'Cronicles of the Crusades: Eye-Witness Accounts of the Wars Between Christianity and Islam' is an incredible source for first-hand information on the'Cronicles of the Crusades: Eye-Witness Accounts of the Wars Between Christianity and Islam' is an incredible source for first-hand information on the cruades, both from Christian and Muslim viewpoint. The historians who co-operated to bring this volume to life are experts in the field and give a consciencious and unbiased representation of the facts and opinions. The bulk of the text consists of sources in translation with fascinating excerpts of battles, sieges, but also scenes of daily life and editions of letters and diaries which give an intimate look in the hearts and minds of Crusaders and their Muslim opponents. While reading this book, many myths will be dispelled.
This book gives an overview from the full range of crusader activity and goes well beyond the narrow definition of crusades as Holy Wars to conquer the Holy Land. The closing chapter deals with the 15th century up to the discovery of the New World. Though the narrative could have been brought further into the 16th century, it still strongly makes the point that the crusades did not end with the Fall of Acre (Acco) in the late thirteenth century.
This little hundred page book is nothing more, and nothing less, than a very brief account of the crusader events from the first crusade up to the sixThis little hundred page book is nothing more, and nothing less, than a very brief account of the crusader events from the first crusade up to the sixteenth and even eighteenth century. The pace is too fast and Bernard Hamilton races from one big event to another without adding much depth. For example, he does not mention the capture of christian Zara during the Fourth Crusade when this clearly was a key event that should not have been forgotton. He does dispell some myths, but with too few words. If you are looking for a short, instructive book about the crusades, you better turn to Madden's 'new and concise history of the crusades' or Tyerman's 'very short introduction to the crusades'....more
While this book is called 'The Crusades', it only spans the period of the three first "numbered" crusades from 1095 to ca. 1200, or from the capture oWhile this book is called 'The Crusades', it only spans the period of the three first "numbered" crusades from 1095 to ca. 1200, or from the capture of Jerusalem by the Christians to the rise of Saladin and it's loss. Oldenbourg's eye is set exclusively on the Holy Land itself, and more specifically on the kingdom of Jerusalem. She does not put the military story on the foremost place. While the mentioning of chevauchees and battles is unavoidable in a crusader history, the bulk of the text is devoted to the relations between Christians and Muslims, but also between the different kinds of indigenious Christians (Armenians, Syrians, etc...), the newly arrived Western crusaders, and the class of poulains (offspring of the Western Crusaders who adopted parts of the culture of the indeginious populace of the Holy Land). This angle, which differs from the more common practice of describing the crusades from a purely European viewpoint, was and still is refreshing. Oldenbourg's 'Les Croisades' is inevitably outdated and heavely based on narrative sources, but still worth of reading, if only to get some understanding of the early crusads from the viewpoint of the Oriental Christians. ...more
I have refrained from rating this book, because I really don't know whether it's a good account of how the arabs saw the crusades or not. My trust inI have refrained from rating this book, because I really don't know whether it's a good account of how the arabs saw the crusades or not. My trust in the author's objectivity got a serious dent today after reading one of the sources he used. Amin Maalouf renders an account of Frankish barbarianism in medicinal practice on p. 131-132. When I check this passage in the original account of Usama ibn Munqidh, there are at least two more examples of Frankish medicinal practice directly following the cited passage that are ommited by Maalouf, and that actually contain praise from Usama towards the Frankish knowledge of medicins. Maalouf misrepresented the source he used in this occasion to drive home a point he wants to make, which is unacceptable in a work that is so widespread and from the looks of what I read below so commonly praised.
If you want to know how a muslim viewed the Crusaders (which he would only recognise as the broader term of Franks - the cross is almost never referreIf you want to know how a muslim viewed the Crusaders (which he would only recognise as the broader term of Franks - the cross is almost never referred to), read this Usama's version of history, and forget about the current Osama and his war monging. This is the real thing.
Usama ibn Munqidh writes about his extraordinary and long lasting life as a courtier who mingled with the great men of his time, as a battle seasoned warrior, a prodigious hunter and a religious muslim. He tells short tales from everyday life (often his own life) to show how only God has the power to decide the fate of all, humans and animals alike. Besides his book of contemplation, there are other excerpts covering hunting, saints and healers.
Usama's lessons of life are far more prominent in his writings than the proceedings of the crusades, who are only marginally treated. In contrast with the title, the dealings with the Franks are limited to surveys of battles and skirmishes, and a small amount of examplary stories. Usuma does relate on a few characteristics of the Franks as the status of knights, the Frankish jurisprudence with the ordeal, and the man-woman relation that he can't grasp from his Eastern views. He is very vivid in his descriptions and shows some insight in the cultural difference at it was percieved in the days of the crusades. For example, Usama doesn't see the world as divided between Franks and muslims. He notes that the Franks who where born or lived in the East are far more agreeable than the Franks who came to crusade. Though in general his judgement towards the Franks is rather condescending, it is not really destructive, and he even gives praise to some exploits of Franks, something Amin Maalouf ommited from his account of the crusades through Arab eyes. After reading this book, the reader is tempted to conclude that the muslim-christian relations in our time in the present day hot-beds of cultural clashes in the middle east are far more excluding and fanatical. ...more