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Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land

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Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land Cover

ISBN13: 9780300118889
ISBN10: 0300118880
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: None
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a series of massive military undertakings that stretched from 1095 to 1291, Christendomand#8217;s armies won, defended, and lost the sacred sites of the Holy Land. Many books have been written about the Crusades, but until now none has described in detail what is was like to take part in medieval Europeand#8217;s most ambitious wars. This vividly written book draws on extensive research and on a wealth of surviving contemporary accounts to recreate the full experience of crusading, from the elation of taking up the cross to the difficult adjustments at home when the war was over.

and#160;

Distinguished historian Norman Housley explores the staggering logistical challenges of raising, equipping, and transporting thousands of Christian combatants from Europe to the East as well as the complications that non-combatant pilgrims presented. He describes the ordinary crusaderand#8217;s prolonged years of difficult military tasks, risk of starvation and disease, trial of religious faith, death of friends, and the specter of heavy debt or stolen homelands upon arriving home. Creating an unprecedented sense of immediacy, Housley brings to light the extent of crusadersand#8217; sacrifices and the religious commitment that enabled them to endure.

Review:

"Narrative histories of the Crusades tend toward bloody accounts of a particular Crusade. This imaginative thematic treatment draws on all the Crusades to portray them coherently as a centuries-long institution of 'armed pilgrimage,' with its own religious ideology, economic imperatives, social dynamics and folkways. After a lucid synopsis of the seven major Crusades from 1096 to 1291, British historian Housley (University of Leicester) offers a topical survey of the crusader experience, drawn from letters, songs and other primary sources. He covers the recruitment of crusaders by 'superstar' preachers; the horrific journeys by sea (with terrifying storms and wormy food) or land (with Turkish attacks and no food at all); protocols for plundering cities; attitudes toward the Muslim foe; commoners' resentment for their overlords; and the occasionally triumphant but often dejected homecoming. The chapter on crusader warfare, which corrects the usual overemphasis on knightly cavalry, is especially good. Throughout, Housley focuses on crusading as a sincere, if easily misdirected, expression of Catholic belief, a march toward personal salvation through the collective recovery of the Holy Land. This rich, multifaceted study imparts a deeper understanding of why and how medieval Christendom went to war. Photos, maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

Norman Housley is professor of history and Head of the School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester. He is a world authority on the Middle Ages and on the Crusades in particular. He lives in Leicester, UK.

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John Lowe, November 24, 2012 (view all comments by John Lowe)
Dr. Housley’s attempt to capture the spirit of what it was like to engage in crusading in the holy land during the period of 1095-1291 from the preaching of Urban II and Clermont to the fall of Acre, is fully realized in this fairly recent study. Though written as a text book, the prose is easily read and informative, and is highly accessible to the wider public audience without much background in medieval studies.
The approach of the work is thematic in style, addressing largely the main issues such as the preaching of the cross, public awareness of the symbiotic relationship of pilgrimage and crusading, the expense and negative material gain, the opposition in the form of Turks, Arabs, and Byzantines, and remembrance in written records. Housley strikes a balanced position when addressing the main players of the drama, from lord to peasant, declining to take an overtly moral stance that is so tempting for many historians. Instead the focus is on the over shadowing impact of crusading, particularly the First Crusade, that affected the medieval mind set towards many things, both spiritually as well as culturally. Of the more profound arguments, Housley stresses the fact that though the written documents, principally clerical chronicles demonstrating a demonization of the enemy, in fact many Europeans had a very good idea about the actual culture and achievements of the Turks as well as the Fatimid culture of Egypt. He approaches this point by sifting through the hyperbole of the writers, looking closely at what facts they use to color their accounts, and on occasion, the unexpected admiration. As a side note, this fits together very well with the actions of Emperor Alexius Comnenus I who is known to have given the First Crusaders some advice about the enemy during their brief stay on the outskirts of Constantinople.
It is particularly difficult to find much wanting in Housley’s work. Utilizing historical evidence from the First through the Seventh Crusade, he sites many of the examples a student of the crusades is bound to expect, while at the same time trying to pronounce a definitive stance towards nagging topics such as the perceived personas of Saladin and Richard I, giving each his due as a positive and negative personality, though perhaps a little more so in the case of Richard. There is also the tendency in the chapter Brave New World to introduce teaser information on such subjects as Prester John and the Mongols, both important and interesting topics that don’t get covered as fully as the reader might like considering their importance in both their relevancy towards God’s aid from foreign quarters and how this was rationalized by the medieval west.
On the whole an excellent book that I plan to utilize in my future teaching career, comprehensive and thought provoking, I would even suggest it as the starting place for anyone embarking on a study of the events and period of the crusades through the high middle ages.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780300118889
Author:
Housley, Norman
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
Europe - General
Subject:
Crusades
Subject:
Military - General
Subject:
Military-General History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080931
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
40 b/w + 20 color illus,
Pages:
376
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1.8 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » General History
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
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Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Games » Card Games » Bridge
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Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land Used Hardcover
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$12.50 In Stock
Product details 376 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300118889 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Narrative histories of the Crusades tend toward bloody accounts of a particular Crusade. This imaginative thematic treatment draws on all the Crusades to portray them coherently as a centuries-long institution of 'armed pilgrimage,' with its own religious ideology, economic imperatives, social dynamics and folkways. After a lucid synopsis of the seven major Crusades from 1096 to 1291, British historian Housley (University of Leicester) offers a topical survey of the crusader experience, drawn from letters, songs and other primary sources. He covers the recruitment of crusaders by 'superstar' preachers; the horrific journeys by sea (with terrifying storms and wormy food) or land (with Turkish attacks and no food at all); protocols for plundering cities; attitudes toward the Muslim foe; commoners' resentment for their overlords; and the occasionally triumphant but often dejected homecoming. The chapter on crusader warfare, which corrects the usual overemphasis on knightly cavalry, is especially good. Throughout, Housley focuses on crusading as a sincere, if easily misdirected, expression of Catholic belief, a march toward personal salvation through the collective recovery of the Holy Land. This rich, multifaceted study imparts a deeper understanding of why and how medieval Christendom went to war. Photos, maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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