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Chronicles of the Crusades

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  1,024 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
This book features the most authoritative accounts available of the Holy Wars: Villehardouin's Conquest of Constantinople and Joinville's Chronicle of the Crusade of St. Lewis. The veteran crusaders provide engrossing narratives and firsthand testimony of terrifying battles as well as the religious and political fervor that sparked the two hundred-year campaign.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 11th 2007 by Dover Publications (first published August 30th 1963)
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Joinville's life of St Louis is a moving tribute to the friendship of these two men. Written to be submitted as evidence for the proposed canonisation of the recently deceased king Joinville writes about their experiences together on crusade.

We see the gathering of the soldiers and the supply dumps readied in preparation. We sit at the council of war and listen to the deliberations of the nobles. Experience battle, defeat and imprisonment, then pranks and life in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and rep
Villehardouin's accounting of the Fourth Crusade falls solidly into the category of truth-is-way-crazier-than-fiction stories. The Fourth Crusade is absolutely nuts, filled with unexpected detours, lost princes, and shifting alliances. If you don't know the story, it's definitely worth reading (I'm honestly kinda shocked that no one has bothered to make a movie out of it yet). Villehardouin's account of it is clear if somewhat detatched - you'll get a nice overview of what happened, but most of ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Mar 17, 2013 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Going on a crusade never seemed like a very good idea to me, and reading these firsthand accounts of the 4th and 7th crusades reinforced my opinion.

In Villehardouin's account of the 4th crusade, not very much real crusading gets done. The French fleet gets caught up the politics of Constantinople, and as certain of the clergy point out, Christian fighting Christian was not really the point of crusading. When Constaninople falls, the French divvy up the various territories, and most of the new ru
Janez Hočevar
The crusades (1096-1291) were religious, political, military and civilisational event that has changed the relations between the West (Europe) and the East for ever. And that change was irreversible. The consequences of the crusades are still felt today. However, all was not bad. The European civilisation got richer and better by the acquisitions brought back from the East by the crusaders.
This volume includes two first-hand accounts of the crusades. Geoffroy de Villehardouin gives the account o
Helena Schrader
Jun 30, 2012 Helena Schrader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
This is a rare book which offers us two contemporay accounts of the crusades through the eyes of participants -- and not just monkly croniclers but fighting men.

Although the two accounts are by different authors (Geoffroy de Villehardouin for the Fourth Crusade and Jean de Joinville for the Seventh), they both offer stark, unromanticized and often critical reports. These men are describing military campaigns not creating romaticized works of art. They are both soldiers and statesmen, intimates
Aug 18, 2011 Duntay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I much preferred Joinville's warmly human account to Villehardouin's war-correspondent style. Though I can see how he would not be everyone's cup of tea - he wanders off the thread of his story at times and there is some repetition. Those interested in the details of military maneuvers and diplomatic wrangling would most likely prefer Villehardouin.

I developed a soft spot for Joinville reading the book's introduction - the translator writes that both accounts were most likely dictated as readin
I think I might have a new favourite primary source historian in John de Joinville. What a duck.
I must tell you here of some amusing tricks the Comte d'Eu played on us. I had made a sort of house for myself in which my knights and I used to eat, sitting so as to get the light from the door, which, as it happened, faced the Comte d'Eu's quarters. The count, who was a very ingenious fellow, had rigged up a miniature ballistic machine with which he could throw stones into my tent. He would watch us
An outstanding compilation of two books written by laymen-men who fought in the crusades (the 4th and 7th). I learned so much from these accounts including: battle in the medieval times, culture, war machines, that lances were used in battle not just for sport, about Louis IX's life and how he led the 7th crusade. Egyptian culture, battle strategies, and much about the ancient Muslims and especially the Bedouins. Fascinating. I highly recommend this for history buffs and scholars.
Bryn Hammond
Joinville has such raw material as this:

A blow from one of the enemy’s swords landed in the middle of Erard de Sevirey’s face, cutting through his nose so that it was left dangling over his lips. At that moment the thought of Saint James came into my mind, and I prayed to him: ‘Good Saint James, come to my help, and save us in our great need.’ Just as I had uttered this prayer Erard de Sevirey said to me: ‘My lord, if you think that neither I nor my heirs will incur reproach for it, I will go an
R. L. Snowe
I just couldn't get into this.
It was interesting and all but the writing was just so slow and boring and ahhhhh!
Edward Waverley
A glimpse into this treasure: "King Louis also spoke to me of a great assembly of clergy and Jews which had taken place at the monastery of Cluny. There was a poor knight there at the time to whom the abbot had often given bread for the love of God. This knight asked the abbot if he could speak first, and his request was granted, though somewhat grudgingly. So he rose to his feet, and leaning on his crutch, asked to have the most important and most learned rabbi among the Jews brought before Him ...more
This book is really two in one, each written by a different participant in the Crusades and they are very different in style.

The first, 'The Conquest of Constantinople', is written by Villehardouin, a nobleman who took part in the Fourth Crusade. It reads as a career politician's account - a little dry, but packed with detail about the different factions, squabbles & negotiations, alliances and treachery. It clearly shows why the Crusade was such a shambles, with conflicting ambitions &
Dec 29, 2016 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I cannot remember a time when I was not interested in the Crusades. However, I don't think I ever really understood the reason for the Crusades until I read this book. Christians from the West desired to see the holy land and would make the sacrifice to travel long distances, but infidels from Syria (including Saladin) would thwart their way by capturing, torturing and killing the travelers. Traveling to the Holy Land became so difficult that leaders (bishops, kings, groups of people, nations) w ...more
Kristopher Swinson
Closer to 1.8.

