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 legendsSaladin, Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus. But Tyerman also delves beyond these leaders to examine the thousands and thousands of Christian menfrom Knights Templars to mercenaries to peasantswho, 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.
Tyerman's wonderful book is contemporary medieval history-writing at the top of its game. It is also the finest history of the Crusades that anyone has ever written, fully informed by its predecessors and by the excellent scholarship of the past half century. Trenchantly written on the grand scale and full of vivid detail, clear argument, and sharp judgment, God's War shows how the entire apparatus of crusade became tightly woven into European institutional and social life and consciousness, offering a highly original perspective on all of early European history and on European relations with non-Europeans. It shows no patience with ignorant mythologizing, modern condescension, or cultural instrumentalism.. In short, it constitutes a crusade history for the twenty-first century—and just in time. Edward M. Peters, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
James M. Powell
At a time when interest in the Middle East and the Crusades has reached a new height, Christopher Tyerman has made a significant contribution to the ever-growing shelves of books devoted to this subject. Tyerman's well-written book focuses heavily on the development of ideas about holy war from antiquity onward and on the crusade to the East from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. It is based on a careful reading of both primary and secondary sources and will prove an important resource for a broad audience of scholars, students, and general readers. The comparison with Runciman's history leaps out from the pages of this large volume and the temptation to address it will no doubt seduce others, but this volume is Tyerman through and through. James M. Powell, Professor Emeritus of Medieval History, Syracuse University
Christopher Tyerman has crafted a superb book whose majestic architecture compares with Runciman's classic study of the Crusades…He is an entertaining as well as reliable guide to the bizarre centuries-long episode in which Western Christianity willfully ignored its Master's principles of love and forgiveness. Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Thomas Cranmer: a Life
Paul M. Cobb
This is a magisterial work. In God's War, the Crusades are not just emblematic episodes in a troubled history of Europe's encounter with Islam. Tyerman shows that they are, with all their contradictions—tragedy and tomfoolery, idealism and cynicism, piety and savagery—fundamentally and inescapably human. Paul M. Cobb, Associate Professor of Islamic History, Fellow of the Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame