"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, June 26, 2017

15th Century Crusades

As I have been arguing on here, as well as here, and in other places for years now, the propaganda of ISIS about the Crusades traffics in, inter alia, general Western ignorance, and blatant Western political abuse of, Crusading history. A recently published collection, edited by a sometime student of Jonathan Riley-Smith, looks at The Crusade in the Fifteenth Century: Converging and Competing Cultures, ed. Norman Housley (Routledge, 2016), 220pp.

Housley is the author of a number of other studies on the Crusades, including Fighting for the Cross: Crusading to the Holy Land (2008) and Contesting the Crusades, which is a good place to begin for those new to Crusading history. 

About this new collection we are told:
Increasingly, historians acknowledge the significance of crusading activity in the fifteenth century, and they have started to explore the different ways in which it shaped contemporary European society. Just as important, however, was the range of interactions which took place between the three faith communities which were most affected by crusade, namely the Catholic and Orthodox worlds, and the adherents of Islam. Discussion of these interactions forms the theme of this book. Two essays consider the impact of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 on the conquering Ottomans and the conquered Byzantines. The next group of essays reviews different aspects of the crusading response to the Turks, ranging from Emperor Sigismund to Papal legates. The third set of contributions considers diplomatic and cultural interactions between Islam and Christianity, including attempts made to forge alliances of Christian and Muslim powers against the Ottomans. Last, a set of essays looks at what was arguably the most complex region of all for inter-faith relations, the Balkans, exploring the influence of crusading ideas in the eastern Adriatic, Bosnia and Romania. Viewed overall, this collection of essays makes a powerful contribution to breaking down the old and discredited view of monolithic and mutually exclusive "fortresses of faith". Nobody would question the extent and intensity of religious violence in fifteenth-century Europe, but this volume demonstrates that it was played out within a setting of turbulent diversity. Religious and ethnic identities were volatile, allegiances negotiable, and diplomacy, ideological exchange and human contact were constantly in operation between the period's major religious groupings.
And we are given the Table of Contents:

List of figures and maps

List of abbreviations
Notes on contributors



1 Introduction: Norman Housley

Conquerors and conquered

2 Crusading in the fifteenth century and its relation to the development of Ottoman dynastic legitimacy, self-image, and the Ottoman consolidation of authority: Nikolay Antov

3 Byzantine refugees as crusade propagandists: the travels of Nicholas Agallon: Jonathan Harris

The crusading response: expressions, dynamics and constraints

4 Dances, dragons and a pagan queen: Sigismund of Luxemburg and the publicizing of the Ottoman Turkish threat: Mark Whelan

5 Alfonso V and the anti-Turkish crusade:Mark Aloisio

6 Papal legates and crusading activity in central Europe: the Hussites and the Ottoman Turks: Antonin Kalous

7 Switching the tracks: Baltic crusades against Russia in the fifteenth century: Anti Selart

Diplomatic and cultural interactions

8 Tīmūr and the ‘Frankish’ powers: Michele Bernardini

9 Venetian attempts at forging an alliance with Persia and the crusade in the fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries: Giorgio Rota

10 Quattrocento Genoa and the legacies of crusading: Steven Epstein

Frontier zones: the Balkans and the Adriatic

11 The key to the gate of Christendom? The strategic importance of Bosnia in the struggle against the Ottomans: Emir Filippović

12 Between two worlds or a world of its own? The eastern Adriatic in the fifteenth century: Oliver Jens Schmitt

13 The Romanian concept of crusade in the fifteenth century: Sergiu Iosipescu

14 Conclusion: transformations of crusading in the long fifteenth century: Alan V. Murray


Housley, a busy man, has another even newer collection released just this spring: Reconfiguring the 15th-Century Crusade (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 344pp.

About this book we are told:
This collection of essays by eight leading scholars is a landmark event in the study of crusading in the late middle ages. It is the outcome of an international network funded by the Leverhulme Trust whose members examined the persistence of crusading activity in the fifteenth century from three viewpoints, goals, agencies and resonances. The crusading fronts considered include the conflict with the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean and western Balkans, the Teutonic Order’s activities in the Baltic region, and the Hussite crusades. The authors review criticism of crusading propaganda on behalf of the crusade, the influence on crusading of demands for Church reform, the impact of printing, expanding knowledge of the world beyond the Christian lands, and new sensibilities about the sufferings of non-combatants.

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