gesta per Francos: Études sur les croisades dédiées à Jean Richard/Crusade
Studies in Honour of Jean Richard.
Michel Balard, Benjamin Kedar & Jonathan Riley-Smith, eds.
Aldershot & Burlington: Ashgate, 2001.
xxiv + 434 pp. $104.95
This is a festschrift for Jean Richard.
Like most festschriften, it is a collection of only loosely-related essays
which vary widely in scope, length, and utility, and it poses the usual
difficulties to the reviewer.
The volume contains a brief preface by the editors, giving a biographical
sketch of Richard's academic career and noting that his scholarly interests have
included both the history of Burgundy and that of the Latin East, though this
volume addresses only the latter. The
editors refer to the crusades as the "première phase d'une expansion européene,"
evoking, perhaps unintentionally, the ghost of Joshua Prawer's largely rejected
Only by the narrowest of definitions can this idea be accepted, since
Europeans from the time of Alexander on (at least) engaged in
"expansionary" activities outside the borders of Europe, and in any
case the crusades were generally conceived and prosecuted as defensive wars, not
military or political expansions, just as the activities of the Byzantines
between 622 and 1095 were. This is
perhaps a quibble, but it is surprising to see the idea still in circulation.
Twelve pages of bibliography follow, an amenity still useful in this age
of Google. In accordance with the
focus of the volume, only those of Richard's works which deal with the Latin
East are listed in the bibliography.
The thirty-eight contributions are broken down into four sections:
"Bella Sacra," dealing with crusading; "Militia Nova,"
addressing the military orders; "Terra Sancta," on warfare and life
generally in the Latin East; and "Cyprus," which is self-explanatory.
Twenty are in English, seventeen in French, and one in German.
Seven of the articles include transcriptions of texts, a habit greatly to
As might be expected, not all the articles are directly related to
military history. Of the thirty-eight, perhaps thirteen have significant
military content. Most of these are
found, naturally, in the "Bella Sacra" section, and may be broken down
as follows: five might be
considered to deal at least partly with matters of motivation and recruitment
(H. E. J. Cowdrey, "Pope Gregory VII and Martyrdom"; Christoph Maier,
"Civilis ac pia regis Francorum
deceptio: Louis IX as Crusade Preacher"; Jacques Paviot, "Comment
reconquérir la Terre sainte et vaincre les Sarrasins"; Norman Housley,
"Explaining Defeat: Andrew of Regensburg and the Hussite Crusades";
and Anthony Luttrell, "A Hospitaller soror
at Rhodes, 1347").
The rest are even less easy to group.
Paviot's "Comment reconquérir la Terre sainte" also discusses
recovery treatises, as does Alain Demurger's "Les orders militaires et la
croisade au début du XIVe siècle: Quelques remarques sur les traités de
croisade de Jacques de Molay et de Foulques de Villaret."
John France's "The Fall of Antioch during the First Crusade"
deals with the negotiations during the siege; John Pryor's "'Water, water
everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.' Water Supplies for the Fleets of the First
Crusade" addresses the logistics of that expedition.
Marie-Adélaïde Nielen presents what seems to be a fragment of the rule
of the elusive Cypriot Order of the Sword in "Un fragment de la Règle de
l'Ordre de l'Épee?" (an article which this reviewer found particularly
intriguing) and Malcolm Barber discusses the conduct of war in "The
Albigensian Crusades: Wars Like Any Other?"
In "Frankish and Muslim Siege Warfare and the Construction of
Frankish Concentric Castles," Ronnie Ellenblum takes up the vexed question
of influence—who learned from whom? Ellenblum
argues that Latin castle-building innovations were a response not to Muslim
construction techniques, but to the Muslim adoption of Latin use of heavy siege
engines. And Denys Pringle discusses possible sites for the location
of the Spring of Cresson, an important feature in the campaigns of 1187, in
"The Spring of Cresson in Crusading History."
Those interested in trying to recreate the events of the siege and fall
of Acre in 1291 will find Adrian Boas' "Some Reflections on Urban
Landscapes in the Kingdom of Jerusalem: Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and
Acre" to be a very helpful overview of the state of research on this vexing
question. Dominique Sourdel
discusses the extent to which Prince Bohemond VI and the Mongols actually
reconverted Muslim mosques to their original use as churches in Damascus during
the joint Christian-Mongol campaign of 1260 ("Bohémond et les chrétiens
à Damas sous l'occupation mongole").
Given the limits of space and the interests of De
re militari's audience, the focus of this review has been primarily on
articles of military interest. Other
articles cover topics such as art history, church history, political and
economic history, historiography, textual analysis, biography, sigillography,
pilgrimage, and archaeology. Their
value should not be considered less for their not being discussed in more detail
There are a few weaknesses in this volume, beyond the usual ones inherent
in the medium. For one thing, there is no index. Including one would have taken a certain amount of time on
the editors' part, but would have greatly enhanced the usefulness of the volume
to readers. For another, the text
is set in what appears to be 10-point type, difficult and even unpleasant to
read. The text is poorly
copy-edited, a trend becoming alarmingly widespread in the output of many
publishers (there are so many errors and infelicities that the reader may be
left to find examples for himself). There
is also no list of contributors and their affiliations which, given the wide
dispersal of contributors, would have been interesting if not instructive to
peruse, and would in itself have underscored the influence of the man to whom
the contributions were offered. The
cost of the volume is almost prohibitive for the individual reader, and ensures
that its distribution will be limited to a few valiant libraries and the most
hard-core of crusade scholars.
Most of these problems would have been easy to fix, given a little more
attention on the part of editors and publisher. It
is a pity that a volume intended to honor such an influential and important
figure as Jean Richard did not receive that attention.