Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land

Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land

by Norman Housley
     
 

In a series of massive military undertakings that stretched from 1095 to 1291, Christendom’s armies won, defended, and lost the sacred sites of the Holy Land. Many books have been written about the Crusades, but until now none has described in detail what is was like to take part in medieval Europe’s most ambitious wars. This vividly written book draws

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Overview

In a series of massive military undertakings that stretched from 1095 to 1291, Christendom’s armies won, defended, and lost the sacred sites of the Holy Land. Many books have been written about the Crusades, but until now none has described in detail what is was like to take part in medieval Europe’s most ambitious wars. This vividly written book draws on extensive research and on a wealth of surviving contemporary accounts to recreate the full experience of crusading, from the elation of taking up the cross to the difficult adjustments at home when the war was over.

Distinguished historian Norman Housley explores the staggering logistical challenges of raising, equipping, and transporting thousands of Christian combatants from Europe to the East as well as the complications that non-combatant pilgrims presented. He describes the ordinary crusader’s prolonged years of difficult military tasks, risk of starvation and disease, trial of religious faith, death of friends, and the specter of heavy debt or stolen homelands upon arriving home. Creating an unprecedented sense of immediacy, Housley brings to light the extent of crusaders’ sacrifices and the religious commitment that enabled them to endure.

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Editorial Reviews

America

"Accessible to a general audience. . . . A study that succeeds in providing us with a better understanding of what the experience of crusading entailed."—Vincent Ryan, America

— Vincent Ryan

Christian Century

“Distinctive and compellingly contemporary . . . fascinating.”
—Timothy Renick, Christian Century

— Timothy Renick

America - Vincent Ryan
"Accessible to a general audience. . . . A study that succeeds in providing us with a better understanding of what the experience of crusading entailed."—Vincent Ryan, America
Christian Century - Timothy Renick
“Distinctive and compellingly contemporary . . . fascinating.”
—Timothy Renick, Christian Century

Canadian Journal of History - Laurence W. Marvin
"Housley demonstrates an effortless familiarity with a wide variety of primary sources, iconography, and secondary literature. . . . It essentially represents the state of crusade studies in the twenty-first century. . . . Fighting for the Cross will both inform and entertain students and the general public. At the same time the work is deeply grounded in the source material and current secondary literature about crusading. The fact that it covers so many topics concisely, but well, is what makes the book particularly valuable."—Laurence W. Marvin, Canadian Journal of History
Concordia Theological Quarterly - Adam S. Francisco
". . . it does a fantastic job of drawing readers into the medieval world and describing the crusades in light of that world. . . . for anyone seeking to understand the events and ethos of the crusading enterprise in the Holy Land, Fighting for the Cross is highly recommended."—Adam S. Francisco, Concordia Theological Quarterly
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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Library Journal

The Crusades, the name given to the series of armed campaigns from 1095 to 1291 C.E. by Western Europeans seeking to capture or recapture the Holy Land from Muslim control, is among the most studied, and popular, topics in medieval European history. Housley (history, University of Leicester; Contesting the Crusades) examines the experience of the Crusades from the point of view of the Europeans who made the journey, drawing on primary sources such as the sermons of the preachers and prelates seeking volunteers, letters home, and the many histories and chronicles written by crusaders. Within sections devoted to specific parts of crusading, such as the calling of a new crusade, the preparations, the journeys by land or sea, the fighting, and the physical and spiritual needs of crusaders, Housley focuses on how each aspect is reflected in the experiences of individuals. The results provide a deeper view into the lives of crusaders than is found in more general Crusades histories. One minor disappointment comes from the lack of comment in the text about the many illustrations provided throughout, though Housley's maps are helpful. Highly recommended for academic libraries.
—Lawrence Milliken

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300118889
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
11/11/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
376
Sales rank:
1,221,687
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

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