Read God's War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman Online


God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks God's War offers a sweeping new vision of one of history's most astounding events: the Crusades. From 1096 to 1500, European Christians fought to recreate the Middle East, Muslim Spain, and the pagan Baltic in the image of their God. The Crusades are perhaps both the most familiar and most misunderstood phenomena of the medieval world, and here Christopher Tyerman seeks to recreate, from the ground up, the centuries of violence committed as an act of religious devotion. The result is a stunning reinterpretation of the Crusades, revealed as both bloody political acts and a manifestation of a growing Christian communal identity. Tyerman uncovers a system of belief bound by aggression, paranoia, and wishful thinking, and a culture founded on war as an expression of worship, social discipline, and Christian charity. This astonishing historical narrative is imbued with figures that have become legends--Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, Philip Augustus. But Tyerman also delves beyond these leaders to examine the thousands and thousands of Christian men--from Knights Templars to mercenaries to peasants--who, in the name of their Savior, abandoned their homes to conquer distant and alien lands, as well as the countless people who defended their soil and eventually turned these invaders back. With bold analysis, Tyerman explicates the contradictory mix of genuine piety, military ferocity, and plain greed that motivated generations of Crusaders. He also offers unique insight into the maturation of a militant Christianity that defined Europe's identity and that has forever influenced the cyclical antagonisms between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Drawing on all of the most recent scholarship, and told with great verve and authority, God's War is the definitive account of a fascinating and horrifying story that continues to haunt our contemporary world. (20060724)...

Title : God's War: A New History of the Crusades
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ISBN : 9780674023871
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 1040 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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God's War: A New History of the Crusades Reviews

  • Hadrian
    2019-07-02 07:00

    A question I tend to ask when reading is: who is this book for? A lay audience would balk at 1,000 pages of dense reading about everything from the Abbasids to Imad ad-din Zengi, and scholarly readers would sniff at the five-page bibliography. But on the other hand, I suspect what the book hopes to replace. That is, Steven Runciman's popular three-volume A History of the Crusades, published in the early 1950s and still in print. Runciman's ideas are semi-familiar even if you haven't read his book at all. He focuses more on the crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the total moral dissolution of the Christian participants. Tyerman takes a wider view of the crusades - while of course he includes the most well-known campaigns to take Jerusalem or Egypt, he also includes other theaters as far afield as the Albigensian crusade in southern France, the Reconquista in the Iberian peninsula, Baltic crusades, or even when the Papacy split in two, and then declared crusades on each other. As for the crusader's motivations, Tyerman finds a mix of fanaticism, sometimes financial gain, sometimes a sincere belief. The idea of the crusade lingered on past the fall of Acre in 1291, and Tyerman's definition includes the later campaigns in Varna, Hungary, and up through the fall of Constantinople. The greatest single refutation of Runciman's work is his approach to the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Tyerman suggests this betrayal, while atrocious, was not as bad by medieval standards (certainly not as horrific as the Sack of Jerusalem in 1099). The Greeks took back Constantinople in 1261, and the city would only finally fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Likewise, Tyerman asserts it was not just Byzantine infighting that led to their downfall - the Ottomans were a well-organized and powerful group, and only a massive crusade might have had any chance of slowing their expansion at all. All this in mind, this is an excellent single-volume history of the crusades, and a useful starting point for a devoted non-specialist reader or a patient undergraduate student.

  • Christopher
    2019-06-20 04:35

    If you want to keep your preconceived notions of the Crusades as a simple clash of cultures, of a silly and senseless war of religions, then don't read this book. In a little over 900 pages, Mr. Tyerman narrates this peculiar series of wars through the prisim of Western European politics, culture and history, while giving equal weight the the Muslim forces of the period. In it, he reveals the crusades as "Inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia;...elaborate, sincere intolerance;[and] diversity and complexity of motive and performance." While this is an excellent history, it should not be read by the average reader. It is a heavy tome and has a lot of minute details, not to mention a vocabulary that will tax even the most well read (suggestion: look up the word "sybaritic" before reading this). It can also be very confusing to follow characters as so few had last names during this era, nor are all of their backgrounds fully explained. Also, surprisingly for an Oxford man, there are many simple grammatical mistakes (missing conjunctions, added letters, etc.) that add up after a while. Lastly, during the first 100 pages, Mr. Tyerman seems more intent on winning an argument than telling a story and the last 100 pages, while interesting, could have been left out entirely. But, if you are genuinely interested in knowing more about the Crusades and have the discipline of mind to make it through 900 pages, then this is a must read.

