on 7 October 2001
The publication of 'Unknown Crusader Castles' boldly throws down a challenge to all medieval archaeologists and historians and brings new life to a somewht tired old subject.
With this book Kristian Molin has opened up a new and vast avenue of research into the somewhat stagnant field of castle studies. He has done this by concentraing less on the castle themselves onto the people who actually used and built them. In short, he has shown that, as in Western Europe, castles were as much a political and social tool as a military one. In doing so he has accomplished that rare feat of sucessfully uniting history and archaeology.
But there is more... Molin's project has been essentially twofold. Firstly he has examined the wider uses of castles by the Crusaders and their allies. Secondly he has in a single stroke broadened the whole subject of the Crusaders to include Cyprus, Cilician Armenia and Frankish Greece. This has long been necessary but until now no-one has had the energy to try to produce a single of study of ALL the Crusaders and the full implications of their geographically scattered remains. To an extent this is Molin's problem as the book is essentially an accumilation of data and anecdotes rather than an arguement or a proposition. Instead Molin's arguement is that until now castles have been inadequately studied and he has written this book to prove it. To an degree then this is book merely throws down the gauntlet (in considerable style) and now the rival interpretations (and the real fun) will begin. In summary there therefore this book is less 'Unknown Crusader Castles' and more 'Unknown Aspects of Crusader Castles' - which as a title is much less snappy.
The only problem with this book is that henceforward it impells those following in Molin's wake to take a similarly broad view of castles and that Byzantium, Spain, Sicily and Edessa will all have to be similarly treated.
As a bonus this book also has lots of pictures (although saddly none in colour) :)