100 books like From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle

By Thomas F. Glick,

Here are 100 books that From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle fans have personally recommended if you like From Muslim Fortress to Christian Castle. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization, and Cultural Change, 950-1350

Aleksander Pluskowski Author Of The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation

From my list on the cultural impact of the crusades.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in London, but growing up in a Polish family ensured that I was well aware of the history of the Teutonic Order. As a post-doctoral researcher in Cambridge, I was fortunate enough to gain access to archaeological material from the magnificent castle at Malbork in north Poland, the Order’s medieval headquarters. That moment really spurred my interest in the Northern Crusades, after which I spent a decade working across the eastern Baltic. I’ve also had the opportunity to excavate medieval frontier sites at both ends of the Mediterranean. As an archaeologist, I always found the lived experiences of these societies far more interesting than the traditional military histories written about them.

Aleksander's book list on the cultural impact of the crusades

Aleksander Pluskowski Why did Aleksander love this book?

This captivating book, with its broad vision, puts the crusades in context in a way that no other has done. Bartlett’s magisterial overview of the expansion of Latin Christendom remains the most engaging work on how conquest, migration, and religion transformed and laid the foundations for the Europe we know today. Erudite, scholarly, and packed with detail, but also accessible and enjoyable, his thematic approach pulls together examples from diverse regions to make a compelling (and at times controversial) case for how a shared European culture was created as the bounds of Christendom were pushed in all directions. It’s an essential introduction to medieval Europe’s frontier societies–several of which were shaped by crusading.

By Robert Bartlett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Making of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From our twentieth-century perspective, we tend to think of the Europe of the past as a colonizer, a series of empires that conquered lands beyond their borders and forced European cultural values on other peoples. This provocative book shows that Europe in the Middle Ages was as much a product of a process of conquest and colonization as it was later a colonizer.


Book cover of Crusader Archaeology: The Material Culture of the Latin East

Aleksander Pluskowski Author Of The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation

From my list on the cultural impact of the crusades.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in London, but growing up in a Polish family ensured that I was well aware of the history of the Teutonic Order. As a post-doctoral researcher in Cambridge, I was fortunate enough to gain access to archaeological material from the magnificent castle at Malbork in north Poland, the Order’s medieval headquarters. That moment really spurred my interest in the Northern Crusades, after which I spent a decade working across the eastern Baltic. I’ve also had the opportunity to excavate medieval frontier sites at both ends of the Mediterranean. As an archaeologist, I always found the lived experiences of these societies far more interesting than the traditional military histories written about them.

Aleksander's book list on the cultural impact of the crusades

Aleksander Pluskowski Why did Aleksander love this book?

I remember picking this book up at a conference when I was a doctoral student, and it ignited a passion that has come to define my career. I had previously seen the crusades as dry, tedious lists of battles and military campaigns, but Adrian’s book opened new doors to understanding the societies created by the crusading movement in the Levant. Now in its second edition, this impressive volume remains the go-to work for the flourishing archaeology of the crusader states. Everything from ceramics and coins, to tombs, houses, churches, monasteries, castles, towns, farms, and industrial installations is covered. I have taught the archaeology of crusading for many years, and this book has always been at the top of my reading lists. It also inspired me to write my own book on Prussia.

By Adrian J. Boas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crusader Archaeology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Crusader Archaeology examines what life was like for European settlers in the Latin East and how they were influenced by their new-found neighbours. Incorporating recent excavation results and the latest research, this new edition updates the only detailed study of the material culture of the Frankish settlers in Israel, Cyprus, Syria and Jordan. Adrian Boas provides comprehensive coverage of the key topics connected to crusader archaeology, including an examination of urban and rural settlements, agriculture, industry, the military, the church, public and private architecture, arts and crafts, leisure pursuits, death and burial and building techniques. There are also entirely new…


Book cover of Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French Village 1294-1324

Alexander F. Robertson Author Of Mieres Reborn: The Reinvention of a Catalan Community

From my list on village lives as keys to history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working as a social anthropologist in Uganda, Ghana, Malaysia, and Catalonia, I became fascinated by villages as microcosms of broader social change, places where history can be observed in the making through the lives and histories of families and of their members. Villages are anything but ‘natural’ communities or social backwaters. They survive (or perish) because people, beliefs, and goods are continually moving in and out. Village lives are certainly shaped by state and society, but the impact goes both ways. Each of my selected books tells a gripping and distinctive story of villagers grappling with social and cultural tension, the forces of change, and the challenges of survival.