  • Ton
    2019-06-28 06:56

    The very best history of the Crusades that I have ever read. Tyerman handles both the traditional crusades to the Holy Land, as well as the political crusades, the crusades against heretics (for example the Albigensian Crusade) as the Baltic crusades. The crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land of course get the most attention, but the other crusades are not short-changed in any way.One of the strengths of this book is Tyerman’s expert use of contemporary sources, both Christian and Muslim (and perhaps a few pagan, but I can’t honestly recall at this point), and his efforts to show the reader the status quo in the Holy Land between the crusades. The political situation in the Latin East was of major importance to the results of the crusades, so it’s a sound policy to make clear what was actually going on over there. As an example, the local barons peace-treaties and individual hopes played a large part in the failure of the Second Crusade; even if the army was decimated before it reached Outremer, King Conrad of Germany and Louis of France still had a large army at their disposal. Yet the Siege of Damascus ended in bitter failure, precisely because there was no agreement to be reached about division of spoils. The entrenched positions of the Outremer lords was a vital condition for this failure. Runciman, for example, takes up the Jerusalem apologist William of Tyre (who was almost desperate to attract new lords for the crusade, and so had to shift the blame from the Jerusalem lords to the western newcomers), and follows his line of thinking without really criticizing William, or looking at his motives. Tyerman exposes the biases, and gives a very good picture of what actually happened, as far as it is still possible to tell all these years later.Another strength of this book is that Tyerman takes the time to really explain the background and the theories behind the crusades. The idea of a land-grab (to name just one example) can be put to rest, though there were definitely lords present who wanted to win land form themselves. Another example, for the First Crusade, is that Tyerman shows that a huge propaganda-offensive was employed before preaching really began. He also demonstrates that while Pope Urban II was probably surprised by the response to the call to crusade, he had nevertheless prepared the ground very thoroughly. Much of this was previously denounced as medieval simplicity (princes moved to tears, taking up the cross in an emotional mood), but Tyerman explains how much propaganda and staging went into this.Over 1000 pages, with extensive notes and an index, God’s War is an excellent single volume history of the Crusades. Multi-faceted, erudite and following a clear narrative, this is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in the crusades.

  • Endre Fodstad
    2019-07-10 06:40

    When I was younger, I saw Terry Jones' "The Crusades" series at a point where I knew relatively little about the subject. One of the historians interviewed, an elderly man leaning on a cane, struck me as rather an openly biased fellow. "Barbarians...they though they were barbarians...." he said, with a sort of self-assured upper-class arrogance that left little doubt as to his own opinion of the crusaders.In the prologue to this book, Tyerman compares himself disfavorably to this historian (I guess nobody would be surprised to learn that the man in question was Sir Steven Runciman) - Tyermans' "clunking computer keyboard" can hardly be the equal of Runciman's "rapier wit". This is the case. The three-volume A History of the Crusades is a very well written work, and this one can be heavy at times. On the other hand, Tyerman has no cause for shame - God's War is much better history than Runciman's. Much has happened in crusading historyography since the 1950s, and Runciman cannot be read anymore - at least not by me - without irritation at his obvious and unashamed judgemental bias and tendency to create heroes where there were just ordinary humans - in Runciman's case his beloved byzantines and to a lesser extent their muslim foes/friends.So, Tyerman writes better history. The book is thorough, extensive, well-researched, and takes into account the last 50 years - and especially last 20 years, defining years for the history of the crusade phenomenon. It presents the facts that we have and draws reasonable and likely correct explanations for behaviour; there are few "it must have been thus"'es in "God's War" and you can see how well-read the author is. Unfortunately, Tyerman isn't very good at making the history all that interesting. There are too many repetitions, too many names that do not pop up later in any defining or even important roles - and in some cases there are names that pop up later, but as they were simply part of a large collection of people 50 pages earlier you may have overseen them - and his language often leaves something to be desired. I now know what "fissiparous" means. I can hardly avoid it, as Tyerman overused the word to an almost parodic level in the first 3-400 pages.But the book is still good. It is crammed full of information and reasoned explanation for events, it is written with a wide sweep and understanding of events, and it provides you with an updated view on crusade history. Sadly, though, it evades more than three stars. Had the history not been so good, it would have only gotten the one.

