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God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks to recreate, from the ground up, the centuries of violence committed as an act of religious devotion. The result is a stunning reinterpretation of the Crusades, revealed as both bloody political acts and a manifestation of a growing Christian communal identity. Tyerman uncovers a system of belief bound by aggression, paranoia, and wishful thinking, and a culture founded on war as an expression of worship, social discipline, and Christian charity. This astonishing historical narrative is imbued with figures that have become legends--Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus. But Tyerman also delves beyond these leaders to examine the thousands and thousands of Christian men--from Knights Templars to mercenaries to peasants--who, in the name of their Savior, abandoned their homes to conquer distant and alien lands, as well as the countless people who defended their soil and eventually turned these invaders back. With bold analysis, Tyerman explicates the contradictory mix of genuine piety, military ferocity, and plain greed that motivated generations of Crusaders. He also offers unique insight into the maturation of a militant Christianity that defined Europe's identity and that has forever influenced the cyclical antagonisms between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Drawing on all of the most recent scholarship, and told with great verve and authority, God's War is the definitive account of a fascinating and horrifying story that continues to haunt our contemporary world. (20060724)


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God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks to recreate, from the ground up, the centuries of violence committed as an act of religious devotion. The result is a stunning reinterpretation of the Crusades, revealed as both bloody political acts and a manifestation of a growing Christian communal identity. Tyerman uncovers a system of belief bound by aggression, paranoia, and wishful thinking, and a culture founded on war as an expression of worship, social discipline, and Christian charity. This astonishing historical narrative is imbued with figures that have become legends--Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus. But Tyerman also delves beyond these leaders to examine the thousands and thousands of Christian men--from Knights Templars to mercenaries to peasants--who, in the name of their Savior, abandoned their homes to conquer distant and alien lands, as well as the countless people who defended their soil and eventually turned these invaders back. With bold analysis, Tyerman explicates the contradictory mix of genuine piety, military ferocity, and plain greed that motivated generations of Crusaders. He also offers unique insight into the maturation of a militant Christianity that defined Europe's identity and that has forever influenced the cyclical antagonisms between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Drawing on all of the most recent scholarship, and told with great verve and authority, God's War is the definitive account of a fascinating and horrifying story that continues to haunt our contemporary world. (20060724)

30 review for God's War: A New History of the Crusades

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    If you want to keep your preconceived notions of the Crusades as a simple clash of cultures, of a silly and senseless war of religions, then don't read this book. In a little over 900 pages, Mr. Tyerman narrates this peculiar series of wars through the prisim of Western European politics, culture and history, while giving equal weight the the Muslim forces of the period. In it, he reveals the crusades as "Inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia;...elaborate, sincere intolerance;[and If you want to keep your preconceived notions of the Crusades as a simple clash of cultures, of a silly and senseless war of religions, then don't read this book. In a little over 900 pages, Mr. Tyerman narrates this peculiar series of wars through the prisim of Western European politics, culture and history, while giving equal weight the the Muslim forces of the period. In it, he reveals the crusades as "Inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia;...elaborate, sincere intolerance;[and] diversity and complexity of motive and performance." While this is an excellent history, it should not be read by the average reader. It is a heavy tome and has a lot of minute details, not to mention a vocabulary that will tax even the most well read (suggestion: look up the word "sybaritic" before reading this). It can also be very confusing to follow characters as so few had last names during this era, nor are all of their backgrounds fully explained. Also, surprisingly for an Oxford man, there are many simple grammatical mistakes (missing conjunctions, added letters, etc.) that add up after a while. Lastly, during the first 100 pages, Mr. Tyerman seems more intent on winning an argument than telling a story and the last 100 pages, while interesting, could have been left out entirely. But, if you are genuinely interested in knowing more about the Crusades and have the discipline of mind to make it through 900 pages, then this is a must read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ton

