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Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypseby Jay Rubenstein
Synopses & Reviews
At Moson, the river Danube ran red with blood. At Antioch, the Crusaders— their saddles freshly decorated with sawed-off heads—indiscriminately clogged the streets with the bodies of eastern Christians and Turks. At Maarra, they cooked children on spits and ate them. By the time the Crusaders reached Jerusalem, their quest—and their violence— had become distinctly otherworldly: blood literally ran shin-deep through the streets as the Crusaders overran the sacred city.
Beginning in 1095 and culminating four bloody years later, the First Crusade represented a new kind of warfare: holy, unrestrained, and apocalyptic. In Armies of Heaven, medieval historian Jay Rubenstein tells the story of this cataclysmic event through the eyes of those who witnessed it, emphasizing the fundamental role that apocalyptic thought played in motivating the Crusaders. A thrilling work of military and religious history, Armies of Heaven will revolutionize our understanding of the Crusades.
"The years 1096-1099 marked a major turning point in the history of the Western world as Christian crusaders began their march toward Jerusalem in a quest to regain the holy city of Jerusalem from the Muslim invaders. Eight more crusades would follow, but this first effort left an indelible imprint on the historical record. Rubenstein, associate professor of medieval history at the University of Tennessee and a MacArthur Fellow 'genius,' insists that students of the period miss its real essence when they apply the accepted historical method of stripping away the myths and focusing on empirically provable facts. The author instead gives us a rich harvest of legends and writings from the period, often apocalyptic in nature, that give us a keener insight into the minds of those who lived these tumultuous years. Rubenstein offers up a heady mix of soldiers and prophets, militants and supplicants, weaving it all into a wonderfully readable account that puts flesh on the story. A satisfying and highly recommended read in every respect." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book News Annotation:
When Jerusalem fell to European armies in 1099, says Rubenstein (Medieval history, U. of Tennessee), contemporaries believed that a new era had dawned, not just in history but in God's plan, that it loosed the apocalypse promised a thousand years earlier at Christ's crucifixion. He retells the familiar story within the framework of apocalyptic thinking. His topics include the Pope's plan in November 1095, the crusaders at Constantinople in August 1096-April 1097, the fall of Antioch in April-June 1098, and the last emperor in July 1099. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Jay Rubenstein is an Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Tennessee. A former Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Fellow, he lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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