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-07-07 10:44

    Christopher Tyerman's God"s War has the stated goal rehabilitating the Catholic Crusaders of the the Middle Ages who for most of the last 200 years have been the object of much scorn and derision. Tyerman is particularly anxious to present a more nuanced view of the Crusades than that found in Steven Runciman's history of the Crusades published between 1951 and 1954 which denounced the Crusades in the most uncompromising terms as being an exercise in unwarranted and tremendously destructive aggression against the people of the Middle East. The reality is that there is really too much wrong with the Crusaders for them to be ever be completely exonerated. The most notorious outrage in the eyes of Europeans was the Infamous Sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade which occurred due to a highly unfortunate sequence of events. The crusaders were stranded in Italy without enough money to pay for their sea trip to the Holy Land. The Republic of Venice offered to provide the sea transportation to the Holy Land if the Crusaders would conduct a punitive raid against the Constantinople which was Venice's great rival for control of trade in the Eastern Mediterranean. The propriety of this agreement was questionable at best given that Constantinople was Greek and the capital of Orthodox Christianity. Nonetheless attack they did and with extraordinary brutality. After capturing the city, the Crusaders went on a three day rampage of rape, murder and theft that to this day poisons the relations between Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.Outrages of similar magnitude to the Sack of Constantinople were conducted against the Muslims in the Middle East that have acquired similarly legendary status. Tyerman does not actually ignore any of the malfeasance he simply chooses to describe it in more muted tones than does Runciman which is his privilege.To me the great strength of Tyerman's book is that he also covers the Crusades in the Baltic, Spain and Southern France something which Runciman and most other historians choose not to do. This is part of a broader effort on the part of Tyerman to show how the Crusades should not be viewed as forerunner to the the European Imperialism in the Middle East which occurred during the great nineteenth century scramble for colonies. Rather Tyerman presents the Crusades as an inherent feature of Europe's catholic culture in the Middle Ages. The Crusaders left for the Middle Ages to serve God, to win a place in Heaven and very frequently to atone for sins. Wars between noble families were common throughout the middle ages as were wars between nobles and their kings. The medieval code chivalry meant that the victors could not punish the losers. However, the losers could be persuaded to leave on a Crusade to redeem themselves. During their lengthy absences the king could assure the complete pacification of the area where the revolt had occurred.Tyerman's book thus not only delivers a great narrative of the Crusades but it also provides tremendous insight into the culture and politics of medieval Europe.

  • Matt Brady
    2019-06-28 04:49

    A thoroughly comprehensive and almost exhaustive overview of the crusades. Rather than focus solely on the military campaigns, Tyerman devotes a lot of attention to aspects such as preaching, finance, recuitment, and law, as well as the culture and politics of the crusading states, and the spread of the crusading notion into regions wholly separate from the traditional Holy Land. In a work as big as this, there are bound to be parts that seem a little dry and uninteresting, but it's hard not to be impressed at the depth and breadth of Tyerman's scholarship.

  • Bryn Hammond
    2019-07-05 03:57

    Consulted rather than read. Grand work, but not untendentious. Seek other views too. In his preface he discusses the historian's perspective:My perspective is western European... A history of the Crusades could be very different in structure if composed from the viewpoint of medieval Syrian, Egyptian or Andalusian Muslims, or European or Near Eastern Jews, or Balts, Livs or Prussians. However, the essential contours of the subject would, if observed dispassionately, look much the same, because this study is intended as a history, not a polemic, an account not a judgement...It's quite possible that I'm simply upset with him because I'm among these Europeans who 'bizarrely' have seen a chivalric figure in Saladin. I confess to that. But is his determined demolition of the legend of Saladin (and Nur al-Din before him) truly in concordance with that preface? Or rather -- isn't the fault in the preface? I don't know that such a history is possible. This hasn't struck me as being one.

  • Jerome
    2019-07-01 05:47

    A well-researched, readable history of the Crusades.Tyerman describes the mix of religious motives and self-interest that drove the crusaders, and shows how this affected situations like the Albigensian crusade, the Teutonic Knights, and the wars between Byzantium and its rivals. The author also spends a good deal of time on how the ideology of crusading developed and how crusading was institutionalized.The narrative can get a bit dry, some of the information feels like trivia, and it helps to have background knowledge. Also, the narrative is told almost entirely from the Western perspective. The discussion of genealogies can get tiresome, the narrative jumps around a bit, and Tyerman’s rendition of the historical and geographical setting can be a bit dull at times. Other than those issues,this is a pretty thorough treatment of the subject.A dense but broad, nuanced work.

