Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#21  Postby U-96 » Aug 02, 2010 9:26 am

TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:Yes and that's what I'm refering to, the crusades as a purely defensive war, the defense of Christendom.


It was a defence of the holy places in the east, not of "Christendom". They went to retake and hold the sacred sites of Christianity - Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem etc, not to defend Europe against Muslim encroachment, as Stark tries to claim.


From current studies on the subject there is no doubt that it was regarded as no more than the defense of Christendom...

(In talking about the first period of the crusades 1095 to the end of the sixteenth century)
"There is some overlap between the periods, but broadly speaking, during the first, the Muslims were a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom was seen as a pressing concern."
The Historiography of the Crusades - Giles Constable


I don't know if Prof Stark's arguments as to why are actually valid as it differs from other scholars, but I know for sure that the thesis you call 'They started it', is now the predominant theory among scholars in this academic field. The world's most renowned crusade historians (like Jonathan Riley-Smith, William Urban, Thomas F. Madden, Constable) put forward the defense theory, it's just the popular view that hasn't caught up with academia.

To quote Madden at length:

"It was in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that the current view of the Crusades was born. Most of the philosophes, like Voltaire, believed that medieval Christianity was a vile superstition. For them the Crusades were a migration of barbarians led by fanaticism, greed, and lust. Since then, the Enlightenment take on the Crusades has gone in and out of fashion. The Crusades received good press as wars of nobility (although not religion) during the Romantic period and the early twentieth century. After the Second World War, however, opinion again turned decisively against the Crusades. In the wake of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, historians found war of ideology–any ideology –distasteful. This sentiment was summed up by Sir Steven Runciman in his three-volume work, A History of the Crusades (1951-54). For Runciman, the Crusades were morally repugnant acts of intolerance in the name of God. The medieval men who took the cross and marched to the Middle East were either cynically evil, rapaciously greedy, or naively gullible. This beautifully written history soon became the standard. Almost single-handedly Runciman managed to define the modern popular view of the Crusades.

Since the 1970s the Crusades have attracted many hundreds of scholars who have meticulously poked, prodded, and examined them. As a result, much more is known about Christianity’s holy wars than ever before. Yet the fruits of decades of scholarship have been slow to enter the popular mind. In part this is the fault of professional historians, who tend to publish studies that, by necessity, are technical and therefore not easily accessible outside of the academy. But it is also due to a clear reluctance among modern elites to let go of Runciman’s vision of the Crusades. And so modern popular books on the Crusades–desiring, after all, to be popular–tend to parrot Runciman. The same is true for other media, like the multi-part television documentary, The Crusades (1995), produced by BBC/A&E and starring Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. To give the latter an air of authority the producers spliced in a number of distinguished Crusade historians who gave their views on events. The problem was that the historians would not go along with Runciman’s ideas. No matter. The producers simply edited the taped interviews cleverly enough that the historians seemed to be agreeing with Runciman. As Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith quite vehemently told me, 'They made me appear to say things that I do not believe!'"


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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#22  Postby TimONeill » Aug 02, 2010 10:27 am

U-96 wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:Yes and that's what I'm refering to, the crusades as a purely defensive war, the defense of Christendom.


It was a defence of the holy places in the east, not of "Christendom". They went to retake and hold the sacred sites of Christianity - Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem etc, not to defend Europe against Muslim encroachment, as Stark tries to claim.


From current studies on the subject there is no doubt that it was regarded as no more than the defense of Christendom...

(In talking about the first period of the crusades 1095 to the end of the sixteenth century)
"There is some overlap between the periods, but broadly speaking, during the first, the Muslims were a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom was seen as a pressing concern."
The Historiography of the Crusades - Giles Constable


Protecting the holy sites of Christendom, yes. But protecting "western Europe"? Ummm, no.

I don't know if Prof Stark's arguments as to why are actually valid as it differs from other scholars, but I know for sure that the thesis you call 'They started it', is now the predominant theory among scholars in this academic field. The world's most renowned crusade historians (like Jonathan Riley-Smith, William Urban, Thomas F. Madden, Constable) put forward the defense theory, it's just the popular view that hasn't caught up with academia.

