The Crusades: Holy War, Piety and Politics in Christendom from the First Crusade to the Reconquista - Chris McNab
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Crusading fervour gripped Europe for more than 200 years and yet, almost a millennium later, we continue to question the crusaders’ motivation: was it purely spiritual reward or did greed play a part? What did knights from Western Europe have to gain from a hugely risky and expensive missions to the the Holy Land? The Crusades expertly takes the reader into the mindset of crusading knights, exploring, on the one hand, the role played by pilgrimage, penance and piety in Christian life and, on the other, the politics of Western Europe, the Papacy, Byzantium and the Sunni and Shi’a groups in the Middle East. Encompassing both the crusades to the Holy Land, Iberia and the Baltic as well as popular crusading, the book explores how crusades were financed, how the crusader principalities functioned and how they were lost by the end of the 13th century. Looking more broadly at the era, the book reveals how the crusades were reflected in art and the influence they had in reviving Mediterranean trade and in the development of banking. From Christian holy war to Muslim jihad, from the Templars to the Teutonic Knights, from warring monarchs to popular preachers, from pogroms against Jews to crusades against heretics, the book tells the crusading story from the 11th century through to the completion of the Reconquista of Spain in the 15th. Illustrated with 160 photographs, paintings, artworks and maps, The Crusades is a fascinating and accessible history.