  • Ryan
    2019-07-10 05:39

    God's WarChristopher TyermanRead it in a thick and cumbersome paper back weighing in at 1023 pages.Diving deep into the rabbit hole with an engrossing, detailed, events, causes, and outcomes of the premier activity in regards to and concerning the theatres of the Levant, Modern Spain, and Modern Eastern Europe/Western Russia from 1080AD to the death throws and eventual end of the Crusades loosely around 1500AD. Tyerman is considered a British Medieval Historian and a fellow of both Hertford College and Oxford University. He is most qualified to write this, with about eight publications already on the subject, a handful more on assorted medieval history, and other erroneous history gems. To say that the Crusades was solely about religious domination and control of Holy Land is a gross misunderstanding of the political nature and motives of Europe and other regions during this time frame. Tyerman delves exhaustively into these motives, customs, history, supplies, logistics, mood and interaction of the papacy, and men of the times, to shed light on the events that would be generally known as the Crusades, in which Tyerman has broken down as (and I have tried to summarize here):The First Crusade - Comprising the initial efforts from the papacy for pursuit of the Holy Land. Encompassing some of the most notorious wild tales of Peter the hermit, the lance, and the bloody capture of Jerusalem."On 14 June Peter and twelve others dug around the floor of the cathedral until, as evening fell, Peter himself discovered what he and his fellow diggers took to be the point of the Lance sticking out of the ground at the bottom of the excavations. The discovery transformed the army's mood from terrified inertia to awed encouragement…"Frankish Outremer - The precarious position of the Frankish monarchy in Outremer beset by enemies on all sides and with an internal political climate equally as deadly."Infuriated by his son's cowardice in the face of an attack from Antolia, Joscelin, seriously ill and bed ridden, insisted on leading out his troops borne on a litter. Seeing this, the invaders hurriedly withdrew, On receiving the news, Joscelin, ordering his litter to be put down on the road, died giving thanks to God."The Second Crusade - The attempt to strengthen Frankish Outremer by Lords and Kings making the pilgrimage to the holy city and the creation of the knightly orders. In addition, Alfonso's initial papal approval of a crusade against the Muslims on the Iberian peninsula. "All were united in acknowledgement of the personal human cost, thrown more sharply into relief by the lack of any wider material gain."The Third Crusade - The rise of Saladin and the Ayyubids forced the Frankish Kingdom in Outremer into decline as well as the expedition of the third Crusade to retake Jerusalem helmed by such famous Kings as Richard I, Frederick I, and Phillip II."The last weeks if the siege were dominated by the contest of the Christian siege engines, catapults, sappers and scaling ladders against the defenders…Each Christian commander possessed his own great stone-throwers…Phillip II had many, his best, called 'Malvoisine' or 'Bad Neighbor', constantly needed repair as it was a prime target of enemy bombardment."The Fourth Crusade - The German Crusade of 1195-1198, the sack of Constantinople, thereby removing Byzantium as an active buffer between Western Christendom and the Turks."William Trussel left his English lands on Crusade in 1190. Six weeks later his wife was murdered by his bastard half-brother and her body flung into a nearby marl pit."The Expansion of Crusading - The Albigensian Crusades, the destruction of the Cathars, and the conquest of Languedoc. Including the fifth Crusade also known as the famed Children's Crusade, expansion of Crusading in Spain and in the Baltic. In short, expanding the boarders of Western Christendom from boarder threats, encroachment, and against Christianity factions within the Catholic kingdom."The crusaders' decision to spare Carcassonne the destruction of Beziers was prompted not by humanity but by a realization that whoever was to inherit the lordship of the area needed to rule more than ruins and smouldering charnel houses."The Defense of Outremer - The precarious perch of Outremere in the 13th century, its defense and fall as well as Louis IX efforts in Egypt."Rhetoric did not win wars. Money, men and ships could."The Later Crusades - Follows some of the more unfortunate efforts as well as Tyerman's summarization, conclusion, etc."Over subsequent generations, the failure to mount a large, still less effective, western European military campaign against the Mamluks or, later, the Ottoman Turks, shifted the emphasis of wars of the cross while transforming their nature." This is not intended for the casual reader, and even the casual historic reader. Due to the very complex nature of the papacy, feudalism and the regional identities and conflicts it produced; a reader should be very familiar with these ideals before attempting God's War or else allow themselves to be lost in the bulk of the tomb with no light. While Tyerman does a fantastic and scholarly job , it's exactly that, scholarly.Heavily enjoyed.

