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A History of the Crusades, Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (A History of the Crusades #1)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,057 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Sir Steven Runciman's three volume "A History of the Crusades, " one of the great classics of English historical writing, is now being reissued. This volume deals complete with the First Crusade and the foundation of the kingdom of Jerusalem. As Runciman says in his praface: "Whether we regard the Crusades as the most tremendous and most romantic of Christian adventure, or ...more
Paperback, 394 pages
Published December 3rd 1987 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1951)
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(showing 1-30)
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Paul Bryant
I read a review of The Arabian Nights on GR which began - pessimistically and rather alarmingly - "I needed a book which I could lose" - the idea being either that the reviewer has a form of dementia or is in an ongoing situation where they may need to flee and have no time to grab their reading material (I can't really imagine being that frantic but some people lead less sheltered lives than me).

Anyway, that reader should avoid Sir Stephen Runciman's towering, complex and riveting three volume
...more
Jonfaith
When Raymond of Aguilers later that morning went to visit the Temple area he had to pick his way through corpses and blood that reached up to his knees.

As much as I enjoyed the scholar's book on the Fall of Constantinople, I found this a well researched linear survey, but one lacking resonance. The sequence is delineated but not explained or explored other than the traditional idea that it was opportunity meshed with spiritual responsibility which encouraged the papal decree that white Christian
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Walter Mendoza
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The Steven runciman's book about The crusades is highly recognized as one the most greatest works of history of the crusades. The author is an amazing writer also an impartial historian with judgements and opinions supports on solid scholarship on source and contemporary chroniclers.

The first volume: The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, tell us about the fundation the first crusade, the beginning, the fundation of the kingdom of Jerusalem. Previously Runciman exami
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Gustav Klimt
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself in this life is to read Steven Runciman's History of the Crusades. If you are daunted by its length, know that just reading Volume 1 will enrich your knowledge of the millenium-old struggle between Islam and the west a hundred fold.

This first part takes you from the launching of the Crusades by Pope Urban II at Claremont through the bloody and merciless conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders that ended the First Crusade. Along the way, you will
...more
David
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great work of history by Runciman
Eric_W
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Steven Runciman in volume 1 of his History of the Crusades:The First Crusade and the Foundations of the Kingdom of Jerusalem describes an 11th century that witnessed massive movements of peoples and political reorganizations. The Byzantine and Latin churches had parted company in 1054. The Turks were causing great distress among pilgrims who could no longer make the journey to Jerusalem. Until that time the Byzantine Empire, which stretched from Lebanon to Austria to Italy, had maintained a ver ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had been looking forward to reading this a great deal, I had been delving into the early crusades and the Byzantine empire for a while and I had heard good things about it.

It was good, overall.

I did not enjoy the first third of the book as much as I had expected to however, the first two volumes or ‘books’ were a bit fragmented. Now I do realise that the crusades, having so many players and so many important figures are VERY difficult to write about. I do get that the many personages and plac
...more
Barnaby Thieme
Runciman's classic history of the Crusades begins with this engrossing and highly-readable account of the background leading up to the Latin Christian incursion into the Near East by way of the Byzantine Empire, up through the First Crusade and the stunning initial conquest of Jerusalem. Runciman bases his history on his vast familiarity with the chronicle sources written in an imposing number of languages.

The book is packed with colorful personalities and events, and by the standards of curren
...more
Angus
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The definitive, and masterful, account of the Crusades. One of the greatest pieces of historical writing in human... you get the idea.

His writing reminds me of Gibbon, with that same wry tone and observational irony, and the same startlingly beautiful phraseology. He could have been a poet, if he hadn't been tempted by the money to go into medieval history.

The piece has dated a little, and I believe some of his sources have been discredited, but this is the series against which all other works
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Derek Brozowski
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had been wary of reading Runciman ever since my interest in the Crusades began. I was worried that it would be too dense and difficult to read. I can report that Runciman's work is the total opposite. While dated, Runciman's text is easy to digest. I'm sure Crusades scholarship has come a long way in the decades since Runciman's trilogy was published, but his work stands out as a foundational pillar. I'm glad I finally began my dive into this trilogy of medieval history.
Frank DeRose
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When the term genius is used these days, almost invariably it is applied to a student of mathematics or the sciences, an Albert Einstein, Francis Crick, or Alan Turing. Most assuredly, these individuals are geniuses of the highest order. Steven Runciman is a genius of a different kind, a genius of the liberal arts.