Alexander's book list on village lives as keys to history

Alexander F. Robertson Why did Alexander love this book?

An instant best-seller when it first appeared in 1978, Montaillou uses Inquisition records of the cross-examinations of Cathar heretics and their Catholic neighbours and kin to recover the religious, social, emotional and sexual lives of medieval Pyrenean villagers.

Shepherds, mayors, matriarchs and servants, priests and laity, come vividly to life as they recount their work and pleasures, friendships and enmities, doubts and beliefs. 

Montaillou is the most influential example of what was then a speciality of the French Annales school of history, namely, studies of everyday life (la vie quotidienne) in a particular historical milieu.

Since then micro-histories, detailed accounts of social microcosms and what they tell us about the wider worlds in which they were embedded, and the historical shifts or transformations to which they bear witness, have become the bread and butter not only of local but of global historians.   

By Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Barbara Bray (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Montaillou as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

APPEARS UNREAD. Hardcover with slipcase. Slipcase shows minimal shelving wear, binding is very slightly pulling away from the spine, otherwise an UNBLEMISHED copy.


Book cover of Studies into the Balts' Sacred Places

Aleksander Pluskowski Author Of The Archaeology of the Prussian Crusade: Holy War and Colonisation

From my list on the cultural impact of the crusades.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in London, but growing up in a Polish family ensured that I was well aware of the history of the Teutonic Order. As a post-doctoral researcher in Cambridge, I was fortunate enough to gain access to archaeological material from the magnificent castle at Malbork in north Poland, the Order’s medieval headquarters. That moment really spurred my interest in the Northern Crusades, after which I spent a decade working across the eastern Baltic. I’ve also had the opportunity to excavate medieval frontier sites at both ends of the Mediterranean. As an archaeologist, I always found the lived experiences of these societies far more interesting than the traditional military histories written about them.

Aleksander's book list on the cultural impact of the crusades

Aleksander Pluskowski Why did Aleksander love this book?

Despite its somewhat unassuming title and cover, this book remains one of the most accessible and interesting studies of native spirituality in the eastern Baltic written in English. Before the crusades that forged Catholic Livonia and Prussia, the natural world was imbued with religious meanings, and trees, rocks, hills, rivers, and lakes were foci of cult activity. Once Christianity was introduced, many of these sacred natural places endured and were recorded in later sources, echoing down the centuries. Vykintas Vaitkevičius, an archaeologist and one of the foremost Lithuanian scholars of Baltic ‘paganism,’ pulls together an incredible compendium of information drawn from historical documents, cartography, archaeology, and folklore, and paints a regionally varied picture of native sacrality across the historical territories of the Balts. 

By Vykintas Vaitkevičius,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Studies into the Balts' Sacred Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sacred places of the Balts of Lithuania take the form of sites and monuments that are shrouded in myths and legends. This study is based on an analysis of 1200 examples and, although very few have been investigated archaeologically, Vykintas Vaitkevicius looks at the historical, linguistic, ethnological and folklore data associated with them. The places are classified according to type, whether sacred hills, islands, hillforts/temples, fields, forests and groves, oak trees, stones, sacred waters or caves, and studied for the information they contain about Balts religion and society. With much of the evidence dating from the mid-1st millennium to…


Book cover of The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492

Hussein Fancy Author Of The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

From my list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hussein Fancy is a Professor of History at Yale University where he teaches medieval history with a particular focus on medieval Spain and North Africa. His research, writing, and teaching focus on the entwined histories of not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims but also Latin and Arabic in the Middle Ages. He has traveled and lived extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Hussein's book list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Why did Hussein love this book?

Among the wonders of medieval Spain is the appearance of the first Hebrew secular poetry since Biblical times. In this masterful and unparalleled set of translations by Peter Cole, we witness the profound, pious, chauvinistic, and indeed, sensual traditions of secular poetry over centuries. A fusion of Arabic and Hebrew traditions, in and of themselves, these poems stand as a metaphor for the Jewish community itself as well as its dynamism and endurance under Muslim and then, Christian rule. 

