contributor.author: Abbès Zouache

title.none: Ridyard, ed., The Medieval Crusade (Abbès Zouache)

identifier.other: baj9928.0608.020 06.08.20

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Abbès Zouache, Ciham/Université Lumière Lyon 2, azouache@alinto.com

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2006

identifier.citation: Ridyard, Susan J., ed. The Medieval Crusade. Series: Sewanee Medieval Studies, vol. 14. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004. Pp. ix, 177. $70.00 1-84383-087-6. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 06.08.20

Ridyard, Susan J., ed. The Medieval Crusade. Series: Sewanee Medieval Studies, vol. 14. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004. Pp. ix, 177. $70.00 1-84383-087-6. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Abbès Zouache
Ciham/Université Lumière Lyon 2
azouache@alinto.com

The essays gathered in this book were selected from the papers delivered at the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium "Crusades and Crusading in the Middle Ages," held in April, 2001. It deals broadly with "crusade" without any geographic or chronological limitation. The ten essays chosen are about the Latin Orient as well as Europe, and the First Crusade as well as the end of the Middle Ages.

This joint publication (with an index but without any bibliography) is remarkably introduced by Jonathan Phillips ("The Crusades: Sources, Impact and Context," 1-13), which places in context the selected papers and gives a rapid survey of modern crusading research, which is very dynamic. Phillips is right to underline the importance of the numerous works on the Latin sources, and notably on Albert of Aachen's Historia , which has recently been edited and translated into English by Susan B. Edgington. But let us remember a less important but continuous effort of translation of Arabic texts into English, as shown, for example, by the recent translations by Donald S. Richards of al-Nawâdir al-Sultâniyya of Bahâ' al-dîn Ibn Shaddâd (Ashgate, 2001) and of extracts of the Kâmil of Ibn al-Athir (Years 491-541/1097-1146 , Ashgate, 2006).

In a first essay ("Latin and Hebrew Crusade Chronicles: Some Shared Themes," 15-32), Robert Chazans' approach is resolutely comparative and thus really promising. The 1096 anti-Jewish assaults are described by three Jewish Chronicles. Among these chronicles, the Mainz Anonymous is clearly the most precise. It is therefore possible to compare it with the anonymous Gesta Francorum , the major Latin chronicle of the First Crusade. RC is interested in the place given to divinity in the two texts. He considers that the two of them give a central place to God, to whom they speak directly, a God whose apparitions are limited in the two chronicles, in which he rarely appears as an active agent. So, in the Gesta like in the Mainz Anonymous (in fact in the three Hebrew Chronicles), "the central role is surely played by human figures" (28).

In another paper ("Crusading in Christian Jewish Polemics," 33-51), Robert Chazan examines relatively ignored documentation which appeared at the end of the 1160s (with the Sefer ha-Berit of Joseph Kimhi of Narbonne) and grew rapidly in the thirteenth century--that is anti-Christian Jewish polemical literature. Of course, many factors explain this appearance and this development. But, for Chazan, the stimulus provided by the crusading mentality was essential. It is possible to identify, in the thrusts against Christian history, a negation of the successes of the Crusades. Jewish polemicists wanted to demonstrate that Christianity was nothing other than another passing empire. Christians pretensions to a messianic status were fallacious: for the Jews, redemption was in the future.

In "How, or How Much, to Reevaluate Peter the Hermit" (53-69), questions which have been debated since the nineteenth century are revisited by Jay Rubenstein. These questions turn around the controversial personality of Peter the Hermit, Urban's speech of November 1095 in Clermont and the importance of the Crusaders' apocalyptic motivation. Rubenstein quotes the important book of Jean Flori Pierre l'Ermite et la première croisade (Paris, 1999) but not a previous article from the same author, even though he probably echoes to it ("Faut-il réévaluer Pierre l'Ermite? Une réévaluation des sources de la première croisade," Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale , XXXVIII, 1995, 35-54). Like the French historian, Rubenstein recognizes the importance of Peter the Hermit's vision of the Crusade: an apocalyptic one, which surely had a considerable impact on the warriors' motivation. But it was certainly a different vision from the one of Urbain II. Despite Guibert of Nogent, who is the only chronicler of the First Crusade to present Urban's speech in apocalyptic terms, Rubenstein argues that "we have no evidence to support that Urban's call to crusade was identical, or even similar, to Peter's" (58). Guibert suggests a geographical division in crusader piety. The response to the call to crusade was from the start eschatological in Northern France and Germany, where apocalypticism probably represented "a tradition which predates Urban's sermon." Whatever it was, the Crusaders' motivations were of course varied.

