The Crusades were military excursions made by Western European Christians during the late eleventh century through the late thirteenth century. The proclaimed purpose of the Crusades, which were often requested and encouraged by papal policy, was to recover the city of Jerusalem as well as other eastern locations of religious pilgrimage (all located in an area referred to as the Holy Land by Christians) from the control of the Muslims. During the mid-eleventh century, Muslim Turks conquered Syria and Palestine, causing concern among Western Christians. The year 1095 marks the beginning of the Crusades. At this time, Pope Urban II preached a sermon at the Council of Clermont in which he proposed that Western European noblemen and their armies join ranks with the Eastern Christian Byzantine Emperor and his forces in order to mount an attack against the Muslim Turks. Between 1097 and 1099, these combined forces of the First Crusade destroyed the Turkish army at Dorylaeum, conquered the Syrian city of Antioch, and captured Jerusalem. The military achievements of the First Crusade have been attributed to the weak and isolated nature of the Muslim forces. Following the First Crusade, however, they became more united thereby gaining strength, and began attacking the Crusaders' strongholds. In 1145, a Second Crusade was instigated. German and French forces suffered serious casualties and failed to regain the lost ground. After the failed Second Crusade, the Muslim leader Saladin and his Egyptian troops struck many of the Crusaders’ strongholds in 1187; that year, Jerusalem was again captured by Muslim forces. The Third Crusade, proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII, set out after Jersusalem was taken. This Crusade failed to regain the city; however, Crusaders did manage to conquer some of Saladin's holdings along the Mediterranean coastline. In the early thirteenth century, a Fourth Crusade was organized but was beset with financial troubles, leading to the diversion of the Crusaders from the original destination of Egypt to Constantinople, which was conquered by the Turks. The Fifth Crusade, lasting from 1217 to 1221, attempted to capture Cairo, but failed. In 1228, the excommunicated Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II led a diplomatic campaign to the Holy Land and negotiated a treaty that returned Jerusalem to the Crusaders and offered a ten-year guarantee against attack. After the Muslims recaptured Jerusalem in 1244, King Louis IX of France organized another Middle Eastern expedition, which resulted in his capture in 1250. The strongholds of the Crusaders began to fall to new enemies and despite a few minor expeditions, the crusading movement dwindled to an end.
Critics and historians have approached this period of history in a variety of ways, analyzing the details of the historical records, the literature produced during this time, and the attitudes of Christians toward the Crusades, as well as the forces which influenced people to join the crusading movement. George W. Cox has studied the precursors to the Crusades, demonstrating the relationship between the pilgrimages to the Holy Land that preceded the Crusades and the Crusades themselves. Other critics, such as G. P. R. James, have focused on the history of a particular Crusade. James has analyzed the developments leading to and the events of the Second Crusade, commenting in particular on the social changes that influenced it. Like James, Aziz S. Atiya has concentrated his examination on a specific era of the crusading movement. Atiya argues that the spirit of the Crusades did not die out at the end of the thirteenth century, but continued into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. While many critics examine the Crusades from the viewpoint of the Western Christian Crusaders, Robert Lee Wolff and Harry W. Hazard have traced the history of the Crusades from the point of view of the Byzantine empire, examining the contribution of the Byzantine rulers to the military and political developments wrought by the Crusades. Another area of critical interest is the source material from which our knowledge of the Crusades is derived. Oliver J. Thatcher and Steven Runciman are two of the scholars who have evaluated such sources. Thatcher concentrates on the Latin sources, and he assesses the historical value of extant letters and eyewitness accounts. Runciman offers an overview of Greek, Latin, Arabic, Armenian, and Syrian sources.
