The Sword and the Scimitar, provides a useful primer on the history of the
Crusades. The text is very easy to follow, and covers the subject reasonably
well given the modest size of the book.
The Chapter headings are;
|1. Shrines and Pilgrims.
2 Thunder in the East.
3 Preaching the Crusade.
4 People and Princes.
5 The Road to Jerusalem.
6 The Spear of Antioch.
8 The Problems of Success.
9 Weapons of Victory.
10 The Kingdom.
11 Failure in the East.
12 The Military Orders.
|13 The Moslem Tide.
15 Acre and After.
16 The Rape of Byzantium.
17 The Children's Crusade.
18 Failure in Egypt.
19 Success at Last.
21 Mongols and Turks.
22 The Fall of Acre.
23 After the Sunset.
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|An Index is supplied as well as a useful Bibliography. The
illustrations are Maps of the Crusades pages vi & vii, and 16 pages of
grey scale prints on glossy paper.
I began reading about the Crusades some ten years ago, starting with the
three volumes of Sir Steven Runiman's classic "A History of the Crusades".
These volumes combined had in excess of some 1,350 pages to wade through,
finding that I had to makes notes as I read, so that I would not be lost
in the detail. Since then I have read a number of slimmer volumes such as
those by Oldenbourg, Nicolle, Payne, and a few others now out of print. There
are many more slim volumes now available and reasonably priced. Why choose,
Erne Bradford's version?
First, the book was very readable (some useful books can be hard work), and
provides the reader not only with a text covering the history, but with the
provision a few chapters which provide necessary background details, such
as the first chapter on the pilgrimage movement, another on the problems
caused by success (eighth chapter), and a further one on weaponry (ninth
Second, I found the book covered the subject and history well, despite its
succinct and modest 192 pages. In terms of providing an insight into the
subject, it compared well with my reading of the three tomes by Runiman.
In fact it engaged me in the same way, of thinking what stupid decisions
and actions were made by the Christian leaders, causing the ultimate failure
of the Crusading movement, and the loss of the Holy Land. An echo of this
is found in some of the opening words of chapter eight. The Crusaders having
gained Jerusalem, thought that all their problems had vanished, whereas they
were just beginning. Hindsight of course is a wonderful tool! Perhaps the
only comment of Ernle Bradford's I would question, is after he notes that
having gained Jerusalem "it seemed ... all problems would vanish". A new
line is begun; "Men are less simple now" - I wonder? Perhaps the Americans
and their allies thought that their problems had ended once Iraq had been
Anyone wishing to read a primer of the Crusades, either to provide an overall
picture of the subject, or to be a valuable starting point for further reading,
this book is a must. I have found the book to be of service as a quick reference
work as the main characters of the story can all be located quickly in the
The Reverend Dr Michael Foster.
Rector Chase Benefice, Salisbury Diocese, Church of England.