Professor John D. Hosler’s fascinating book on the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade provides a brief, but interesting, consideration of the interactions that sometimes took place between combatants during the siege. Regardless of the violence of the siege, Hosler notes that “the spaces between the ramparts…were not necessarily a zone of death.” The shared experience that Muslim and Christians troops who took part in the lengthy and bloody siege (lasting from 1189-1191) could sometimes lead to “noticeable expressions of respect, and even an adversarial camaraderie.” Hosler describes two examples found in the sources.Continue reading
The following essay is by Alfred J. Andrea, the former president of the World History Association and a noted medieval historian. In it, he provides his insights on the development, and challenges, of studying the Global Middle Ages.
Most historians who specialize in medieval Europe are ambivalent about the term “the Middle Ages.” While proudly calling themselves “medievalists” (from the Latin medium aevum—middle age), they insist that the millennium or more separating late Roman antiquity from the so-called early modern period was not a middle period in any meaningful way. And it certainly was not a valley of darkness between two lofty golden ages.
Even more problematical or worse in the eyes of many medievalists is the term “the Global Middle Ages.” How, they ask, can one apply such a questionable label as Middle Ages, itself the misbegotten product of out-of-date historical thinking, to the rest of the world? What did India’s Gupta Empire (ca. 320-ca. 550) have in common with the roughly contemporaneous Visigothic Kingdom or China’s Tang dynasty (618-907) with the Carolingian dynasty? What possible connection was there between the twelfth-century Toltecs of central Mesoamerica and the Hohenstaufens of central Europe, or between Mali’s Epic of Sundiata and the Nibelungenlied? Although historians who promote study of the Global Middle Ages might claim that finally medieval history has been shorn of its Eurocentrism, conceivably their critics could counter that applying an obviously Eurocentric label to non-Western cultures is another example of Western academic imperialism. Continue reading
Above Image: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82)- Jehane le Pucelle. Source: Wikimedia
The following selection of text was cut from an early draft of Chapter 3, “Holy Wars in Defense of the Sacred,” in the forthcoming book (expected March 2021) Sanctified Violence: Holy War in World History. Rather than discarding it, the authors, Alfred J. Andrea, emeritus professor of history at the University of Vermont, and Andrew Holt, professor of history at Florida State College at Jacksonville, wanted to make it available here. The book, aimed primarily at a student readership, explores the various types of wars waged in the name of religion that have occurred around the world over the past 5,000 years. It will be offered by Hackett Publishing as part of their Critical Themes in World History Series. Please see more information about the project below.
Hackett Publishing has kindly given permission to reproduce the following source selections from my friend and senior colleague Alfred J. Andrea’s excellent sourcebook, The Medieval Record: Sources of Medieval History (Second Revised Edition). This more than 500-page book contains numerous important sources from Ancient Rome to the discovery of the New World, with many of them original translations by Professor Andrea. The sources provided here include:
Matthew Paris, The Greater Chronicle: An Entry for 1241
Ivo of Narbonne’s Confession
Matthew Paris’ Illustration of The Tartar Feast
Each of the sources offers fascinating insights into how European Christians during the thirteenth century understood the Mongols and the ferocity of their attacks on various peoples. The depictions are detailed, graphic, and fearful. Of special interest is the image of The Tartar Feast provided at the end of Ivo of Narbonne’s letter. Professor Andrea’s helpful introductory text and “Questions for Consideration” precede the sources immediately below: Continue reading
While working on a book (Sanctified Violence: Holy War in World History) for Hackett Publishing that considers holy war in a broader world history context (co-authored with my friend and senior historian Alfred J. Andrea), I have spent the last year considering considering the various modes and types of holy war that have taken place within different faith traditions. Professor Andrea, as the former head of the World History Association and a leading world historian, has been a wonderful guide in directing me to important readings in areas beyond my normal research focus (Christian and Islamic holy war).
Two books I have read recently that may appeal to some of you who are interested in the broader topic of holy war are Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun and Buddha’s Warriors: The Story of the CIA Backed Tibetan Freedom Fighters, the Chinese Invasion, and the Ultimate Fall of Tibet (both pictured above). Continue reading
Much has been written about the plight of eastern Christians prior to the calling of the First Crusade, and the way in which their extensive lobbying efforts for military aid from the West contributed to the birth of the crusading movement.
