The Concise History of the Crusades

265 Pages · 2013 · 3.9 MB · English

  • The Concise History of the Crusades

    The Concise History

    of the Crusades The Concise History

    of the Crusades

    Third Edition

    Thomas F. Madden


    Lanham • Boulder • New York • Toronto • Plymouth, UK Published by Rowman & Littlefield

    4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706


    10 Thornbury Road, Plymouth PL6 7PP, United Kingdom

    Distributed by National Book Network

    Copyright © 1999, 2006, 2013, 2014 by Rowman & Littlefield

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any

    electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems,

    without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote

    passages in a review.

    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    The concise history of the crusades / Thomas F. Madden. — Third Edition.

    pages cm. — (Critical issues in world and international history)

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    1. Crusades. I. Title.

    D157.M33 2013



    ISBN: 978-1-4422-1574-0 (cloth : alk. paper)

    ISBN: 978-1-4422-3116-0 (electronic)

    The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of

    American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper

    for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

    Printed in the United States of America Contents

    List of Maps vi

    Preface vii

    1 The Call 1

    2 The First Crusade 15

    3 The Rise of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the

    Second Crusade 35

    4 The Decline of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the

    Third Crusade 61

    5 The Fourth Crusade 93

    6 Crusading at Home 115

    7 The Fifth Crusade and the Crusade of Frederick II 135

    8 The Crusades of St. Louis 155

    9 The Later Crusades 173

    10 The Legacy of the Crusades 197

    Conclusion 207

    Glossary 211

    Select Bibliography 215

    Sources in Translation 223

    Index 229

    About the Author 243


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    (cid:129) (cid:129)

    ChapMtearp sTitle

    The Mediterranean world about AD 1000 xii

    The First Crusade, 1095–1099 14

    The Near East after the First Crusade, 1099–1144 34

    The Second Crusade, 1146–1148 51

    The Near East after the Second Crusade, 1144–1174 60

    The Near East after the Conquests of Saladin, 1187–1190 73

    The Third Crusade, 1188–1192 78

    The Fourth Crusade, 1201–1204 92

    Constantinople at the time of the Fourth Crusade 103

    Languedoc at the time of the Albigensian Crusade 118

    The Fifth Crusade, 1218–1221 134

    The Crusades of St. Louis 154

    St. Louis in Egypt, 1249–1250 159

    Crusade Plan of Maximilian I, 1518 190


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    hen the first edition of this book appeared in 1999 the world was a

    different place. Then, the crusades were a faraway concept, an odd series of

    events in a distant and murky medieval past. Wars of religion seemed largely

    irrelevant to citizens of a modern secular civilization. That changed. Terror-

    ist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, and subsequently in

    Europe and the Middle East reminded us all that there remain people in the

    world willing to kill or to be killed for their religion. Since then radical Mus-

    lims, known as Islamists, have continued to call on their coreligionists to take

    part in a worldwide jihad against the people of the West, whom the Islamists

    often refer to as “crusaders.”

    For their part, many in the West worry that their actions actually do re-

    semble those of the medieval crusaders. Significant American and European

    military forces, for example, remain stationed in the Middle East. And Israel,

    which enjoys significant Western support, is planted on soil that was once the

    medieval crusaders’ kingdom. Western diplomats and politicians are careful to

    avoid any mention of the medieval crusades around Muslim leaders, lest they

    appear insensitive or conjure up memories of the harm done by the medieval

    holy wars against them. Unfortunately, these sentiments and approaches are fu-

    eled on both sides by an extremely weak understanding of the actual crusades or

    the medieval world in which they flourished. As a result, decisions—sometimes

    tragic decisions—are made based on deeply flawed concepts of history. By ex-

    plaining just what the crusades were and were not, this book is an attempt to

    illuminate the complex relationship of the past to the present.

    Despite a modern groundswell of interest, the crusades remain today one

    of the most commonly misunderstood events in Western history. That fact

    is all the more lamentable given the extraordinary amount of research that


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    has been conducted on the subject during the past sixty years. Scholars know

    much more about the crusades today than ever before. However, most of that

    research is highly technical in nature and presented, appropriately enough, in

    scholarly journals and monographs that can seem impenetrable to those with-

    out specialized training. When the first edition of this book was published

    it joined only two other single-volume histories of the crusades written by

    professional historians—and even those two assumed a fair level of knowl-

    edge regarding medieval history. Back then an interested person who simply

    strolled into a bookstore looking for a history of the crusades was more likely

    to walk out with a book by a novelist, journalist, or ex-nun than one written

    with care by a scholar and based on the best research available.