In order to understand the greatness of Runciman, one might start by looking at the appendices of his Crusades, in which he lists the principal sources for his history. There are Greek
...more
Joshua Neil
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first in the three-part 'History of the Crusades' series, this book gives a full and vivid detail of the first crusade, setting out in-depth the political, religious and historical backgrounds leading up to it over the proceeding five hundred years, before moving on to moving through the important characters and events of the four years of the first crusade.
Given the small amount of reliable evidence out there on this period, Runciman has done an incredible job bringing the period to life.
...more
Sergio Armisén
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy buen libro para iniciarse en el tema. Es un libro de historia a la "antigua"; nada de contexto socio-económico aquí, sólo una sucesión de acontecimientos y personajes. Y es esta su mayor virtud y su mayor defecto: hay veces en que atora, se hace difícil de leer. Pero vale la pena perseverar, porque está muy bien escrito y la historia que cuenta y los personajes que la pueblan no tienen desperdicio. Contado principalmente desde la perspectiva de los cristianos, es recomendable tener a mano un ...more
Ken
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I have given this first volume five stars as it simply has no competition. I am aboutto start the second volume and looking forward to it. Some of his writing can seem a little dated as some of his conclusions, but the style is so attractive these can be overlooked.
The edition I read was by the Folio Society.
Bob H
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lucid, plainly-written history of the early crusades, covering the fall of Jerusalem; it also covers a crucial period in Byzantine history, centered on the disastrous battle at Manzikert. The prose is a reasonably easy read and the author puts events in context of time and geography, particular in the crusades' origin in the contemporary western Christian mindset.
James
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very clear treatment of a complex and fascinating time of history. Amazing to imagine these crusaders and pilgrims choosing to travel so far in those times.
Jeanie Wallenstein
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Definitive history of the Crusades. Hardcore detail in narrative form.
Tim
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've taken a deeper interest in Palestine (as an ancient geographic region of the Levante) in recent years, especially though in the history of the Jews, Jerusalem as a city, and that of the Crusades. I visited Istanbul (old Constantinople), Jerusalem, Hebron and Jericho (among other places) last year and wish I'd had more time on my hands to explore more of those historic places that have remained politically and culturally important for the last two milleniums. This book was overdue.

This chron
...more
Lee Walker
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lee by: Me
Absolutely brilliant, if you are at all interested in either: (a) medieval history; (b) military history; (c) stories of heroes and great men; (d) adventure, booty, and treasure.

Come on. If you don't like at least one of the above, there's something wrong--go see a doctor, he'll fix you up.

For the record, my favourite character: Tancred! TANCRED THE BEAST. TANCRED THE DAWG! He got ripped off because Bohemond--who was also totally awesome, valiant as hell, and a devious schemer, but unfortunately
...more
Derek Davis
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rereading this dog-eared edition of the first of Runciman's three-volume study of the Crusades after a 50-year lapse is a delight. This is solid history of the old school – every encounter, military or political, physical or personal, presented in minute detail backed up by voluminous sources.
Sound a bit dull or daunting? Not at all. Somehow (and I really can't see how he manages it) he keeps his voluminous cast of characters – multiple Roberts, Raymonds and Baldwins – distinct and pinpoint. Yo
...more
Adam
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Book Description
Sir Steven Runciman's three volume A History of the Crusades, one of the great classics of English historical writing, is now being reissued. This volume deals completely with the First Crusade and the foundation of the kingdom of Jerusalem. As Runciman says in his preface: 'Whether we regard the Crusades as the most tremendous and most romantic of Christian adventures, or as the last of the barbarian invasions, they form a central fact in medieval history. Before their inception
...more
Caroline
Aug 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This three-volume set is an exemplary history, full of the incident and hundreds (thousands) of persons (all carefully indexed) who comprise the events of two and half centuries. Sir Steven is not a "thesis" historian, although he does not hesitate to make final conclusions of great insight and soundness. His strength lies in his meticulous detail and objectivity, recounting the errors and virtues of all the players, on all sides, with great wisdom and impartiality. He shows that the Crusades we ...more
Elgin
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I read this book while on vacation in Italy. It proved a great (though unexpected) choice because it related to so much of the history I saw during my trip. The first half of this book deals with the political climate in Europe and Byzantine Empire in the late eleventh century and before the time of the crusades. One aim of the book is provide a new analysis of the state of and changes in the Empire under the reign of Alexios Komnenos. Evidently previous analyses were based on biased documents, ...more
Alessandro
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: learning
I don't believe in history. I don't consider anything recorded more than 400 years ago to be fully believable. History is recorded by the winners and therefore tends to be partial. I don't care how well documented it is. Even modern history is flawed. It's full of holier-than-thou figures and what not. Am I sounding delusional? Good. That's how I roll. La la la. I digress! Back to the History of the Crusades! Chapter 1: Knights go 'round Hungary burning villages and killing all 'em silly peasant ...more
Joe
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Although this was published in the 1950s the three volumes are still a very serviceable introduction to the Crusades. This is a top down narrative history mostly taken-up with dynastic struggles between Crusaders and Byzantines, Crusaders and Muslims, Muslims and Byzantines, Muslims and Muslims, Mongols and Muslims, and Crusaders and Crusaders