To quote Madden at length:

"It was in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that the current view of the Crusades was born. Most of the philosophes, like Voltaire, believed that medieval Christianity was a vile superstition. For them the Crusades were a migration of barbarians led by fanaticism, greed, and lust. Since then, the Enlightenment take on the Crusades has gone in and out of fashion. The Crusades received good press as wars of nobility (although not religion) during the Romantic period and the early twentieth century. After the Second World War, however, opinion again turned decisively against the Crusades. In the wake of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, historians found war of ideology–any ideology –distasteful. This sentiment was summed up by Sir Steven Runciman in his three-volume work, A History of the Crusades (1951-54). For Runciman, the Crusades were morally repugnant acts of intolerance in the name of God. The medieval men who took the cross and marched to the Middle East were either cynically evil, rapaciously greedy, or naively gullible. This beautifully written history soon became the standard. Almost single-handedly Runciman managed to define the modern popular view of the Crusades.

Since the 1970s the Crusades have attracted many hundreds of scholars who have meticulously poked, prodded, and examined them. As a result, much more is known about Christianity’s holy wars than ever before. Yet the fruits of decades of scholarship have been slow to enter the popular mind. In part this is the fault of professional historians, who tend to publish studies that, by necessity, are technical and therefore not easily accessible outside of the academy. But it is also due to a clear reluctance among modern elites to let go of Runciman’s vision of the Crusades. And so modern popular books on the Crusades–desiring, after all, to be popular–tend to parrot Runciman. The same is true for other media, like the multi-part television documentary, The Crusades (1995), produced by BBC/A&E and starring Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. To give the latter an air of authority the producers spliced in a number of distinguished Crusade historians who gave their views on events. The problem was that the historians would not go along with Runciman’s ideas. No matter. The producers simply edited the taped interviews cleverly enough that the historians seemed to be agreeing with Runciman. As Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith quite vehemently told me, 'They made me appear to say things that I do not believe!'"


Cheers.


I don't disagree with a single things Madden says here and I fully reject Runciman and his modern popularisers like Terry Jones. But Madden says nothing here about "defending western Europe" from threats by Muslim hordes.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#23  Postby U-96 » Aug 02, 2010 11:01 am

TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:Yes and that's what I'm refering to, the crusades as a purely defensive war, the defense of Christendom.


It was a defence of the holy places in the east, not of "Christendom". They went to retake and hold the sacred sites of Christianity - Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem etc, not to defend Europe against Muslim encroachment, as Stark tries to claim.


From current studies on the subject there is no doubt that it was regarded as no more than the defense of Christendom...

(In talking about the first period of the crusades 1095 to the end of the sixteenth century)
"There is some overlap between the periods, but broadly speaking, during the first, the Muslims were a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom was seen as a pressing concern."
The Historiography of the Crusades - Giles Constable


Protecting the holy sites of Christendom, yes. But protecting "western Europe"? Ummm, no.


Yes protecting from "a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom", a defensive action. From studies of what people thought at the time we know what they thought and why they acted, they acted, as in their minds, they were protecting Western Europe from a very real threat.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#24  Postby TimONeill » Aug 02, 2010 12:31 pm

U-96 wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:
TimONeill wrote:
U-96 wrote:Yes and that's what I'm refering to, the crusades as a purely defensive war, the defense of Christendom.


It was a defence of the holy places in the east, not of "Christendom". They went to retake and hold the sacred sites of Christianity - Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem etc, not to defend Europe against Muslim encroachment, as Stark tries to claim.


From current studies on the subject there is no doubt that it was regarded as no more than the defense of Christendom...

(In talking about the first period of the crusades 1095 to the end of the sixteenth century)
"There is some overlap between the periods, but broadly speaking, during the first, the Muslims were a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom was seen as a pressing concern."
The Historiography of the Crusades - Giles Constable


Protecting the holy sites of Christendom, yes. But protecting "western Europe"? Ummm, no.


Yes protecting from "a continuing threat to Western Europe and the defense of Christendom", a defensive action. From studies of what people thought at the time we know what they thought and why they acted, they acted, as in their minds, they were protecting Western Europe from a very real threat.


