This book is an intriguing and full account of the early crusades with a well-balanced emphasis on the role of women in the states that the crusaders created in the Holy Land. It is a lively story told on the basis of thorough and up-to-date research. The star is Melisende, Queen of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and a woman whose wisdom and power are all the more remarkable for the fact that the crusaders, once established, quarreled and fought amongst themselves. The supporting cast includes the other important women in the crusading states as well as the men who doomed them by their irrepressible internecine wars. The reader looks forward to hearing more about Melisende. (Professor Jeffrey Burton Russell, University of California Santa Barbara)
Take a gifted writer-historian, a strong-willed medieval queen, and the result is a biography that is as impossible to put down as the most suspenseful novel. (Sharon Kay Penman, New York Times Bestselling author of Lionheart)
This is an amazing study of an amazing woman in amazing times---the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Crusades, a lost world that continues to intrigue us. Using every scrap of surviving evidence, Sharan Newman pieces together a detailed life and times of the remarkable Queen Melisende who ruled the Crusader prize city, Jerusalem, in her own right in the mid-1100s. Long a staple of romantic legend, Melisende emerges here as a genuine historic presence. (Margaret George, author of The Memoirs of Cleopatra)
With her impressive narrative drive, Sharan Newman here invites us to consider attempts by the "Franks" to forge new Christian societies in the disputed Holy Lands of the Near East during the twelfth century. In spite of exhausting endless warfare in the region--sometimes among and sometimes between different ethnic and religious groups--hereditary female power was briefly a norm. Using every possible historical record, Newman focuses a strong light on Queen Melisende as daughter, wife, mother, sponsor, and (mostly) as a moderate and independent ruler. This book is a fine historical achievement, an absolute "must read" for all of us worried about the misery of the Near East then and now. Grieve for Aleppo! (Bonnie Wheeler, Southern Methodist University, series editor, The New Middle Ages)
About the Author
Sharan Newman is a medieval historian and award-winning author of nonfiction and fiction. Her books include The Real History Behind the Templars and The Real History Behind the Da Vinci Code . She's been featured in The Catholic World Report, The Oregonian, Fortean Times, Yahoo! Voices, and on TLC. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.