    The very best history of the Crusades that I have ever read. Tyerman handles both the traditional crusades to the Holy Land, as well as the political crusades, the crusades against heretics (for example the Albigensian Crusade) as the Baltic crusades. The crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land of course get the most attention, but the other crusades are not short-changed in any way. One of the strengths of this book is Tyerman’s expert use of contemporary sources, both Christian and Muslim The very best history of the Crusades that I have ever read. Tyerman handles both the traditional crusades to the Holy Land, as well as the political crusades, the crusades against heretics (for example the Albigensian Crusade) as the Baltic crusades. The crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land of course get the most attention, but the other crusades are not short-changed in any way. One of the strengths of this book is Tyerman’s expert use of contemporary sources, both Christian and Muslim (and perhaps a few pagan, but I can’t honestly recall at this point), and his efforts to show the reader the status quo in the Holy Land between the crusades. The political situation in the Latin East was of major importance to the results of the crusades, so it’s a sound policy to make clear what was actually going on over there. As an example, the local barons peace-treaties and individual hopes played a large part in the failure of the Second Crusade; even if the army was decimated before it reached Outremer, King Conrad of Germany and Louis of France still had a large army at their disposal. Yet the Siege of Damascus ended in bitter failure, precisely because there was no agreement to be reached about division of spoils. The entrenched positions of the Outremer lords was a vital condition for this failure. Runciman, for example, takes up the Jerusalem apologist William of Tyre (who was almost desperate to attract new lords for the crusade, and so had to shift the blame from the Jerusalem lords to the western newcomers), and follows his line of thinking without really criticizing William, or looking at his motives. Tyerman exposes the biases, and gives a very good picture of what actually happened, as far as it is still possible to tell all these years later. Another strength of this book is that Tyerman takes the time to really explain the background and the theories behind the crusades. The idea of a land-grab (to name just one example) can be put to rest, though there were definitely lords present who wanted to win land form themselves. Another example, for the First Crusade, is that Tyerman shows that a huge propaganda-offensive was employed before preaching really began. He also demonstrates that while Pope Urban II was probably surprised by the response to the call to crusade, he had nevertheless prepared the ground very thoroughly. Much of this was previously denounced as medieval simplicity (princes moved to tears, taking up the cross in an emotional mood), but Tyerman explains how much propaganda and staging went into this. Over 1000 pages, with extensive notes and an index, God’s War is an excellent single volume history of the Crusades. Multi-faceted, erudite and following a clear narrative, this is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in the crusades.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Christopher Tyerman's God"s War has the stated goal rehabilitating the Catholic Crusaders of the the Middle Ages who for most of the last 200 years have been the object of much scorn and derision. Tyerman is particularly anxious to present a more nuanced view of the Crusades than that found in Steven Runciman's history of the Crusades published between 1951 and 1954 which denounced the Crusades in the most uncompromising terms as being an exercise in unwarranted and tremendously destructive aggr Christopher Tyerman's God"s War has the stated goal rehabilitating the Catholic Crusaders of the the Middle Ages who for most of the last 200 years have been the object of much scorn and derision. Tyerman is particularly anxious to present a more nuanced view of the Crusades than that found in Steven Runciman's history of the Crusades published between 1951 and 1954 which denounced the Crusades in the most uncompromising terms as being an exercise in unwarranted and tremendously destructive aggression against the people of the Middle East. The reality is that there is really too much wrong with the Crusaders for them to be ever be completely exonerated. The most notorious outrage in the eyes of Europeans was the Infamous Sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade which occurred due to a highly unfortunate sequence of events. The crusaders were stranded in Italy without enough money to pay for their sea trip to the Holy Land. The Republic of Venice offered to provide the sea transportation to the Holy Land if the Crusaders would conduct a punitive raid against the Constantinople which was Venice's great rival for control of trade in the Eastern Mediterranean. The propriety of this agreement was questionable at best given that Constantinople was Greek and the capital of Orthodox Christianity. Nonetheless attack they did and with extraordinary brutality. After capturing the city, the Crusaders went on a three day rampage of rape, murder and theft that to this day poisons the relations between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. Outrages of similar magnitude to the Sack of Constantinople were conducted against the Muslims in the Middle East that have acquired similarly legendary status. Tyerman does not actually ignore any of the malfeasance he simply chooses to describe it in more muted tones than does Runciman which is his privilege. To me the great strength of Tyerman's book is that he also covers the Crusades in the Baltic, Spain and Southern France something which Runciman and most other historians choose not to do. This is part of a broader effort on the part of Tyerman to show how the Crusades should not be viewed as forerunner to the the European Imperialism in the Middle East which occurred during the great nineteenth century scramble for colonies. Rather Tyerman presents the Crusades as an inherent feature of Europe's catholic culture in the Middle Ages. The Crusaders left for the Middle Ages to serve God, to win a place in Heaven and very frequently to atone for sins. Wars between noble families were common throughout the middle ages as were wars between nobles and their kings. The medieval code chivalry meant that the victors could not punish the losers. However, the losers could be persuaded to leave on a Crusade to redeem themselves. During their lengthy absences the king could assure the complete pacification of the area where the revolt had occurred. Tyerman's book thus not only delivers a great narrative of the Crusades but it also provides tremendous insight into the culture and politics of medieval Europe.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Endre Fodstad

