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on 27 December 2009
Whether you're a scholar, just got a passing interest or like a bit of 'boys own' this is a great boxed set. Having loved the fiction movie Kingdom of Heaven I wanted to know more about the Crusades. As the previous reviewer said - very informative and unpatronising. Unlike the other reviewer, I liked the spooky religous guy. Added a bit of theatre - and he's quite funny in parts (unintentionally). It delivers all of the facts - but not in a crusty and dry old way. More kind of docu-drama. Recommended.
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on 26 March 2011
In truth I would give this three and a half stars if I could; it's not worth four but three seems a little harsh. And why isn't it worth four (or more) stars? Firstly, it only covers the first three crusades, whereas the blurb here (and on the DVD cases themselves) gives the very definite impression of covering the entire period, until the fall of Acre in 1291. In fact everything after the third crusade, almost one hundred years of history, are dealt with in less than five minutes right at the end of disc three. Still, there are undoubtedly those who wouldn't be too worried about getting something that's not what is advsertised. Therefore we turn to a worse problem with this series - the narration.

The inclusion of a good number of famous crusade historians, from both sides of the religious divide, gives the series an authority sadly lacking in so many other documentaries. This should have been a winner then, but the narration entirely lets it down. Firstly, it's done by an American who insists on pronouncing everything incorrectly. Secondly, the content of the narration is often at odds with the crusade experts and, indeed, with itself. It also seems to have been written by someone following their own agenda rather than simply sticking with the history, which is very unhelpful. Unnecessary superlatives are the order of the day and many statements are made without context.

Having said all that, anyone watching this who has no or little knowledge of the crusades will definitely come away much better informed, if with the occassional odd idea. The inclusion of actual crusade experts as opposed to generic and overly enthusiastic American scholars does help to keep the documentary mostly on course, and provides names to look up for people who want to study this fascinating period further. Another winning aspect of the series is the inclusion of so much primary evidence, read out by actors decked out as the authors. They can definitely be annoying at times but I cannot think of a better way of getting so much contemporary writing in, without boring the general viewer. I must reiterate that this IS a documentary, in this case done in the familiar History Channel style of constantly showing the same dodgy re-enactment over and over.

So, if you feel you can cope with the dodgy narration and can get over the fact that this only covers the first three crusades despite advertising more, then you should definitely give it a go. If you cannot, avoid it and read a book instead. For example, both Thomas Ashbridge and Johnathan Phillips (who appear in this series) have written wonderful general histories of the crusades.
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on 3 January 2010
An excellent DVD for all those senior students out there. Not many suitable books are available for this period of history for students at A-level, so this DVD is a very helpful addition.
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on 30 November 2009
Very informative, scholastic and unpatronising. Input from a variety of university lecturers. Especially good and (balancing) input from Tariq Ali. It would have got a five had it not been from the slightly creepy religious input (maybe this was for the US market, or there was some level of funding provided by a christian sponsor).

One major negative, a perpetual dirge of Gregorian chant/church music throughout the DVD which was too loud, tedious and distracting.
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on 21 March 2014
This 3-disc set contains the material shown previously on History Channel & other sources detailing the history of the Crusades. As documentaries on the subject go, it's one of the best, dramatizing the time as well as covering the entire Crusader period from the earliest (first) Crusade to the final battle. It is a deeply engrossing story which will reward repeated viewing.

Series like this make you want to type in 'The history channel dvds' into Amazon and start collecting...
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on 18 July 2010
This 3 Disc set of an Historic Journey into the past and into the world of Christians and Muslims left me blown away.
What an educational Journey this was.
With the acting intertwined with the documentary side of things it gave a different dimension and made it more realistic and believable.
Well worth getting and adding it into your library.
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on 23 January 2011
I have seen parts of this documentary on History channel and decided to buy my own copy to enable me to enjoy and watch from the beginning to the end. It is very well dramatised and presented from variety of perspectives; muslim and christian chronicles. Music is excellent and supports the story line very well. Crusades 1 and 3 have necessary detail and extended coverage. Crusade 2 is presented in less depth and that was a pity. I would have loved to learn more about the French King and his inspiring wife Elena (who later divorced him). That was a bit of missed opportunity. However, the overall series is very well done and highly recommended to anyone who has some interest in history or teenagers who study it at school. They will learn a lot in very enjoyable manner.
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on 12 February 2015
Very dumbed-down with some shocking acting (e.g. the incompetent who was William of Tyre), and one of the most arrogant, smug, unpleasant 'experts' on TV (Tariq Ali) but a decent account of the first three Crusades for anyone uninitiated. Is there any chance of history without dramatic reconstructions - just vetted experts (most on this series were good) and a simple looksie at the sites?
Also, putting the four part series on three discs is fraudulent - each episode was 45 minutes or so long, so one, maximum two, would have been enough. Selling it as a three-disc series implies you're getting much more.
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on 11 April 2013
Quite simply the most accessible drama documentary of the Crusades enjoyable for all age groups - 8-70! As a history teacher, I have done copious research to find something accessible for younger people.
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on 29 April 2012
I thought that this was a reasonable re-construction of the first three Crusades. The comparative humanity of Moslem Saladin towards the christians in Jerusalem compares very favourably with the earlier mass slaughter of the Moslems, Jews and fellow Christians by the Crusaders.

One part did rather baffle me though. After the first crusade reached Jerusalem and had slaughtered the original inhabitents, Moslems, Jews and Christians, it was clearly mentioned that large numbers of Europeans were then encouraged to settle in the presumably now empty city and land.

Anybody who was making a comfortable living wouldn't want to relocate to a war ravaged land and it is difficult to believe that a fuedal baron would allow any of his peasants to leave his land. So just who were these incoming would be settlers? If there were that many wouldn't there have been some affect on the population of Europe?

The biggest disappointment though is the missing Fourth Crusade. When this DVD was advertised as being shown on the History Channel, it specifically mentioned that it included the Fourth Crusade but the whole things ends shortly after Richard leaves the Holy Land for good at the end of the Third Crusade.

Hopefully this DVD will be re-issued and include the Fourth Crusade.
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