Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

France and the Holy Land: Frankish Culture at the End of the Crusades

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

France and the Holy Land: Frankish Culture at the End of the Crusades

Article excerpt

France and the Holy Land: Frankish Culture at the End of the Crusades. Edited by Daniel H. Weiss and Lisa Mahoney. [Paralax: Re-visions of Culture and Society.] (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2004. Pp. xx, 375. $44.95 clothbound.)

Until recently, it would have been fair to say that interest in cultural life in the crusader East was relatively rare. Crusade historians frequently drew their generalizations about the social and intellectual life of the East, from rather unreliable comments in letters and chronicles. The impression gained was of a military society that went native, much to the chagrin of sturdy crusaders newly arrived from the West. The notion of a soft-living East, fostered by individuals like Bishop James of Vitry and by western anti-Byzantine propaganda, created the impression that Eastern Christians and Muslims were inferior and even corrupt. The present collection of essays, chiefly by art historians, demonstrates that a lively cultural life flourished at various levels and that interchange of styles and ideas characterized the region. The thirteen chapters contained in this volume, all but one of which were presented at a conference on "Prankish Culture at the End of the Crusades: France and the Holy Land," held at the Johns Hopkins University in March, 2000, are fruits of the research of an active and able group of scholars. The major emphasis is on the period after Louis IX's crusade and extending to the early fifteenth century. Obviously, it is impossible to do complete justice to the work in this review. I can only highlight points that I believe will interest readers of this journal.

The main theme of these essays is the interrelationship between the West, especially Francia, and the East, including Crusaders, Byzantines, and Muslims. The very first chapter, by Daniel Weiss, supports this theme by connecting the Morgan Picture Bible with a crusader culture in France. In some respects, Stephen Nichols has a more direct task in linking lyrical poetry to historical events. He suggests that this poetry shows a decline in enthusiasm for the crusades. …

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