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De Re Militari | Book Reviews

Peter Edbury and Jonathan Phillips (eds.)

The Experience of Crusading.
Vol. 2: Defining the Crusader Kingdom

(Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 2003). pp. xv+311. ISBN 0521781515. $XXX.

As the companion volume to The Experience of Crusading: 1 Western Approaches this book collects seventeen papers on four general themes. The first section deals with four personages involved in the Crusades. The second section reexamines four primary sources. The third section deals with historiographic topics. The fourth section discusses commerce and the commercial impact of the Crusading period.

The first paper is concerned with the identification of Odo Arpin, a Viscount of Bourges who then became a Cluniac prior. This person was identified by Riley-Smith in his “Primary List of Crusaders” and Jonathan Shepard seeks to positively distinguish him from another on the list who bears the same name.

Thomas Asbridge examines the life of Alice of Antioch and attempts to break the image of her created by William of Tyre. Asbridge uses a method similar to H.E. Mayer’s study of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, in which “local patterns of female power, patterns of lordship, influence and patronage; the political and strategic significance of certain settlements and regions; and the incidence of Latin alliances with Muslim powers.”

The history of the Crusader States is likened to a jigsaw puzzle by Rudolf Hiestand with his paper on the role of Gaufridus (Geoffrey), abbot of the Templum Domini. Hiestand seeks to expand the view of the Latin East beyond kings, prince, archbishops and bishops by examining local charters. Gaufridus played a prominent role in the politics of the Crusader kingdom in the mid 12th century both in religion and politics. He finished overseeing the reconstruction of the Dome of the Rock into a church, and he served as an emissary to the Byzantine emperor on two occasions.

Crusader Studies often benefit from investigations of single individuals who played significant (or even minor) roles in the Crusades.  Malcolm Barber examines the life of Philip of Nablus, a leading baron of Jerusalem, who late in his life joined the Knights Templar, where he rose to the rank of Master of the Temple. Barber states that the life of Philip of Nablus illustrates the major political, military and diplomatic events of the 12th century in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.  The life of Ranieri of Pisa is examined by Benjamin Kedar. Kedar argues that the Life of this saint can be used to gain insight to the history of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, with the main importance is the insight it gives into the life of Ranieri. Ranieri, a merchant turned hermit, undergoes a profound conversion and God revealed to him that he was His second son.

Bernard Hamilton looks at L’Estoire de Eracles empereur et la conqueste de la terre d’Outremer, an Old French translation of William of Tyre. Hamilton, through rigorous collations, argues that the Eracles is more than a simple translation of William’s work, it was an alteration into a chronicle of the French nobility.  Turning to an art-historical approach, the Freiburg Leaf. a florilegium penned by a German about 1200, is examined by Jaroslav Folda.  His approach in examining the drawings in the Leaf concludes that this work provided indirect evidence of crusader icon painting and possibly monumental painting at holy sites in the Levant.

Peter Edbury examines the structure, development and content of John of Jaffa’s Book of Assises, Usages and Pleas of the High Court of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Edbury cites two major obstacles in understanding the text as a whole. First is length, with the shorter version weighing in at 160,000 words and the longer version at approximately 200,000 words. The second problem is the edition used by modern historians is inadequate. Edbury then seeks to compare the extant manuscripts.

Denys Pringle looks at the settlement patterns of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and how they affected the distribution of churches while Hans E. Mayer discusses King Fulk’s role as city lord by examining charters and refuting claims made by Joshua Prawer. The main focus of the article is on ten houses granted by King Fulk to the canons of the Holy Sepulcher.  By comparison, the life of John Gale, Knight of Tyre, is recounted by Jean Richard.  Gale fled Tyre after killing his liege, joined Saladin’s army, and later betrayed Saladin earning his personal enmity. Richard uses multiple primary sources to piece together the highly adventurous life of John Gale.

Peter Jackson examines the perceived pro-Christian attitudes of Hülegü Khan and how they were incompatible with the Mongols’ ideas of their imperial mandate. Some of this mistaken pro-Christian attitude can be gathered from correspondence between Hülegü Khan and Louis IX and the fact that Hülegü’s mother was Christian. It seems the strongest claim for pro-Christian attitudes is the misinterpretation of the Mongols’ victories over the Muslims and the hope of Eastern Christians of alliance.

Robert Irwin retraces the historiography of western scholarly interest in the Arabic sources of the Crusades from the Maurists (17th and 18th centuries) to the present. The Maurists were monks who felt historical study was a form of prayer. Irwin focuses on their study of Arabic sources of the crusades and on the Orientalists that followed.  These interconnections are examined in another way by Michael Balard who clearly and cogently summarizes the trade network the Italians created in the eastern Mediterranean during the period of the Crusades.  He emphasizes that the Italians did not wait for the Crusades to begin before frequenting the ports of the eastern Mediterranean.

In the Levant itself, the War of Saint Sabas brought large scale devastation to the city of Acre. David Jacoby uses newly uncovered private documents to demonstrate the role played by Venetians and Genoese while Nicholas Courea examines the roles played by the Order of the Temple and the Order of the Hospital in international trade between the years 1291 and 1312. After the fall of Acre and Tyre the Cypriot port of Famagusta became the new trade and military headquarters for what remained of the Latin East. David Abulafia examines the commercial history of the small port of Piombino, especially its trade relations with the Hafsid Caliphate in Tunis. While not dealing directly with crusaders, Abulafia’s article deals with Muslim-Christian relations in the middle Mediterranean.

Cason Snow

Northern Illinois University <>

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