By Peter Cole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dream of the Poem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hebrew culture experienced a renewal in medieval Spain that produced what is arguably the most powerful body of Jewish poetry written since the Bible. Fusing elements of East and West, Arabic and Hebrew, and the particular and the universal, this verse embodies an extraordinary sensuality and intense faith that transcend the limits of language, place, and time. Peter Cole's translations reveal this remarkable poetic world to English readers in all of its richness, humor, grace, gravity, and wisdom. The Dream of the Poem traces the arc of the entire period, presenting some four hundred poems by fifty-four poets, and including…


Book cover of The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Author Of The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

From my list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hussein Fancy is a Professor of History at Yale University where he teaches medieval history with a particular focus on medieval Spain and North Africa. His research, writing, and teaching focus on the entwined histories of not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims but also Latin and Arabic in the Middle Ages. He has traveled and lived extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Hussein's book list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Why did Hussein love this book?

If there’s only one that I could recommend, it’s this brilliant, beautiful, and vexing book by María Rosa Menocal, Sterling Professor at Yale University. In a compelling and artful manner, Menocal tells the story of medieval Spain from the arrival of the first Umayyad rulers to Cervantes. Beyond being a useful introduction to the fascinating history, Menocal makes the argument that a culture of tolerance existed in medieval Spain, one that transcended religious and ethnic differences. The principal engine of this culture, she suggests, was the Arabic language. Menocal’s book has received as much praise as criticism, a testament to its enduring power and the contentious quality of medieval Spain.

By María Rosa Menocal,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ornament of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich and thriving culture where literature, science and religious tolerance flourished for 700 years is the subject of this enthralling history of medieval Spain.

Living side by side in the Andalusian kingdoms, the 'peoples of the book' produced statesmen, poets and philosophers who influenced the rest of Europe in dramatic ways, giving it the first translations of Plato and Aristotle, love songs and secular poetry plus remarkable feats of architecture and technology. This evocative account explores the lost history whose legacy and lessons have a powerful resonance in today's world.


Book cover of Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages

Hussein Fancy Author Of The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

From my list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hussein Fancy is a Professor of History at Yale University where he teaches medieval history with a particular focus on medieval Spain and North Africa. His research, writing, and teaching focus on the entwined histories of not only Jews, Christians, and Muslims but also Latin and Arabic in the Middle Ages. He has traveled and lived extensively in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Hussein's book list on capturing the paradoxes of medieval Spain

Hussein Fancy Why did Hussein love this book?

This is a scholarly book, beautifully written but challenging both in its exposition and argument. Grounded in deep archival research, Nirenberg examines violence against religious minorities—Jews and Muslims—in the lands of the Christian Crown of Aragon in northeastern Spain and southern France. Navigating between rose-tinted and bleak accounts of this past, he makes the surprising argument that the long coexistence between Jews, Christians, and Muslims depended on regular and almost ritualistic violence between them. Violence, he proposes, enabled peace.

By David Nirenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communities of Violence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the wake of modern genocide, we tend to think of violence against minorities as a sign of intolerance, or, even worse, a prelude to extermination. Violence in the Middle Ages, however, functioned differently, according to David Nirenberg. In this provocative book, he focuses on specific attacks against minorities in fourteenth-century France and the Crown of Aragon (Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia). He argues that these attacks--ranging from massacres to verbal assaults against Jews, Muslims, lepers, and prostitutes--were often perpetrated not by irrational masses laboring under inherited ideologies and prejudices, but by groups that manipulated and reshaped the available discourses on…


Book cover of The Legacy of Muslim Spain Volume 1

Steven Nightingale Author Of Granada: A Pomegranate in the Hand of God

From my list on the truth about Spanish history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer who lived in the city of Granada for almost four years, in the uncanny barrio of the Albayzin. The daily blessings of life there are powerful and cumulative, and I wrote a book in honor of such luminosity; and I wrote it, as well, because most of us have been lied to about Spanish history. But the truth, like the poetry of Garcia Lorca, cannot be suppressed. In my sojourn in Spain, and in my visits over the years, I have found Granada to be a treasure-house of stories and poetry; and in flamenco singing, the home of one of the most powerful art-forms of music in the world.

