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God's War: A New History of the Crusades

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  48 reviews

God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades.

From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks

Hardcover, 1040 pages
Published October 27th 2006 by Belknap Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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If you want to keep your preconceived notions of the Crusades as a simple clash of cultures, of a silly and senseless war of religions, then don't read this book. In a little over 900 pages, Mr. Tyerman narrates this peculiar series of wars through the prisim of Western European politics, culture and history, while giving equal weight the the Muslim forces of the period. In it, he reveals the crusades as "Inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia;...elaborate, sincere intolerance;[and ...more
The very best history of the Crusades that I have ever read. Tyerman handles both the traditional crusades to the Holy Land, as well as the political crusades, the crusades against heretics (for example the Albigensian Crusade) as the Baltic crusades. The crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land of course get the most attention, but the other crusades are not short-changed in any way.

One of the strengths of this book is Tyerman’s expert use of contemporary sources, both Christian and Muslim
Endre Fodstad
When I was younger, I saw Terry Jones' "The Crusades" series at a point where I knew relatively little about the subject. One of the historians interviewed, an elderly man leaning on a cane, struck me as rather an openly biased fellow. "Barbarians...they though they were barbarians...." he said, with a sort of self-assured upper-class arrogance that left little doubt as to his own opinion of the crusaders.

In the prologue to this book, Tyerman compares himself disfavorably to this historian (I gu
Czarny Pies
Feb 26, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interest in European History.
Shelves: european-history
Christopher Tyerman's God"s War has the stated goal rehabilitating the Catholic Crusaders of the the Middle Ages who for most of the last 200 years have been the object of much scorn and derision. Tyerman is particularly anxious to present a more nuanced view of the Crusades than that found in Steven Runciman's history of the Crusades published between 1951 and 1954 which denounced the Crusades in the most uncompromising terms as being an exercise in unwarranted and tremendously destructive aggr ...more
Matt Brady
A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recuitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, and the spread of the crusading notion into regions wholly separate from the traditional Holy Land. In a work as big as this, there are bound to be parts that seem a little dry and uninteresting, but it's hard not to ...more
Bryn Hammond
Consulted rather than read. Grand work, but not untendentious. Seek other views too.

In his preface he discusses the historian's perspective:

My perspective is western European... A history of the Crusades could be very different in structure if composed from the viewpoint of medieval Syrian, Egyptian or Andalusian Muslims, or European or Near Eastern Jews, or Balts, Livs or Prussians. However, the essential contours of the subject would, if observed dispassionately, look much the same, because t
God's War
Christopher Tyerman
Read it in a thick and cumbersome paper back weighing in at 1023 pages.

Diving deep into the rabbit hole with an engrossing, detailed, events, causes, and outcomes of the premier activity in regards to and concerning the theatres of the Levant, Modern Spain, and Modern Eastern Europe/Western Russia from 1080AD to the death throws and eventual end of the Crusades loosely around 1500AD. Tyerman is considered a British Medieval Historian and a fellow of both Hertford Coll
Kirk Lowery
I must admit I got lost amidst the details of names and places of the Near East, the Baltics, Iberia, North Africa and Anatolia. But one comes away with the realization that the Middle Ages was a time of constant turmoil and war; did they do anything else? And the *massive* waste of lives and treasure is overwhelming.

One insight: the Teutonic Knights conquered and ruled Prussia as an independent state. This explains why the tradition of the military was so strong in that region, reflected in mod
I learned a bit on less known Crusades. I'm not particularly in love with the fact: While Normans besieged Bari, Croats went to help Bari, and Normans sacked Croatian capital and tried to establish themselves. They failed. What Normans didn't fail was to sack in 1204 in the Fourh Crusade Croatian city of Zadar (prior to proceeding to Byzantium).
All this spiced up with Tyerman is not mentioning Croats at all, as if it was only Greek, Bulgarians, Serbs... fighting the Turks.
(Let me put it in persp
Lately, historical fact doesn't seem important, such as with all the misinformation about the Templar Knights. So, to get the true story I sought out a book on the Templars to get the true story which turned out to be completely different than the crap that passes for history on the History Channel (Ancient Aliens, anyone?). So, when I became interested in the Crusades I found a wealth of legends and stories and politically correct misinformation on what the Crusades were and what effect they ha ...more
Neil Powell
After taking over 4 months to read the 922 pages of this book (admittedly the birth of our
first child was sandwiched between the start and finish), I felt an enormous sense of pride
(and a little relief!) when I finally completed it.

