- The Seventh Crusade, 1244–1254: Sources and Documents
The volume under review here is a selection of texts, 122 in all and many of which have never been published in translation before, that provides information on the preparations for and the execution of Louis IX’s first crusade, 1248–54. The translator, Peter Jackson, refers interested readers to the major sources that already exist in usable translations, but retranslates or supplements even some of these. Jackson is a renowned expert on the thirteenth century, in particular on the Mongol invasions. Here he shows himself to be a superb translator and judicious commentator. The wide variety of texts, from Christian and Muslim sources, furnishes students and scholars alike fresh insights into this expertly planned, yet failed, crusade. [End Page 114]
Every aspect of the crusade that has come under scrutiny traditionally and in recent scholarship finds relevant texts here. There is a section on Louis IX’s taking of the cross. With regard to preparations for crusade, there are sections containing texts devoted to preaching and finance, recruitment of former rebels and heretics, and the search for allies. Seven different texts are provided on Emperor Frederick II’s attitude, and they hint at the emperor’s duplicity. More than twenty sources on the crusade against Frederick, coinciding with Louis’s crusade, are also provided. A large part of the translations is of texts that deal with events in the Muslim world while the fighting was going on.
Louis’s crusade failed, and Jackson devotes significant space to the texts that at first misrepresented the failure and then acknowledged it. Reactions were widely varied, but one that Jackson emphasizes was the raising of a popular army or, rather, armies to come to the crusaders’ aid. This movement, the Crusade of the Shepherds or Pastoureaux (1251), receives an entire section, fifteen texts in all.
Two final sections in the book address the efforts to send additional—and more carefully prepared—aid to Louis IX immediately and during the king’s long, four-year sojourn in the Holy Land after his release from captivity. Where appropriate, Muslim sources are exploited to furnish data on Islamic politics, even when these sources do not explicitly mention the activities of the crusaders.
There are many collections of crusade sources in translation. Peter Jackson’s is one of the best.