Steven's book list on the truth about Spanish history

Steven Nightingale Why did Steven love this book?

Incomparable. In the long effort by scholars to establish the facts about the brilliant period of Al-Andalus—711-1492—this book is a breakthrough and a marvel. Salma Khadra Jayyusi assembled the leading scholars in the field on a whole host of subjects, and the two volumes have everything from meditations on broad historical themes to detailed accounts of book-making, ceramics, and techniques of dyeing and weaving silk. No serious reader of the history of Spain should have to live without these two extraordinary volumes.

Book cover of Trickster Travels: A Sixteenth-Century Muslim Between Worlds

Teresa Tinsley Author Of Reconciliation and Resistance in Early Modern Spain: Hernando de Baeza and the Catholic Monarchs

From my list on memories of Moorish Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an avid Hispanist and have for a long time been fascinated by the mix of cultures in medieval Spain. Soon after 9-11, I was forced to take part in a barefoot ritual of security checks on arriving at Zaragoza airport to see something of the Moorish heritage there, and it hit me how important the way we tell the story of ‘Moors and Christians’ is to our own times. My own experience as a linguist and of living abroad made me particularly interested in people who are able to see both sides of a story and transfer between cultures. This is what I researched further in my Ph.D. in relation to the demise of Muslim Granada. 

Teresa's book list on memories of Moorish Spain

Teresa Tinsley Why did Teresa love this book?

This must be one of the best biographies ever!

It’s an academic take on the story of Leo the African, novelised by Amin Maalouf, and it brings out his complex identity and the richness of interconnected Mediterranean cultures in a way that is totally relevant to today.

It really made me think about the limitations of what we call national or religious identity and the almost infinite ability of human beings to adapt, chameleon-like, to different circumstances and cultures. 

By Natalie Zemon Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trickster Travels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Al-Hasan al-Wazzan - born in Granada to a Muslim family that in 1492 went to Morocco - became famous as the great Renaissance writer Leo Africanus, author of the first geography of Africa to be published in Europe (in 1550). He had been captured by Christian pirates in the Mediterranean and imprisoned by the Pope; when he was released and baptized, he lived a European life of scholarship as the Christian writer Giovanni Leone; by 1527, it is likely that he returned to North Africa and to the language, culture, and faith in which he had been raised. Natalie Zemon…


Book cover of Exotic Nation: Maurophilia and the Construction of Early Modern Spain

Teresa Tinsley Author Of Reconciliation and Resistance in Early Modern Spain: Hernando de Baeza and the Catholic Monarchs

From my list on memories of Moorish Spain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an avid Hispanist and have for a long time been fascinated by the mix of cultures in medieval Spain. Soon after 9-11, I was forced to take part in a barefoot ritual of security checks on arriving at Zaragoza airport to see something of the Moorish heritage there, and it hit me how important the way we tell the story of ‘Moors and Christians’ is to our own times. My own experience as a linguist and of living abroad made me particularly interested in people who are able to see both sides of a story and transfer between cultures. This is what I researched further in my Ph.D. in relation to the demise of Muslim Granada. 

Teresa's book list on memories of Moorish Spain

Teresa Tinsley Why did Teresa love this book?

This is a book that made me think again about the ‘Moorishness’ of Spain.

How to square the repression and ultimate expulsion of people of Muslim origin in the early sixteen hundreds with the obvious delight taken in aspects of their material culture such as architecture, fashion, and horsemanship, not to mention the sympathetic portrayal of Moorish characters in sixteenth-century Spanish literature?

It’s a well-argued book full of fascinating examples which examine and enlighten this paradox. 

By Barbara Fuchs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exotic Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Western imagination, Spain often evokes the colorful culture of al-Andalus, the Iberian region once ruled by Muslims. Tourist brochures inviting visitors to sunny and romantic Andalusia, home of the ingenious gardens and intricate arabesques of Granada's Alhambra Palace, are not the first texts to trade on Spain's relationship to its Moorish past. Despite the fall of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and the subsequent repression of Islam in Spain, Moorish civilization continued to influence both the reality and the perception of the Christian nation that emerged in place of al-Andalus.

In Exotic Nation, Barbara Fuchs explores…


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Interested in Spain, the Crusades, and the Middle Ages?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Spain, the Crusades, and the Middle Ages.

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