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God's War: A New History of the Crusades

God's War: A New History of the Crusades

by Christopher TyermanChristopher Tyerman
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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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674030701
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 02/28/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 1040
Sales rank: 490,020
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.94(d)

About the Author

Christopher Tyerman is Lecturer in Medieval History at Hertford College and New College, University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Maps



Introduction: Europe and the Mediterranean

The First Crusade

1. The Origins of Christian Holy War

2. The Summons to Jerusalem

3. The March to Constantinople

4. The Road to the Holy Sepulchre

Frankish Outremer

5. The Foundation of Christian Outremer

6. The Latin States

7. East is East and East is West: Outremer in the Twelfth Century

The Second Crusade

8. A New Path to Salvation? Western Christendom and Holy War 1100-1145

9. God's Bargain: Summoning the Second Crusade

10. 'The Spirit of the Pilgrim God': Fighting the Second Crusade

The Third Crusade

11. 'A Great Cause for Mourning': The Revival of Crusading and the Third Crusade

12. The Call of the Cross

13. To the Siege of Acre

14. The Palestine War 1191-2

The Fourth Crusade

15. 'Ehud's Sharpened Sword'

16. The Fourth Crusade: Preparations

17. The Fourth Crusade: Diversion

The Expansion of Crusading

18. The Albigensian Crusades 1209-29

19. The Fifth Crusade 1213-21

20. Frontier Crusades 1: Conquest in Spain

21. Frontier Crusades 2: the Baltic and the North

The Defence of Outremer

22. Survival and Decline: the Frankish Holy Land in the Thirteenth Century

23. The Defence of the Holy Land 1221-44

24. Louis IX and the Fall of Mainland Outremer 1244-91

The Later Crusades

25. The Eastern Crusades in the Later Middle Ages

26. The Crusade and Christian Society in the Later Middle Ages



Select Further Reading

Select List of Rulers


What People are Saying About This

Edward M. Peters

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

Diarmaid MacCulloch

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

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