Archive for November, 2015

51ds2Ey7G5L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_How to Plan a Crusade is A lively and compelling account of how the crusades really worked, and a revolutionary attempt to rethink how we understand the Middle Ages

The story of the wars and conquests initiated by the First Crusade and its successors is itself so compelling that most accounts move quickly from describing the Pope’s calls to arms to the battlefield. In this new book, Christopher Tyerman instead focuses on something obvious but overlooked: the massive, all-encompassing and hugely costly business of actually preparing for a crusade. The efforts of many thousands of men and women, who left their lands and families in Western Europe, and marched off to a highly uncertain future in the Holy Land and elsewhere have never been sufficiently discussed and analysed before.


How to Plan a Crusade is a great, fun read; and it’s certainly refreshing to see The Crusades tackled from a rather unique perspective.  We’ve seen military and religious analysis before, but I don’t know that I’ve ever come across something that actually tackles the…the business…of running a Crusade before.  The logistics and finances take centre-stage here.  While that may sound tedious, in the execution it’s actually very engaging and entertaining.  Tyerman speaks passionately on the subject, and it’s his writing style that is the main part of what makes How to Plan a Crusade so entertaining, though.

I will, say, though, that this is not a great book to pick up if you’re a complete newbie when it comes to The Crusades.  A lot of prior knowledge is assumed, with dates and names fired off with no introduction or context.  If you’re already interested in The Crusades, then this is highly recommended – pick it up for a fresh perspective on an aspect that you may not even has considered before…but if you’re a complete novice, you may want to do some other reading first.