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Defending the City of God: A Medieval Queen, the First Crusades, and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  49 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Jerusalem sits at the crossroads of three continents and has been continuously invaded for millennia. Yet, in the middle of one of the region's most violent eras, the Crusades, an amazing multicultural world was forming. Templar knights, Muslim peasants, Turkish caliphs, Jewish merchants, and the native Christians, along with the children of the first crusaders, blended ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 29th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published March 4th 2014)
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Timothy Finucane
Jul 02, 2014 Timothy Finucane rated it really liked it

This book covers the period of the crusades that encompasses the reign of Queen Melisende and her father. It's a fascinating real-life Game of Thrones kind of story, and you will find it surprising just how interwoven the society around the Crusades became. It's not always about Infidels vs. Islam, there are far more complexities to it, even instances of Europeans and local populations working together. I have not spent a great deal of time reading about this period in history, but I did find my

Leanda Lisle
Jun 30, 2014 Leanda Lisle rated it liked it

Sharan Newman began Defending the City of God as a biography of Melesinde, the first hereditary Queen of Jerusalem, but expanded it to include the lives of her parents, siblings, in laws, more distant relatives, their enemies and the ‘many diverse peoples who lived in the Near East’. It’s a complex story and one that in Newman’s hands left me as baffled as a six year old in a sex education lesson. What on earth is going on?

It seems Melesinde, was born around 1105 in the city of Edessa, (in what
May 22, 2014 Cat rated it really liked it
Defending the City of God A Medieval Queen the First Crusades and the Quest for Peace in Jerusalem, by Sharan Newman

Think of “the crusades” and you immediate imagine blades clashing, sworn oaths and the ultimate belief in acting on God’s will and procuring a permanent place in Heaven. But that’s only one side of the terribly convoluted conflict that took place time after time in the middle east. Newman reminds us that it wasn’t always black and white. That there were cross-cultural lives caught
Cindie Harp
Could not decide on 2 or 3 stars. Really 2 and a half. The story was very interesting. Actually there were many stories here and Melisende did not get nearly 50% of the facetime, if you will. When the author's voice came through, it was thoughtful and often amusing. I wish there had been more of that. I am guessing she is a good speaker -- and she certainly would have a lot of research to impart. I felt the narrative, such as it was, was way too bogged down in seemingly endless facts, details ...more
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I expected. Initially, I looked forward to reading it because I I knew nothing about Melisende -- indeed, had never heard of her -- before reading this book. I have read many books, both fiction and nonfiction, on the royal families of England and France through the centuries, so it was interesting to see where the life of Melisende (or contemporaries of hers) intersected with other stories of the time that I do know -- such as Louis & Eleanor of ...more
Frank Pacosa
May 27, 2014 Frank Pacosa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of history and women's studies
This is a very complicated book to read because the times it depicts is extremely complicated. THe author does as good a job as possible keeping all the disparate story lines moving forward. The reward for the reader who hangs in there is a much deeper appreciation for life 1000 years ago in the Levant.

The turmoil then reflects the tensions that exist not only between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but most of the turmoil in our world. Whoever said we live in a stressful world could not imag
Carla Hostetter
Jul 28, 2014 Carla Hostetter rated it liked it
I admit I hoped for an historical novel at which Newman excels and instead got a scholarly work, interesting, complicated, but not what I thought it would be. So little is known about Melisende that most of her life is sheer speculation. She dedicated shrines here, gave money there.I am sure Newman must have been appalled by this cover as no Christian woman in Medieval times and especially ruling over Arabs as well would have been seen in public with her arms and head uncovered ala an Egyptian ...more
Deb B.
Feb 16, 2015 Deb B. rated it liked it
The First Crusades, as depicted in this book, reads like a real-life Game of
Thrones. Originally intending to write a biography of the first queen of Jerusalem,
the author expanded the book when, during the course of her research, civil war
broke out in Syria. Attempting to draw parallels between the past and present,
the author gives a detailed picture of the convoluted politics of the time with its
many players, diverse cultures, and ever-changing factions.

With an eye toward reclaiming rightf
Oct 03, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
I appreciate the wealth of first-hand citations used to piece together the tumultuous period leading up to and covering the 1st and 2nd Crusades. Besides enlightening me on aspects known about Melisenda's life and that of her relatives, it also imspired me to learn that women were in the forefront of power positions as bestowed by right of inheritance. Also appreciate how Ms. Newman involves the reader about the sometimes shortage of 'real time' historical detail as if in a soliloquy. Later ...more
Jun 22, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Very, very interesting read, I knew nothing about the Franks living in the Holy City during such a chaotic time. I knew that the crusaders came and set up stations, but this is a look into the kingdoms themselves and their ruling families. The writing style was more like a paper than a book, but it was fascinating to read this information and learn about a group of people overlooked by history that changed the future.
Sep 04, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it
Newman has written a fascinating book about medieval history, the crusades, religion, royalty. I loved this look at the Middle East. I had no idea how complex the society was. I always kind of pictured it as Muslim, Jew, Christian. But that is only where it starts. And in the middle of it all was Queen Melisende, hereditary ruler of Jerusalem, born of mixed heritage, eyewitness to the commerce and occasional violence that defined the age. Great read.
Jun 18, 2014 Rose rated it it was ok
Somewhat dull recounting of the early history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. A few illustrations which are printed in the text, making them murky.
Jessica Del Fino
I registered a book at!
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Feb 09, 2015
Roger Taylor
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Dec 01, 2016
Mar 31, 2015 Tim rated it it was amazing
Behind every great women there's a great women.
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Oct 25, 2014
Mark Beaulieu
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Jillian Chamberlin
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S. rated it it was ok
Dec 29, 2014
April Bass
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David Akeroyd
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Elaine Falt
Elaine Falt rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2014
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 27, 2015 11:49AM  
Sharan Newman is a medieval historian and author. She took her Master’s degree in Medieval Literature at Michigan State University and then did her doctoral work at the University of California at Santa Barbara in Medieval Studies, specializing in twelfth-century France. She is a member of the Medieval Academy and the Medieval Association of the Pacific.

Rather than teach, Newman chose to use her e
More about Sharan Newman...

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