambulance, which associates itself with the medieval Knights Hospitallers, and the continuing success of Sir Steven Runciman A History of the Crusades.

This volume reflects the recent developments in crusade historiography which are described in Chapter 1. It covers crusading in many different theatres of war. The concepts of apologists, propagandists, song-writers, and poets, and the perceptions and motives of the crusaders themselves are described, as are the emotional and intellectual reactions of the Muslims to Christian holy war. The institutional developments--legal, financial, and structural--which were necessary to the movement's survival are analysed. Several chapters are devoted to the western settlements established in the eastern Mediterranean region in the wake of the crusades, to the remarkable art and architecture associated with them, and to the military orders. The subject of the later crusades, including the history of the military orders from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, is given the attention it deserves. And the first steps are taken on to a field that is as yet hardly explored, the survival of the ideas and images of crusading into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

JONATHAN RILEY-SMITH

Croxton, Cambridgeshire April, 1994 . . .

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