Friday, March 7, 2014

Chronicles Of The Crusades

Chronicles Of The Crusades includes two very different accounts of the crusades. The Conquest Of Constantinople is written by Geoffrey of Villehardouin. His account details the controversial nature of the fourth crusade 1199-1207, as crusaders attack the Eastern Christians in Byzantium. Villehardouin was appointed to the position of Marshal of Champagne. In 1199 he took the cross and was appointed as an envoy to leaders of the fourth crusade, which provided him with first hand knowledge of decisions being made by leaders of the crusade. John of Joinville writes about the French King Louis IX, also known as Saint Louis. Joinville was in the unique position of being close to King Louis, and having an intimate knowledge of some of the decisions he made during the sixth and seventh crusades 1226-1270. He became a close friend of King Louis during the crusades. He wrote The Life Of Saint Louis to establish the king's sanctity by recording his holy words and deeds.

Villehardouin's account shows the political side of the crusades. Negotiations for supplies, ships, and armies are a major concern as the crusaders try to get to Jerusalem. There is some fighting in his account, but a lot of his work is concerned with getting what is needed for the army, and dealing with uprisings.

Learning about some of the saintly acts of King Louis was slightly horrifying. He had severe punishments for those that took the Lord's name in vain. For example, he had a man's lips burned off for committing this crime. Louis is often indecisive, and it is surprising that he leaves on a second crusade.

There was some interesting information about Medieval warfare. What weapons they had, battle machines, armor, and strategies. It was intriguing to read their perspectives as they traveled and saw new places and cultures. There are some decent battle scenes. The crusaders do not end up as the saintly liberators they set out to be.

The accounts could get a little dry and repetitive at some points, but were still very interesting to read. If you are interested in Medieval warfare or the crusades, I recommend reading this book.

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