    When I was younger, I saw Terry Jones' "The Crusades" series at a point where I knew relatively little about the subject. One of the historians interviewed, an elderly man leaning on a cane, struck me as rather an openly biased fellow. "Barbarians...they though they were barbarians...." he said, with a sort of self-assured upper-class arrogance that left little doubt as to his own opinion of the crusaders. In the prologue to this book, Tyerman compares himself disfavorably to this historian (I gu When I was younger, I saw Terry Jones' "The Crusades" series at a point where I knew relatively little about the subject. One of the historians interviewed, an elderly man leaning on a cane, struck me as rather an openly biased fellow. "Barbarians...they though they were barbarians...." he said, with a sort of self-assured upper-class arrogance that left little doubt as to his own opinion of the crusaders. In the prologue to this book, Tyerman compares himself disfavorably to this historian (I guess nobody would be surprised to learn that the man in question was Sir Steven Runciman) - Tyermans' "clunking computer keyboard" can hardly be the equal of Runciman's "rapier wit". This is the case. The three-volume A History of the Crusades is a very well written work, and this one can be heavy at times. On the other hand, Tyerman has no cause for shame - God's War is much better history than Runciman's. Much has happened in crusading historyography since the 1950s, and Runciman cannot be read anymore - at least not by me - without irritation at his obvious and unashamed judgemental bias and tendency to create heroes where there were just ordinary humans - in Runciman's case his beloved byzantines and to a lesser extent their muslim foes/friends. So, Tyerman writes better history. The book is thorough, extensive, well-researched, and takes into account the last 50 years - and especially last 20 years, defining years for the history of the crusade phenomenon. It presents the facts that we have and draws reasonable and likely correct explanations for behaviour; there are few "it must have been thus"'es in "God's War" and you can see how well-read the author is. Unfortunately, Tyerman isn't very good at making the history all that interesting. There are too many repetitions, too many names that do not pop up later in any defining or even important roles - and in some cases there are names that pop up later, but as they were simply part of a large collection of people 50 pages earlier you may have overseen them - and his language often leaves something to be desired. I now know what "fissiparous" means. I can hardly avoid it, as Tyerman overused the word to an almost parodic level in the first 3-400 pages. But the book is still good. It is crammed full of information and reasoned explanation for events, it is written with a wide sweep and understanding of events, and it provides you with an updated view on crusade history. Sadly, though, it evades more than three stars. Had the history not been so good, it would have only gotten the one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt Brady

    A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recuitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, and the spread of the crusading notion into regions wholly separate from the traditional Holy Land. In a work as big as this, there are bound to be parts that seem a little dry and uninteresting, but it's hard not to A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recuitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, and the spread of the crusading notion into regions wholly separate from the traditional Holy Land. In a work as big as this, there are bound to be parts that seem a little dry and uninteresting, but it's hard not to be impressed at the depth and breadth of Tyerman's scholarship.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geraard Van Heusden

    Best history af all Crusades I ever read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    Consulted rather than read. Grand work, but not untendentious. Seek other views too. In his preface he discusses the historian's perspective: My perspective is western European... A history of the Crusades could be very different in structure if composed from the viewpoint of medieval Syrian, Egyptian or Andalusian Muslims, or European or Near Eastern Jews, or Balts, Livs or Prussians. However, the essential contours of the subject would, if observed dispassionately, look much the same, because t Consulted rather than read. Grand work, but not untendentious. Seek other views too. In his preface he discusses the historian's perspective: My perspective is western European... A history of the Crusades could be very different in structure if composed from the viewpoint of medieval Syrian, Egyptian or Andalusian Muslims, or European or Near Eastern Jews, or Balts, Livs or Prussians. However, the essential contours of the subject would, if observed dispassionately, look much the same, because this study is intended as a history, not a polemic, an account not a judgement... It's quite possible that I'm simply upset with him because I'm among these Europeans who 'bizarrely' have seen a chivalric figure in Saladin. I confess to that. But is his determined demolition of the legend of Saladin (and Nur al-Din before him) truly in concordance with that preface? Or rather -- isn't the fault in the preface? I don't know that such a history is possible. This hasn't struck me as being one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    James

    Tremendous work..It has resonance for us in the current political climate.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    A well-researched, readable history of the Crusades. Tyerman describes the mix of religious motives and self-interest that drove the crusaders, and shows how this affected situations like the Albigensian crusade, the Teutonic Knights, and the wars between Byzantium and its rivals. The author also spends a good deal of time on how the ideology of crusading developed and how crusading was institutionalized. The narrative can get a bit dry, some of the information feels like trivia, and it helps to h A well-researched, readable history of the Crusades. Tyerman describes the mix of religious motives and self-interest that drove the crusaders, and shows how this affected situations like the Albigensian crusade, the Teutonic Knights, and the wars between Byzantium and its rivals. The author also spends a good deal of time on how the ideology of crusading developed and how crusading was institutionalized. The narrative can get a bit dry, some of the information feels like trivia, and it helps to have background knowledge. Also, the narrative is told almost entirely from the Western perspective. The discussion of genealogies can get tiresome, the narrative jumps around a bit, and Tyerman’s rendition of the historical and geographical setting can be a bit dull at times. Other than those issues,this is a pretty thorough treatment of the subject. A dense but broad, nuanced work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephie Williams

