Monday, October 17, 2011

Historian Peter Frankopan is challenging a millennium of scholarship in his view of the First Crusade

For a thousand years the idea of the crusade has defined nations and empires, justified wars and acts of terrorism and inspired everyone from medieval minstrels to Ridley Scott. But is all that potency built on a misunderstanding? New historical research suggests that the campaign that became known as the First Crusade was not a religious war, was not started by the Pope, was not really about regaining Jerusalem and was actually a direct result of a little local difficulty in modern day Turkey.

According to Harvard University Press, a forthcoming book by the British historian Peter Frankopan is "countering nearly a millennium of scholarship" by emphasising the overlooked eastern origins of the Crusades.

Dr Frankopan, the director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at the University of Oxford, told The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday that "something is not quite right" with the traditional version. This has maintained, with remarkable consistency, that the First Crusade was a product of the Council of Clermont in central France in 1095, where Pope Urban II called on the faithful to free Jerusalem from occupation by Muslim Turks. The Pope's evangelism was prompted by "disturbing news" received from Jerusalem and Constantinople of atrocities committed against Christians by the Turks. The speech electrified Europe and helped to raise an army of between 80,000 and 90,000 men, 30 times larger than the Norman force that had conquered England a generation earlier.

Click here to read this article from The Australian