is a well-respected name in medieval studies, and not just for having
served as a Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham
University. Indeed, he was a founder of the Iberian specialty in Medieval
Military Studies there. Once again, O’Callaghan has provided
us with an immaculately-researched work that
will be of use for years to come and, most importantly, a
book which provides significant materials for further investigation
and discussion. The
Strait of Gibraltar was of great significance to the crusades to the
Holy Land and to Iberia itself. O’Callaghan has provided a feast
of information for the reader.
The reviewer had only
two issues with this work. First, O’Callaghan does not
explicitly define what he considers to be a Crusade [or a ‘crusade’?
– Ed.], although he cites for each instance of “crusade” a
Papal or other Church document endorsing the crusade in question, by
which the reader may infer his premise. An explicit definition
of Crusade really should have been stated at the beginning of the work – perhaps
this would have been material for an Introduction? Second, the
work is organized by Muslim tribe rather than by Castilian king,
which results in the reader having to follow multiple persons and relationships
across several chapters, an undertaking perhaps too difficult for students. This
reviewer felt hard-pressed to keep all of the historical persons in
mind, even using the charts, in the face of so much new information;
yet this book is certainly worth the intellectual exercise!
One editorial problem,
by a disservice has been done to O’Callaghan’s high-quality
work by the press, is the inconsistent approach to punctuation in this
book. There are several passages that are not punctuated properly,
and there are several instances where similar passages are punctuated
very differently. These inconsistencies make it difficult for
the reader to understand exactly what is meant in several places, resulting
in re-reading the passages several times to ensure accurate comprehension. The
editors certainly should have addressed this issue.
In sum, however, this
work truly makes a contribution to the field of medieval, Crusades,
and Iberian studies on several levels. It is certainly worth
purchasing, and Professor O’Callaghan is to be commended for
this excellent book.