The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance

University of Pennsylvania Press
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In the wake of Jerusalem's fall in 1099, the crusading armies of western Christians known as the Franks found themselves governing not only Muslims and Jews but also local Christians, whose culture and traditions were a world apart from their own. The crusader-occupied swaths of Syria and Palestine were home to many separate Christian communities: Greek and Syrian Orthodox, Armenians, and other sects with sharp doctrinal differences. How did these disparate groups live together under Frankish rule?

In The Crusades and the Christian World of the East, Christopher MacEvitt marshals an impressive array of literary, legal, artistic, and archeological evidence to demonstrate how crusader ideology and religious difference gave rise to a mode of coexistence he calls "rough tolerance." The twelfth-century Frankish rulers of the Levant and their Christian subjects were separated by language, religious practices, and beliefs. Yet western Christians showed little interest in such differences. Franks intermarried with local Christians and shared shrines and churches, but they did not hesitate to use military force against Christian communities. Rough tolerance was unlike other medieval modes of dealing with religious difference, and MacEvitt illuminates the factors that led to this striking divergence.

"It is commonplace to discuss the diversity of the Middle East in terms of Muslims, Jews, and Christians," MacEvitt writes, "yet even this simplifies its religious complexity." While most crusade history has focused on Christian-Muslim encounters, MacEvitt offers an often surprising account by examining the intersection of the Middle Eastern and Frankish Christian worlds during the century of the First Crusade.
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About the author

Christopher MacEvitt teaches religion at Dartmouth College.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
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Published on
Nov 24, 2010
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9780812202694
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Medieval
History / Military / Medieval
Religion / Christianity / History
Religion / History
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This content is DRM protected.
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In December 1235, Pope Gregory IX altered the mission of a crusade he had begun to preach the year before. Instead of calling for Christian magnates to go on to fight the infidel in Jerusalem, he now urged them to combat the spread of Christian heresy in Latin Greece and to defend the Latin empire of Constantinople. The Barons' Crusade, as it was named by a fourteenth-century chronicler impressed by the great number of barons who participated, would last until 1241 and would represent in many ways the high point of papal efforts to make crusading a universal Christian undertaking. This book, the first full-length treatment of the Barons' Crusade, examines the call for holy war and its consequences in Hungary, France, England, Constantinople, and the Holy Land.

In the end, Michael Lower reveals, the pope's call for unified action resulted in a range of locally determined initiatives and accommodations. In some places in Europe, the crusade unleashed violence against Jews that the pope had not sought; in others, it unleashed no violence at all. In the Levant, it even ended in peaceful negotiation between Christian and Muslim forces. Virtually everywhere, but in different ways, it altered the relations between Christians and non-Christians. By emphasizing comparative local history, The Barons' Crusade: A Call to Arms and Its Consequences brings into question the idea that crusading embodies the religious unity of medieval society and demonstrates how thoroughly crusading had been affected by the new strategic and political demands of the papacy.

This volume has been created by scholars from a range of disciplines who wish to show their appreciation for Professor John France and to celebrate his career and achievements. For many decades, Professor France’s work has been instrumental in many of the advances made in the fields of crusader studies and medieval warfare. He has published widely on these topics including major publications such as: Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade (1994) and Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades (1999). This present volume mirrors his interests, offering studies upon both areas. The fifteen essays cover a wide variety of topics, spanning chronologically from the Carolingian period through to the early fourteenth century. Some offer new insights upon long-contested issues, such as the question of whether a new form of cavalry was created by Charles Martel and his successors or the implications of the Mongol defeat at Ayn Jalut. Others use innovative methodologies to unlock the potential of various types of source material including: manuscript illuminations depicting warfare, Templar graffiti, German crusading songs, and crusading charters. Several of the articles open up new areas of debate connected to the history of crusading. Malcolm Barber discusses why Christendom did not react decisively to the fall of Acre in 1291. Bernard Hamilton explores how the rising Frankish presence in the Eastern Mediterranean during the central medieval period reshaped Christendom’s knowledge and understanding of the North African cultures they encountered. In this way, this work seeks both to advance debate in core areas whilst opening new vistas for future research.
In 1099, when the first Frankish invaders arrived before the walls of Jerusalem, they had carved out a Christian European presence in the Islamic world that endured for centuries, bolstered by subsequent waves of new crusaders and pilgrims. The story of how this group of warriors, driven by faith, greed, and wanderlust, created new Christian-ruled states in parts of the Middle East is one of the best-known in history. Yet it is offers not even half of the story, for it is based almost exclusively on Western sources and overlooks entirely the perspective of the crusaded. How did medieval Muslims perceive what happened? In The Race for Paradise, Paul M. Cobb offers a new history of the confrontations between Muslims and Franks we now call the "Crusades," one that emphasizes the diversity of Muslim experiences of the European holy war. There is more to the story than Jerusalem, the Templars, Saladin, and the Assassins. Cobb considers the Arab perspective on all shores of the Muslim Mediterranean, from Spain to Syria. In the process, he shows that this is not a straightforward story of warriors and kings clashing in the Holy Land, but a more complicated tale of border-crossers and turncoats; of embassies and merchants; of scholars and spies, all of them seeking to manage a new threat from the barbarian fringes of their ordered world. When seen from the perspective of medieval Muslims, the Crusades emerge as something altogether different from the high-flying rhetoric of the European chronicles: as a cultural encounter to ponder, a diplomatic chess-game to be mastered, a commercial opportunity to be seized, and as so often happened, a political challenge to be exploited by ambitious rulers making canny use of the language of jihad. An engrossing synthesis of history and scholarship, The Race for Paradise fills a significant historical gap, considering in a new light the events that distinctively shaped Muslim experiences of Europeans until the close of the Middle Ages.
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