    Very thoroughly reasearch book and honestly presented. Tyerman did an admirable job in not taking sides in the conflicts. The book was somewhat long, but because of it, it was fairly comprehenive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    God's War Christopher Tyerman Read it in a thick and cumbersome paper back weighing in at 1023 pages. Diving deep into the rabbit hole with an engrossing, detailed, events, causes, and outcomes of the premier activity in regards to and concerning the theatres of the Levant, Modern Spain, and Modern Eastern Europe/Western Russia from 1080AD to the death throws and eventual end of the Crusades loosely around 1500AD. Tyerman is considered a British Medieval Historian and a fellow of both Hertford Coll God's War Christopher Tyerman Read it in a thick and cumbersome paper back weighing in at 1023 pages. Diving deep into the rabbit hole with an engrossing, detailed, events, causes, and outcomes of the premier activity in regards to and concerning the theatres of the Levant, Modern Spain, and Modern Eastern Europe/Western Russia from 1080AD to the death throws and eventual end of the Crusades loosely around 1500AD. Tyerman is considered a British Medieval Historian and a fellow of both Hertford College and Oxford University. He is most qualified to write this, with about eight publications already on the subject, a handful more on assorted medieval history, and other erroneous history gems. To say that the Crusades was solely about religious domination and control of Holy Land is a gross misunderstanding of the political nature and motives of Europe and other regions during this time frame. Tyerman delves exhaustively into these motives, customs, history, supplies, logistics, mood and interaction of the papacy, and men of the times, to shed light on the events that would be generally known as the Crusades, in which Tyerman has broken down as (and I have tried to summarize here): The First Crusade - Comprising the initial efforts from the papacy for pursuit of the Holy Land. Encompassing some of the most notorious wild tales of Peter the hermit, the lance, and the bloody capture of Jerusalem. "On 14 June Peter and twelve others dug around the floor of the cathedral until, as evening fell, Peter himself discovered what he and his fellow diggers took to be the point of the Lance sticking out of the ground at the bottom of the excavations. The discovery transformed the army's mood from terrified inertia to awed encouragement…" Frankish Outremer - The precarious position of the Frankish monarchy in Outremer beset by enemies on all sides and with an internal political climate equally as deadly. "Infuriated by his son's cowardice in the face of an attack from Antolia, Joscelin, seriously ill and bed ridden, insisted on leading out his troops borne on a litter. Seeing this, the invaders hurriedly withdrew, On receiving the news, Joscelin, ordering his litter to be put down on the road, died giving thanks to God." The Second Crusade - The attempt to strengthen Frankish Outremer by Lords and Kings making the pilgrimage to the holy city and the creation of the knightly orders. In addition, Alfonso's initial papal approval of a crusade against the Muslims on the Iberian peninsula. "All were united in acknowledgement of the personal human cost, thrown more sharply into relief by the lack of any wider material gain." The Third Crusade - The rise of Saladin and the Ayyubids forced the Frankish Kingdom in Outremer into decline as well as the expedition of the third Crusade to retake Jerusalem helmed by such famous Kings as Richard I, Frederick I, and Phillip II. "The last weeks if the siege were dominated by the contest of the Christian siege engines, catapults, sappers and scaling ladders against the defenders…Each Christian commander possessed his own great stone-throwers…Phillip II had many, his best, called 'Malvoisine' or 'Bad Neighbor', constantly needed repair as it was a prime target of enemy bombardment." The Fourth Crusade - The German Crusade of 1195-1198, the sack of Constantinople, thereby removing Byzantium as an active buffer between Western Christendom and the Turks. "William Trussel left his English lands on Crusade in 1190. Six weeks later his wife was murdered by his bastard half-brother and her body flung into a nearby marl pit." The Expansion of Crusading - The Albigensian Crusades, the destruction of the Cathars, and the conquest of Languedoc. Including the fifth Crusade also known as the famed Children's Crusade, expansion of Crusading in Spain and in the Baltic. In short, expanding the boarders of Western Christendom from boarder threats, encroachment, and against Christianity factions within the Catholic kingdom. "The crusaders' decision to spare Carcassonne the destruction of Beziers was prompted not by humanity but by a realization that whoever was to inherit the lordship of the area needed to rule more than ruins and smouldering charnel houses." The Defense of Outremer - The precarious perch of Outremere in the 13th century, its defense and fall as well as Louis IX efforts in Egypt. "Rhetoric did not win wars. Money, men and ships could." The Later Crusades - Follows some of the more unfortunate efforts as well as Tyerman's summarization, conclusion, etc. "Over subsequent generations, the failure to mount a large, still less effective, western European military campaign against the Mamluks or, later, the Ottoman Turks, shifted the emphasis of wars of the cross while transforming their nature." This is not intended for the casual reader, and even the casual historic reader. Due to the very complex nature of the papacy, feudalism and the regional identities and conflicts it produced; a reader should be very familiar with these ideals before attempting God's War or else allow themselves to be lost in the bulk of the tomb with no light. While Tyerman does a fantastic and scholarly job , it's exactly that, scholarly. Heavily enjoyed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Lately, historical fact doesn't seem important, such as with all the misinformation about the Templar Knights. So, to get the true story I sought out a book on the Templars to get the true story which turned out to be completely different than the crap that passes for history on the History Channel (Ancient Aliens, anyone?). So, when I became interested in the Crusades I found a wealth of legends and stories and politically correct misinformation on what the Crusades were and what effect they ha Lately, historical fact doesn't seem important, such as with all the misinformation about the Templar Knights. So, to get the true story I sought out a book on the Templars to get the true story which turned out to be completely different than the crap that passes for history on the History Channel (Ancient Aliens, anyone?). So, when I became interested in the Crusades I found a wealth of legends and stories and politically correct misinformation on what the Crusades were and what effect they had on Western and Middle-eastern history. Frankly I thought that I was impossible to get the real story as I thought archival material to tell the story properly was no longer extant. Then I stumble onto Christopher Tyerman's excellent "God's War." This is NOT a book for casual reading. At over 900 pages it covers every single aspect of every single Crusade, both large and small, some Crusades of which I had never heard. The research for this book was monumental and certainly represents the life's work of the author. He is certainly blind from reading ancient records and his fingers certainly arthritic from carefully handling ancient scrolls. There is so much detail in this book that occasionally I was forced to take a break to clear my head. However, if you are interested in knowing about the Crusades this book is a must read. I doubt that there will ever be another book about this subject that is so comprehensive. Tyerman describes the origin of "taking the cross," a religious event in which a person pledged to perform some holy war, usually to free the holy land from infidels. The Pope would usually call for the effort but after that he usually lost control to the leasers who led the effort. The book covers in detail the effort of each Crusade, through recruitment, financing the effort, transportation to the combat zone, warfare once there and the results. The Crusades had benefits (such as getting idle combat troops out of Europe) as well as detriments (it was here that the Popes first began selling indulgences for money to finance Crusades, a practice which eventually led to the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation. As you will learn when you read "God's War" it was never simply "Christians vs. Muslims" as Christians were always warring Christians and Muslims were constantly warring Muslims so the groups warring each other were always an amalgamation of alliances between various Christian and Muslim groups which is aptly explained in God's War. With all the resentment some have for the Crusades it is good that there is a book you can go to for the truth and "God's War" is it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Lowery