While Thatcher, Runciman, and others study the contemporary sources of the Crusades for historical accuracy, other critics consider these sources—as well as the poetry, songs, and chronicles of the Crusades—in light of their literary and social value. August C. Krey has studied contemporary accounts of the First Crusade, such as the anonymous Gesta (c. 1099-1101), commenting on the form, content, and style of such works. For example, Krey has observed that the lack of literary allusions and limited vocabulary of the Gesta suggest that the author had acquired a low level of education. Palmer A. Throop has examined the poetry and songs written during the thirteenth century, demonstrating the way in which these verses represent the subtle opposition of their authors to the papal policies on crusading. Similarly, Michael Routledge has analyzed the “crusade songs,” observing in particular the usage of the vernacular in French and German songs of the time. Routledge points to such songs as the entertainment of common and illiterate people during the years of the first four Crusades. The epic poetry of the time is also a source of interest for critics. Alfred Foulet has studied two epic cycles, one written (or at least begun) toward the end of the twelfth century, and the other composed during the 1350s. Foulet discusses the form and content of these epic cycles, notes their similarities, and comments on their literary value. Compared to other contemporary works, such as William of Tyre's Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, these epic cycles have little historical value, Foulet maintains. The letters written during the Crusades have also been found by critics to be quite revealing. S. D. Goitein has examined such a letter composed during the summer of 1100. What the letter offers, Goitein explains, is a likely reason for the lack of Jewish narrative on the First Crusade.
Another field of scholarly interest is the search for contemporary evidence of propaganda used to influence the attitudes of Christians toward the Crusades. Dana Carleton Munro has argued that papal sermons and policies encouraged the crusading movement by portraying the Muslims as heathens and worshippers of false gods and idols. Carl Erdmann has studied the development of the crusading movement during the second half of the eleventh century, observing how rhetoric about ecclesiastical aims and warfare became increasingly commingled, which allowed a very general conception of the Crusade to become transformed into the specific form of a Crusade to Jerusalem. Religious forces encouraged the Crusades in another manner as well, observes Colin Morris. The popes, Morris has argued, were aware of the persuasive power of visual imagery, particularly on the illiterate. Therefore, in addition to the preaching of the Crusades in sermons, songs, and liturgy, papal policy encouraged the Crusades through placards carried to advertise a particular Crusade, and through the art and architecture of churches and halls.
Gesta (anonymous chronicle) 1099-1101
Benedetto and Leonardo Accolti
De bello a Chistianis contra Barbaros gesto pro Christi sepulchro et Judaea recuperandis libri tres (anonymous history) 1452
Fulcher of Chartres
Historia Hierosolymitana (anonymous history) 1105
Guillaume le Clerc
Le Besant de Dieu (anonymous satire) 1226-27
William of Tyre
Historia hierosolymitana; or Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum (anonymous history) 1549
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Criticism: History Of The Crusades
SOURCE: “Chapter X” in The History of Chivalry, Harper & Brothers, 1854, pp. 214–32.
[In the following essay, James offers an overview of the history of the Second Crusade, which began in 1145. James notes the societal developments that occurred between the First and Second Crusades, and provides an account of the martial developments and ultimate failure of the Second Crusade.]
The loss of Edessa shook the kingdom of Jerusalem; not so much from the importance of the city or its territory, as from the exposed state in which it left the frontier of the newly established monarchy. The activity, the perseverance, the power of the Moslems had been too often felt not to be dreaded; and there is every reason to believe, that the clergy spoke but the wishes of the whole people, when in their letters to Europe they pressed their Christian brethren to come once more to the succour of Jerusalem. Shame and ambition led the young Count of Edessa to attempt the recovery of his capital as soon as the death of Zenghi, who had taken it, reached his ears. He in consequence collected a large body of troops, and on presenting himself before the walls during the night, was admitted, by his friends, into the town. There he turned his whole efforts to force the Turkish garrison in the citadel to surrender, before Nourhaddin, the son of Zenghi, could arrive to its aid. But the Saracens held out; and, while the Latin...
(The entire section is 7267 words.)
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SOURCE: “Critical Work on the Latin Sources of the First Crusade,” in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1900, Volume I, Washington Government Printing Office, 1901, pp. 499–509.
[In the following essay, Thatcher discusses and ranks the contemporary Latin sources of the First Crusade and comments on what these sources reveal about the reality of that Crusade.]