    The heightened public interest in the crusades after 9/11 created a strong

    market for new general histories, and popular authors did not disappoint. Yet

    many of those new works simply retold myths long ago dispelled by profes-

    sional historians. It took several years before additional crusade specialists re-

    sponded to the public demand. But that trickle soon became a torrent. Today

    there are so many histories of the crusades by scholars that they are in danger

    of depleting the supply of innovative names to place on their covers. Each has

    its own strengths and weaknesses. Yet despite the avalanche of new studies,

    the fundamental purpose of this book has not changed since 1999. It aims to

    tell the story of the crusades in a concise, understandable, and engaging man-

    ner based on the extraordinary fruits of more than half a century of modern


    Any historian who seeks to explain the crusades must first make peace

    with the length, breadth, and complexity of the subject. What were the cru-

    sades? When did they begin, and when did they end? What were the impor-

    tant milestones of the movement? Who was a crusader, and who was not?

    Traditionally, authors have defined the scope of the crusades in terms

    of the expeditions to the Holy Land. In this, they followed the structure of

    medieval sources like the Gesta Dei per Francos. The crusades, therefore, be-

    gin with Pope Urban II’s call to arms at the Council of Clermont in 1095.

    The twin poles of such studies are the major expeditions to the East (i.e., the

    “numbered” crusades) and the history of the crusader states in Syria and Pales-

    tine. The narrative thread then weaves itself between conditions in the Levant

    and conditions in Europe, bringing the two together in the events of the

    greater crusades. From this perspective, the crusades come to a close with the

    extinction of the mainland crusader states in 1291. The movement, therefore,

    is nicely packaged in an organized fashion and in the space of two centuries.

    In the past few decades, this construction of the crusades has been largely

    abandoned by scholars. Although traditional histories included events like the

    Albigensian Crusade or Baltic Crusades, neither of which was bound for the

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    East, they did so only peripherally. Modern scholarship has rehabilitated this

    periphery. Most historians now accept that crusading took on many different

    forms; the general passage to the Holy Land was but one of them. Crusades

    against pagans, heretics, and enemies of the church were just as common by

    the thirteenth century as wars against the lands of Islam. Much of Europe’s

    crusading energy was also devoted to removing Muslims from Spain.

    Beyond broadening the definition of the crusades, scholars have also re-

    assessed the neat organization of the major expeditions. The simplicity of the

    numbered crusades gives the impression that Europe periodically exploded

    with crusading zeal, sending large armies east to fight the Muslims of Palestine.

    Yet the crusades were not discrete campaigns but continuous streams of armies

    on the march. Between the major crusades were countless smaller expeditions

    heading to a variety of targets.

    If one accepts that the crusading movement transcends the conquest

    of the Holy Land, then there is no reason its history should abruptly end in

    1291. During the past century, much research has been done on these “later

    crusades.” There is no doubt that crusading remained an important part of Eu-

    ropean thought well into the Renaissance and even beyond into the Protestant

    Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. At some point, though, the

    historian must accept that the trail has grown cold and that crusade rhetoric has

    become merely that. If one insisted that the history of the crusades continued

    until the last crusader institution crumbled, then it would have to continue

    until the present so as to include the modern history of the Knights of Malta.

    Without a clear stopping point, it is up to the student to judge when the cru-

    sades ceased to be religious wars and transformed themselves into secular wars

    with religious trappings.

    Despite the explosion in crusade studies over the past sixty years, the

    traditional construction of the crusades as a set of expeditions launched be-

    tween 1095 and 1291 remains popular. There are good reasons for this. The

    traditional view introduces the student to the crusades in a way that is easier to

    grasp but does not distort the fundamental character of the movement. When

    one has a firm understanding of the crusades’ peaks, one can then better de-

    scend into the foggy crevices of their valleys. For the interested student, that

    will require reading many more books than just one general survey.

    For this concise history of the crusades, I follow in many respects the

    construction, if not the scope, of the traditional histories. The crusades are first

    and foremost an aspect of European history. At the time few Muslims in the

    Middle East understood the crusades at all. For western Europeans the crusades

    were epic struggles that helped to fashion their image of themselves and their

    place in the larger world. For Muslims the crusades were hardly worthy of

    attention. As late as the seventeenth century the crusades remained virtually

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