    I must admit I got lost amidst the details of names and places of the Near East, the Baltics, Iberia, North Africa and Anatolia. But one comes away with the realization that the Middle Ages was a time of constant turmoil and war; did they do anything else? And the *massive* waste of lives and treasure is overwhelming. One insight: the Teutonic Knights conquered and ruled Prussia as an independent state. This explains why the tradition of the military was so strong in that region, reflected in mod I must admit I got lost amidst the details of names and places of the Near East, the Baltics, Iberia, North Africa and Anatolia. But one comes away with the realization that the Middle Ages was a time of constant turmoil and war; did they do anything else? And the *massive* waste of lives and treasure is overwhelming. One insight: the Teutonic Knights conquered and ruled Prussia as an independent state. This explains why the tradition of the military was so strong in that region, reflected in modern times. This book is a necessary adjunct to any general history of the 12th-15th centuries for a balanced view of all that was going on. One of the reasons everything is so confusing is that society in Europe was coalescing into nation-states and here we see the beginning of that process as the nobility competed for power, treasure and land. It also shows the dominance the Church had -- not just political or "religious" -- but embedded in the culture, values and identity of every person, small or great.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Another academic paper pusher making the paper stack high enough so he can get to the highest tax paid pension plan possible. Chapter 1, called "The Origins of Christian Holy War", starts with how a young castellan sells his land to the Church. Wow! This is truly a New history. The Crusades started with this guy. Actually no. Tyerman is just too shallow and too bad of a writer to be able to express himself well. And it gets better. The second paragraph of that first chapter, that talks about the F Another academic paper pusher making the paper stack high enough so he can get to the highest tax paid pension plan possible. Chapter 1, called "The Origins of Christian Holy War", starts with how a young castellan sells his land to the Church. Wow! This is truly a New history. The Crusades started with this guy. Actually no. Tyerman is just too shallow and too bad of a writer to be able to express himself well. And it gets better. The second paragraph of that first chapter, that talks about the FIRST Crusade and which chapter opens the first section creatively named "The First Crusade", well the second paragraph starts with: > Fifty years later, in an account of the Second Crusade, [...] Hence the Second Crusade is the origin of the First Crusade. Lucky for the reader that the UK tax payer is supporting this leech. Or the reader would have been left with the ridiculous idea that the Second Crusade came after the First.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kreso