When dealing with the history of the crusades in the class room I have always met with great surprise, not to say incredulity, on the part of many students. The legends about Peter the Hermit and Godfrey of Bouillon have not only occupied a prominent place in text-books, but also have done yeoman service as homiletic material in illustrating various Christian virtues. It is no wonder, therefore, that these legends have a firm place in the minds of the youth of the land, who are surprised and shocked when told that these stories are untrue. They wish to know how it is possible for so false accounts to have got into circulation and to have found credence. And how do we now know that they are false? Such questions find their answer in a history of the History of the First Crusade. I have thought that it might not be unprofitable to repeat here, briefly and in a popular form, the substance of the answer I have given my classes. The brief time allowed by your committee makes all elaboration impossible.
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SOURCE: “Causes Leading to the Crusades,” in The Crusades, Scribner, Armstrong and Co., 1906, pp. 1–19.
[In the following essay, Cox reviews the events preceding Pope Urban II's call for a Holy War in 1095, focusing on the ongoing pilgrimages to Palestine and their relationship to the call-to-arms of the Crusades.]
The Crusades were a series of wars, waged by men who wore on their garments the badge of the Cross as a pledge binding them to rescue the Holy Land and the Sepulchre of Christ from the grasp of the unbeliever. The dream of such an enterprise had long floated before the minds of keen-sighted popes and passionate enthusiasts: it was realized for the first time when, after listening to the burning eloquence of Urban II. at the council of Clermont, the assembled multitude with one voice welcomed the sacred war as the will of God. If we regard this undertaking as the simple expression of popular feeling stirred to its inmost depths, we may ascribe to the struggle to which they thus committed themselves a character wholly unlike that of any earlier wars waged in Christendom, or by the powers of Christendom against enemies who lay beyond its pale. Statesmen (whether popes, kings, or dukes) might have availed themselves eagerly of the overwhelming impulse imparted by the preaching of Peter the Hermit to passions long pent up; but no authority of pope, emperor, or king, could suffice of itself to...
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SOURCE: “Principal Sources for the History of the First Crusade” in A History of the Crusades, Vol. I: The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press, 1951, pp. 327–35.
[In the following essay, Runciman surveys the contemporary and nearly contemporary source material related to the First Crusade, discussing Greek, Latin, Arabic, Armenian, and Syrian sources.]
The story of the First Crusade is almost entirely covered by contemporary or almost contemporary sources. … [The] chief primary sources on which we are continuously dependent and which do not always agree among themselves need a general critical appreciation in order to assess their relative value.
The only Greek source of prime importance is the Alexiad of Anna Comnena, which is the life of the Emperor Alexius by his favourite daughter. Anna wrote her book some forty years after the events of the First Crusade, when she was an old woman. Her memory may at times have played her false; in particular, her chronology is occasionally somewhat muddled. Moreover, she wrote in the light of later developments. She was also a devoted daughter and wished to show that Alexius had been invariably wise, scrupulous and kindly. She therefore tended to suppress anything that might in her opinion be interpreted to his discredit, or to the discredit of his...
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SOURCE: “The Crusade in the Later Middle Ages” in Crusade, Commerce and Culture, Indiana University Press, 1962, pp. 92–119.
[In the following essay, Atiya argues that while many critics cite the late thirteenth century as the end of the Crusades, following the “tragic exit of the Franks from Palestine,” the crusading movement in fact continued into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.]
Crusading historiography, as already stated, has recently been subject to considerable revision and emendation, and older concepts have given way to new schools of thought. Until the last few decades, historians identified the span of the Crusade movement with the duration of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem on the Asiatic mainland. Inaugurated by Urban II's memorable speech at Clermont-Ferrand in 1095, the holy war presumably ended with the tragic exit of the Franks from Palestine in 1291–92. This cataclysmic view of the Crusade has been repudiated in the light of cumulative research in the field; and in the present chapter an attempt will be made to outline the fate of the movement after the fall of Acre on the Syrian coast to the Egyptians toward the close of the thirteenth century. Notwithstanding ostensible changes in its basic motives, the continuance of the Crusading movement in the later Middle Ages will be proved beyond any shadow of doubt from a quick survey of...
