It’s been awhile since I read a full book on the Crusades.
I picked up an interest in the subject in college after studying the Knights Templar. This was before bookstore shelves sagged under the weight of dubious Templar histories in the wake of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. (Though it was after the publication of Brown’s inspiration: Holy Blood, Holy Grail from Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.)
So, when I saw that NetGalley was giving away review copies of this old history, I picked one up.
By the way, whenever King Richard’s name comes up, Steely Dan’s “Kings” comes to mind:
Now they lay his body down
Sad old men who run this town.
I still recall the way
He led the charge and saved the day.
Blue blood and rain
I can hear the bugle playin’.
We seen the last of Good King Richard.
Ring out the past his name lives on.
Roll out the bones and raise up your pitcher.
Raise up your glass to Good King John!
Review: The Crusade of Richard I, T. A. Archer, 1898, 2016.
A good book, an interesting and very readable compilation of primary sources about the Third Crusade, what we would now call a sourcebook, and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about the subject.
This was part of a 19th century publisher to put together learned but popular histories for the English public, and Archer went on to write several entries in the Dictionary of National Biography.
Archer’s footnotes are valuable in annotating the confusing similarities of names and titles, providing alternate names for places, correcting mistakes in dates, and even trying to locate where certain settlements in Outremer were.
The famous stories from the Third Crusade are all here. Saladin (or his brother Saphadin) really did send Richard a horse after the king lost his at the Crusader assault on Jaffa. Richard did have almost 3,000 Moslem captives beheaded though both English and Islam accounts support the conclusion it was not gratuitous cruelty but impatience over stalled negotiations between Saladin and Richard. (They didn’t call them hostages for nothing.) A few noble emirs were kept alive because both armies were always looking to cash in with aristocrat redemption. Continue reading