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Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land Hardcover – November 11, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Narrative histories of the Crusades tend toward bloody accounts of a particular Crusade. This imaginative thematic treatment draws on all the Crusades to portray them coherently as a centuries-long institution of armed pilgrimage, with its own religious ideology, economic imperatives, social dynamics and folkways. After a lucid synopsis of the seven major Crusades from 1096 to 1291, British historian Housley (University of Leicester) offers a topical survey of the crusader experience, drawn from letters, songs and other primary sources. He covers the recruitment of crusaders by superstar preachers; the horrific journeys by sea (with terrifying storms and wormy food) or land (with Turkish attacks and no food at all); protocols for plundering cities; attitudes toward the Muslim foe; commoners' resentment for their overlords; and the occasionally triumphant but often dejected homecoming. The chapter on crusader warfare, which corrects the usual overemphasis on knightly cavalry, is especially good. Throughout, Housley focuses on crusading as a sincere, if easily misdirected, expression of Catholic belief, a march toward personal salvation through the collective recovery of the Holy Land. This rich, multifaceted study imparts a deeper understanding of why and how medieval Christendom went to war. Photos, maps. (Sept.)
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