  • Kirk Lowery
    2019-07-09 08:32

    I must admit I got lost amidst the details of names and places of the Near East, the Baltics, Iberia, North Africa and Anatolia. But one comes away with the realization that the Middle Ages was a time of constant turmoil and war; did they do anything else? And the *massive* waste of lives and treasure is overwhelming.One insight: the Teutonic Knights conquered and ruled Prussia as an independent state. This explains why the tradition of the military was so strong in that region, reflected in modern times.This book is a necessary adjunct to any general history of the 12th-15th centuries for a balanced view of all that was going on. One of the reasons everything is so confusing is that society in Europe was coalescing into nation-states and here we see the beginning of that process as the nobility competed for power, treasure and land. It also shows the dominance the Church had -- not just political or "religious" -- but embedded in the culture, values and identity of every person, small or great.

  • Kreso
    2019-06-29 08:35

    I learned a bit on less known Crusades. I'm not particularly in love with the fact: While Normans besieged Bari, Croats went to help Bari, and Normans sacked Croatian capital and tried to establish themselves. They failed. What Normans didn't fail was to sack in 1204 in the Fourh Crusade Croatian city of Zadar (prior to proceeding to Byzantium).All this spiced up with Tyerman is not mentioning Croats at all, as if it was only Greek, Bulgarians, Serbs... fighting the Turks.(Let me put it in perspective, in 1593. Germans and Croats of 10000 strong troop defeats 40000 Turks. This is at least a size of any army fighting in western Europe.)To sum it up, I don't know what the author researched by himself, except compiling few earlier books.

  • J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
    2019-07-12 06:58

    A bit baggy, wooden, and in European/Oxford line with absurd, if not suicidal, Islamic apologetics. A test run before the master, Runciman, and his three-volume tome arrived at the bookstore. From what I was able to trudge through, the big book would have served a much higher purpose as toilet paper, tissues, looseleaf, paper towels, &c.

  • Erin Britton
    2019-07-09 10:44

    For over fifty years Sir Steven Runciman's epic three volume A History of the Crusades was the authoritative source for those seeking to understand that tumultuous period of history but with the publication of God's War the torch of crusader scholarship has been firmly passed to Oxford historian Christopher Tyerman. Over the course of more than a thousand pages, Tyerman introduces and analyses the centuries of religious struggles which makes up the Crusades, a period which manages to be both one of the most infamous in history as well as one of the most misunderstood. Although there had been decades of distrust between the predominantly Christian Europe and the mainly Muslim Middle East, the trigger factor for the launching of the First Crusade in 1095 was the plea for help against the invading Muslim armies from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I to Pope Urban II. There was great fear about the loss of lands to the Muslims and so the Church was more than ready to aid Emperor Alexios in the defence of Byzantium and Christendom and, ultimately, in the recapture of Christian lands starting with Jerusalem. God's War is a wonderfully meticulous account of the Crusades and the personalities and factors behind them. Tyerman is a masterful researcher and has referenced a quite phenomenal number of primary and secondary sources.

  • Fred Dameron
    2019-06-16 08:34

    A long read but a good one, if you are interested in Europe from 1095 - 1492. For almost 500 years Crusade was the watch word of Europe. Every Monarch, Pope, Duke, Pasha, and even the Kahn's of the Mongol Empire were influenced by the Crusades. The influence may not have been great, the Mongols, but it was there. The modern European states were started by the Crusades. There Nation hood was established by tales of great deed's done at Acre, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Hattin, and dozens of other locations from Thrace to the Levant. Richard the Lion Hearted, all the Louis of France, Din Nair, Saladin, Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II all left their marks on their nations history and mythology. This read gives you an understanding of what those marks were/are. It is also a starting point to understand how the Mid-Eastern nations today see the West, an extremely important point in this day.

  • Pat Carson
    2019-06-16 09:53

    Big read, worth the effort.

