By Giles Constable
The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh (Dumbarton Oaks, 2001)
Introduction: The crusades were from their inception seen from many different points of view, and every account and reference in the sources must be interpreted in the light of where, when, by whom, and in whose interests it was written. Each participant made his— and in few cases her—own crusade, and the leaders had their own interests, motives, and objectives, which often put them at odds with one another. They were all distrusted by the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos, whose point of view is presented in the Alexiad written in the middle of the twelfth century by his daughter Anna Komnene.
The Turkish sultan Kilij Arslan naturally saw things from another perspective, as did the indigenous Christian populations in the east, especially the Armenians, and the peoples of the Muslim principalities of the eastern Mediterranean. The rulers of Edessa, Antioch, Aleppo, and Damascus, and beyond them Cairo and Baghdad, each had their own attitudes toward the crusades, which are reflected in the sources. To these must be added the peoples through whose lands the crusaders passed on their way to the east, and in particular the Jews who suffered at the hands of the followers of Peter the Hermit.