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The Crusades: A History
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The Crusades: A History

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  130 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In this masterly work, Robert Payne brings to life the Crusade battalions that founded vast kingdoms nearly a thousand years ago. It is an exquisitely wrought saga of the medieval world that tells of the clash between East and West at a time when religious fervor was widespread and the possession of an ancient sepulchre mattered most in the lives of men.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Robert Hale (first published January 1st 1984)
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Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
The first book I read about the period, I was fascinated by it. Especially since I live in Israel the subject is significant to me- one can draw a lot of parallels between the situation Israel is in today to that of the Crusaders (putting aside of course the fact that they slaughtered many a Jew in and on their way to the Holy Land).

The book is a good introduction and the author obviously has a great passion for the subject which is infectious to the reader. You'll need other books for a deeper
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval
Superb, excellent writing, excellent information and eye opening. Great introduction to the Crusades as a whole. Definitely recommended for those just getting into the Crusades who will continue to read more after this book or for those just wanting to gain knowledge on the basic overview. Either way cannot go wrong with this book.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the accounts of the Crusades I've read, this one strikes the best balance between being comprehensive and being readable. Oldenbourg goes into more detail, Mackay's long chapter in Extraordinary Popular Delusions is written with more humour but Payne has been most successful in educating me.
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is filled with remarkable stories but none that I have come across tells of such an incredible adventure as the Crusades. For over 200 years starting in 1098 CE, Europeans attempted to take and hold the Holy Land from those who they considered the infidel - the Muslims. Just when you would think they'd give up, the effort would be renewed, including an absurd "children's crusade" led by a fifteen year old that hoped to see Muslims abandon Jerusalem at the sight of thousands of pious unar ...more
Aug 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval-history
I read this book when I was about twelve years old, and forever fell in love with the story of the Crusades. I am now much older than that and am still learning lessons and re-understanding material I learned from this read! Payne takes the narrative approach and explores the personalities that formed the well-known and less-known events from 1097 to about 1250 (terminating with the sacking of Constantinople). Additional documentation and correspondences brought to light by Payne reveal personal ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect history in that you don't have the luxury of having a favorite; at any time, either the "Muslims", the Byzantine Empire, or the "Franks" are doing things so contrary to their religions and espoused moralities that they engender disgust and contempt in all but the worst apologists.

The book paints with equal accuracy the beauty, opulence, and decadence of the East and the brutality, inhumanity, and cruelty of those who would control that beauty. Essentially, the story of the Crusades is, s
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is not often I can call a history text like this a "page turner" but Payne keeps the reader engrossed for nearly the entire book. Towards the end he appears tired, and pace and editing are not as strong as in the beginning, but still very much worth reading if you enjoy medieval history. A nice addition to any library.
David Becker
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler alert: Invading and occupying Muslim countries was a real tarball of an endeavor even 600-700 years ago. Payne's review of the two centuries of European efforts to control the Holy Land is a well-told tale in which the main players get full credit for avarice, stupidity and genuine religious zeal. Many lessons to be gleaned.
Zachary Rawlins
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my favorite history book, certainly the best on the crusades. Thoughtful, narrative, and comprehensive, this is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to take a hard, in depth look at one of the formative events in modern society.
Better works on the crusades are available.

May 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Title in German:
Die Kreuzzüge. Zweihundert Jahre Kampf um das Heilige Grab
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Good history is good story telling. This author does that very well.

I appreciated that he stuck to facts, and not imagination. Especially in reference to Richard III of England.
Amy Wolf
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really really good history of the Crusades. The authors point out the absurdity of the Europeans embarking to The Holy Land to free an empty tomb. The tone is even-handed, and fair to both sides.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of, if not the best written history book I have ever read. This book reads as easy as a fiction novel. Very informative, my highest recommendation
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
too broad of a subject for one volume, but it is well written and a fair primer as an introduction to the topic.
Bob Stuhlsatz
It was kind of disjointed but very interesting.
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Pierre Stephen Robert Payne (4 December 1911 – 3 March 1983), was a novelist, historian, poet, and biographer.
Born in Cornwall, the son of an English naval architect, and with a French mother. He worked as a shipbuilder and then for a time with the Inland Revenue. In 1941 he became an armament officer and chief camouflage officer for British Army Intelligence at Singapore. In the summer of 1946, P
More about Pierre Stephen Robert Payne...