Tag Archives: Crusades

The Chanson d’Antioche: An Old French Account of the First Crusade

We were delighted to read Simon John’s review of The Chanson d’Antioche: An Old French Account of the First Crusade on the Reviews in History website.

…this volume is a landmark piece of scholarship not only in the field of the crusades but more widely in medieval history. The Chanson d’Antioche is one of the most important texts in crusade history, and a significant example of medieval vernacular literature in its own right. The publication of this translation will make the Antioche accessible to a large number of scholars across a range of disciplines.

The Chanson d’Antioche is published in Ashgate’s Crusade Texts in Translation series, and the volume is translated and introduced by Susan B. Edgington and Carol Sweetenham.

Further information about The Chanson d’Antioche is on our website.

Eye-witness Accounts of the Medieval World from a Muslim Perspective

Posted by Claire Percy, Senior Marketing Executive for History

For several years, I continued to avoid mention of this disaster as it horrified me. Who is there who would find it easy to write the obituary of Islam and the Muslims?

This is an extract from Ibn al-Athir’s “al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh,” considered to be one of the most important sources for the history of the medieval world. A scholar who spent much of his early years in Mosul, Northern Iraq, he fought in Saladin’s army at the age of 28, and his (many eye witness) accounts of events from 491/1097– 629/1231 deem him to be the most influential Muslim historian of his time.

The Muslims were full of fear and terror of [the Tatars]…What is Jerusalem in relation to the lands that these cursed ones destroyed, where each city is many times larger than Jerusalem? And what are the Israelites compared to those they killed? They did not spare anyone….They slew women, men and children. They split open the bellies of pregnant women and killed the foetuses.

From the time of the arrival of the Crusaders in the Levant, Crusader activities and the Muslim response become the focus of the work. His work covers events widely – in Iraq, Iran, North Africa and Spain.

This is the calamity whose sparks flew wide and whose damage was all-embracing…It spread through the lands like a cloud driven on the wind. Perhaps humanity will not see such as calamity …until the word comes to an end and life ceases to be…

What makes Ibn al-Athir’s accounts differ from other Muslim sources is that he was widely traveled, both a scholar and soldier, and one who doesn’t always refer to Saladin in glowing terms!

The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh is now available from Ashgate Publishing in three paperback volumes. Other texts on the Crusades and the Latin East are also published by Ashgate.


Crusades symposium begins this week – guest post from Medieval News

This post was originally published on Medieval News.

The Second International Symposium on Crusade Studies begins on Wednesday, drawing in dozens of scholars from over ten countries.

Hosted by Saint Louis University and the Crusades Studies Forum, the symposium, entitled Crusades: Medieval Worlds in Conflict, provides a venue for scholars to approach the Crusades from many different perspectives, to present the fruits of new research, and to assess the current state of the field.

Thomas F. Madden, Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University says that about 120 people have registered for the conference, including prominent historians such as Jonathan Phillips, Ronnie Ellenblum and Michael Angold. Madden credits the strong expected turnout to the success of the first symposium, which was also held at Saint Louis University in 2006, as well as the reputation of the Crusades Studies Fourm, and “a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

The symposium will explore a number of issues related to the crusades ranging from the development of crusading ideology and Holy War to the military aspects of the conflict. Madden notes that in recent years, some of the emerging trends in scholarship about the crusades is “the emphasis on religion and spirituality. The crusades were wars, but they were religious wars and if we fail to see them within that framework we fundamentally distort them. There was no good strategic reason for thousands of European warriors to march thousands of miles deep into enemy territory during the First Crusade. But there were many powerful religious reasons to do so.

“Within that framework, I’m particularly excited by studies that have begun to examine the intersection of crusade and liturgy, hagiography, and Marian devotion. Beyond religious approaches, there are also some interesting new studies being produced on the question of identity and the crusading movement. Because the crusades in some manner permeated so deeply into medieval society, it is an exceptionally rich topic of investigation.”

The symposium includes lectures that are open to the public, and two days of conference papers. Over 48 speakers are participating. Madden adds that the preparations for such a large symposium involved “a great deal of work, but I have very good assistants in the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and a battery of willing graduate students who chip in at every stage.”

The proceedings of the first symposium will be published this year by Ashgate Publishing. Professor Madden, who has written numerous books and articles about the crusades, is currently working on Venetian involvement about the Fourth Crusade as well as a larger work about the history of medieval Venice.

The Second International Symposium on Crusades Studies runs from February 17th to 20th. Click here to go the Symposium website.