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Crusader Castles 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521799133
ISBN-10: 0521799139
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The most famous medieval wars of European expansion, the Crusades, were originally military expeditions sponsored by the papacy for recovery of Christian sites in Palestine. The Crusades also provided land and opportunity for poor and restless knights. Castles were thus built by an alien aristocracy in a hostile environment to provide shelter and to maintain control over the surrounding countryside. After a sketch of the literature and of fortifications before the crusades, Kennedy (history, Univ. of St. Andrews, Scotland) explores the evolution of castle styles, siege techniques, and defensive technologies, relying on the evidence of both Western and Muslim chroniclers and of archaeology. Although this old-fashioned history is attractively written and extensively illustrated, greater attention to social and environmental conditions would have given a fuller picture. For research and general collections.
Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'... a welcome addition to the literature of military architecture. With well-chosen drawings and excellent photographs taken by the author, it provides one of the best-balanced accounts of the fortification of Palestine in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries ... a thoughtful and illuminating survey of the entire Crusader military building effort in its different phases.' The Times Literary Supplement

'... a brilliant survey ... Fully illustrated, Dr Kennedy's authoritative account demonstrates how the castles were used in war and peace.' Jerusalem Post

'The appearance in affordable paperback of this elegant, erudite and accessible study first published in 1994 ... is welcome. Professor Kennedy's lightly-carried learning is deployed in a style that consistently engages.' C. J. Tyerman, The English Historical Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521799139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521799133
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book successfully pulls off the difficult trick of being both a serious scholarly text and an enormously engaging introduction to the history and architecture of Crusader castles for the lay reader. The book is an obvious labor of love, which helps to account for its great charm. You first get a sense of this on the dedication page - "For Xana, with love, to remind her of Syrian days" - whereby Kennedy expresses his appreciation for his daughter's companionship on his rovings around Syria. (In his "Acknowledgements," he also credits his daughter with persuading him "to complete the climb to Bourzey when the spirit was willing but the flesh was getting a bit weak.")

If you needed any further confirmation that Kennedy is a scholar with a puckish sense of humor and a droll wit, you get it at the beginning of his "Note on Names," where he wryly observes that, "Like the naming of cats, the naming of Crusader castles is a complicated problem." Kennedy's writing voice conjures to mind images of a cozy library in some great English country house, where your host relaxes in a satin smoking jacket while both of you swirl brandy in your snifters and discourse about the comparative merits of crumbling castles on the western fringes of Asia. The book's first chapter - a survey of the development of Crusader castle studies from the mid-nineteenth century to the present - beautifully encapsulates Kennedy's discursive style and story-telling skills. "[Emmanuel Guillaume] Rey's life is something of a mystery," he muses, and you want to lean forward from your chair on the opposite side of the fireplace and say, "Tell me more." And he does, with an notable eye for the memorable quote, such as T.E.
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Format: Paperback
This book was first published in 1994 and it may, therefore, not be totally up to date and not include some of the latest findings or discussions on Crusader castles. It remains nevertheless my favourite, and certainly the best introduction and general survey to Crusader castles that I know of and because of this, it is still worth five stars.
The first reason for finding this book extremely valuable is its clarity.

It shows particularly well the evolutions in fortifications, from those existing in the West and the East prior to the Frist Crusade, to those of the 12th century in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the northern Crusader States to the fortresses of the 13th century in each of the remaining principalities of Outremer, including those of the Military Orders. It also highlights the two main reasons for these changes. One was the increasing shortages in military manpower, with the growing inability of the Franks to meet the Moslems in the field after Hattin, when large forces of Crusaders were not present. The other was the evolutions of siege warfare; in particular the talent deployed by the Moslems in terms of sapping and mining and siege artillery with the counterweight trebuchet.

Another interesting trend, which can also be found in the two books on Crusader warfare from R.C. Smail for the 12th century and Christopher Marshall for the 13th and which is well shown in this volume is the growing inability of the lay lords, counts of Tripoli, princes of Antioch and kings of Jerusalem to provide for the defence of their castles and towns.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well researched and historically the best book on its subject. Still used as a University text to this day in many Medieval programs across the world.
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