God's War: A New History of the Crusades

by Christopher Tyerman

Hardcover, 2006



Call number




Harvard U.P. (2006), Hardcover


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.

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LibraryThing member cstebbins
Basically a very sad story of misplaced religious zeal and what St. Paul calls "a certain fearful looking for of judgment". (The role of indulgences is astonishing.) It must be quite a task to write a long (over 900 pages) synthetic and chronological account such as this, of a truly depressing
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series of events, depressing not so much because they happened as because they were countenanced and encouraged by the representatives of the Christian religion--these wars seem not to have been fought in spite of the Church, but because of it.. I think the author should get due credit for accomplishing this task. I also think it would be impossible for any writer to tell this story without having his presentation determined to a considerable extent by acknowledged or unconscious religious/philosophical commitments. This book is quite evidently written from a bias, but I have had great difficulty figuring out just what the bias is. Throughout the whole book one is reminded of the presence of highly critical observers, who are presented in the text as (generally nameless) contemporaries of the events described, but I wondered at many points whether these were just stand-ins for the author's own (and our) contemporaries. The horrifying viewpoints of the crusade enthusiasts are expressed by quotations with, names and citations. The critics seems suspiciously anonymous. It's not that I don't agree with the critical standpoint. It is difficult to understand how some, including writers and thinkers of ability, have praised and glorified the crusades and the crusading spirit. Still, even granting that the Bible was honored a great deal more than it was read, could this whole episode in the history of the West, surely one of the greatest follies that has ever occupied the mind and strength of Europe, been successfully carried out if there had been such a consistent opposition as seems to appear in these pages?.

Worth reading but not uplifting.
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LibraryThing member flmcgough
An excellent, fresh history of the crusades. This book covers both the broad ideas of the crusades, from the origins of the movement and a general overview of the events, to the very specific, going into great depth about specific rulers and minute details. Even if you have access to no other
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sources on the crusades, you can get a clear picture of the movement though this book. For any student of the crusades or medieval history, this is a must read, and a must own.
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LibraryThing member KirkLowery
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
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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.
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Physical description

1040 p.; 9.3 inches


0674023870 / 9780674023871
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