    I learned a bit on less known Crusades. I'm not particularly in love with the fact: While Normans besieged Bari, Croats went to help Bari, and Normans sacked Croatian capital and tried to establish themselves. They failed. What Normans didn't fail was to sack in 1204 in the Fourh Crusade Croatian city of Zadar (prior to proceeding to Byzantium). All this spiced up with Tyerman is not mentioning Croats at all, as if it was only Greek, Bulgarians, Serbs... fighting the Turks. (Let me put it in persp I learned a bit on less known Crusades. I'm not particularly in love with the fact: While Normans besieged Bari, Croats went to help Bari, and Normans sacked Croatian capital and tried to establish themselves. They failed. What Normans didn't fail was to sack in 1204 in the Fourh Crusade Croatian city of Zadar (prior to proceeding to Byzantium). All this spiced up with Tyerman is not mentioning Croats at all, as if it was only Greek, Bulgarians, Serbs... fighting the Turks. (Let me put it in perspective, in 1593. Germans and Croats of 10000 strong troop defeats 40000 Turks. This is at least a size of any army fighting in western Europe.) To sum it up, I don't know what the author researched by himself, except compiling few earlier books.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Urey Patrick

    Thorough, comprehensive, well written, scholarly - and so filled with medieval names, unfamiliar locations, characters of varying significance - the experience is akin to reading a Russian novel. I found it almost impossible to keep things straight in my own mind as the narrative progressed - who did what when to whom for what reason... and who they were and where they fit in. But then, perhaps that is a telling illustration of the chaotic social, cultural and societal constructs that made the m Thorough, comprehensive, well written, scholarly - and so filled with medieval names, unfamiliar locations, characters of varying significance - the experience is akin to reading a Russian novel. I found it almost impossible to keep things straight in my own mind as the narrative progressed - who did what when to whom for what reason... and who they were and where they fit in. But then, perhaps that is a telling illustration of the chaotic social, cultural and societal constructs that made the medieval ages so medieval? Lots to learn here - but do not take it on lightly!

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.W.D. Nicolello

    A bit baggy, wooden, and in European/Oxford line with absurd, if not suicidal, Islamic apologetics. A test run before the master, Runciman, and his three-volume tome arrived at the bookstore. From what I was able to trudge through, the big book would have served a much higher purpose as toilet paper, tissues, looseleaf, paper towels, &c. A bit baggy, wooden, and in European/Oxford line with absurd, if not suicidal, Islamic apologetics. A test run before the master, Runciman, and his three-volume tome arrived at the bookstore. From what I was able to trudge through, the big book would have served a much higher purpose as toilet paper, tissues, looseleaf, paper towels, &c.

  18. 4 out of 5

    M.J.

    Christopher Tyerman’s massive tome “God’s War: A New History of the Crusades” is a dense, but fascinating counterpoint to the simplistic image of the crusader era in popular imagination. By no means an easy read, the effort invested generally pays off in a nuanced and more complex understanding of the many conflicts that were part of the wars of the cross. I approached this book with a minimal understanding of the crusades, but a desire to address my ignorance. This book, however, isn’t really fo Christopher Tyerman’s massive tome “God’s War: A New History of the Crusades” is a dense, but fascinating counterpoint to the simplistic image of the crusader era in popular imagination. By no means an easy read, the effort invested generally pays off in a nuanced and more complex understanding of the many conflicts that were part of the wars of the cross. I approached this book with a minimal understanding of the crusades, but a desire to address my ignorance. This book, however, isn’t really for the uninitiated. It is not quite a chronological history that is being presented to the reader. It would be more fair to say that the book is arranged in thematic chapters which are largely chronological (such as The First Crusade), but Tyerman doesn’t feel constrained to limit his discussions or arguments to these moments in time if an interesting digression can be made. This increased the degree of difficult associated with reading it as it is too easy to get lost in the names of people and places and the references to future or past events not yet introduced or properly explained.. In that sense, I wish I had taken some early reconnaissance and read through the wikipedia pages on each crusade, at the very least to see how Tyerman’s interpretation of events differs (which is it does). The book can be fairly academic--for good and for ill--but it would be hard to deny that the content doesn’t shine through. Tyerman presents a nuanced picture of the players on all sides and their motivations, looks at the events without romance, and doesn’t get swept up in the temptation to focus exclusively on the movements of armies. In fact, what is more fascinating is that the book is not really a discussion of battles or campaigns, as one would imagine from a famously militant period, but almost an administrative history of the crusade. It is about the emergent, unintended evolution of the crusade as a concept, the incredible and piecemeal effort to mobilize the armies of the West, and how it would infiltrate the culture from a social standpoint even if the actual successes were limited and almost accidental. Overall, it is a worthwhile read, if not an effortless read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin Britton

