Synopses & Reviews
The image of the Crusaders--chain-mailed knights on horseback, bearing crosses on banners, fighting for their faith under an alien sun--occupies a familiar niche in modern western culture. Yet despite their powerful hold on our imaginations, the Crusades remain obscured and distorted by time.
In Fighting for Christendom, Christopher Tyerman picks his way through many myths and misconceptions to present a vivid portrait of the Crusades, both the historical events themselves and their posthumous role in Western and Middle Eastern thought. Were the Crusaders motivated by spiritual rewards, or by greed for power and wealth? Was the papacy imposing order and uniformity on Christendom, or defending itself from the infidel enemy? Were the Crusades an experiment in European colonialism, or a manifestation of religious persecution or ethnic cleansing? To answer these questions, Tyerman examines the many military operations between 1095 and 1500 that fall under the heading of Wars of the Cross. Beginning with Pope Urban II's dramatic appeal in 1095, Tyerman ranges from the First Crusade--a campaign unrivalled in impact--to the massive expedition lead by Frederick Barbarossa (which ended suddenly when he drowned crossing a river), to the crusade that pitted King Richard I of England against Saladin. Tyerman also discusses lesser expeditions, including the Peasants', Children's, and Shepherds' Crusades. Throughout the book, he clarifies issues of colonialism, cultural exchange, economic exploitation, and the relationship between past and present.
The Crusades are among the most dramatic mass movements in world history. Fighting for Christendom illuminates these remarkable events with uncommon flair and originality.
"Ambitious.... In little over 200 pages, Tyerman attempts an overall account of the crusading movement, its origins and ideology and its role in later history. His judgments are shrewd and forceful. He has no time for bogus links between crusaders and modern Muslim jihadists.... This vigorous argument is an important corrective for anyone who would argue for the long-term inevitability of conflict between Christianity and Islam. Tyerman is especially good on the preaching of the Crusades, and the showmanship and manipulation often used by propagandists.... Discusses at length how a religion so obviously pacifist as early Christianity could be distorted into a justification for aggression and mayhem."--Hugh Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review
"A brief but informative history of the Crusading movement...dispels many popular myths. Tyerman argues that the wars were but one manifestation of the Holy War movement, which also included intra-European conflicts, such as the Reconquista of Spain, the intra-Christian crusades against the Albigensians and the Hussites, and even continuing through the 17th-century Balkan wars against the Turks.... This illuminating work is highly readable."--Library Journal
With flair and originality, Christopher Tyerman presents a clear and lively discussion of the Crusades, bringing together issues of colonialism, cultural exchange, economic exploitation, and the relationship between past and present. He considers the effects of the Crusades on ordinary life in Western Europe, and the parts played by ordinary men and women in the conflict, and explores the term "Crusade" for contemporary political ends. Whether the Crusades are regarded as the most romantic of Christian expeditions, or the last of the barbarian invasions, they have fascinated generations ever since, and their legacy of ideas and imagery has resonated through the centuries, inspiring Hollywood movies and great works of literature. In this book, Tyerman skillfully weaves together one of the most extraordinary and vivid episodes in world history.
About the Author
Dr. Christopher Tyerman
is lecturer in Medieval History at Hertford College and New College, Oxford. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and editor of 'Oxford Historian'. He has published extensively on crusading history.
Table of Contents
List of Maps
List of Illustrations
1. Definition and Scope
2. Sources and Perspectives
3. Holy War
4. Holy lands
5. The Business of the Cross