Book bit bullets II: one of these is not about a book

Once again there is no time for substance, though there will be something with a bit more body to it shortly. So, in short order:

  • An article of Pierre Toubert‘s in the Bonnassie Festschrift has in it the interesting point that one of the things a scholarly model achieves (he is talking about incastellamento but the same would be true of any model) is to cause people in the field all to talk about the same thing for a while, which is otherwise quite hard to do.1 I like this point.
  • Why, oh, why was I not notified that the Cambridge Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic Department is now running a blog, to which not just Professor Simon Keynes but two occasional commenters here are contributing? Well, you’re blog-rolled now guys so expect at least three more visitors!
  • And, why is there so little work on the Third Crusade compared to the others? Dr Helen Nicholson was able to say that there was no comprehensive history of the Third Crusade in 1997, and things don’t seem to have changed much since then.2 The First, which I admit I think is the most interesting, has about twenty monographic treatments, the Fourth at least four and even the Second at least one volume of essays, and I mean from my lifetime, which is still my usual criterion for recent work, albeit a criterion due for replacement.3 The Third, nothing. Biographies of Richard the Lionheart, yes, of Saladin also yes, studies of the castles, battles, literature of the period, the military orders who fought in it, yes, but no simple history or even a conference volume on the Crusade itself. I realise that the Crusade is but a part of far wider web of things at this point, not least because I’m setting up to teach it, but it’s a jolly big part. How can this omission persist?

1. P. Toubert, “L’Incastellamento aujourd’hui : Quelques réflexions en marge de deux colloques” in Miquel Barcelo & Toubert (edd.), L’incastellamento : Actes des recontres de Gerone (26-27 novembre 1992) et de Rome (5-7 mai 1994), Collection de l’École française de Rome 241 (Rome 1999), pp. xi-xviii, also printed as “L’incastellamento, mode d’emploi”, in Hélène Débax (ed.), Les sociétés méridionales à l’âge féodal (Espagne, Italie et sud de la France Xe-XIIIe s.) : Hommage à Pierre Bonnassie, Méridiennes 8 (Toulouse 1999), pp. 119-124.

2. Helen J. Nicholson (ed./transl.), Chronicle of the Third Crusade: a translation of the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, Crusade Texts in Translation 3 (Aldershot 1997), p. 396: “At the time of writing there is no full-length study of the Third Crusade…”

3. Cherry-picking, but… First: Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading (London 1986), John France, Victory in the East: a military history of the First Crusade (Cambridge 1994), Susan Edgington, The First Crusade (London 1996), Jonathan Phillips (ed.), The First Crusade: origins and impact (Manchester 1997), Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade: a new history (London 2004); Second, Jonathan Phillips & Martin Hoch (edd.), The Second Crusade: scope and consequences (Manchester 2001); Fourth, Donald E. Queller & Thomas F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: the conquest of Constantinople, 2nd edn. (Philadelphia 1997); Michael Angold, The Fourth Crusade: event and context (Harlow 2003), Jonathan Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople (London 2005), Thomas F. Madden (ed.), The Fourth Crusade: event, aftermath and perceptions (Aldershot 2008). Third, I can find James Reston, Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade (New York City 2001), which seems as if it would leave out everyone else, and David Charles Nicolle, The Third Crusade 1191: Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and the struggle for Jerusalem, Campaign 161 (Oxford 2006), which is only 96 pages and only does 1191 in detail. It is aimed at military history enthusiasts and although its account is actually pretty good and based on solid reading and an unusual knowledge of the actual sites, and far far better than one might expect, it still leaves me mainly wishing I still had that Usborne book with the board game of the Battle of Arsuf in it. I feel sure the field could bear more, you know?

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One response to “Book bit bullets II: one of these is not about a book

  1. There’s a very interesting phenomenon that I often notice in the literary stream at science fiction conventions. Whatever the stated panel subjects, there’s often a dominant theme or topic (e.g. a suggestion of a new way of looking at various works or authors) that gets brought up time and again to be looked at in different ways. That theme is one which people have been talking about in reviews, articles, blogs etc. and the large awareness of it creates a sort of critical Zeitgeist when people get together in person.

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