The Experience of Crusading Volume 2, Defining the Crusader Kingdom. Edited by Peter Edbury and Jonathan Phillips. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pp. xv, 311. $65.00.)
The field of crusade studies is today one of the most vibrant in medieval scholarship. No one is more responsible for that than Jonathan Riley-Smith, whose own work has sparked the imagination of a generation of scholars and whose students have taken their place among the most important historians in the field. Despite this scholarly boom, there has been no journal dedicated to the subject until the recent launching of Crusades. For many years, the best articles appeared in edited books, frequently based on a conference or organized as a Festschrift. To be truthful, even Crusades, which is a hardcover volume published annually, has not broken with the tradition entirely. Given this customary venue for crusade scholarship, one would expect that a Festschrift dedicated to Riley-Smith himself would be bigger and better than any that have come before it. Weighing in at two volumes, it is certainly bigger, and the overall quality of the scholarship represented is also among the very best.
Editors of Festschriften are usually faced with the daunting task of herding a diverse array of articles into some sort of organizational theme. Reviewers often acknowledge the effort but declare it a failure nonetheless. In this case, the four editors have indeed made a good effort, separating the volumes into Western Approaches, which refers to articles dealing with Europe, and Defining the Crusader Kingdom, referring to those articles set outside Europe. Further subdivisions appear in each volume. The organization, although, is ultimately beside the point. What all of these articles have in common is a desire to honor a man who changed crusade studies for the better. Nevertheless, faced with the task of reviewing so rich a feast, this reviewer's article will follow the editors' format.
Both volumes begin with retrospectives on Riley-Smith's career and writings. Volume 1 then opens with a section on "The Crusades and Crusading." Turning to the First Crusade, Christopher Marshall contributes an excellent overview of Italian involvement as well as a postscript on the Venetian Crusade of 1122. Marshall joins a revisionist school of thought that argues against the traditional view of medieval Italians as motivated only by a desire for profit. Instead, he contends that they were crusaders led largely by religious piety, just as others were. Also interested in motivations, Marcus Bull provides a preliminary examination of a few miracle stories and the light they can shed on this question. However, his article is overly long, encumbered by a corpulent and jargon-ridden introduction. Two articles in this section deal with the Second Crusade. In a short but perceptive article, Giles Constable makes use of the three sources on the conquest of Lisbon in 1147 to demonstrate that contemporaries saw it as part and parcel of the larger crusade, while Jonathan Phillips offers a careful analysis of Odo of Deuil as a source for the crusade, pointing out the ways in which Odo's personal interpretations have biased modern conceptions of the enterprise. Next there are two articles on the Fourth Crusade. James M. Powell makes the startling suggestion that Pope Innocent III's original intention had been to enlist the Byzantine Emperor Alexius III into his new crusade. In a particularly important study, John H. Pryor examines the Venetian fleet of the Fourth Crusade and finds that it was uniquely designed for an armed invasion of Egypt, a fact that further cripples theories that the Venetians planned to divert the crusade to Constantinople from the beginning. Finally, Norman Housley discerns that the shift away from the general passage and toward particular naval expeditions in the fourteenth century was largely because of the raising of funds necessary for the crusades.
The second section of the first volume, "The Catholic Church and the Crusade," begins with Anna Sapir Abulafia's examination of Joachim of Fiori's Adversos Iudeos, which is only tangentially related to the crusades. James A. Brundage then offers an interesting think piece on the use of violence by clerics. Penny J. Cole expertly examines an unpublished manuscript on crusade preaching by Humbert of Romans. This manuscript, which Cole is preparing for publication, represents an important medieval interpretation of the First Crusade and the perceived need to recreate its successes. H. E. J. Cowdrey then takes on the knotty problem of the relationship between the just war and holy war in medieval thought. He finds that although they were initially quite separate, they increasingly became interwoven as a result of the crusades. In a compelling critique of the Erdmann Thesis, John France demonstrates, through the use of saints' lives and a few other sources, that the idea that warfare could be sanctified was already developed in Europe before the eleventh century. Finally, Christoph Maier explores the theme of crusading in the famous bible moralisee.
In part three of the first volume, "The Military Orders," two articles find knights in unexpected places. Anthony Luttrell describes Hospitaller houses in Constantinople during the twelfth century. These houses, elusive in the sources, were apparently used for pilgrims and Hospitallers taking the overland route to the Holy Land. Helen Nicholson then examines the military orders in Ireland. She finds that the close relationship between the military orders and the king of England was mutually beneficial. The king used them as loyal administrators to strengthen his control there. The military orders, for their part, believed that, because the king was devoted to the cause of the Holy Land, service to him was equivalent to service to Jerusalem. Volume 1 closes with two articles under the heading "Retrospective." Both of these catalog modern perspectives on the crusades, with Elizabeth Siberry examining the nineteenth century and Susan Edgington doing the same for twentieth-century novels.
