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Chronicles of the Crusades (Penguin Classics) Paperback – March 31, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449983
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Geoffrey of Villehardouin was born in around 1150. In 1185 he was appointed to the office of marshal of Champagne, and having taken the cross in 1199 he was subsequently appointed as an envoy by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade. He was privy to crucial decisions made throughout the course of the crusade, which ended with the conquest of Constantinople from its Greek Christian rulers in April 1204. His account of The Conquest of Constantinople relates the controversial history of the Fourth Crusade and the early years of the Latin empire from the perspective of a well-informed insider. John of Joinville was born in 1224 or 1225. In 1233 he inherited the office of seneschal of Champagne that would give him a leading role in the administrative affairs of the county. He took the cross for the first crusade led by King Louis IX of France. Joinville became a close friend of Louis IX and after their return to France he was a familiar figure at the royal court. Joinville refused to join Louis on his second crusade and was therefore not present when the king died in 1270. He honoured his friend's memory by giving evidence to the enquiry that established the king's sanctity and by composing The Life of Saint Louis as a record of his holy words and good deeds.

Customer Reviews

The accounts are very easy to read & follow.
History buff
This is an excellent read about the 4th Crusade, it is well worth reading for anyone interested in this part of our history.
T. J. Warfield
It does a great job showing how the Templar's contemporaries viewed them and their actions while on Crusade.
C. Repicky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McDorman on January 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
These two accounts are highly readable, and it is wonderful to have them packaged together like this. Geoffrey's chronicle of the 4th Crusade (the one that sacked Constantinople) is an awesome perspective on an often-maligned event. Jean's account of the 7th Crusade and the life of St. Louis is even better. With Jean we catch a rare glimpse of a sensitive warrior fully capable of expressing a wide range of moods and emotions. Both chronicles are well worth reading and will provide the historian and the non-historian alike with hours of enjoyment.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on February 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
The two accounts in _Chronicles of the Crusades_ provide readers with fascinating accounts of the 4th and 7th crusades. Villehardoun's observations of the sack of Constantinople leave some questions regarding whether it was a conspiracy to destroy the city or not; ultimately it is up to the reader to decide... It does, however, provide a window into 12th century warfare and politics.

Joinville's chronicle of the 7th crusade into the Holy Land was similarly fascinating, providing more information about a European's impressions of the Near East and Christian-Islamic conflict than Villehardoun. I much preferred Joinville for this reason. Together, both accounts provide a well-rounded history of the time and place - a tremendously interesting read for professional and armchair historians alike.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
These are both excellent accounts of the crusades. Villehardouin proves insightful in what he does not say. A small army of crusaders faces unbelievable odds in Constantinople and yet somehow they conquer and hold this territory. It brings up the question of whether the conquest was an accident or a conspiracy, and a reader can answer that question through careful reading. There are other books wholly committed to this argument of conspiracy vs. accident.
Joinville gives an equally appreciable account of a crusade, this time a failed attempt in Egypt by Saint Louis. Joinville is an author that gives a huge amount of information. The integrity of Louis is apparent as well as the mistakes made by the crusaders (Joinville rarely places direct blame of any failure on Louis, noting instead Louis's brother and his failures.)
This is a well introduced book and is not difficult to read in my opinion.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Walter S. Botwinski on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Chronicles of the Crusades is a chronicle of the Crusades from two of the senior participants who took part in two of the Crusades. The book covers the descriptions of the fourth and the seventh crusades as seen through the eyes of Geoffroy De Villehardouin (who took part in the fourth crusade) and Jean De Joinville (who took part in the seventh crusade). The two chronicles were translated for this book by Margaret Shaw. The book was published in 1963 around the time of her death. The two chronicles give us a look into the two crusades as chronicled through the eyes of two important noblemen of their time. This in itself will taint the purity of the chronicle. Chronicles such as these lay out the justifications for the crusades and tend to gloss over the blemishes. These two are no different. They were written to glorify the Crusaders and surely the writers would not put on ink anything that would later detract from their names. These chronicles do an excellent job of showing how the two chroniclers thought and how they wanted these two crusades remembered. When this book is read this should be kept in mind. The average crusader was a mixture of those driven by greed and religious extremists. The crusaders were allowed to plunder the lands they conquered. In today's terms they were allowed to take war trophies, thus stealing from the inhabitants of the land. They were barbaric in their means of taking the land and the raping of women was allowed, if the women were not of the Christian faith. The fourth crusade received condemnation on its behavior when the Christian city of Constantinople was sacked. This was due to the crusaders raping of the women. This of course is not pointed out by Villehardouin. The chroniclers mention a little of the plunder, but do not mention anything else.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Warfield on September 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an excellent read about the 4th Crusade, it is well worth reading for anyone interested in this part of our history. I learned things I had really never thought about, and I'm a young 80 years old. I Purchased this through my Kindle which I am seldom without.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Texas_Gal24 on December 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this book for a Crusades class, but I actually ended up enjoying it! I only had to read the part written by Villehardouin and not the part by Joinville. Villehardouin was very good at telling the descriptions of the events without being too biased and in a very interesting way. I would recommend it for sure to anyone who is interested in the Crusades.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JH VINE VOICE on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book includes two chronicles about the crusades translated by Margaret Shaw. Geoffrey of Villehardouin's chronicle The Conquest of Constantinople covers the period of 1199 to 1207 from the planning on the "fourth crusade" to death of Boniface the Marquis de Montferrat. Jean of Joinville's chronicle Life of Saint Louis is about King Louis IX of France. It tells the tale of how King Louis ascended to the throne and Jean of Joinville's firsthand account of their adventures during the seventh crusade. The style and content of the chronicles is very different.

Villehardouin at the beginning of The Conquest of Constantinople was the Marshall of Champagne under Thibault the Count of Champagne who took the cross initiating the Fourth Crusade along with a couple of his cousins Louis the Count of Blois and Baldwin (Baudouin) Count of Flanders and Hainault. Villehardouin was one of the principal players in the "fourth crusade" often representing the crusaders in negotiations (including negotiating transport of the crusaders with the Venetians) and participated in numerous battles. He was definitely in a position to provide a complete history of the crusade and its aftermath. Indeed Villehardouin's account often is referenced and cited by modern historians.

Yet in reading Villehardouin's chronicle I often found that he was distorting the politics and affixing blame on others to deflect the immorality of his actions and the other leaders of the crusaders. His chronicle often protects the characters of Boniface the Marquis de Montferrat and Enrico Dandolo the Doge of Venice. The Marquis at the end of Villehardouin's chronicle offers a grant of land to Villehardouin and it was Villehardouin who recommended the Marquis to lead the crusade after Thibault's death.
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