Christopher Mac Evitt ("Christian Authority in the Latin East: Edessa in Crusader History," 71-83) convincingly argues that the local Christians played an integrated role in the culture and politics of the Latin East. Examples of the intertwining of local Christians and Frankish life are numerous in the sources. Nevertheless, if he rightly states that perspectives and information of Matthew of Edessa, who is indubitably hostile to the Franks, "must be placed within the context of Syriac, Arabic and Latin accounts" (74), he doesn't examine the Arabic sources (Ibn al-Azraq, Ibn al-Furât or Ibn Shaddâd...). Even if we don't agree with his explanation of Matthew's hostility (he was afraid of the competition the Franks offered as leaders of the Armenians), it is true that the role and the importance of the local Christians--and particularly the Armenians--in the history of the Latin East must be reevaluated.

The essay by Thomas F. Madden ("Venice, the Papacy and the Crusades before 1294," 85-95) deals with the rehabilitation of Venice, which, as he demonstrates, had good relations with the Papacy before the Fourth Crusade. Still in 1201, the pope's perception of Venice remained favorable. It was only the diversion of the Crusaders to Zara which was the turning point: then Innocent III was convinced of the will of the Venetians to manipulate and to hijack the Crusade.

In this perspective, it is interesting to read Alfred J. Andrea ("Innocent III, the Fourth Crusade and the Coming Apocalypse," 97-106), who shows another Innocent III than Thomas F. Madden's. Like Jay Rubenstein (see above), Andrea stresses the importance of apocalypticism in the motivation of the Crusaders--here, the Fourth Crusaders. He is able to demonstrate that Innocent III himself, the well known pope of remarkable political actions, was a "man of millenarian hopes," a man with "an apocalyptic visionary" (98).

In a fascinating paper entitled "Were the Templars Guilty" (107-124), Jonathan Riley Smith wonders about the credibility of the early fourteenth century depositions inquiring into the behavior of the Templars. Smith refuses to adopt a dismissive attitude towards the charges against the order of the Temple (as Malcom Barber, The Trial of the Templars , Cambridge, 1978 and The New Knighthood , Cambridge, 1994) or to consider it as a coherent whole which reveals the will of the king of France to destroy an obstacle to the development of the French crown (as Alain Demurger, Les Templiers , Paris, 2005, first ed. 1985). He argues that it is necessary to distinguish firstly the accusations, secondly France and the other places where the Order was solidly installed. Considering the situation of isolation of many Templars commanders and the autonomy they could have, he is inclined to believe that some of the accusations were well justified. Finally, and despite a different approach of Alain Demurger, Smith concurs with him on a fundamental point: on the one hand, reform was necessary and "à ne pas se reformer lui-même, l'ordre courait le risque d'être réformé par d'autres" (op. cit., p. 493); on the other hand, "whether the charges were true or not, it was badly in need of reform" (124).

There was a need for reform because the problem was deep and structural, as Smith argues in another paper ("Structures of the order of the Temple and the Hospital in c. 1292," 125-43). According to him, a carefully comparison between the two major orders of the time shows that the order of the Hospital received many more efficient institutions than the order of the Temple which was, furthermore, characterized by an "anarchic and archaic system of government by the grand master and headquarters convent" (141). But as he tries to explain why bizarre and illicit practices had been allowed to develop in the Temple, Smith seems to suggest that the worm was in the apple from the beginning: contrary to the Hospitallers and the Teutonics, the Templars had no nursing functions and their activities were foremost military ones.

As is well known, the Crusade fostered enthusiasm but implied criticism too. William E. Rogers ("The C-Revisions and the Crusades in Piers Plowman ," 145-6) finds forms of this criticism in the "C" revisions of Langland's Pier Plowman (end of the fourteenth century). If the poet doesn't clearly refer to the Crusades, it is probably the case in, for example, the revised material of the Prologue. Here, Langland attacks the clergy. More generally speaking, according to Rogers, the suspect goals and the failures of the Crusades are attributed to the clergy, not to the knighthood.

Kelly De Vries is interested in one of these failures ("The Failure of Philip the Good to Fulfill his Crusade Promise of 1454," 157-70). He seeks to understand why the intricacies of the detailed plan of the strongest sovereign of the time failed. Constantinople fell on 28 May, 1453 and Philippe, who was at peace with Charles VII, king of France, seemed to be really enthusiastic. He answered positively the demand of Cardinal Silvius Piccolomini; a cautious plan was completed but finally, it had not been applied. A careful examination of the context sheds light on the situation. Firstly, despite appearances, peace with France seemed fragile, and Charles VII did not show any enthusiasm concerning the call to crusade. Secondly, there were continuous problems among Philip's Low Countries subjects. As important conflicts were to break ten years after, Philip the Good was more than "prophetic" (167, 169), but also a good strategist.

To conclude, despite a certain heterogeneity, the neglect of Arabic sources and sometimes questionable conclusions, those papers undoubtedly offer, as Jonathan Philips says, "a thoughtful and stimulating cross-section of modern crusading research and help to illustrate why it is such a flourishing discipline"(13).