The success of the first Crusade was quite astonishing. A not very well organised group of competing noblemen managed to march their army via Byzantium int
...more
Matt Pitts
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was straight up fascinating to me. I have always been interested in the Crusades. I think that most Christians, whether they will admit to it or not, feel difficult to explain emotions of romanticism in connection to the Crusades. As a good friend of mine put it, we transfer our spiritual battle to the relm of reality. Honestly, who wouldn't want to march behind the Cross of Jesus into battle against the forces of evil.

After reading this first volume of Runciman's History fo the Crusad
...more
Sergio
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avevo già letto di questo autore il libro sulla caduta di Costantinopoli e prima di affrontare la sua poderosa "Storia delle Crociate" ho voluto leggere l'epopea della prima crociata. Quello che ho notato leggendo questo saggio storico è la preferenza di Runciman a narrare soprattutto le lotte intestine tra i comandanti franchi bramosi di terre e tesori l'uno a scapito dell'altro piuttosto che raccontare con maggiore trasporto i fatti d'arme che portarono alla liberazione del Santo Sepolcro. Mi ...more
Olethros
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
-Erudición y entretenimiento no tienen que enfrentarse, al menos no necesariamente-.

Género. Historia.

Lo que nos cuenta. Desde la Primera Cruzada, con una mirada hacia atrás para entender el sustrato del Imperio Romano y su herencia, hasta la caída de San Juan de Acre, con una mirada hacia delante hasta Pio II para entender sus estertores, retrato pormenorizado y cronológico de los hechos, personajes y acontecimientos que construyeron el fenómeno conocido como Las Cruzadas.

¿Quiere saber más del
...more
Praveen Gowtham
Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Runciman lives up to his reputation. Drawing directly from Arabic, Turkish, Jewish, Greek and Latin sources Runciman synthesizes a history of the Crusades. Starts with the Byzantine imperial power and the Persians, Arabs and then Turks and then looks at the rise of the papacy and Western Christendom.

His final thesis of interpreting the Crusades as the last great barbarian invasion to wipe out classical Antiquity is quite interesting. I don't necessarily buy it as I find the concept of the barba
...more
Marie
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging for a non-fiction work. I was surprised to see it was first printed back in the 50s! Runciman presents the crusaders with unabashed bias and humor, presenting a world rather like the field of a real-time strategy game - and no one wants to live in that!

Biggest take-away: if some French knights want to cross your lands for any reason, say "yeah no." and have a big army to back that up. Bloodthirsty bastards, the lot of them! But we knew that. ;)

My one complaint is that a few times i
...more
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222206
A King's Scholar at Eton College, he was an exact contemporary and close friend of George Orwell. While there, they both studied French under Aldous Huxley. In 1921 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge as a history scholar and studied under J.B. Bury, becoming, as Runciman later commented, "his first, and only, student." At first the reclusive Bury tried to brush him off; then, when Runciman ment ...more
More about Steven Runciman...

Other Books in the Series

A History of the Crusades (3 books)
  • A History of the Crusades, Vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East, 1100-1187
  • A History of the Crusades, Vol. III: The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades

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