  • Michael
    2019-06-16 04:41

    Lately, historical fact doesn't seem important, such as with all the misinformation about the Templar Knights. So, to get the true story I sought out a book on the Templars to get the true story which turned out to be completely different than the crap that passes for history on the History Channel (Ancient Aliens, anyone?). So, when I became interested in the Crusades I found a wealth of legends and stories and politically correct misinformation on what the Crusades were and what effect they had on Western and Middle-eastern history. Frankly I thought that I was impossible to get the real story as I thought archival material to tell the story properly was no longer extant. Then I stumble onto Christopher Tyerman's excellent "God's War."This is NOT a book for casual reading. At over 900 pages it covers every single aspect of every single Crusade, both large and small, some Crusades of which I had never heard. The research for this book was monumental and certainly represents the life's work of the author. He is certainly blind from reading ancient records and his fingers certainly arthritic from carefully handling ancient scrolls. There is so much detail in this book that occasionally I was forced to take a break to clear my head. However, if you are interested in knowing about the Crusades this book is a must read. I doubt that there will ever be another book about this subject that is so comprehensive.Tyerman describes the origin of "taking the cross," a religious event in which a person pledged to perform some holy war, usually to free the holy land from infidels. The Pope would usually call for the effort but after that he usually lost control to the leasers who led the effort. The book covers in detail the effort of each Crusade, through recruitment, financing the effort, transportation to the combat zone, warfare once there and the results. The Crusades had benefits (such as getting idle combat troops out of Europe) as well as detriments (it was here that the Popes first began selling indulgences for money to finance Crusades, a practice which eventually led to the Great Schism and the Protestant Reformation.As you will learn when you read "God's War" it was never simply "Christians vs. Muslims" as Christians were always warring Christians and Muslims were constantly warring Muslims so the groups warring each other were always an amalgamation of alliances between various Christian and Muslim groups which is aptly explained in God's War.With all the resentment some have for the Crusades it is good that there is a book you can go to for the truth and "God's War" is it. I can't recommend it highly enough.

  • Joel Mitchell
    2019-06-28 02:56

    This book provides a thorough overview of the crusades from the late-11th through 16th centuries. This is not the kind of book that makes you hear the clashing of swords through vividly described battles. Rather, it is an exploration of the varied politics, theology, and personal ambition that drove these conflicts. Actual battles warrant little description other than their outcome and (sometimes) a brief summary of any tactics/factors/actions that made a major difference in them.The author approaches the topic with more neutrality than some. He tries to understand the actual motivating factors without demonizing either side even when expressing disapproval of the many horrific, self-serving things that happened in this time period. The author also does a tremendous job of not over-simplifying the issues involved. He recognizes the complexity and variety of motivations as well as the various kinds of crusades (against Muslims in the Holy Land, against pagans and "lapsed Christians" in Eastern Europe, against "heretics," against the pope's political rivals, against invaders, etc.) A sentence from the final pages that seems to nicely sum up the book is this: "Their deeds confront the historian directly, the sheer physical effort of so much of the endeavour; the inspirational idealism; utopianism armed with myopia; the elaborate, sincere intolerance; the diversity and complexity of motive and performance." This is truly a worthwhile read in trying to understand the crusades.Personally, the more I read about the crusades, the more I regard this as one of the most shameful parts of church history. That the cross, the place of patient suffering and gracious forgiveness for all, should become the emblem of military conquest, the earning of salvation through acts of violence, forced conversion, racism, etc. disgusts me. This book serves as an excellent example of what happens when people twist theology to further their own ambitions and/or of the worst possible consequences of church/state union.

  • Jason Fernandes
    2019-06-26 05:33

    Reading some other amateur reviews of God’s War, it seems clear that readers were expecting a book focused on the military exploits and were therefore disappointed. It is best to start by eliminating that expectation in order to enjoy the book for what it is. The book is more than a military history of these holy wars. In fact, the story of the battles and sieges are only one part of the book and in the minority. Much of the book concerns the establishment and evolution of the institution of crusading itself. The book is also devoted to an appreciation of the complexity of the medieval Christian and Muslim worlds; the numerous ethnic groups, dynasties, powerful religious and secular figureheads. As it would need to, the book also considers the roles of new private and corporate institutions – military orders such as Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights; and the Italian city-states with their merchant fleets.This excellent book encompasses various themes. Specifically, the method of evidence-based analysis and consideration of opposing views; the impossibility of separating the temporal from the spiritual in the medieval world; the origin and evolution of the philosophy of Christian Holy War and the ‘arch’ of the crusading period with its birth, expansion and decline.God’s War may not be the most engrossing, page-turner of a history book; it is epic and demanding of the reader. But its wealth of research combined with its careful consideration, tentative conclusions and admission of the contrary and the unknowable, makes it the best kind of history book. One that sacrifices the falseness of the simple, easy explanation for the fortifications of informed uncertainty.For full review see:

