Criticism: Literature Of The Crusades - Essay

Fulcher of Chartres (essay date c. 1095-97)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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.”]


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,...

(The entire section is 1024 words.)

August C. Krey (essay date 1921)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 10274 words.)

Palmer A. Throop (essay date 1940)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 15315 words.)

John I. LaMonte (essay date 1941)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 10194 words.)

S. D. Goitein (essay date 1952)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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 entire section is 7570 words.)

J. J. Saunders (essay date 1962)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 2963 words.)

Alfred Foulet (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

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...

(The entire section is 7511 words.)