Thomas Madden: the New Concise History of the Crusades

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Thomas Madden’s Crusades is an exposition of the crusades, which occurred during the Middle Ages. The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character. They remain a very important movement in human history, and are hard to understand, as they include several themes and they lasted for a long time (about two hundred years, and the author covers a period of about eight centuries in his chronological work). Religion is, of course, the most recurrent theme we think about the Crusades, but is it the only factor to explain them? How does Madden, considered as one of the most foremost historian of the Crusades, expose them in his book? Is his work effective to understand this period of History? Madden has the ambition to relate the Crusades from the Middle Ages to today events, such as the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. For him, it is a recall of what happened in the past, and what can still happen today: making wars for religion. Madden wants to intrigue readers with this concise book so they go further to discover more about the Crusades.

First of all, we can underline how Madden emphasizes the fact that the Crusades were driven by religious reasons: “A crusade army was a curious mix of rich and poor, saints and sinners, motivated by every kind of pious and selfish desire, yet it could not have come into being without the pious idealism that led men to risk all to liberate the lands of Christ” (Madden, 13). The First Crusade occurred after Pope Urban II preached a sermon to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Madden expresses regrets about what he calls a “mistaken view”, that says that “religion was not an impetus but a diversion” (11). He definitely assumes a point of view that is different from other popular works. His efforts to contextualize the medieval Crusades are efficient, and he gives a lot of details about it. Thus, he explains the motivations of those who made sacrifices, for Christ, but also for the culture...
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