Crusades

Crusades(BBC/The History Channel, 1995)  This beautifully produced, Roger Mudd-narrated, four-volume documentary on The Crusades provides a relatively even-handed account of events that often have been presented in the West as anti-Moslem and anti-Arab. The Crusaders are not presented as ‘saintly soldiers’ on a holy mission. Indeed, often they seem like a rag tag band intent on killing “heretics,” whether Christian, Jewish, or Moslem.

    In the struggle for Jerusalem, some may be surprised by the atrocities committed by the Christians, while Saladin commanded his troops with an admirable sense of propriety and decency. The Crusades covered four centuries, with a panoply of purposes. The Children’s Crusade was a human tragedy and the capture of Constantinople a calumny for the Western world.

    Jonathan Riley-Smith’s The Atlas of the Crusades (1991) provides a fine overview of the nature of The Crusades and their chronology. Westerners would benefit from reading Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1984).

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