SACRED SWORDS: Jihad in the Holy Land 1097-1291

Book number: 89994 Product format: Hardback Author: JAMES WATERSON

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The conflict between Christians and Muslims in the early medieval period is full of resonance for our own times. We are used to hearing the story from a British perspective, including the exploits of King Richard the Lionheart and other famous European crusaders, known as the Franks, but this readable book, published in 2010 and with a Foreword by the late, great Terry Jones, aims to place the crusades in a Muslim context and tell the story from the point of view of the culture of those who lived in the disputed territories. Both Muslim and Frankish accounts tend to emphasize the Frankish threat in terms of religion without considering the complex mix of commercial interests and personal rivalries which influenced the wars. Waterson tells the story of the famed leaders of the jihad the lives and deeds of Zangi, Nur al-Din, Saladin and Baybars are all recounted. Terry Jones suggests that our own labelling of Islam as continually being the aggressor in fact replicates the propaganda machine of a whole millennium ago, when the 1071 Battle of Manzikert created the chain of events that led to the First Crusade. Waterson points out that the First Crusade took the Muslims by surprise, as described in the chronicles of Ibn al-Qalanasi, so that they initially misinterpreted its aims and scope, but even more importantly there were two power blocs fighting for supremacy, the Fatimid empire of Egypt and the Saljq Turkish empire. Even the lofty-minded Turkish ruler Nur al-Din was not above allowing a Frankish raid on one of his fellow-sultans. This theme continued throughout the conflicts until Saladin united his forces to take Jerusalem. A long-term unforeseen result of Christianity's attack on Islam was to force the sultans to create an army that subsequently defended them against the ravages of Mongol armies that came from further east. Every important battle is described, with a wealth of political and operational detail. 206pp, 15.4 x 23.7cm, maps, black and white photos.

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ISBN 9781848325807

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