By Norman Housley
Yale University Press, 2008
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a series of massive military undertakings that stretched from 1095 to 1291, Christendom’s armies won, defended, and lost the sacred sites of the Holy Land. Many books have been written about the Crusades, but until now none has described in detail what is was like to take part in medieval Europe’s most ambitious wars. This vividly written book draws on extensive research and on a wealth of surviving contemporary accounts to recreate the full experience of crusading, from the elation of taking up the cross to the difficult adjustments at home when the war was over.
Distinguished historian Norman Housley explores the staggering logistical challenges of raising, equipping, and transporting thousands of Christian combatants from Europe to the East as well as the complications that non-combatant pilgrims presented. He describes the ordinary crusader’s prolonged years of difficult military tasks, risk of starvation and disease, trial of religious faith, death of friends, and the specter of heavy debt or stolen homelands upon arriving home. Creating an unprecedented sense of immediacy, Housley brings to light the extent of crusaders’ sacrifices and the religious commitment that enabled them to endure.
Blackwell’s Podcast: Norman Housley talks about his book ‘Fighting for the Cross’ and describes what it was like to take part in the Crusades.
Times Higher Education – review by Alan V. Murray – “The arguments and conclusions presented here are well founded on the latest scholarly research and clearly documented in the endnotes.”
Reviews in History – review by Nicholas Morton – “…would I recommend this work to my own students?’ In this case the answer is definitely ‘Yes’. Housley has clearly thought very carefully about his audience and his work makes allowance for their lack of familiarity with the medieval period and, starting with basic principles, builds a compelling and rich picture of the experience of crusading.”