This book - the Armies of the Crusades, covers those armies which fought
in the series of conflicts between 1096 and 1260 in the Holy Land, known
popularly as the "Crusades". In addition the Iberian Crusades, other crusading
conflicts do not come within the scope of this book such as that in the Baltics.
The contents are as follows; The Armies of Christendom;
The Armies of Islam ; The Plates.
Essential for the understanding of the subject of the book is a necessary
explanation of feudalism not only as it applied to Europe, but to the settled
invasion force in the Holy Land. Terence Wise supplies this information,
and this assists the reader in understanding why the Crusaders failed to
hold on to the territories they had gained in 1099 and the years that followed.
For example the King of Jerusalem had been elected and thus his Barons were
co-equal. This affected any coercion for assistance.
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Contact details for Osprey:
Osprey Direct, P.O. Box 140, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN8 2FA, UK.
|Other Crusader States created by the Frankish invaders were
independent. Feudalism and the ability to create fiefs depended upon land,
a limited resource in the Outremer (Holy Land) and the Crusader States had
to rely upon "money fiefs" as a means of dealing with the situation.(page
The book provides details on the volunteer army which set out on the first
Crusade, with an attempt to guess the true figure of the combatants at 150,000.
The larger numbers quoted elsewhere will include wives and children, camp
followers and pilgrims. Then covered are the armies of the Outremer, the
contribution of the Military Orders, the Iberian armies, and the contribution
of the Byzantine army often neglected by books and articles covering the
Crusades. The author points out that the Byzantine army "had been 'crusading'
against Islam since the 8th Century" (page 16).
Also often neglected in an assessment of the crusades in popularist accounts
are details of the armies of Islam. The author provides details of; the Abbasid
armies, the Moorish armies, the Seljuk armies, the Fatimid armies, the Ayyubid
armies, and the Mamluk armies .
8 Coloured plates are provided which cover further historic detail. The book
is replete throughout with greyscale illustrations and photographs.Only three
pages lack an illustration!
A useful guide to the Crusades to the Holy Land is a chronology provided
on pages 37 and 38. Important for all good books, and included in this one,
is an Index!
The book was first published in 1978, and yet despite getting on for three
decades, the text is not dated. Readers need to appreciate one fact as a
warning, and that is, that the topic is complex and wide ranging. It is perhaps
a slightly harder read than the book by the same publisher on the
Knights of Christ and yet the author does well
within the 40 pages (less illustrations = circa 20 pages of text), to cover
the subject without sacrificing information for brevity. The book remains
a useful introduction to the topic of the Armies of the Crusades, and is
good value by price, information, illustrations, and durability (stitched
The Reverend Dr Michael Foster.
Rector Chase Benefice, Salisbury Diocese, Church of England.
Historian to the Order of Knights Hospitaller, Russian Grand Priory.