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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

Preface,   pp. xvii-xviii PDF (772.0 KB)


Page xviii

xviii     PREFACE 
dimmed by the hostility of the papacy), for the peculiar performance of the
westerners in the years 1239-1241, and for the mighty but ineffectual efforts
of Louis IX, perhaps the only real crusader that ever existed, and certainly
the last. We close the volume with a series of eight chapters considering
all these events from the point of view of the easterners themselves and
in connection with their own domestic history: first of the Christians now
domiciled in the crusader states and on Cyprus, and of the Armenians of Cilicia,
and then of the Moslems: Turks, Aiyubids, Mongols, and Mamluks. 
 The brave reader who sits down and reads the book straight through will
sometimes encounter the same military operation or diplomatic negotiation
discussed twice or even oftener. Let him remember that the editors and authors
planned it that way: in part because we have striven to see around events
where possible, by treating them from all the points of view made identifiable
by the sources. Our hypothetical consecutive reader at times may feel, as
the editors have felt, often to their anguish, that he is confronted by an
almost intolerable dose of marching and countermarching. As he swallows it,
let him consider that this is what chiefly interested the medieval writers
on whose accounts scholars must so largely depend. 
 But behind the dust clouds raised by the trampling hooves, let the thoughtful
reader notice the flashes by whose light we gain insight into the motives
and character of human beings: the giants, like Innocent III or Frederick
II or St. Louis, often glimpsed in unfamiliar aspects of their careers; the
lesser-known but often arrestingly attractive or repulsive figures, like
the Sicilian admiral George of Antioch, the Latin emperor Henry of Constantinople,
John of Brienne, Baybars; or even, in rare cases, the menus gens. Explicitly
in the chapter on the Children's Crusade, and implicitly in many other places,
the reader will find himself looking at the evidence for the pathology of
religious emotion; if he reflects on these data he may discover that he is
leaving the Middle Ages altogether and considering later chiliastic movements,
the delusions of crowds, or even the essential nature of human piety. He
can single out the few moments of heroism or disinterested nobility that
contrast the more sharply with the long chronicle of greed, stupidity, treachery,
duplicity, and incompetence. He can ponder the lasting effects of the actions
here described - not least perhaps those of the permanent breach between
western and Orthodox Christians. And if he does indeed avail himself of these
privileges, we hope he may come to regard our shortcomings with a tolerant
eye. 
ROBERT LEE WOLFE 
[Harvard University, 1962] 


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