The New Concise History Of The Crusades

1221 words - 5 pages

Thomas Madden’s Crusades is an exposition of the crusades, which occurred during the Middle Ages. The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character. They remain a very important movement in human history, and are hard to understand, as they include several themes and they lasted for a long time (about two hundred years, and the author covers a period of about eight centuries in his chronological work). Religion is, of course, the most recurrent theme we think about the Crusades, but is it the only factor to explain them? How does Madden, considered as one of the most foremost historian of the Crusades, expose them in his book? Is his work effective to understand this period of History? Madden has the ambition to relate the Crusades from the Middle Ages to today events, such as the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. For him, it is a recall of what happened in the past, and what can still happen today: making wars for religion. Madden wants to intrigue readers with this concise book so they go further to discover more about the Crusades.

First of all, we can underline how Madden emphasizes the fact that the Crusades were driven by religious reasons: “A crusade army was a curious mix of rich and poor, saints and sinners, motivated by every kind of pious and selfish desire, yet it could not have come into being without the pious idealism that led men to risk all to liberate the lands of Christ” (Madden, 13). The First Crusade occurred after Pope Urban II preached a sermon to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Madden expresses regrets about what he calls a “mistaken view”, that says that “religion was not an impetus but a diversion” (11). He definitely assumes a point of view that is different from other popular works. His efforts to contextualize the medieval Crusades are efficient, and he gives a lot of details about it. Thus, he explains the motivations of those who made sacrifices, for Christ, but also for the culture of nobility, which was a paramount element back in the eleventh century. Religion does not only include the love that people can have to God, but was also part of their life and culture, that means fighting to defend their churches would, by the same time, defend their own world and marks. Anyway, we have to add that motivations were sometimes different, and Madden do not forget to explain that. For example, he talks about the massacre of the Jews that was committed during the First Crusade. He explains that the penury was the origin of this massacre, along with the fact that Jews were “responsible for the Crucifixion” (19), that means they are also the enemies of Christians. Religious doctrines of western Christianity were unique, and were driven, of course, by the faith. A good example of that strong faith is the feeling Christians had whether they won or not. When a Crusade was successful, people would thank God for bringing them victory. When a Crusade failed, for instance the Second...

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