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SOURCE: “Proclamation of the Crusade” in The Crusades: A Documentary Survey, The Marquette University Press, 1962, pp. 14–23.
[In the following essay, Brundage offers a brief account of the events directly preceding Pope Urban II's Council of Clermont sermon. An eyewitness report of the Pope's sermon directly follows.]
The fruitless efforts of Pope Gregory VII to secure military forces to fight in the East failed in stemming the Turkish threat to Byzantium. Turkish advance into Byzantine territory in Asia Minor continued apace after 1074 and the consequences for Byzantium were nearly disastrous. Provincial governors and army commanders, one after another, revolted against the governments of successive emperors at Constantinople, while the Normans, who had already ousted the Byzantines from their colonies in southern Italy and Sicily, added to the difficulties of the Greek emperors by invading the Empire's Balkan provinces. Chaos threatened to overwhelm the only powerful Christian government in the eastern Mediterranean when, in 1081, as the result of still anothe revolt, the most promising of Byzantium's military leaders, the youthful Alexius Comnenus, seized the throne.1
The thirty-seven years of Alexius' reign were to see a gradual stabilization of the Empire's frontiers, the expulsion of the Normans from the Balkans, a halt put to the Turkish...
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SOURCE: “The Reckoning” in The Crusades, translated by Anne Carter, Pantheon Books, 1965, pp. 551–78.
[In the essay that follows, Oldenbourg provides an overview of the history of the early Crusades, examining, in particular, the social effects of the warfare.]
LEGENDS AND DISASTERS
The Crusades have been glorified, discussed, decried, and judged by historians in many different ways, but they remain a great episode in the history of Western Christendom. A close examination reveals them as an extremely complex phenomenon, and yet, unlike most great historical movements, they grew out of an idea which was simple enough in itself. In spite of everything, the Crusades are still the symbol of a glorious, disinterested—and even chimerical—undertaking. Since the eighteenth century there has been no shortage of detractors to insist that in these holy wars there was little enough altruism and on the contrary a great many atrocities, to say that the whole affair was a piece of brigandage giving free rein to the basest instincts on the pretext of religious zeal, and to assert that only fanatics and narrow-minded nationalists could still approve of the principle of this succession of battles and massacres carried out in the name of Christ. (It is worth remembering here Simone Weil's remark that the Crusades were “the basest” of wars.)
As a military operation,...
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SOURCE: “Byzantium and the Crusades 1081–120” in A History of the Crusades, Vol. II: The Later Crusades, 1189–1311, edited by Kenneth M. Setton, University of Wisconsin Press, 1969, pp. 123–51.
[In the following essay, Hussey offers a brief history of the Crusades from the point of view of the Eastern Christian Byzantine empire, discussing the conflicts that arose between the Eastern Christian rulers and the Western European Christian Crusaders.]
The middle part of the eleventh century was a watershed in the history of the Byzantine empire. It is only necessary to compare the successful expansion of the frontier under Basil II and his determined onslaught on the aristocracy with the straitened circumstances of Alexius I Comnenus and the steady growth in the power of the great military families. The period of transition was characterized by a bitter struggle between the civil and military parties. The accession of Alexius Comnenus in 1081 marked the end of a half century which had seen a swift succession of inefficient or ill-fated rulers. He, his son, and his grandson among them ruled for almost a hundred years. But even their statesmanship could only check the ring of hostile powers, and at home they often had to accept, and use, precisely those elements which some of their greatest predecessors had been most anxious to curb. Indeed, from the end of the eleventh century and throughout its...
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Criticism: Literature Of The Crusades
SOURCE: “Prologue to A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem, 1095–1127” in A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem, translated by Frances Rita Ryan, edited by Harold S. Fink, University of Tennessee Press, 1969, pp. 56–59.
[In the following prologue, Fulcher outlines the story that will be told in his A History of the Expedition to Jerusalem and describes the Crusade as a “pilgrimage in arms.”]