The scope, breadth and depth of the research involved here is staggering. It covers
500 years in Christian (specifically Roman Catholic) ideology, and it discusses the causes, reasons and implications of what each of the Crusades to the Levant and/or Egypt meant for Eu
This is hard going at times.
Very dense, very informative. Needs careful reading to avoid mixing up all the Normans (during the 1st Crusade they are mainly called Roger, Robert, or Raymond...other works have done this better).
It tends to stutter with the chronology, nipping back and forth a few years here and there, then falling back on track. Dry in bits then without warning very interesting. Littered with typos, but with the occasional nugget or viewpoint that I'd not considered before.
All in a
Lawrence A
The cast of characters in this tome about the Crusades of the Middle Ages is so vast that you need a scorecard to keep track of them. In spite of the sometimes rough sledding I encountered in plowing through this book, the detailed scholarship is truly amazing, and ultimately Tyerman gets down to some important historical analysis about the violent, horrific, and even "evil" nature of the Crusades. Importantly, he explains the political, economic, religious, and social motivations of the various ...more
Throughout the book, Tyerman constantly reminds the reader that the crusades were not wholly religious, nor were they strictly secular. The wars of the cross, rather, were tied into a matrix of territorial expansion, Passion theology, and raw commercial venture. So where do these strands intersect in the crusades?

In the humanity of it all, responds Tyerman. He remarks that "sentimentality will not do" in explaining why so many, men and women, lay and clergy, noble and common, embarked on long, s
Nov 11, 2014 Tinika marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and highly detailed. Tyerman is a master of his subject. Valuable to those with a keen interest in the Crusades but those with just a passing interest run great risk of becoming bogged down by names, places and the problems of logistics.
Jeff Gassler
Christopher Tyerman is scholar on the Crusades only matched and surpassed by Jonathan Riley-Smith. Tyerman's God's War is exhaustive and holistic account of the Holy Wars (Crusades) waged from 1095-1600. Tyerman focus is the politics and motives during the Crusades. The Oxford Historian spends his time examining meticulously the details of political environment of Outremer, Europe, Byzantium, and the Baltic. To quote a reviewer from Amazon, "once you've read this, you will feel like you've been ...more
Steven Williams
Very thoroughly reasearch book and honestly presented. Tyerman did an admirable job in not taking sides in the conflicts. The book was somewhat long, but because of it, it was fairly comprehenive.
James Irish
Tremendous work..It has resonance for us in the current political climate.
Urey Patrick
Thorough, comprehensive, well written, scholarly - and so filled with medieval names, unfamiliar locations, characters of varying significance - the experience is akin to reading a Russian novel. I found it almost impossible to keep things straight in my own mind as the narrative progressed - who did what when to whom for what reason... and who they were and where they fit in. But then, perhaps that is a telling illustration of the chaotic social, cultural and societal constructs that made the m ...more
Extremely detailed, and uneasy to read at times due to the details of surrounding events. One is almost certain to forget quite a few details by the end of this monumental piece of research.