  • Old-Barbarossa
    2019-07-08 10:50

    This is hard going at times.Very dense, very informative. Needs careful reading to avoid mixing up all the Normans (during the 1st Crusade they are mainly called Roger, Robert, or Raymond...other works have done this better).It tends to stutter with the chronology, nipping back and forth a few years here and there, then falling back on track. Dry in bits then without warning very interesting. Littered with typos, but with the occasional nugget or viewpoint that I'd not considered before.All in all an uneaven read, fascinating subject though. I think that tighter editing would have been useful. Also, it tries to be too many things. At times glossing over many events then getting bogged down in (mainly) small financial details regarding who funded what and how it was done. He covers the Baltic and Iberian crusades as well as the ones in Southern France against the Cathars. As a result I feel he trys to cover too much ground and ends up rarely covering any areas in a balanced way. I think if he'd done this over several books rather than try and cram everything into one hefty tome he may have managed it.As a Hx geek I read it anyway, but as I said it's not an easy read. Steven Runciman is still my Crusades Hx of choice.If you want a primer on the subject though try Terry Jones' Crusades, an easy read that covers most of the big stuff.

  • Lawrence A
    2019-06-16 03:01

    The cast of characters in this tome about the Crusades of the Middle Ages is so vast that you need a scorecard to keep track of them. In spite of the sometimes rough sledding I encountered in plowing through this book, the detailed scholarship is truly amazing, and ultimately Tyerman gets down to some important historical analysis about the violent, horrific, and even "evil" nature of the Crusades. Importantly, he explains the political, economic, religious, and social motivations of the various Popes, preachers, emperors, kings, princes, dukes, noblemen, and adventurers in "taking the cross" and fighting to "reclaim" Jerusalem and other locales in the Middle East for Christianity, as well as the numerous Crusades pitting Christian against Christian (and even Catholic against Catholic) within Western and Central Europe, not to mention the slaughter by Christians of tens of thousands of Jews within Europe as the Crusaders marched through France, the German states, and beyond. Thus, although the quality of the read is probably only worth 3 stars, I think the book deserves and extra star for the depth and breadth of the factual and analytical material included here. And what can you say about an author who uses the word "fissiparous" not once, not twice, but at least 10 times in one book? (As another reviewer on Goodreads noted, "at least I now know what the word 'fissiparous' means").

  • Elizabeth Morgan
    2019-07-10 03:49

    This is an excellent overview of the entire crusading movement, and Tyreman has done a very good job with a very difficult task. Even at almost 1000 pages, he is barely scratching the surface of such a long and involved period of history. For those who want an introduction to the Crusades, this might be a little heavy-going, but for a deeper understanding or for working at an undergraduate level, God's War is a fantastic resource, if perhaps too long to prescribe as an undergraduate textbook.For the major (numbered) crusades through to Louis IX's misadventures in Egypt, Tyreman takes a two-chapter approach, the first giving context, and the second examining the events and outcomes of the conflict. This ensures the reader is grounded in the wider events of the period - the Crusades did not happen in isolation, and events throughout Europe and, later, throughout Asia, combine to influence crusade momentums and outcomes. Smaller crusade movements get a more cursory treatment, I suspect due to length constraints than any comment on their importance within the wider movement; the insightful evaluation of motives and outcomes is no less for these 'lesser' crusades.Thoroughly researched and riddled with citations, with the delightful addition of academic snark, I highly recommend.

