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  • Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187–1291 ed. by Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters, and James M. Powell
  • Aaron Moreno
Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187–1291, ed. Jessalynn Bird, Edward Peters, and James M. Powell (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2013) 568 pp.

As explained in its prefatory editor’s note, Crusade and Christendom originally was intended to be an expanded second edition of the translated primary source collection found in Edward Peters’s Christian Society and the Crusades. The finished product of co-editors Edward Peters, Jessalynn Bird, and the late James Powell, however, is effectively a new volume. Whereas the previous 195-page work comprised thirteen texts related to the tenure of Pope Innocent III, the Fifth Crusade, and Frederick the II’s Crusade (1198–1229), the seventy-three selections of this new 512-page behemoth extend its coverage to the fall of the Crusader kingdoms in 1291, in addition to adding Pope Gregory VIII’s 1187 letter Audita Tremendi. Crusade and Christendom therefore effectively [End Page 229] serves as a resource for the examining the crusades of the thirteenth century. In addition to a general introduction (which contains the aforementioned Audita Tremendi), the editors have divided this new volume into the following ten sections: “I, The Pope, Crusades, and Communities (1198–1213); II, Crusade and Council (1213–1215); III, The Fifth Crusade (1213–1221); IV The Emperor’s Crusade (1227–1229); V, The Barons’ Crusade (1234–1245); VI, The Mongol Crusades (1241–1262); VII, The Saint’s Crusades, (1248–1270); VIII, The Italian Crusades (1241–1268); IX, Living and Dying on Crusade; and X, The Road to Acre (1265–1291).

The selections have been culled from mostly Latin documents, with several Old French and Arabic works, as well. Most of these texts are taken from preexisting English translations, although the editors have translated a good number into English, whether from the original Latin or the modern French translations of said texts. Finally, a few documents have been translated directly from the archives, thereby being published for the first time. Each section begins with a thorough introduction, and each text in turn has its own extensive introduction. Each introduction contains up-to-date bibliographic footnotes for further research, although there is no composite bibliography at the end of the book. Thus, even historians of the crusades with no ostensible need for translated textual selections would do well to consult this volume. This collection, however, is clearly intended for students of history, and it is very serviceable to this end. The six maps at the beginning of the volume help situate those unfamiliar with the geography of Europe or the Mediterranean region. The translations are accessible, and the various introductions could almost be utilized as a history of thirteenth-century crusading, if one were to read them in succession. These introductions—and the conscientious selection of texts—help to reinforce the editors’ argument that the crusades were inextricably linked to various key developments of the thirteenth century, especially the perceived need for a “moral regeneration of Christian Europe” (4) and the contest between secular and papal authority. Likewise, the selections are also useful for illustrating not only the changing perceptions of the crusades (such as the rise of the idea of converting, rather than conquering, Muslims) but also the changing nature of the crusades (such as the increased secular role in organizing crusades)—although the introductions do not discuss all of these changes as cogently as they could have. The selections themselves are wide-ranging in nature, including excerpts from narrative histories, letters, legal transactions, sermons, and poetry. Concerning the choices the editors made in regard to omitting potential textual selections, some decisions, such as only including one document pertaining to Iberian Crusades, are understandable, given the restraints necessary in an already overly large book. Other choices, however, such as a complete lack of Byzantine sources or accounts of the Baltic Crusades (the works of Nicetas Choniates and Henry of Livonia come to mind), are puzzling. Regardless, this is an impressive work, and certainly worth having in...


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