This is a great book. Filled with essays from such scholars as H E J Cowdrey, Jonathan Riley-Smith, R A Fletcher, Norman Housley, Christopher Tyerman, Giles Constable, Marcus Bull, Sir Steven Runciman, John France and others, this book discusses aspects of the earlier Crusades broken down into three main sections of interest:
Part I What were the Crusades?
Part II Who were the Crusaders?
Part III Impact of the Crusades on the East
This book was first published in 2002, so offers recent scholarship and interpretation of what can be very difficult source evidence. For instance, how did contemporaries define what we now call a "Crusade"? What motivated crusaders to even go on the First Crusade, given that there was no real precedent for this type of armed pilgrimage? Patronage is held by John France to have had an important role in the decisions of crusaders, particularly those who held land, or had obligations to a patron, or even patrons. And what did it cost, and how was funding raised? What was the impact of the crusades on the East, and the Muslim population?
So many questions, and scholars have debated these and like issues for decades. While there may be no authoritative one-size-fits-all answer, these essays go a long way to stimulate debate, to consolidate the latest research, and to provide further food for thought for all, readers and scholars alike. Totally recommended.