This illustrated volume considers the material trappings of crusading wars and the objects that memorialized them, in architecture, sculpture, jewelry, painting, and manuscripts. Christopher Tyerman’s incorporation of the physical remains of crusading, enriches our understanding of how the crusaders themselves articulated their mission, how they viewed their place in the world, and how they related to the cultures they derived from and preyed upon.
Tyerman is a judicious and scholarly guide and readers will feel that they are drinking the distillation of a lifetime’s work on its subject. However, the book as a whole has a slightly awkward feel, interspersing a text that is sometimes rather dense, with short, enjoyable essays in the style of A History of the World in 100 Objects. It is not always easy reading, but it rewards persistence.
...[an] excellent history ... The World of the Crusades is an extraordinarily fulsome study of a fascinatingly nihilistic struggle, and anybody would benefit from its readable pages. But its lesson is negative, since Tyerman essentially sets out to prove, at enormous length, that the Crusades do not mean what many people think they mean. It is unclear whether negative lessons have any corrective power in our new information world, where every data point can be as valuable as another, regardless of origin. Tyerman’s lesson is a simple one, which modern scholars must cling to like so many shipwrecked sailors: History is a methodology and nothing more.