The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, Paperback

The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades Paperback

Edited by Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith

Part of the Oxford Illustrated History series

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Written by a team of leading scholars, this richly illustrated book, with over 200 colour and black and white pictures, presents an authoritative and comprehensive history of the Crusades from the preaching of the First Crusade in 1095 to the legacy of crusading ideas and imagery today.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448 pages, 24 pp colour plates, numerous black and white illustrations
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780192854285



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This is not a narrative history, but a collection of essays about aspects of the crusades.In many stories, the reader only sees the top 10% of the iceberg. The other 90% remains beneath the surface. Similarly, many histories about the Crusades only present the popular narrative. These essays represent (a portion of) the other 90%.For a person just beginning, this book is most likely not for you. Asbridge or Runciman would be better starting points. It would be like a Tolkien reader starting in the Appendices, the Unfinished Tales, and Histories of Middle Earth before actually reading the trilogy itself. As long as the prospective reader understands what this book is about, they will be happy with it.Those doing in-depth studies about who participated, why, and how - the financing, the motivations, the social consequences on the families and local and regional economies (both on the home front and front lines), the impact on social classes, how they transformed Europe and the ME, the military orders - would do well to look here. There are discussions about how the crusades have been reflected over time by historians, literature, art, and architecture.While each essay has a clearly distinct topic written by a distinct author, the essays are cohesive and show an awareness of each other, perhaps due to excellent editing by Riley-Smith. Some essays are more interesting than others, but I believe each is equally important to a more complete understanding of the Crusades.The paper quality is good, the illustrations superb, and I found no typos or odd grammar throughout the text.One thing I found particularly interesting was the illustration of Richard the Lionheart's effigy. Just as Yosemite gives set designers THE image of paradise and Sedona and Monument Valley are THE images of the Wild West, that effigy is THE stereotypical image of a vibrant medieval king from Errol Flynn movies to Shrek.