    For over fifty years Sir Steven Runciman's epic three volume A History of the Crusades was the authoritative source for those seeking to understand that tumultuous period of history but with the publication of God's War the torch of crusader scholarship has been firmly passed to Oxford historian Christopher Tyerman. Over the course of more than a thousand pages, Tyerman introduces and analyses the centuries of religious struggles which makes up the Crusades, a period which manages to be both one For over fifty years Sir Steven Runciman's epic three volume A History of the Crusades was the authoritative source for those seeking to understand that tumultuous period of history but with the publication of God's War the torch of crusader scholarship has been firmly passed to Oxford historian Christopher Tyerman. Over the course of more than a thousand pages, Tyerman introduces and analyses the centuries of religious struggles which makes up the Crusades, a period which manages to be both one of the most infamous in history as well as one of the most misunderstood. Although there had been decades of distrust between the predominantly Christian Europe and the mainly Muslim Middle East, the trigger factor for the launching of the First Crusade in 1095 was the plea for help against the invading Muslim armies from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I to Pope Urban II. There was great fear about the loss of lands to the Muslims and so the Church was more than ready to aid Emperor Alexios in the defence of Byzantium and Christendom and, ultimately, in the recapture of Christian lands starting with Jerusalem. God's War is a wonderfully meticulous account of the Crusades and the personalities and factors behind them. Tyerman is a masterful researcher and has referenced a quite phenomenal number of primary and secondary sources.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    This book about the Crusades is an actual tome - 900 pages in hardcover and that doesn't include the references in the back. I'm simply going to quote another reviewer, Matt Brady, who covered all I would have said: "A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recruitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, This book about the Crusades is an actual tome - 900 pages in hardcover and that doesn't include the references in the back. I'm simply going to quote another reviewer, Matt Brady, who covered all I would have said: "A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recruitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, and the spread of the crusading notion into regions wholly separate from the traditional Holy Land." The description "exhaustive" made me laugh, because this hardcover was soooo heavy. Wish I'd had it on my Kindle. Yes, I finished it, skimming occasionally. As in my previous review of "Four Princes", it's confusing when so many people have the same name (last names mostly absent). That the Crusades filled so much of the Middle Ages, that they involved wars in Spain, Hungary, the Baltics, Egypt, North Africa, (oh the list goes on) as well as Palestine, and their influence on the nations of Europe today, the exploration of the Americas, even the way citizens think of their countries today are all fascinating and food for thought. If you've the patience, I recommend it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jason Wilson

    Alternatively held up as a just war against infidels and vilified a cynical exercise with lasting repercussions in the Middle East, the truth defies simplifying. When her there is any theological justification for the attempts to reclaim Jerusalem, other political factors abound : Both the papacy and later Eastern leaders such as Saladin needed to consolidate their own power and security with victories . How real any threat to Western Europe was as a whole is unclear but there were the stronghol Alternatively held up as a just war against infidels and vilified a cynical exercise with lasting repercussions in the Middle East, the truth defies simplifying. When her there is any theological justification for the attempts to reclaim Jerusalem, other political factors abound : Both the papacy and later Eastern leaders such as Saladin needed to consolidate their own power and security with victories . How real any threat to Western Europe was as a whole is unclear but there were the strongholds in Spain and Sicily and the later attack on Belgrade alongside the eternal danger to, and help requested by , Byzantium . Genuine idealism and political motives were bound to mix inextricably in s more theocratic age and the author is never less than fair . Perhaps the most positive lasting legacy was the truce between Holy Roman Empire and Sultan against papal instruction that permitted the reclaiming if classical knowledge . If the Church abused salvation theology to motivate people , there has been exploitation beyond political proportion on all sides . This is a strong chronicle .