Volume 2 opens with a section entitled "People and Politics," which includes articles that each examine one particular person. Jonathan Shepard provides a rather speculative look at one Odo Arpin, who took part in the First Crusade. In a careful and revisionist study, Thomas Asbridge casts new light on Alice of Antioch, the daughter of Baldwin II of Jerusalem who fought to control the principality of Antioch for six years. Using a diverse body of evidence, Asbridge convincingly shows that William of Tyre's biased assessment clouds her achievements. Equally interesting is Malcolm Barber's analysis of the career of Philip of Nablus, who was at various times a soldier, a monk, and a diplomat. Rudolf Hestand likewise explores the career of Geoffrey, the first abbot of the Templum Domini in Jerusalem.
Part two of Volume 2, "Re-reading the Sources," begins with Benjamin Z. Kedar's fascinating look at a largely neglected source, the Life of St. Ranieri of Pisa, by Benincasa. Kedar expertly mines it for a host of interesting observations on Jerusalem and the Holy Land during the twelfth century. Amazingly, Ranieri eventually came to believe that he was not only blessed by God, but that he was indeed the Son of God! Here, Kedar notes, he was not unlike some of those today who visit the holy sites and become convinced that they are Christ or other assorted biblical figures. In a meticulous study, Bernard Hamilton compares the Eracles, an Old French translation of William of Tyre's Historia, with the original, demonstrating not only the ways in which it was changed for its audience, but also the new information that it contained. Artistic sources are not neglected in this section. Jaroslav Folda examines the Freiburg Leaf, which appears to have been part of a sketchbook of sorts taken to the Holy Land. The only pictures remaining are both on one leaf. The older drawing on the top portion of the page is an artistically unique depiction of Jesus and Zachaeus. The bottom drawing is of St. George and St. Theodore, military saints popular among crusaders. The section closes with Peter Edbury looking again at the Book of the Assises.
"History and Historiography" is the title of the third part of Volume 2, which seems to consist of those articles that did not fit anywhere else. Nevertheless, they are all excellent. Denys Pringle gives a splendid assessment of the number and distribution of churches and monastic houses in the crusader kingdom based on his own extensive research on the subject. It is a first-rate piece of scholarship. Hans Eberhard Mayer then offers a microstudy of ten houses in Jerusalem that belonged to the king but were situated in the patriarch's quarter. An otherwise little known knight born in Tyre, John Gale, is the subject of Jean Richard's contribution. He, indeed, had a fascinating life. After finding his lord in bed with his wife, John killed the former and then fled to avoid punishment. He served Saladin for a number of years before doublecrossing the sultan and returning to the Christian side. Richard makes a good argument that John was subsequently at Hattin in 1187, where he gave advice that might have saved them all, and then at Acre in 1191 (Given its subject, it is not clear why the editors did not place Richard's contribution in part one). Peter Jackson then examines Hiilegii Kahn and his alleged pro-Christian sympathies, placing them into a larger context of Mongol strategic and diplomatic considerations, as well as Christian wishful thinking. Finally, Robert Irwin relates the fascinating history of attempts to gather, translate, publish, and use Arabic sources for the crusades from the Maurist monks of the seventeenth century to the present day. He concludes rightly that much more needs to be done, not only to understand better the crusades and the Muslim response, but also to assess properly how important the crusades were at all in the landscape of Muslim history. As he perceptively points out, "... it is almost as if Muslim Syria and Egypt with all their inhabitants were periodically hung up in a wardrobe until the crusaders next needed to fight in those places again" (230).
In the last part of the second volume, entitled "Commerce in Context," Michel Balard takes on the daunting task of assessing the economic effects of the crusades on Europe. Not surprisingly, he focuses on the Italians, and, in so doing, he provides a good example of what Christopher Marshall argues against in his contribution in the first volume. The Italians, Balard maintains, were primarily interested in protecting their business, and so did not respond "immediately and with the same enthusiasms as the first French pilgrims to Pope Urban II's appeal for a crusade" (235). As proof, he notes, "In July 1099 Venice belatedly armed a fleet, which was to prove ineffective" (235). In fact, the fleet of some two hundred vessels--the largest single contribution to the First Crusade--was launched in July 1099. The Venetians had been preparing it for more than two years. As for its effectiveness, it took part in the conquest of Haifa. Ultimately, however, Balard has set himself an impossible task. The question he asks would require a monograph at least. As a result, his suggestion, based on scattered commercial documents and stating that the crusades had an impact on Europe's economy, is not convincing. Also in this section, David Jacoby provides a meticulous examination of some unpublished archival materials in Venice and Padua that shed some light on Acre and Tyre during the years just before and after the War of St. Sabas. For his part, Nicholas Coureas explores the role of the military orders in Cypriote commerce just after the fall of Acre. While interesting, David Abulafia's examination of the little port of Piombino in the Tyrrhenian Sea during the fifteenth century has nothing at all to do with the crusades.
It is a cliche for reviewers to describe articles in collections like this as "uneven." Yet, in this fine tribute to Riley-Smith, the overall quality is both surprisingly even and amazingly high. This is just as it should be.
Thomas E Madden
Saint Louis University
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|Title Annotation:||The Experience of Crusading vols. 1-2|
|Author:||Madden, Thomas F.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2005|
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