The word “crusade” had not yet been invented when the European Christians captured Jerusalem in 1099, or when Richard the Lionhearted faced Saladin. In this absorbing and informative new book, medieval scholar Geoffrey Hindley recounts the colorful history behind the word that for more than five centuries has perturbed European history, troubled Christian consciences, and embittered Muslim attitudes toward the West. Hindley’s penetrating study helps to answer the questions about how the Crusades have helped shape Europe, the modern world, and relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day. Why did the Church bless Duke William of Normandy’s invasion of Christian England in 1066, or authorize cultural genocide in Provence? How could a Western Christian army sack Christian Constantinople in 1204? Why did thousands of ordinary men, and women too, led by knights and ladies, kings and queens, embark on campaigns of fanatical conquest in the world of Islam? Many people saw the Crusades as pilgrimages to unknown exotic lands, many believed they were doing the will of God, many were there for the plunder, but all participated in this fascinating period in history that continues to resonate in the modern world.
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