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Online Introduction to


by G. P. R. James

This is quite an interesting history of Chivalry and the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Mr. James has taken different views and disagrees with Mills, the premier English historian who wrote in detail on the medieval wars in the Middle East. James provides copious references to document his writing in support of his opinions and his account of the events.

The present author had also written fiction successfully, and so he has descriptive talents that make his work engaging and stirring in many spots. His account in Chapter VI of the battle of Dorylœum is amazingly vivid, and chokes me up every time I read it.

Despite some strong adjectives allied to the forces of "Good" and "Evil", Mr. James has done an exceedingly good job in representing the Moslems. Throughout the book, he is more than fair in his representation. He honors and applauds chivalrous Turks often. Despite his obvious European bias, by an honest relation of the events it is clear that the infidels were often victims of barbarity by “The Flower of European Chivalry.” He speaks very strongly of the treachery of the Christian Greeks, but even then he also acknowledges the cruelties the Crusaders inflicted on these fellow-Christians that may have inspired their subsequent behavior.

The research he has done is apparent by the number of footnotes. The Notes, and occasionally in the body of the text as well, include supporting tracts from his sources in their original language, French or Latin. I have attempted to translate some of these, and enclose them in brackets, but these are primitive and corrections would be greatly appreciated, if any one is so inclined.

All in all, this is useful information on that period of history. Much of it is unknown to most people. To better understand our current wars, it is smart, but depressing, to read about the past ones, and to be reminded that the wasteful, corrupt, greedy, cruel, unfaithful members on both sides of any conflict outnumber and defeat the intentions, however noble, of the honourable and faithful sorts. The book reinforces further the total stupidity and ignorance of thinking violence is a wise, or profitable, or improving solution to any disagreement.

The two engravings at the beginning of the book, one representing a squire receiving his knighthood from a bishop, and the following picture of a knight falling in a joust reflect both the up and the down sides of the whole concept and spirit of Chivalry fairly well.

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