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The First Crusaders, 1095-1131 Hardcover – June 13, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (June 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521590051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521590051
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,774,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...remarkable and remarkably fine book....There were times I simply could not put this book down. It is an astonishing achievement." William Chester Jordan, Studies in Christianity and Culture

"Riley-Smith has made a new range of source material available for the study of the First Crusade and the early years of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem." Bernard Hamilton, The International History Review

"There can be no doubt that a volume so rich in ideas and documentation will inspire many to pick up where Riley-Smith has left off." Michael Gervers, Canadian Journal of History

"Riley-Smith's expertise enables him not only to make a convincing argument for the importance of blood relationships to the dominance of families like the Montlhérys but also to offer a variety of incidental clarifications and insights." Speculum

"The First Crusaders, 1095-1131 is a mature work of a leading scholar in the field of Crusade history that displays the results of years of detailed research and thought. Such thorough and extensive use of cartulary evidence is surprisingly rare. The result is a largely fresh view of the old topic of the Crusaders' motivation and a vastly more detailed portrayal of the mechanics and logistics behind the First Crusade. Riley-Smith is careful to include the basic explanations that make this book accessible to beginning students and scholars in other fields. This would be an excellent book to help those outside the field of Medieval West European history to understand how the Crusade movement made sense. It would also help students become acquainted with the European primary sources for the Crusades." International Journal of Middle East Studies

Book Description

Much has been written about the crusades, but very little about the crusaders. What moved them to go? What preparations did they need to make? How did they react to their experiences? This book comes up with detailed answers to these questions, and offers the first systematic reading of a large cache of contemporary source-material. The author identifies family clusters of crusaders across Europe, whose collective commitment manifested itself in support for the new settlements in the east.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ariel Sweet on May 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a balanced and very well researched account of the men and women who participated in the First Crusade. From the amount of information that Riley-Smith includes in this work, it is clear that he really knows his stuff. Sometimes the detailed accounts of the crusader's lives is a little hard to slog through, but it definitely helps support his argument. I would have liked a more general overview of the First Crusade towards the beginning of the work. I don't know much about the history of the Crusades, and I had to piece together the sequence of events as Riley-Smith mentioned them throughout his work. But besides this complaint, the book was a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book, first published in 1997, is a remarkable and original piece of scholarship because it focuses on the First Crusaders from 1095 to 1031, rather than on the First Crusade and its subsequent events. It answers a number of fundamental questions such who were they? Where did they come from? What were their motivations? How did they prepare for such a major endeavour as a Crusade expedition? What happened if and when they came back? (and what happened when they didn't). Finally, the last chapter is an illustrative example: that of the Monthlérys family and its history of crusading.

Jonathan Riley-Smith, in what is a masterpiece and with his usual enthusiasm, has used all available sources but above all the numerous charters which have survived, shifting through them to find answers to the questions above.

His fist point is to show to what extent the First Crusade was a revolutionary event. His second is to show that the impact of the radical ideas of an armed pilgrimage to "free" Jerusalem, whether by penance or devotion, was more felt on certain families from certan regions that were predisposed to respond favorably to such demands. He also stresses the importance of networks of kindreds and family ties, when it came to provisioning and equiping the Crusaders but also to get the word around.

Another main contribution of this book is to show through careful analysis of the charters how the Crusaders prepared and funded their expedition and what it meant in human and material terms to go off on such an expedition, leaving family, often including wife and children behind.
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By Carl E. on October 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book came exactly as indicated. The book is about the first crusaders and their motives behind crusading. The book makes good use of sources to back up its information.
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