Unlike one reviewer, I found Joinville's portion more enjoyable than Villehardouin's, primarily because Villehardouin's was recitation of incessant fighting...and not even of much tactical merit at that. All we could gather is that French (Franks) were fighting each other, the Greeks, or the Saracens at every available opportunity. Joinville's was a tad more psychological in nature, at least, and he seemed a right honest chap for his times.

Joinville disclosed the hypocrisy of most
Mark Adderley
The Fourth Crusade was a shambles. The Crusaders (Geoffrey de Villhardouin consistently calls then "pilgrims") set out to recapture the Holy Land from the Turks, but finished up killing other Christians in Zara, Hungary, and by sacking Constantinople. Villhardouin portrays the whole thing as a glorious and heroic enterprise, but it's relatively easy to find Byzantine sources that portray the sacking of Constantinople as anything but heroic. Pope Innocent III, who initiated the campaign, was sign ...more
Originally I skimmed through this book almost a decade ago in preparation for my Senior History Oral Exam and only focused on the overall theme questions listed in my study guide at the time. However this past week while actually reading Chronicles of the Crusades and found thanks to the excellent translation, a easy read and very informative on its subject matters. Of the two chroniclers, I found Jean de Joinville the easier to read because of his style of writing. Most likely the spread and ev ...more
Austin B
Sep 10, 2011 Austin B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like reading primary sources in history, so I liked book. I had never read any Crusades history until this book. It turned out really interesting and painted a nice picture - the people who were involved in the 4th and 7th crusades and how they took their war to foreign parts in those times. I liked Villehardouin's account more because it was more factual and to the point. However, it did pace along faster and left me wondering if the fall of Constantinople was really an important event (as so ...more
Timons Esaias
Nov 23, 2014 Timons Esaias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume presents two of the major Crusader memoirs, in readable, well-footnoted versions. It's a must for anyone who wants a leader's view of what went on; but it's not a footsoldier's view.

The lack of planning and coordination is repeatedly, appallingly evident in both memoirs; and is deplored by both authors. Villehardouin's account of the Fourth Crusade is almost surrealist in the way they never, ever, seem able to stick to the intended mission. It's Kafka.

Joinville has nice little bits a
James Violand
Jun 30, 2014 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: own
Two first person accounts of the Crusades. One had fought in the Holy Land with St. Louis of France. These writings depict the suffering of the Soldiers of Christ in battling the Infidel for Jerusalem. In retrospect it is easy to judge their intentions and find them wanting. But we live in a secular age and can't account for a spiritual nature that would drive a man to kill for God. Most of these combatants did not know that the Muslims had allowed free worship by Christians and Jews in the Holy ...more
John Lucy
The title is slightly misleading since only two crusades are chronicled here, but the fascinating part here is that we are reading a biased account in each case. Crusaders who took part in the crusades are writing the history. As the editor, Shaw, points out, even from the 1800's, a period we may deem less concerned with historical accuracy than now, the biases of each writer are rather evident. In reading these, you can see both how crusaders justified the crusades and how flawed such justifica ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent historical read. Well written.
Villeharouin's section on the 4th crusade read more like a "behind the scenes" account. It seemed to focus more on the political side rather than the fighting side.
Joinville's piece on the 7th crusade DID deal more with the fighting aspect. However I was much more interested in what he wrote about King Louis IX. He seemed like a very interesting person. I would rather have had Joinville write a complete biography on the man instead of a detailed account of th
Jul 28, 2011 José rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Storytelling has evolved considerably since the days of these medieval chronicles. They read like dictation and tend to be a bit repetitive at times. I guess we can chalk that up to lack of word processing and so forth. I have to say, however, that these chronicles offer a unique first-person perspective on the Crusaders' experience. Although a little thin on details at times, these chronicles provide a relatively unsparing account of the events covered (the conquest of Constantinople and King L ...more
Dec 20, 2012 Palmyrah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Both highly interesting, but Joinville's memoir of crusading with Louis I is worthy of five stars on its own (and perhaps more). This Norman nobleman was one of the finest travel writers in history, with a penchant for telling detail and vivid depiction – even though he was illiterate and dictated his book. He was also a very likeable man, whose humanity and decency are illuminated in many episodes, small and large, that decorate his account. A true document of the Age of Chivalry.
Jul 10, 2007 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historybooks
Hollywood movies be damned; it doesn't get any closer to being there during a crusade then this book of collected journals from the 4th, 6th and 7th crusades. The blood, sweat, rank stench of death, the smell and taste of salt water as they sail towards the holy land... it's here, in every word, every sentence.
A fractious lot: delays, dissention, brutality, intrigues, betrayals, heroic actions, true chivalry, etc., the whole gaggle of geese are here. Certainly a violent age, Church and hormone driven, I believe. A terrific read and a must for understanding this age as best those of us so far removed from its psyche can do.
Manu Anima
Aug 19, 2014 Manu Anima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Les chroniques de sire de Joinville sont hachées, parfois maladroites et souvent répétitives, mais elles offrent d'autant plus une véracité que bien des historiens ne posséderont jamais.
Une petite perle historique.
Martin Bihl
Vilhardouin's chronicle is fascinating and extremely readable. Joinville's is less so. But both are worthwhile if you're interested in the period, and even if you're not, the introduction helps the novice (like me) with a lot of background.
Man, those wacky crusaders
Jul 12, 2011 Alissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this for a Western Civ class...It is fascinating but it has it dull moments as well. Some parts have to be read twice as this is a rough translation.
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Jean de Joinville (c. May 1, 1224 – 24 December 1317) was one of the great chroniclers of medieval France. He is most famous for writing Life of St. Louis, a biography of Louis IX of France that chronicled the Seventh Crusade.

He is the grandfather of Sir Geoffroi De Charny, distaff side.
More about Jean de Joinville...

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