Were they? So you will now quote some of the primary source material that supports this? Because I can think of all kinds of mentions of protecting pilgrims in the Levant in the material from the time and lots about taking back the holy places but nothing at all about how western Europe was somehow under threat.

So, if we "know what they thought" and what was "in their minds", can you produce some evidence that "protecting western Europe" was part of what they thought they were doing? Evidence please.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#25  Postby U-96 » Aug 03, 2010 2:23 am

Those that took on these crusade pilgrimages participated, not with the concept of temporal territories but of the idea of Christendom, motivated by idealism, so no I can't give you evidence they were protecting a territorial area which I now understand is what you're specifically referring to, I think understand your position against Stark better now, thanks.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#26  Postby U-96 » Aug 03, 2010 3:45 am

Essentially, the "THEY started it!" thesis argues that far from being an isolated, innovative and unprovoked assault on the world of Islam from Europe, the Crusades were in fact a courageous and entirely justified counter-strike against the terror of Islam by a besieged Christendom. In other words, an Eleventh Century equivalent to Bush's doctrine of "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" or "defending the Homeland".

The problem is that this revisionist thesis, like all ideologically-driven attempts at the analysis of history, is every bit as skewed as the ideas it is trying to revise and correct.


I still don't agree with what you wrote here on your blog though, when we understand the medieval mindset and motivations we can understand that what they did was defensive in nature, it's wrong to say this was an "unprovoked assault on the world of Islam", especially considering the expansionist aggression of dynasties like the Seljuk Turks, that effected the Christians important practice of pilgrimage, the threat to fellow Byzantines Christians, and the damage to churches in their holy land.

Anyway, cheers
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#27  Postby TimONeill » Aug 03, 2010 4:38 am

U-96 wrote:Those that took on these crusade pilgrimages participated, not with the concept of temporal territories but of the idea of Christendom, motivated by idealism, so no I can't give you evidence they were protecting a territorial area which I now understand is what you're specifically referring to, I think understand your position against Stark better now, thanks.


Okay. But they were defending a territorial area - it just wasn't western Europe. It was the Levant and the holy pilgrimage sites it contained. As I said in my review, if it was western Europe they were worried about, why the hell invade the Levant and take Jerusalem? Why not go to Spain and fight to "defend Europe" there were the Muslims were actually on their doorstep? Stark's thesis doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

U-96 wrote:
Essentially, the "THEY started it!" thesis argues that far from being an isolated, innovative and unprovoked assault on the world of Islam from Europe, the Crusades were in fact a courageous and entirely justified counter-strike against the terror of Islam by a besieged Christendom. In other words, an Eleventh Century equivalent to Bush's doctrine of "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here" or "defending the Homeland".

The problem is that this revisionist thesis, like all ideologically-driven attempts at the analysis of history, is every bit as skewed as the ideas it is trying to revise and correct.


I still don't agree with what you wrote here on your blog though, when we understand the medieval mindset and motivations we can understand that what they did was defensive in nature, it's wrong to say this was an "unprovoked assault on the world of Islam", especially considering the expansionist aggression of dynasties like the Seljuk Turks, that effected the Christians important practice of pilgrimage, the threat to fellow Byzantines Christians, and the damage to churches in their holy land.


That was not terribly clearly worded by me. I don't agree with Stark's position, but I don't actually think the Crusades were "an isolated, innovative and unprovoked assault on the world of Islam" either. The point I was trying to make is that he is reacting to one oversimplistic, ideologically driven position by presenting another.

Anyway, cheers


Glad we sorted all that out. Nice discussing things with you.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#28  Postby U-96 » Aug 03, 2010 11:28 am

Ahhh, right, cool, my next question was going to be, what exactly is your understanding of the period, was getting a bit confused. :)
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#29  Postby TimONeill » Jan 21, 2011 8:53 pm

Well, after a long hiatus (partly caused by a PC meltdown and the loss of drafts and notes of several reviews) Armarium Magnum is back in business.

