The First Crusade

2460 Pages · 2015 · 6.94 MB · English

  • The First Crusade

    ‘Throughout his book,

    Asbridge resists the

    temptation to provide a

    simple, seamless narrative.

    Instead, he builds up his

    account of critical moments

    by leading the reader through

    the various (sometimes

    contradictory) layers of

    contemporary evidence . . . If

    this approach provides the text with a vivid directness,

    so too does the author’s (for

    once, literally) foot-slogging

    research. Asbridge has

    walked large tracts of the

    crusader’s route through

    Syria and Palestine, and his

    sensitivity to topographical

    detail – and its tactical

    importance to the campaign –

    gives his account the tightly

    focused immediacy of


    John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph

    ‘[A] substantial book, [in

    which] there is plenty to

    discover . . . Asbridge [tells]

    of astonishing heroism,

    together with rapidly

    escalating sadism and atrocity

    . . . His pace is tremendous,

    and he has a remarkable feel

    for place. It certainly helps

    that, like so many Crusaders

    nine centuries ago, Asbridge

    has himself walked 350 miles from Antioch towards

    Jerusalem: his book is all the

    better for it’

    Diarmaid MacCulloch,


    ‘Nuanced and sophisticated . .

    . The first, very considerable,

    merit of [this] book . . . is that

    Thomas Asbridge, while fully

    aware of the modern

    perspectives, presents the

    story to us from the point of

    view, principally, of the Crusaders themselves . . .

    Thoroughly documented and

    academically respectable, [it

    is an] admirable example of

    narrative history written with

    the general reader in mind.

    Nobody can read [The First

    Crusade] without acquiring a

    better understanding of the

    Middle Ages and the

    medieval mind; nor, I would

    think, without developing an

    admiration for the courage,

    tenacity, and even the idealism of the Crusaders. To

    that extent, [it] may be called

    revisionist history’

    Allan Massie, Literary


    ‘Salutary reading . . . the first

    book on the subject to get us

    close to the way the crusaders

    thought and felt, when they

    mistook massacre for charity

    and bloodshed for penance’

    Felipe Fernández Armesto,

    The Times ‘Asbridge’s outstanding new

    history eyes with

    understanding and

    unsqueamishness the mixed

    motives of the Crusaders . . .

    The savagery of the

    triumphant Christian warriors

    seemed to shock and delight

    contemporary commentators

    in equal measure. It is this

    duality of passion, religious

    and murderous, that Asbridge

    analyses with such skill . . .

    Asbridge’s tactful and sympathetic approach to the

    fragmentary and partial

    nature of the primary sources,

    his ability to sustain a

    gripping narrative, to develop

    the personalities of the

    principals, to inspire both

    admiration and regret for the

    achievements of these

    medieval adventurers, all

    combine to make this one of

    the most distinguished books

    yet launched on the current

    wave of enthusiasm for history’

    Graham Anderson, Oxford


    ‘Although well-researched,

    the book wears its scholarship

    lightly and reads like a work

    of fiction, complete with

    vivid characters such as

    Stephen of Blois and Godfrey

    of Bouillon. This will, no

    doubt, become required

    reading on many a

    university’s history course,

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