Holy war: Christianity versus Islam. Brutality, greed, honour, chivalry, the clink of chain mail, the clatter of hooves, and the call of the muezzin. Such are the stock ingredients of the Crusades. But to what extent do the stereotypes fit with the reality? In his remarkable new book, Jonathan Phillips explores this conflict of ideas, beliefs and ...
Holy war: Christianity versus Islam. Brutality, greed, honour, chivalry, the clink of chain mail, the clatter of hooves, and the call of the muezzin. Such are the stock ingredients of the Crusades. But to what extent do the stereotypes fit with the reality? In his remarkable new book, Jonathan Phillips explores this conflict of ideas, beliefs and cultures and shows both the contradictions and the diversity of holy war: friendships and alliances between Christians and Muslims; triumphs of diplomacy rather than the sword; the launch of crusades against Christians, and calls for jihads against Muslims. Phillips draws on contemporary writings - on chronicles, songs, sermons, travel diaries, letters, financial accounts and peace treaties - to throw a brilliant new lights on people and events we thought we knew well: the bloody conquest of Jerusalem in the First Crusade; the titanic struggle between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin; the breathtaking naivety of the Children's Crusade; and the ruthless suppression of the Knight's Templar. Less familiar but no less central are the stories of the intimidating and astute politician, Queen Melisende of Jerusalem; the fiery preacher, Al-Sulami; the Arab-speaking excommunicate and Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II. Over time the Crusades were directed against a variety of opponents: not only Muslims in the Middle East but against Cathar heretics, political enemies of the papacy, the Mongols, pagan tribes of northern Europe, and the Ottoman Turks. Although the notion of fighting for one's faith fell into disrepute in the Enlightenment, in a final chapter Jonathan Phillips traces the crusading impulse up to the present day - to George W. Bush's characterization of the war on terrorism as a crusade. Vivid, original and illuminating, "Holy Warriors" provides an unparalleled account of one of the great cultural, political and religious movements in world history.
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Publishers Weekly, 2010-01-04 University of London historian and History Channel contributor Phillips (The Second Crusade) superbly condenses the four centuries of the Crusades into a single, easily accessible volume. Islamic as well as Western sources are utilized to demonstrate the similarities between jihad and crusading. The narrative weaves a tragic tapestry, beginning with the bloodily successful First Crusade, through the establishment of the Crusader states, to the failure of subsequent Crusades, the victories of the Muslim "counter-Crusade," and the continuing legacy of religious and cultural hatred that permeates the Holy Land. Individuals such as the "charismatic" Queen Melisende of Jerusalem; the "Leper King," Baldwin IV; the Muslim warriors Nur ad-Din and Saladin; England's Richard the Lionheart; and many others play major and minor roles in the creation of a past that still lives today. Episodes including the "breathtaking naivete" of the Children's Crusade and the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula are effectively described. Concluding chapters examine the impact of the Crusades since the 15th century. Regrettably, little attention is given to the crusading spirit resurrected by the 1571 Battle of Lepanto. But this is an outstanding summary of centuries of religious strife, the effects of which are with us still. 8 pages of b&w photos, 5 maps. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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