Check out my review of Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died. I hope to make up for my long absence with a few more reviews over the next few weeks.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#30  Postby U-96 » Jan 22, 2011 3:38 pm

Will do, good work. :thumbup:
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#31  Postby U-96 » Jan 24, 2011 8:24 am

tim wrote:While I must say that, for a non-believer, the rather theological final chapters about how the rise and fall of religions is not due to "blind chance" but have a divine purpose (typically, a "mysterious" one) seemed a little gratuitous, Jenkins never pretends he is anything other than a Christian historian of Christianity and, to his credit, does a far better job of objective analysis than many non-Christian polemicists pretending to be historians (eg Charles Freeman and Richard Carrier, to name two repeat offenders).


That does seem a little strange idea to make, what if the Romans had taken on a more aggressive/active and total persecution of Christians like in the example of emperor Wuzong, rather than their (mostly) passive and non-confrontational - don't ask, don't tell policy... would Christianity have had a chance in it's infancy?

The podcast idea sounds interesting.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#32  Postby TimONeill » Mar 13, 2011 2:41 am

A new review is now up - Stilicho: The Vandal Who Saved Rome by Ian Hughes. Next will be a review of David Fitzgerald's Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All. That should stir up a few hornets ...
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#33  Postby Wiðercora » Mar 13, 2011 11:53 am

I see you managed to find a rare photograph of some Roman soldiers.

I don't suppose you might be able to recommend a good book on the subject of ancient warfare?
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#34  Postby U-96 » Mar 13, 2011 1:05 pm

Wiðercora wrote:I see you managed to find a rare photograph of some Roman soldiers.

I don't suppose you might be able to recommend a good book on the subject of ancient warfare?


I'm reading Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar - Life of a Colossus atm and really enjoying it.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#35  Postby TimONeill » Mar 14, 2011 4:17 am

Wiðercora wrote:I see you managed to find a rare photograph of some Roman soldiers.

I don't suppose you might be able to recommend a good book on the subject of ancient warfare?


Peter Connolly's Greece and Rome at War is a good introduction. It looks like a coffee table book, but the large format is to accomodate the excellent colour illustrations that reconstruct the soldiers, equipment and tactics and illustrate things like battle formations and camp layouts. The text is high quality and detailed as well.

Other than that, any of Goldsworthy's overviews are recommended, though he specialises in Roman stuff.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#36  Postby Wiðercora » Mar 15, 2011 6:10 pm

Thanks :cheers:
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#37  Postby TimONeill » Mar 19, 2011 12:55 am

Dr Serafina Cuomo of the University of London, author of Ancient Mathematics and historian of early science and learning, has written a condemnation of the distortions of history in Alejandro Amenábar's movie about Hypatia of Alexandria, Agora. I've reproduced her comments on my blog: Hypatia and "Agora" Redux, Again. Enjoy.
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#38  Postby james1v » Mar 19, 2011 1:15 am

Latin, why? Its a dead language, supported by "the church". It points out biases by its use, it points out people who cannot get real, people who want to reinforce their culture. Why Latin? :think:
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#39  Postby TimONeill » Mar 19, 2011 1:37 am

james1v wrote:Latin, why? Its a dead language, supported by "the church". It points out biases by its use, it points out people who cannot get real, people who want to reinforce their culture. Why Latin? :think:


What the fuck are you talking about?
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Re: Armarium Magnus updated - Book Reviews on History

#40  Postby james1v » Mar 19, 2011 1:50 am

TimONeill wrote:
james1v wrote:Latin, why? Its a dead language, supported by "the church". It points out biases by its use, it points out people who cannot get real, people who want to reinforce their culture. Why Latin? :think:


What the fuck are you talking about?



You claim to be an historian? :scratch: Did you forget the churches "inquisition/campaign against those who translated the wibble into indigenous languages? :scratch:

Why the Latin? Culture? Or..Support for the dogma? Whats "Armarium Magnus" mean in your mother tongue? Why not be plain? Why use the language, the dead language, of "the church"? The language that caused so many deaths to those who had the audacity to translate it, print it and speak it in "their mother tongue". :think: Are you seriously saying, you do not understand the issue? Really? :scratch:
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