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.
"In this excellent popular history, medieval historian Tyerman offers a short introduction to the Crusades, touching on the most salient features and helping readers understand why it's so important to ferret out from all the lore what really happened. While it's a tall order to present more than four centuries of wars spanning three continents, Tyerman rises to the task with aplomb, noting early on that 'much of what passes in public as knowledge of the Crusades is either misleading or false.' The Crusades were not, he says, solely wars against Islam, and their main purpose wasn't to impose Western economic or political leadership, especially since 'there existed no strategic or material interest for the knights of the west to campaign in Judea.' As the book's second half makes clear, the Crusades need to be understood as religious holy wars conducted by individuals who were infused by utter certainty that their actions aligned wholly with God's plan. Tyerman writes engagingly, and numerous maps and illustrations help to support his story especially since, as he tells us, 'iconography is never innocent.' A sharply opinionated concluding essay traces the impact of the Crusades through the Protestant Reformation, Enlightenment and 19th-century romanticism to the present, arguing that Bush and bin Laden are 'co-heirs to the legacy of a 19th-century European construct' of the Crusades." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
Even today, to invoke the Crusades is to stir deep cultural myths, assumptions and prejudices. This title picks its way through the many debates to present a clear and lively discussion of the Crusades; bringing together issues of colonialism, cultural exchange, economic exploitation, and the relationship between past and present.
About the Author
is Lecturer in Medieval History at Hertford College and New College, Oxford. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has published extensively on crusading History, including The Invention of the Crusades
and England and the Crusades
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