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The Albigensian Crusade Paperback – June 15, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"An admirably luicid account of the tragic demise of Languedoc's unique civilisation . . . Scholarship carried with élan."--R.L. Storey, The Times (London)

"Excellent . . . A model of sound history written with style and intelligence for the non-specialist reader."--Listener

"Sumption writes with fluent scholarship and with amiable and ironic succinctness. He never fails to keep his narrative lively with the particular and the pertinent. He is excellent on the tactics and spirit of medieval warfare."
--Frederic Raphael, Sunday Times

About the Author

Jonathan Sumption is the author of Trial by Battle and Trial by Fire, the first two volumes of his history of the Hundred Years' War. He lives in England.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New ed. edition (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571200028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571200023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
THE ALBIGENSIAN CRUSADE by Jonathan Sumption is an extremely well written and readable book. Sumption was a history fellow at Magdalene College until 1975, and his historical training shows. His writing is accurate, detailed, clear, and concise. He currently serves as a QC practicing commercial law, but thank goodness he takes time away from his day job to write history. I will certainly read some of his other works. Sumption's book on the Albigensian Crusade(s) was first published in 1978, but never fear, his material is as current today as it was 22 years ago.
I found the sections describing the series of confusing battles de Montfort fought in Languedoc from Beziers to Murat, as well as the ever changing loyalties of the southern nobiliy and the mood swings of the Catholic Church quite easy to follow. He writes in a brisk style that provided me, a non-military enthusiast, with enough information to understand what took place without dampening my tiny enthusiasm for battle. In addition to his very rich text, Sumption's book is filled articulate maps showing the various sites where Simon de Montfort waged his crusader war. If you're about to visit Languedoc, this is the book to take along.
Sumption writes like Stephen Ambrose. Both provide on-the-ground detail while they simultaneously explain what was going on back at headquarters (Rome in Sumption's book). They personalize the impersonal. You also come to understand why leadership is so critical, why troops matter, why casualties happen inspite of the best plans, and just how wonderful De Montfort's tactical manuevering really was.(Yes, I know Ike was a strategist.)
Sumption writes dynamic and interesting passages, but he eschews the sensationalism found in O'Shea's book on this topic.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Chris Johnson on November 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anyone of Huguenot extraction knows that the French have traditionally been rather rough on the religiously unorthodox. This book tells the story of France's most savage crusade, its war against the dualist Cathars of Languedoc and those who sheltered and supported them. But the Albigensian Crusade, as this book points out, was more than a war against heretics; it changed the king of France from a regional lord to a great European power.
Jonathan Sumption tells this story as well as I've ever read it. His research is meticulous and he never fails to be interesting. This is an excellent contribution to the subject as well as a fascinating read. Highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Cooper on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
There are no very obvious signs of the Albigensian heretics in Albi, which is dominated by a wonderful Cathedral, built after the suppression of the heresy, as a monument to Catholic orthodoxy. Nor will you find anything, other than ruins, in the hill towns where the Cathars made their last stand. To find out about them, you have to read the books. Jonathan Sumption's history of the Albigensian Crusade is as fine a narrative, and an explanation, as you will find.

In England, we used to take a simple view of the Crusades in general, based on Sir Steven Runciman's great history. They were largely a feature of the twelfth century; and there were really only three - the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, all launched against the Holy Land. Later expeditions, against Greek Orthodox Christians in Constantinople, Muslims in the Maghreb and Egypt, heretics in the South-West of France, the Prussians and Lithuanians in the Baltic, and even the Pope's political enemies in Italy, were an aberration, indeed they were not really Crusades at all, but perversions of a noble ideal; but Runciman's view of the matter now seems too narrow. The studies of Norman Housley, Jonathan Riley-Smith and others have broadened the picture, geographically, historically and ideologically. There were many Crusades apart from the first three; and they continued right throughout the Late Middle Ages, indeed into the Early Modern period. As a result of this revisionism, the Crusades have been to some extent rehabilitated, at least among medievalists, though the Pope felt moved to apologise for them in the year 2000. `Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner'.

Does Jonathan Sumption's book rehabilitate the Albigensian Crusade?
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Rodrigo Fenton on April 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
I stumbled on this book in a library in England, and since I've read all the important works on the Levant Crusades, I decided to check out the Crusades on Europe. The book is extraordinary, explaining the chain of events since the advent of the Cathars into Southern France to the creation of the Inqusition and the anexation of Tolousse into the French crown. You feel the despair in the Albigensian nobles, from almost certain defeat, to the joy of victory to the final summision by the French Crown. The military genius of Simon de Monfort, the indecisions of the Count Raymund, the greediness of the papal prelates are among the many pictures you see. Tha Author did an extraordinary job to fill the voids where no history has been written with creativity (read the notes to each chapter). If you are looking for a book that gives you the general outlook of the Albigensian Crusade, get this one.
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