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  • Warriors of the Lord: The Military Orders of Christendom
  • Helen J. Nicholson
Walsh, Michael. Warriors of the Lord: The Military Orders of Christendom (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 2003. Pp. 208. $28.00.)

Warriors of the Lord surveys the history of the Christian military religious orders that had their origins in the wars between Christianity and Islam in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Avoiding esoteric mysteries and speculative theories, Michael Walsh, a "distinguished Catholic commentator," has adopted a strictly neutral and even-handed viewpoint, always endeavoring to remain readable and accessible to the general reader for whom the book is intended. The book includes a useful list and description of all the military religious orders of Catholic Christendom, an up-to-date bibliography, and an index, and is well illustrated, although it is odd that no medieval depictions of the military orders are included. Walsh has assumed no prior knowledge on the part of his readership and devotes considerable space to describing the background to his subject, such as Christian views of war, the growth of Islam, and the history of the crusades. While this will be an attraction to some readers, those hoping to find detailed information on the everyday lives and activities of the military orders will be disappointed. Students may find the lack of references inconvenient, and will notice a number of small errors (for example, on page 79 the Council of Troyes should be dated to 1129, not 1128 as here; on page 160, the house at Sigena belonged to the Hospitallers, not the order of Santiago; on pages 172 and 202 Philip IV, not Philip II, initiated the trial of the Templars). There is no discussion of the problems presented by the medieval narrative sources—which are used as if they always stated objective truth—while complex problems such as the Christian Church's attitudes to violence are oversimplified. Overall, however, this is a balanced account of the military orders, and provides a fair introduction to the subject.

Helen J. Nicholson
Cardiff University, Wales


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