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The author chronicles the long, bloody history of the Crusades and conclusively demonstrates how this three-hundred-year-long struggle to control the Middle East changed Europe, and the world, forever.
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Although the Crusades constitute an inglorious chapter of medieval history, as historian Hindley (Saladin: A Biography)demonstrates in this balanced and instructive history, they were the paradigms by which later generations (including our own) measured their crusades. Chock-full of social, political and military history, Hindley's account examines the details of each of the four Crusades and the cast of characters involved. For example, with the skill of a good storyteller, Hindley chronicles the disputes between German king Conrad III and French king Louis VII, and Saladin's perspicacious leadership of the Muslims during the second Crusade (1147-1149), which resulted in Saladin's capture of Jerusalem from the Christians. Hindley ably shows that the European forces gathered for the Crusades included not only knights but also hundreds of religious pilgrims making their way to their holy city. In addition, he narrates the establishment of such associations as the Knights Templar, a group from the elite classes of society that took monastic vows of chastity and poverty as they opened a hospital for sick pilgrims. Hindley provides a helpful chronology of the Crusades and Jihad (including Arab and Turkish conquests of Christian lands), as well as appendices that list the medieval popes, rulers of the kingdom of Jerusalem,Ottoman princes and sultans and more. Hindley's valuable history offers a detailed portrait of medieval events and will show readers how the fervor for crusading is still with us today. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An accessible alternative to standard academic histories of the Crusades, such as the three-volume History of the Crusades by Steven Runciman (1951-54), this work chronicles the numerous expeditions to recover Jerusalem for Christendom. Well, it wasn't always or only Jerusalem that Western European pontiffs, emperors, and kings coveted; politics and avarice often jostled with religious purity as a motive for expelling the Muslim infidel from the land of Christ's Passion. This stew of justifications underlies Hindley's recounting of the medieval saga, which emphasizes leaders and battles. The resulting kaleidoscope of names, from Godfrey of Bouillon, a leader of the First Crusade of the 1090s, through revivalists of the crusaders' waning cause, such as France's Louis IX, who died on campaign in 1270, would seem difficult to keep in focus, but Hindley accomplishes the feat. And besides the Levant, he also touches on other regions that experienced crusades. The word crusade is often used as propagandistic shorthand these days, so Hindley's survey of the historical movement is timely indeed. Gilbert Taylor
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