The First Crusade by Peter Frankopan

01 / 04 / 2012
163 x 239 x 30mm

In 1096, an expedition of extraordinary scale and ambition set off from Western Europe on a mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Three years later, after a journey which saw acute hardship, the most severe dangers and thousands of casualties, the knights of the First Crusade found themselves storming the fortifications and capturing the Holy City from its Muslim overlords. Against all the odds, the First Crusade had returned Jerusalem to Christian hands.

The First Crusade is one of the best-known and most written-about events in history. The story of knights taking up arms and crossing Europe to liberate Jerusalem enthralled writers at the time and has thrilled historians and readers ever since.

The First Crusade: The Untold Story is the first book, however, to address the history of the expedition from the perspective of Constantinople. It argues that, contrary to received wisdom, the Byzantine Empire and its ruler – the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos – were facing annihilation on the eve of the Crusade, and that the situation in Asia Minor and in Constantinople had been unravelling rapidly and disastrously from the start of the 1090s. It was for this reason that pleas for military support were made to the papacy – as well as to prominent aristocrats in Western Europe around this time.

With its themes of the rise of the papacy, the confrontation between Christianity and Islam, the evolution of the concept of holy war, of knightly piety and religious devotion, it is not surprising that the First Crusade has proved enduringly popular, capturing the imagination of a wide audience for centuries.

In this fascinating and innovative study, Frankopan brilliantly shifts the paradigm and asks vital questions that have never been posed before. Why was there an overwhelming desire to liberate Jerusalem in the mid-1090s? After all, it had been taken by the Muslims nearly 500 years earlier. What were the causes of the Crusade in the east which provoked such an overwhelming response in the west? What role was played by the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople in the genesis and execution of the expedition? In short, why was there a First Crusade?
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