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The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading by Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith

The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading

Part of the The Middle Ages Series Series


The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading by Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith

Focusing on the inner workings of the First Crusade in a way that no other work has done, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading delves into the Crusade's organization, its finances, and the division of authority and responsibility among its leaders and their relationships with one another and with their subordinates. In the year 1095, Pope Urban II initiated what is known today as the First Crusade. His summons of the lay knights to the faith between 1095 and 1096 was Urban II's personal response to an appeal that had reached him from eastern Christians, the Pope referred to the struggle ahead as Christ's own war, to be fought in accordance with God's will and intentions. It was, too, called a war of liberation, designed to free the church and city of Jerusalem from oppression and pillage by the Muslims while liberating western Church from the errors into which it had fallen. In this classic work, presented here with a new introduction, one of the world's most renowned crusade historians approaches this central topic of medieval history with freshness and impeccable research. Through the vivid presentation of a wide range of European chronicles and charter collections, Jonathan Riley-Smith provides a striking illumination of crusader motives and responses and a thoughtful analysis of the mechanisms that made this expedition successful.


An excellent account of the First Crusade. -Speculum Riley-Smith's work is based upon a thorough knowledge of the sources, breaking new ground in his use of the charters of departing Crusaders as evidence for their forms of motivation... It represents the best general account of the religious meaning of the Crusade, and as such it is an important addition to literature on the Crusades and to the development of forms of lay piety in the Middle Ages. -Journal of Religion Riley-Smith's scholarship is impeccable... A distinguished and persuasive contribution. -American Historical Review An extremely useful and stimulating book, which no student of crusading history can afford to neglect. -Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Jonathan Riley-Smith is Dixie Professor Emeritus of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Cambridge and author of many books, most recently The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th October 2009


Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith

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University of Pennsylvania Press


232 pages


Early history: c 500 to c 1450/1500



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