HERE BEGINNETH MASTER FULCHER'S PROLOGUE TO THE WORK WHICH FOLLOWS
It is a joy to the living and even profitable to the dead when the deeds of brave men, especially those fighting for God, are read from written records or, retained in the recesses of the memory, are solemnly recited among the faithful.1 For those still living in this world, on hearing of the pious purposes of their predecessors, and how the latter following the precepts of the Gospels spurned the finest things of this world and abandoned parents, wives, and their possessions however great, are themselves inspired to follow God and embrace Him with enthusiasm [Matth. 12:29; Marc. 10:29; Luc. 18:29; Matth. 16:24; Marc. 8:34; Luc. 9:23]. It is very beneficial for those who have died in the Lord when the faithful who are still alive, hearing of the good and pious deeds of their forebears, bless the souls of the departed and in love bestow alms with prayers in their behalf whether they,...
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SOURCE: “The Accounts of Eye Witnesses and Participants” in The First Crusade, Peter Smith, 1921, pp. 1–21.
[In the following essay, Krey analyzes the eyewitness chronicles and letters of the First Crusade, maintaining that they have primarily been examined as sources for literature, not as literary productions. Krey then examines the style and language of these accounts.]
It is now more than eight hundred years since Christian Europe was first aroused to arms in an effort to wrest the Holy Land from the hands of the Infidel, and yet the interest in those expeditions still persists. Scarcely a generation has passed without demanding a fuller and fresher account of the Crusades for its own perusal. Sober historians have sought earnestly to answer the call, but, voluminous as their work has been, the fanciful poet and novelist have succeeded in keeping a pace in advance. It would require many pages to list only the titles of the books and articles which the last generation alone has produced. Apparently the subject will not cease to appeal to the interest of the world so long as the history of Syria remains a treasured memory. And the story of the first and most successful Christian effort to retake possession of the Holy Land will continue to be read with feeling by the descendants, blood and spiritual, of those first Crusaders. It seems, therefore, not out of place to make available for the English...
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SOURCE: “Independent Criticism” in Criticism of the Crusade: A Study of Public Opinion and Crusade Propaganda, N.V. Swets & Zeitlinger, 1940, pp. 26–68.
[In the following essay, Throop examines the songs and poetry written and performed in opposition to the Crusades and papal policy.]
The political difficulties encountered by Gregory X in launching his crusade can hardly be realized unless one knows that there had grown up during the thirteenth century a profound distrust of papal motives. The hostility and cynical indifference revealed in the memoirs submitted to Gregory X were nothing new in 1274. Long before this the papacy had received violent criticisms of its crusade policy, and, unlike Gregory's memoirs, such criticism had been entirely unsolicited. From the beginning of the thirteenth century to the time of Gregory X one may find the severest indictments of the Church for promoting war among Christians, wars dignified by the names of crusades.1
Some of the most bitter accusations came just a few years before the pontificate of Gregory X; some were made at the very time he was requesting memoirs from the clergy. However, not one of the extant reports received by Gregory X mention these condemnations of the papacy as the Judas who had betrayed the Holy Sepulchre. Consequently a study of these criticisms, most of them coming from laymen writing in the vernacular,...
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SOURCE: An Introduction to The Crusade of Richard Lion Heart, translated by Merton Jerome Hubert, Columbia University Press, 1941, pp. 4–27.
[In the following essay, LaMonte studies two accounts of the Crusade of Richard the Lion-Hearted (the Third Crusade) and suggests that both works are derivatives of “a common basic form of the narrative.”]
The poem here presented has unusual value both for the historian and for the student of medieval literature. Of all the accounts of the Crusade of Richard written down by those who lived through it, the Estoire de la guerre sainte of Ambroise and the Itinerarium regis Ricardi provide the most complete and circumstantial narratives that we now possess. They furnish, indeed, the major part of our factual knowledge of that ill-fated expedition. The evidence of an eyewitness is always precious, doubly so in the case of medieval events, for which only meager records were kept or have survived. On the face of it, the Estoire de la guerre sainte is the work of such an eyewitness, and many scholars have taken it at its face value. As will be set forth later in this Introduction, the present editors consider it to be a second-hand version, based directly on the account of one who had seen the events he described. We have reason to believe, however, that the existing text follows the original with so large a degree of exactitude and was written at...