Of course writing about five centuries of various tribulations and intermittent wars accompanying the Crusades is quite difficult. Tyerman managed to create a clear, understandable yet undiluted and unaligned description of the most complex and arguably most misunderstood series of events, formative to the p
I chose this book because I wanted a history of all the crusades in one book, instead of having to read about each seperatly from the the points of view of different authors. While this book is packed with information, the events often fail to leap off the page, and each person becomes just one more name who I wish the author would tell me more about. At times I felt like I was just plodding through documents. I guess I will have to do what I was trying to avoid and go one crusade at a time.
Exhaustive research and span of topics buried in dense prose. The occasional grammatical error or missing word in the text of the kindle edition did nothing to make this book more readable. Maps are included as are p pictures but on the kindle screen the don't enlarge and so are useless.

I liked the discussion of how the crusades were marketed and how they appear in literature. Information was also provided on the impact of crusading on the family members who were left behind.
May 29, 2008 P. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Serious History fans (Crusades, Medieva
This is an exhaustively researched and overwhelmingly detailed history of the Crusades from the first inklings to the end of the Middle Ages. If you really want to know about the 'Horns of Hattin' this is the place. Louis' captivity and the negotiations with the infidel to obtain his freedom, read about it here. Eleanor of Acquataine's estrangement from Louis, it's all here. Everything else seems to be here also. This is a great, chubby book.
Finally finished this one. I would only recommend this one to those who have a keen interest in the history of the crusade era. It is a very long and difficult slog for someone (such as myself) who had only a passing interest in the subject. On the other hand, it is a well written and thorough history of the period and delves into all aspects of the crusades in quite a bit of detail and must have required an immense amount of research.
I only read about 250 pages of this tome before I had to admit to myself that in my busy world, I would never find the time to finish this library book. However, I did feel like I came to understand at least the causes as well as implications of the first crusade. It was a part of history that was formerly opaque to me. Yet, I can't help but to think that he could have done just as well with 30% fewer words, examples, and pages.
Again, really dense. A Who's Who of the Middle Ages, but without interesting information about them. Lots of military strategy, which is good if you like that sort of thing. I didn't make it more than halfway through the Second Crusade, and I mostly skimmed my way that far. This book is not for the faint of heart, or the casual reader looking to get a quick history fix.
Two caveats to an otherwise enthusiastic recommendation. The author, I am guessing, sleeps with a worn and weighty thesaurus not far from his head. And he is occasionally shunned at parties, if his storytelling is anything like his sometimes roundabout writing style.

Still, and especially if you are still reading this pithy review, enthusiastically recommended.
Michael Powe
I read about 500 pages of this book before I gave out. Someday, I'll get through to the end. Tyerman is the go-to historian for this period. But this book is not only a "you can smell the sweat" history of the Crusades, but a strongly-worded revision of conventional historical vision of the Crusades. Tyerman has opinions and he's not afraid to state them.
Paul Jennings
Quite simply brilliant. An edifying read about a terrible phenomenon. Tyerman performs the admirable feat of making the story of the crusades relevant to such a wider historical canvas, that at times it seems possible to read his analysis as, in itself, a coherent explanation of all medieval European history.
Best read carefully: Tyerman's dense, verbose sentences might seem overly wordy, but they serve their purpose. Though a weighty work, it makes up for it by being very informative and perfectly researched.

I'd definitely recommend it as required reading for any history buff or undergrad.
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what does this book add ? 4 8 Oct 25, 2013 07:39AM  
  • The Northern Crusades
  • A History of the Crusades, Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
  • Arab Historians of the Crusades
  • Islam and the Crusades: The Writings of Usama ibn Munqidh
  • Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World
  • The First Crusade: A New History
  • The Cross and the Crescent: Christianity and Islam from Muhammad to the Reformation
  • Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades
  • The Great Arab Conquests: How The Spread Of Islam Changed The World We Live In
  • Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades
  • Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World
  • Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire
  • The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph & Diversity 200-1000
  • Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World
  • Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
  • The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages, 400-1000
  • Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam
  • Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages
British medieval historian, fellow of Hertford College, Oxford University.
More about Christopher Tyerman...
The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades Chronicles of the First Crusade England and the Crusades, 1095-1588 The Invention of the Crusades

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