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  • Das Feindbild der Kreuzzugslyrik. Das Aufeinandertreffen von Christen und Muslimen
  • Maria Dobozy
Das Feindbild der Kreuzzugslyrik. Das Aufeinandertreffen von Christen und Muslimen. By Ingrid Hartl. New York: Peter Lang, 2009. Pp. 219; 2 illustrations. $62.95.

This book addresses an important yet relatively neglected topic: the image the crusaders created of their Muslim enemy. The author’s goal is to investigate the ways the stereotypes and prejudices against the Arabs and Turks are constructed, articulated, and maintained over the two-hundred-year span of the crusade songs she discusses. Delineating the image of the enemies of western Christians is seminal to understanding the decisions and behaviors of Europeans during the crusades.

In chapter 2, “Feindbilder,” Ingrid Hartl sets up her definitions based on sociological theories, outlining the process by which a group (in-group) constructs an image, a stereotype, which is then projected onto another group (out-group). Such cultural patterns are built on cognitive and empirical generalizations and, most importantly, their influence lies in the fact that because they are cultivated and transmitted over generations, they gain unquestioned acceptance as reliable information, although they are extremely difficult to verify or falsify. Prejudices and negative projections of the enemy build on these cultural projections and add to the cognitive information a level of emotion directing people to dislike, criticize, reject, and even hate. The author gives a succinct and very useful introduction to these theories, so that the reader then expects her to apply this framework [End Page 269] to the texts and their specific contexts in order to gain new insights. Unfortunately this is not the case. Each chapter (“Feindbilder,” “Kreuzzug,” “Historischer Überblick,” “Feindbilder in der Kreuzzugslyrik,” “Anstelle eines Nachwortes,” “Anhang”) stands unintegrated and uninformed by the others.

The “Historischer Überblick” is a superficial history of the seven numbered crusades. It remains unconnected and thus cannot provide historical grounding for the songs. Since this summary fails to take into account new research and definitions found in several good short histories written in the last few years, its purpose remains unclear (for example, Nikolas Jaspert, Die Kreuzzüge, Geschichte kompakt, 2006; Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades. A History, 2005; Christopher Tyerman, The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, 2006).

In “Feindbilder in der Kreuzzugslyrik,” Hartl presents forty Latin, French, Provençal, and German songs composed between 1096 and 1265, from the first through the seventh crusades. These languages have the largest body of crusade songs extant, but the primary criterion for selection is the explicit naming and description of the enemy in the text, along with key medieval designations of ‘fahrt,’ expeditio, peregrinatio, outremer. Of necessity she focuses on Latin songs because vernacular songs do not appear until the third crusade and because Latin represents the international nature of the activities. In addition, the songs chosen represent the narrow definition of crusade: military support of coreligionists. Her primary interest is the conflict in the Middle East rather than any other religious wars of the time, but some of the songs do refer to Spain and northern Europe. Working chronologically, she accords each song a place within the time period of its crusade. This organization implies changes in the image of the enemy. However, the changes are not clearly articulated and not summed up in a conclusion. Also the reader would have liked some suggestion as to why the Latin songs disappear after the fourth crusade. Another problem is the use of Hölzle’s 1972 definition of crusade. She does not register that the entire issue of defining these wars has been seriously reevaluated in the last twelve years (see Christopher Tyerman, The Invention of the Crusades, 1998).

The fact that songs are collected for comparison across so many languages creates an excellent opportunity to evaluate the cross-cultural influence of crusade ideology and stereotyping, and its transmission across several language traditions. However, this is not accomplished. Instead of applying the sociological theory to the material, embedding each song in its historical-literary context (to the extent possible), Hartl summarizes each song, so that in the end the reader has a useful list of typical motifs, metaphors, descriptors, and catalogs of nations and ethnic groups, but little analysis. Consequently...


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