- Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187–1291 Edited by Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters, and James M. Powell
The popularity of the crusades among university and school students has never been greater, but every teacher of the subject knows the difficulties of finding good translations of medieval documents. Translations of complete crusade chronicles and collections of documents relating to specific crusades are invaluable, but teachers and their students need a wide range of materials to gain a broad understanding of the whole of the crusading movement. For this reason, the wide diversity of crusading activity in the thirteenth century is a particular challenge to teach.
This volume will be a vital tool to all teaching and studying the crusade in the thirteenth century. It is a revision and considerable expansion of Edward Peters’s valuable collection of documents in English translation, Christian Society and the Crusades, 1198–1229 (Philadelphia, 1971). Peters has been assisted in his task by the greatly respected scholar James M. Powell (who regrettably did not live to see the work in print; his fellow editors have dedicated the volume to him) and by Jessalynn Bird, whose research on James of Vitry is already well known to crusade scholars. [End Page 126]
The book begins with a detailed introduction that sets out the background to crusading in the thirteenth century. This is followed by seventy-three translated documents, divided into ten sections. Some of these cover the traditional chronological approach to studying the crusades, including sections on the crusades during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III, the Fifth Crusade (1213–21), the Emperor Frederick II’s Crusade (1227–29), the Barons’ Crusade (1234–45), and the crusades of King Louis IX (1248–70). The translated texts are not simply narratives but also include material that will widen readers’ knowledge of crusading culture such as intercessory processions at Rome in 1212, crusade recruiters in Marseilles in 1224, and Rutebuef’s lament on the Holy Land in 1266. These sections also contain descriptions of crusading activity that is often overlooked in accounts which focus on the crusades to the eastern Mediterranean: for example, the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, the Children’s Crusade in 1212–13, and the Pastoureaux in 1251. Other sections of the book contain translated texts on “Crusade and Council, 1213–15”; crusading activity against the Mongols, 1241–62; the crusades in Italy, 1241–68; and the experiences of those who went on crusades. The final section of the book describes “The Road to Acre, 1265–1291,” including contemporary discussion of why the crusade had failed, crusade plans, and descriptions of the final loss of the city of Acre to the Mamluks in 1291. There is a detailed index, which will enable readers to trace many references to (for example) liturgy, the poor, and women on crusade. Each section opens with an analysis and historical survey of the translated texts, followed by a short, individual introduction to each document.
Even experts on the period will find material that is both unfamiliar and valuable. Altogether, this is a most impressive collection that will prove an invaluable resource to teachers and students alike. Regrettably, the price of the hardcover edition will put it beyond the resources of most students, limiting its potential as a course text. It is hoped that the publishers will produce a softcover version or an ebook edition.