  • Neil Powell
    2019-06-30 10:57

    After taking over 4 months to read the 922 pages of this book (admittedly the birth of ourfirst child was sandwiched between the start and finish), I felt an enormous sense of pride(and a little relief!) when I finally completed it.The scope, breadth and depth of the research involved here is staggering. It covers500 years in Christian (specifically Roman Catholic) ideology, and it discusses the causes, reasons and implications of what each of the Crusades to the Levant and/or Egypt meant for Europe in the Middle Ages.It's interesting to note that although most crusades were preached for religious reasons (primarily to defeat the infidels of Islam), but they were more likely to be about political and financial reasons. European kingdoms wanted to improve trade, increases their wealth and land area. They used the excuse of crusades to enable them to do this with the approval of the church.Its a very difficult read at times, and some of the words used required me to carry a dictionary with me in order to determine what the author was trying to say. But if you want an introduction to the Crusades, this is good option

  • Jabbott
    2019-07-03 09:58

    Throughout the book, Tyerman constantly reminds the reader that the crusades were not wholly religious, nor were they strictly secular. The wars of the cross, rather, were tied into a matrix of territorial expansion, Passion theology, and raw commercial venture. So where do these strands intersect in the crusades?In the humanity of it all, responds Tyerman. He remarks that "sentimentality will not do" in explaining why so many, men and women, lay and clergy, noble and common, embarked on long, self-sacrificial, financially and bodily risky ventures that always presented the possibility of the individual being ground into the dustbin of history. The bodies that were crushed, the lives that were lost, the relationships and human beings that were significantly or trivially altered by the wars of the cross perfectly describe the experience of the crusades: its humanity.

  • Jeff Gassler
    2019-07-03 10:54

    Christopher Tyerman is scholar on the Crusades only matched and surpassed by Jonathan Riley-Smith. Tyerman's God's War is exhaustive and holistic account of the Holy Wars (Crusades) waged from 1095-1600. Tyerman focus is the politics and motives during the Crusades. The Oxford Historian spends his time examining meticulously the details of political environment of Outremer, Europe, Byzantium, and the Baltic. To quote a reviewer from Amazon, "once you've read this, you will feel like you've been on crusade." I concur absolutely with the Amazon reviewer's sentiments. God's War is not for the faint of heart, I recommend it only to those are interested in delving deeper into the history of the Latin East.

  • Ivan
    2019-06-25 10:46

    Extremely detailed, and uneasy to read at times due to the details of surrounding events. One is almost certain to forget quite a few details by the end of this monumental piece of research. Of course writing about five centuries of various tribulations and intermittent wars accompanying the Crusades is quite difficult. Tyerman managed to create a clear, understandable yet undiluted and unaligned description of the most complex and arguably most misunderstood series of events, formative to the psychology and philosophy of the European nations.

  • Urey Patrick
    2019-07-13 09:02

    Thorough, comprehensive, well written, scholarly - and so filled with medieval names, unfamiliar locations, characters of varying significance - the experience is akin to reading a Russian novel. I found it almost impossible to keep things straight in my own mind as the narrative progressed - who did what when to whom for what reason... and who they were and where they fit in. But then, perhaps that is a telling illustration of the chaotic social, cultural and societal constructs that made the medieval ages so medieval?Lots to learn here - but do not take it on lightly!

  • P.
    2019-06-16 08:50

    This is an exhaustively researched and overwhelmingly detailed history of the Crusades from the first inklings to the end of the Middle Ages. If you really want to know about the 'Horns of Hattin' this is the place. Louis' captivity and the negotiations with the infidel to obtain his freedom, read about it here. Eleanor of Acquataine's estrangement from Louis, it's all here. Everything else seems to be here also. This is a great, chubby book.

  • Jenny
    2019-07-15 02:58

    Exhaustive research and span of topics buried in dense prose. The occasional grammatical error or missing word in the text of the kindle edition did nothing to make this book more readable. Maps are included as are p pictures but on the kindle screen the don't enlarge and so are useless.I liked the discussion of how the crusades were marketed and how they appear in literature. Information was also provided on the impact of crusading on the family members who were left behind.

  • Dirk
    2019-06-27 10:47

    Finally finished this one. I would only recommend this one to those who have a keen interest in the history of the crusade era. It is a very long and difficult slog for someone (such as myself) who had only a passing interest in the subject. On the other hand, it is a well written and thorough history of the period and delves into all aspects of the crusades in quite a bit of detail and must have required an immense amount of research.

  • Jennifer
    2019-07-01 07:37

    I chose this book because I wanted a history of all the crusades in one book, instead of having to read about each seperatly from the the points of view of different authors. While this book is packed with information, the events often fail to leap off the page, and each person becomes just one more name who I wish the author would tell me more about. At times I felt like I was just plodding through documents. I guess I will have to do what I was trying to avoid and go one crusade at a time.