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The Crusades

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From this meticulous accounting of The Crusades, to which scholars of several faiths have contributed many scruples, we are likely to emerge wishing for a plague on everybody’s house. So Richard the Lion-Hearted executed 2,600 Turkish POWs in order not to have to feed them. Well, Saladin was no bargain, either, having probably poisoned his way to power. From 1095, when Pope Urban II sent 60,000 Christian soldiers marching off to Asia, where they sought as much to enrich themselves as to reclaim Jerusalem (and, incidentally, did in Greek Orthodox Byzantium for good), until 1291, when Acre, the last Crusader outpost on the Holy Land’s Mediterranean coast, fell once more to Islam, what we got from Rome to Constantinople to Aleppo to Damascus were reciprocal atrocities and abusive polemics. The talking heads are as full of information as they are of opinion. The re-creations—horses, swords, candles, cassocks—aren’t hokey in the least, except when William of Tyre foams at his bearded mouth. And God seems to have had as little to do with the proceedings as women did.

November 6 and 7
History Channel


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