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SOURCE: “Contemporary Letters on the Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders,”The Journal of Jewish Studies, Vol. III, No. 4, 1952, pp. 162–77.
[In the following essay, Goitein attempts to explain the dearth of Jewish accounts of the First Crusade. After examining a letter written in 1100, Goitein theorizes that the lack of Jewish narratives about the victory of the Franks in Jerusalem stems from the fact that local inhabitants viewed the event as one of “only passing importance,” offering little opportunity for the type of “heroic sacrifice” worthy of literary narration.]
So far, not a single Jewish literary source, bearing on the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, has come to light. The absence of a narrative on this event does not seem to be natural, for the Jews living around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean did not completely lack historical interest. They possessed family chronicles and compositions describing special events, both called Megilloth (Scrolls). A number of such Scrolls of the eleventh and the beginning of the twelfth centuries are still preserved, such as the “ ‘Ahima’az Scroll,” the chronicle of a pious, learned, and very influential family which was active in Southern Italy, Egypt, and some adjacent countries; the “Misraim Scroll” of 1012, describing events in the early days of the mad Fatimid Caliph al-Hakim, when he was still regarded as a...
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SOURCE: “The Literature of the Crusades” in Aspects of the Crusades, University of Canterbury, 1962, pp. 10–16.
[In the following essay, Saunders offers a brief overview of literature pertaining to the Crusades, beginning with the contemporary witness William of Tyre. Saunders discusses several other early accounts as well as later treatments of the Crusades through the twentieth century.]
The Holy War seized on the imagination of Europe and called into being a wonderful literature of song and history. Almost every noble family of the West boasted crusaders among its ranks, and a large and growing public became avid for details of these deeds done beyond the seas. Nothing did more to stimulate the production of historical narratives, most of which were compiled in France. The best of the contemporary witnesses, William of Tyre, who was born in Frankish Syria, was one of the master-historians of the Middle Ages. His great work,1 with its fascinating digressions on the manners and customs of the Turks and Arabs, the terrors of the desert, the usefulness of camels, and the sugar plantations of the Levant, was composed in Latin and carried the story down to 1184. It was continued by several hands in French, and one of the earliest books printed in England by Caxton was a translation of William's account of the siege and capture of Jerusalem in 1099.
When the Crusades had...
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SOURCE: “The Epic Cycle of the Crusades” in A History of the Crusades, Vol. VI: The Impact of the Crusades on Europe, edited by Kenneth M. Setton, University of Canterbury, 1989, pp. 98–115.
[In the following essay, Foulet examines the content and form of two epic cycles about the Crusades—the first written at the end of the twelfth century, and the second composed during the 1350s.]
“The Epic Cycle of the Crusades” is the name commonly given to two different cycles, composed in different centuries but related in subject matter, and both written in Old French dodecasyllabic verse. The first was apparently begun toward the end of the twelfth century by a versifier named Graindor of Douai, who rewrote and amalgamated three previously independent poems, La Chanson d’Antioche, Les Chétifs (the Captives), and La Conquête de Jérusalem, which dealt with the First Crusade. Graindor's compilation was later prefaced with an account of the fictitious youthful exploits of Godfrey of Bouillon and the story of his mythical grandfather, the swan-knight; at a later date (the middle of the thirteenth century) a sequel was added which carried the narrative from the end of the First Crusade down to the emergence of Saladin. The second cycle, composed, or at least begun, during the 1350's, comprises three separate poems, Le Chevalier au Cygne et Godefroid de Bouillon, Baudouin de...
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Criticism: The Crusades And The People - Attitudes And Influences
SOURCE: “The Western Attitude toward Islam during the Period of the Crusades,” Speculum, Vol. I, No. 3, 1931, pp. 330–43.
[In the following essay, Munro surveys the extent to which anti-Muslim propaganda was utilized by papal and literary sources during the Crusades to encourage the crusading movement.]
