Tag Archives: Alfred J. Andrea

Guest Essay: The Global Middle Ages, by Alfred J. Andrea

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.

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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 How, they ask, can one apply such a questionable label as Middle Ages, itself the misbegotten product of out-of-date historical thinking, to the rest of the world?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

Joan of Arc’s Holy War

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.

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Accounts of the Mongols in The Medieval Record

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

Buddhist Holy Warriors in Modern Tibet

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

Guest Essay: A Colony by Any Other Name: The Latin States of Syria-Palestine

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.

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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.[1] 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.”[2]

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)[3]—a significant number of eminent scholars have derided the very idea of a colonial Latin East as unadulterated myth.[4]  Thomas Madden, for example, referring to the four states that comprised the Latin East, argues that: Continue reading

More Myths of the Crusades: A Panel Discussion at Leeds in 2019.

I’d encourage any interested readers of this blog attending the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds in the summer of 2019 to consider attending the following round table discussion sponsored by the Northern Network for the Study of the Crusades.

More Myths of the Crusades: A Follow up to Seven Myths of the Crusade – A Round Table Discussion

The panel includes a range of junior and senior scholars who, as a follow up to the 2015 book Seven Myths of the Crusades, will be considering additional crusade myths.

The panelists include:

Among the topics that will be considered are the following: Continue reading

Hackett Publishing’s Myths of History Series

The following clip is taken from a longer interview with Dr. David Sheffler covering a range of topics. This clip considers the genesis of the book Seven Myths of the Crusades, and the Hackett series that resulted from it.

The series has also seen the publication of Seven Myths of the Civil War by Professor Wesley Moody and Seven Myths of Africa in World History by Professor David Northrup. A fourth book, Seven Myths of Native American History, by Professor Paul Jentz, will be published in March, 2018.

Alfred J. Andrea and I (as series editors) encourage any teaching historians who have an idea for a new book in the series to contact us to discuss it. Please email me directly at aholt@fscj.edu or contact Hackett Publishing.

Alan V. Murray on Seven Myths of the Crusades

“There has long been a great need for a book like this one, and it deserves a wide dissemination among the interested reading public and journalists as well as students and professional historians….anyone intending to make judgmental pronouncements on the aims and character of crusading would do well to read it and reflect carefully before rushing into print.”
—Alan V. Murray, University of Leeds

Interview with Dr. Wesley Moody on Seven Myths of the Civil War

As seen in the video below, I recently had the chance to interview my colleague, Dr. Wesley Moody at Florida State College at Jacksonville, on the popular myths of the U.S. Civil War. Wes is an expert on the U.S. Civil War and has published his fourth book (forthcoming from Hackett Publishing) on the topic with a series I am co-editing with Dr. Alfred J. Andrea. The book includes the contributions of seven leading U.S. historians considering some of the most controversial issues related to U.S. Civil War history. We soberly discuss them here.

Special thanks to Professor Isaac Brown and his students at Florida State College at Jacksonville, particularly Lance Hunt, for their efforts in producing this. I hope we can make more of these on other key topics in the future.

“Readers of this book who thought they knew a lot about the U.S. Civil War will discover that much of what they ‘knew’ is wrong. For readers whose previous knowledge is sketchy but whose desire to learn is strong, the separation of myth from reality is an important step toward mastering the subject. The essays will generate lively discussion and new insights.”
—James M. McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

 

Historians Rank the “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

 

“As I write these words, it is nearly time to light the lamps; my pen moves slowly over the paper and I feel myself almost too drowsy to write as the words escape me. I have to use foreign names and I am compelled to describe in detail a mass of events which occurred in rapid succession; the result is that the main body of the history and the continuous narrative are bound to become disjointed because of interruptions. Ah well, “’tis no cause for anger” to those at least who read my work with good will. Let us go on.”

Anna Comnena, Alexiad 13.6, trans. by E.R.A. Sewter

Provided here are the responses of 34 medieval historians who were asked to provide a list of the top ten “most important” books on the crusades. Many of them are leading scholars in the field. Hopefully, it will be a useful resource for both students and interested readers. For more information, please see the Crusade Book List Project and to see each historian’s list click on their name below (or you can scroll and browse through them below). Please hit the back button to return to the contributor’s list. Also, check back in the future for additional contributions that will be added over time. This will be an ongoing project.

See also: 15 “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

See also: The Most Influential Crusade Historians

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Seven Myths of Africa in World History: An Interview with Dr. David Northrup

Above Image: David and Nancy, his wife of 46 years, hiking the Andes in 2017.
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Respected historian Dr. David Northrup is the author or editor of no fewer than ten well-received books, as well as dozens of peer-reviewed articles. Although he retired from Boston College in 2012 after thirty-eight years of service there, he began teaching more than fifty years ago, as a teacher and Vice-Principal of the Central Annang Secondary School in Nigeria during his time in the Peace Corps. He then served as a history instructor at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama from 1968 until 1972, before beginning his time at Boston College in 1974. David has had an outstanding career and is, unquestionably, one of the world’s leading scholars on African history. Needless to say, when I learned that my friend and co-series editor Alfred J. Andrea had recruited David to contribute a book to our Myths of History Series for Hackett Publishing, I was elated. Continue reading