The best books on the Crusades 📚

Browse the best books on the Crusades as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Northern Crusades

The Northern Crusades

By Eric Christiansen

Why this book?

When we say the word Crusades, most of us think of Jerusalem, and the many Christian efforts to wrest control of what was called the Holy Land from Islamic control -- six separate expeditions from 1095-1291. The foundation of Prussia is found in the lesser-known, but equally sanguinary campaigns of conquest undertaken by a religious order of Germanic origin, the Teutonic Knights. Their aim was to wrest lands along the Baltic Sea, east of the Oder, Vistula, and Nieman Rivers, from non-Christian Slavic tribes, a process that surged back and forth for over four centuries, until the Order was secularized…

From the list:

The best books on Prussia from different perspectives

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Book cover of The Concise History of the Crusades

The Concise History of the Crusades

By Thomas F. Madden

Why this book?

This is the perfect “first book” for anyone interested in learning about the crusades without ideological bias or polemics.

In just 209 pages, Professor Thomas Madden has provided a cogent and comprehensive overview of the crusades. He writes in a fluid, accessible style rather than a turgid academic tone, yet his scholarship is impeccable. Madden opens with an explanation of the concept of crusading and proceeds to summarize the key events leading to and during the major crusades to the Holy Land. The book is chronological and ends with a chapter on the legacy of the crusades. Madden also provides…

From the list:

The best books on the Crusades and Crusader States

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Book cover of The World of the Crusades

The World of the Crusades

By Christopher Tyerman

Why this book?

This is the perfect book for someone seriously interested in the crusades and looking for a reference with tips on additional sources.

Tyreman’s almost 500-page work is a treasure for readers looking for greater detail than Madden and France offer. Meticulously researched and documented, it is also enriched with a chronology, lists of rulers, and a glossary. In addition to a chronological treatment of the crusades, including the crusades in Western Europe and against fellow Christians, it provides short essays on a variety of aspects of the crusades — things like castles, interpreters, Jews, women, food and drink, medicine, manuscripts…

From the list:

The best books on the Crusades and Crusader States

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Book cover of Muslims and Crusaders: Christianity's Wars in the Middle East, 1095-1382, from the Islamic Sources

Muslims and Crusaders: Christianity's Wars in the Middle East, 1095-1382, from the Islamic Sources

By Niall Christie

Why this book?

No one should claim to understand the crusades without having first read this book.

This work by a scholar of Islamic history is based entirely on Muslim sources, and as such provides a mirror image to the works which draw heavily on Latin, Greek, French and Italian sources. It is concise (119 pages), easy to read, and backed by a large document section as well as recommended reading for each chapter. For anyone who is not an Islamic scholar, the book is worth owning for the clear, succinct definitions of key Arabic terms such as iqta, qadi, and jihad itself.…

From the list:

The best books on the Crusades and Crusader States

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Book cover of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

The Crusades Through Arab Eyes

By Amin Maalouf

Why this book?

This Paris-based Lebanese author may soon be awarded the Nobel Prize! His first book is a classic that forces readers into a completely different perspective. Maalouf offers in his own vivacious style, a vivid portrait of a society torn by internal conflicts and shaken by a traumatic encounter with an alien culture of invaders. His fascinating insights delve deeply into the Arab and Islamic consciousness today. All Maalouf’s books should be read! Each opens unexpected, illuminated windows on the Middle East with compassion, wisdom, and drama.
From the list:

The best books of counter history to enrich your world view

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Book cover of The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance

The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance

By Christopher MacEvitt

Why this book?

There has been an explosion of interest in the Crusades since 9/11, with many medieval historians working hard to push back against over-simplified and often inaccurate depictions of Christian holy war and Christian-Muslim relations. This impressively researched book adds a fascinating new dimension to the story of the Crusades, examining relations between newly arrived European Catholics and the many and varied indigenous Levantine Christian communities in the decades following the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. MacEvitt rejects the dominant narrative, which held that the Frankish conquerors, imbued with the rigid prejudices of an intolerant European Christendom, had little interaction…
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The best books on medieval religious history

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