See, for example, the following:
Peter Frankopan on the Byzantine Recruitment of Western Warriors before the First Crusade.
Peter Frankopan and Jonathan Phillips on The Situation for Eastern Christians in the 1090s prior to the First Crusade.
Pope Gregory VII on the Plight of Eastern Christians Prior to the First Crusade.
Jonathan Riley-Smith on the Motivations of the First Crusaders.
In making such a case, the focus is usually on Byzantine Christians and their letters and embassies to popes and western nobility, as well as their attendance at ecclesiastical councils like Piacenza and Clermont, all in an effort to win military support through sympathetic descriptions of their suffering in the east as a result of Turkish invasions of Asia-Minor and surrounding regions.
Recently, I have been rereading Oxford scholar Jacob G. Ghazarian’s book The Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia During the Crusades (Routledge, 2000), and was intrigued to note his description of Armenian Christians who also participated in such efforts in the years leading up to the calling of the First Crusade. Continue reading
Above Image: Historian Alfred J. Andrea walking along the famous markets at Portobello Road in London.
The following essay is the text, slightly revised, of a brief talk given by historian Alfred J. Andrea at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, U.K., on July 3rd, 2019. Dr. Andrea, Professor Emeritus of the University of Vermont and former President of the World History Association, gave these introductory comments as part of a panel considering crusade myths that also included historians Natasha R. Hodgson, Alan V. Murray, and Aphrodite Papayianni. Here Dr. Andrea provides a nuanced reassessment of the issues of colonialism and crusading. In keeping with current scholarly views of the crusades, Dr. Andrea agrees that comparisons of the crusader states with modern 19th and 20th century western colonial models are wrong. Yet, as a world historian, Dr. Andrea also points out that historically there have been many forms of colonialization worldwide.
A Colony by Any Other Name: The Latin States of Syria-Palestine
Guest Essay by Alfred J. Andrea
Joshua Prawer famously argued in his 1972 study of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem that the economies, societies, and institutions of the states of the Latin East, and predominantly those of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, are understandable only if one realizes that they were colonies of Western Europe and especially so of Franco-Europe. He further maintained that it was only with the crusades that colonialism became a major factor in world history, and in that sense “the Crusader kingdom” was the first European colonial society.
Leaving aside for the moment Prawer’s argument that the states of the Latin East were Western Europe’s initial venture into global colonialism, the fact is that the states of the Latin East are viewed in the popular imagination as examples of early Western colonialism. In the words of Karen Armstrong, whose best-selling books have misguided many who seek to understand the crusades, “These soldiers of Christ established European colonies in the Middle East and began to dream of world domination.”
In reaction to similar popular, often overstated and erroneously envisioned notions of crusader colonialism—a colonialism misrepresented in numerous media, including such films as The Kingdom of Heaven (2005)—a significant number of eminent scholars have derided the very idea of a colonial Latin East as unadulterated myth. Thomas Madden, for example, referring to the four states that comprised the Latin East, argues that: Continue reading
Editor’s note: The following essay is reprinted from The World of the Crusades: A Daily Life Encyclopedia by Andrew Holt. Copyright © 2019 by ABC-CLIO, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA. (Ordering information provided below).
Antagonism between Greek- and Latin-speaking peoples can be traced back well before the Middle Ages, but historians have highlighted how the crusading era witnessed a significant deterioration in relations between the two, as best reflected in the often-hostile views between Eastern Byzantine Christians and Latin Christians from western Europe. While each side envisioned the other through stereotypes that were meant to diminish the other side culturally, one of the more curious charges made by Latin Christian authors against the Byzantines was that of the “effeminate Greek.” Continue reading
As president of the Society for the Study of the Crusades in the Latin East, the most influential and authoritative scholarly organization devoted to the study of medieval crusading, Israeli archaeologist Adrian J. Boas is at the forefront of efforts to promote better understandings of the crusading movement among both scholars and the public. He is an ideal leader for such an organization, as not only is he a leading scholar of the crusades, widely respected by other scholars, but he is also an excellent ambassador for the field, as he is accessible and active as a public scholar through his many invited lectures or participation in international conferences as well as through his highly regarded blog and social media presence. Continue reading