At the time of the First Crusade, very little was known in western Europe about the Muslims and their religion.1 This may seem strange, as Prutz points out2, when we consider how long the Christians had been fighting against the followers of the Prophet and how many pilgrims had visited the Holy Land. In the accounts of the pilgrimages there is little if any information about the Prophet or the beliefs of Islam and very little about the character and customs of the Saracens. What little is said in the earlier accounts is favorable. A passage from Bernard the Wise has often been quoted, ‘The Christians and pagans have there such peace between them, that if I should go a journey, and in the journey my camel or ass which carries my baggage should die, and I should leave everything there without a guard, and go to the next town to get another, on my return I should find all my property untouched.’ In general, except for a short period early in the eleventh century when the mad Hakim persecuted both Jews and Christians, pilgrims were not persecuted by the Muslims and were...
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SOURCE: “The Further Development of the Popular Idea of Crusade” in The Origin of the Idea of Crusade, translated by Marshall W. Baldwin and Walter Goffart, Princeton University Press, 1977, pp. 269–305.
[In the following essay, Erdmann analyzes the various elements—including religious and literary developments—that enabled the “general idea of crusade and war upon the heathen” to take the specific form of the Crusade to the Holy Land.]
Gregory VII's idea of a hierarchical crusade brought general discord rather than united action; alongside it the popular idea of crusade led a life of its own.1
The socioeconomic conditions for the crusading movement were largely present in the second half of the eleventh century, as best illustrated by the fact that a free mercenary soldiery acquired increasing prominence at this time.2 While mercenaries had been regularly used at Byzantium since late Antiquity, the West had rarely seen knights, or soldiers of lower rank, offering their services to lords outside the regular feudal relationship and in return for pay. From the middle of the eleventh century onward, however, the practice became common, an indication that a surplus of trained manpower was available. Mercenaries and crusaders obviously bear a close resemblance to one another, but they also offer a sharp contrast: cash payment for the former, and for the...
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SOURCE: “Picturing the Crusades: The Uses of Visual Propaganda, c. 1095–1250” in The Crusades and Their Sources: Essays Presented to Bernard Hamilton, edited by John France and William G. Zajac, Ashgate, 1998, pp. 195–209.
[In the following essay, Morris examines the types of “visual propaganda”—such as placards and the windows and architecture of churches and halls—used to keep the crusading spirit alive.]
Pictures, commented Gratian, are the ‘literature of the laity’.1 The idea had received its classic statement long before, in Gregory the Great's ruling to Bishop Serenus of Marseilles: ‘pictures of images … were made for the instruction of the simple people, that those who do not know letters may understand the history’. Gregory's words provided the starting-point of medieval discussion of the use of images, and much modern commentary has followed the supposition that religious art was designed as a simple language for the laity.2 Crusading was not a legal obligation, but depended on the ability to persuade. The popes were well aware of the power of visual imagery: the Romans, as Gerhoh of Reichersberg wrote, ‘paint, speak and write, indoors and out’ to communicate their message.3 The use of images naturally took its place alongside sermons, songs and liturgy in the dissemination of crusading ideology.4
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Archer, T. A. The Crusade of Richard I: 1189-92. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1889, 395 p.
Collection of contemporary sources that discuss the history of the Third Crusade, and the involvement of King Richard I in it.
Atiya, Aziz Suryal. The Crusade in the Later Middle Ages. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1938, 604 p.
Study of the crusading movement in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, offering a background of the earlier Crusades, the pilgrimages and propaganda leading up to the later Crusades, and an analysis of these later crusading expeditions.
———. The Crusade: Historiography and Bibliography. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1962, 170 p.
Provides a historiography and bibliography that stresses Arabic literature and sources. The material is arranged to support the author's distinction between the Crusade (as a movement) and the Crusades (as individual military expeditions).
Lamb, Harold. The Crusades: The Whole Story of the Crusades Originally Published in Two Volumes as “Iron Men and Saints” and “The Flame of Islam.” New York: Doubleday & Company, 1930, 490 p.
History of the Crusades based on several eyewitness chronicles.
Newhall, Richard A. The Crusades. New York: Henry Holt...
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