"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).

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Syria in the Crusades

If you have any interest in the history and rise of Islam, and of its encounters with Eastern Christians, and especially of the Crusades, then the name of Carole Hillenbrand needs to be on your bibliography. Her previous works, including her very large earlier book, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, are rich in detail.

She has a new book out, an impressive and diverse scholarly collection: Syria in Crusader Times: Conflict and Co-Existence, ed. Carole Hillenbrand (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), 400pp.
About this collection the publisher tells us this:
Presenting numerous interconnected insights into life in Greater Syria in the twelfth century, this book covers a wide range of themes relating to Crusader-Muslim relations. Some chapters deal with various literary sources, including little-known Crusader chronicles, a jihad treatise, a lost Muslim history of the Franks, biographies, letters and poems. Other chapters look at material culture, from coins to urban development, internal relations between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims and between Crusader and Oriental Christians, and the role of the Turkmen. New insights into the career of Saladin are revealed, for example through the work of a little-known propagandist at his court, and Saladin's use of gift-giving for political purposes, as well as neglected aspects of the rule of his family dynasty, the Ayyubids, which succeeded him. Special attention is paid to the Christians residing in the Middle East, from Italians to Melkites and Armenians.

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