The crusades are unique in the history of warfare: they were the first international conflicts and had great political resonance and numerous interpretations; they were waged on behalf of religion rather than conquest, and were pursued by individuals rather than sovereign states. The crusades began with religious fervour, and certainly the first crusade was fought with the aim of recapturing Jerusalem and ensuring the safety of Christian pilgrims to the city. The nine or so crusades that followed, and the crusades in Northern Europe against fellow Christians are less easy to define, but no less fascinating.
The medieval knights of Western Europe were central to the crusades, and this book tells their story. Knights who took the cross did so for many reasons, and their experience in the Holy Land, in the Palestinian states they founded, and in the long journeys home are epics in themselves. This book examines the international chivalric brotherhood of crusading knights, typified in the military orders of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller. It also details the battles and sieges fought, lost and won by the crusaders, the castles they built, the states they founded, the marriages, alliances and dynasties they began, their triumphs and victories, and their diversions, corruptions and failures.
The glamorous, larger-than-life figures of the most famous crusader knights are given special attention: Bohemond of Taranto, Robert of Jerusalem, Godfrey of Bouillon, Tancred, Prince of Galilee, Count Raymond IV of Toulouse, Balian of Ibelin and Richard the Lionheart, and also the famous Islamic figures of Saladin and his sons. The key battles and sieges are also described: the legendary Battle of Dorylaeum, the pivotal Siege of Antioch, the shameful massacre of Jerusalem, the disaster at Damascus, the appalling defeat at the Horns of Hattin and the sack of Constantinople.
Whether the crusades were a cultural and religious disaster for centuries to come or not, they were certainly a fascinating period of history, full of epic stories, heroic acts, and both the best and the worst of human behaviour. This book, lavishly illustrated with over 400 colour images, is an unsurpassed guide to the knights of those crusades, and offers a vivid insight into their lives.
Dr Craig Taylor is a Lecturer in Medieval History, and a Fellow of both the Societe de l’Histoire de France and the Royal Historical Society. He works on political thought and public discourse in late medieval France and England, chivalry and the Hundred Years War.
Charles Phillips is an established writer of popular history, a graduate of Oxford University and holding an MA from the University of Westminster, London. He is the author of The Complete Illustrated Guide to Kings and Queens of Britain and Ireland, and The Complete Illustrated Guide to Castles, Palaces and Stately Houses of Britain and Ireland (both also published by Lorenz Books). He was a contributor to Cassell’s Dictionary of Modern Britain and Ancient Civilizations, and was a key writer of Time Life's Myth and Mankind series as well as illustrated histories published by Dorling Kindersley, Guinness and Marshall Editions. Charles has a keen interest in British history and rise of the knightly orders, and has written a book on the European medieval romances.