5 thoughts on “What Were the Crusades?

  1. There are two things that I particularly dislike about this book. First the insistence that students shouldn’t read primary source material and secondly the title. Irritable that I am, a more accurate title for the view advanced in this book might be ‘What someone employed by the Papal Court circa 1200 might have considered the Crusades to be’.

    On the other hand the book provides the kind of neat, simple definition that enables generations of students to write neat, simple essays (view spoiler)[

  2. This is a well-written, short book that answers the question posed by its title. Its author obvioulsy possesses a wide and deep understanding of the Crusades, which can make for sentences packed with names and cities that are not exactly common knowledge. But that’s OK: Riley-Smith lays out his answer in five clearly-marked and subdivided chapters; these concern just what consituted a Crusade and how they were justified, how the authority to launch them moved from the Pope to the local clergy, h

  3. This was good. I wanted a quick “refresher” on the Crusades, and this was just right. The author’s stated goal is to define the term “crusade,” and so, appropriately, he focuses on issues such as the motivations and mindset(s) of the participants; the division and uses of power among the various religious and sacred authorities; and the ways in which Christian theology and Church doctrine supported and restrained (or didn’t restrain) the Crusades. He puts a strong emphasis on the penitential asp

  4. After numerous aborted attempts to get through an introductory book on this extraordinarily important topic in Western history, What Were the Crusades? turned out to be the primer I was looking for.

    Whereas other supposed introductions are weighed down with extensive surveys of specific battles and unintelligible names, Riley-Smith instead focuses on the trends in people, thought, and actions which characterized the crusades. He gets down to basics and tries to identify generalizations about a co

  5. Jonathan Riley-Smith’s book What Were the Crusades? provides a very brief glimpse into the world of the Crusades. He gives a general definition from period sources as to what contemporaries thought crusades were. Participants were called to “take the cross,” answer a legitimate call made by the Pope, told to go either abroad or remain closer to home to fight a “just war” against the enemies of Christendom. Participants knew they would be granted special privileges in return for their devout serv

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