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May 2022


by Dan Jones  

Head of Zeus

As the name would suggest, the book Crusaders by the author Dan Jones is all about the crusades, from the first one preached in 1095 all the way up to the modern legacy of crusading (afterword). The best known crusaders are of course those whose objective was to capture the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem, and, later, to consolidate these gains. Historically significant as these crusades may have been, they were by no means the first Christian holy war (the Spanish Reconquista, which started earlier, also had a religious aspect and later would also gain official papal sanction with the associated crusading benefits) nor the only areas where one could enjoy crusader status. Examples of other crusades are the crusades against the Baltic pagans, the Albigensian crusade against perceived heretics in the south of France, whilst the Reconquista (military effort to restore the whole of Spain to Christian rule) also had the status of a crusade. Towards the end of the crusading era, the popes would use the potency of crusading in the popular imagination to wage wars even against Christian rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor (Frederick II). The book is interesting to read because it also explores the ideological, political and economic motives for crusading. Some of these are: strong Christian identity and the belief in papal promises of salvation for crusaders, the prestige and status of a crusader or the possibility of gaining land and wealth. The narrative is further enriched by the inclusion of testaments of chroniclers, both on the Muslim and Christian side of the conflict, as primary sources. One of the most relevant topics the book delves into is the enduring legacy of the crusades, the exploration of which begins with determining when the crusades actually ended. This is a matter of disagreement between historians with many arguing that the crusades ended with the capitulation of the crusader states in the Levant and the decline in crusading that followed, whilst others argue that the crusades nominally ended with the capture of Malta (where the Knight of St. John –the Hospitallers- had been based for many centuries) by Napoleon Bonaparte. Whenever they ended, the crusades indisputably had results still felt to this day, such as, the crippling of the Byzantine Empire in 1204 or the spread of Christianity into the Baltic. Even today, jihadists refer to westerners as crusaders, whilst crusades continue to inspire books, films and video games in the western world, with the tale of the crusades being perceived as one of the cornerstones of the history of western civilization.

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Νέα εικόνα (23).bmp

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