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fred Dameron

    A long read but a good one, if you are interested in Europe from 1095 - 1492. For almost 500 years Crusade was the watch word of Europe. Every Monarch, Pope, Duke, Pasha, and even the Kahn's of the Mongol Empire were influenced by the Crusades. The influence may not have been great, the Mongols, but it was there. The modern European states were started by the Crusades. There Nation hood was established by tales of great deed's done at Acre, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Hattin, and dozens of other location A long read but a good one, if you are interested in Europe from 1095 - 1492. For almost 500 years Crusade was the watch word of Europe. Every Monarch, Pope, Duke, Pasha, and even the Kahn's of the Mongol Empire were influenced by the Crusades. The influence may not have been great, the Mongols, but it was there. The modern European states were started by the Crusades. There Nation hood was established by tales of great deed's done at Acre, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Hattin, and dozens of other locations from Thrace to the Levant. Richard the Lion Hearted, all the Louis of France, Din Nair, Saladin, Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II all left their marks on their nations history and mythology. This read gives you an understanding of what those marks were/are. It is also a starting point to understand how the Mid-Eastern nations today see the West, an extremely important point in this day.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fred Baerkircher

    It's a very responsible book, carefully sourced, lacking in speculation, etc., and it's great information on a vastly interesting subject. My problem with this book is not so much that it's a dense, heavy read, but that's it's unnecessarily so. Why use four clear sentences when one paragraph-length sentence with half a dozen dependent clauses will do? I kind of view that writing style as self-consciously academic, and this book would have conveyed its information much more effectively with a pro It's a very responsible book, carefully sourced, lacking in speculation, etc., and it's great information on a vastly interesting subject. My problem with this book is not so much that it's a dense, heavy read, but that's it's unnecessarily so. Why use four clear sentences when one paragraph-length sentence with half a dozen dependent clauses will do? I kind of view that writing style as self-consciously academic, and this book would have conveyed its information much more effectively with a proper editor.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eliot

    Apparently took me a year to finish, but greatly enjoyed this tome. I found that the author generally balanced the level of information well -- providing a nuanced and comprehensive description of the history and impact of the Crusades without overburdening me with minutiae. He loses a bit of momentum in the final chapter, prior to the conclusion, but the rest of the journey is clear in intent. However, note that I have previously enjoyed dense scholarly works, and your mileage may vary.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sierra

    A good, in-depth history of the crusades, but his indirect style of writing made it difficult for me to follow along with his train of thought at some points. I read this for a class on the crusades and would not recommend it as an introductory textbook.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter Håkansson

    Fantastic book which goes through the crusades and how it affected society during middle ages, a really interesting deep dive on several levels. Really fascinating read and i would recommend it to everyone who is interested in the crusades.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pat Carson

    Big read, worth the effort.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Very concise and detailed overview

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rezer

    A good read that covers all the crusades.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joel Mitchell

    This book provides a thorough overview of the crusades from the late-11th through 16th centuries. This is not the kind of book that makes you hear the clashing of swords through vividly described battles. Rather, it is an exploration of the varied politics, theology, and personal ambition that drove these conflicts. Actual battles warrant little description other than their outcome and (sometimes) a brief summary of any tactics/factors/actions that made a major difference in them. The author appr This book provides a thorough overview of the crusades from the late-11th through 16th centuries. This is not the kind of book that makes you hear the clashing of swords through vividly described battles. Rather, it is an exploration of the varied politics, theology, and personal ambition that drove these conflicts. Actual battles warrant little description other than their outcome and (sometimes) a brief summary of any tactics/factors/actions that made a major difference in them. The author approaches the topic with more neutrality than some. He tries to understand the actual motivating factors without demonizing either side even when expressing disapproval of the many horrific, self-serving things that happened in this time period. The author also does a tremendous job of not over-simplifying the issues involved. He recognizes the complexity and variety of motivations as well as the various kinds of crusades (against Muslims in the Holy Land, against pagans and "lapsed Christians" in Eastern Europe, against "heretics," against the pope's political rivals, against invaders, etc.) A sentence from the final pages that seems to nicely sum up the book is this: "Their deeds confront the historian directly, the sheer physical effort of so much of the endeavour; the inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia; the elaborate, sincere intolerance; the diversity and complexity of motive and performance." This is truly a worthwhile read in trying to understand the crusades. Personally, the more I read about the crusades, the more I regard this as one of the most shameful parts of church history. That the cross, the place of patient suffering and gracious forgiveness for all, should become the emblem of military conquest, the earning of salvation through acts of violence, forced conversion, racism, etc. disgusts me. This book serves as an excellent example of what happens when people twist theology to further their own ambitions and/or of the worst possible consequences of church/state union.

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