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Literature, both scientific and popular, is abundant on the subject of crusades. They trigger both fantasy and controversy, and we tend to have a somewhat caricatural vision of these warlike pilgrimages. This is why this little book by Jean Flori is timely. First because it is written by a specialist in the subject, second because its very easy to read form makes it accessible to as many people as possible.
The author is therefore a recognized medievalist, research director at the CNRS (Center for Higher Studies of Medieval Civilization in Poitiers), a specialist in warlike ideologies, chivalry in particular, and therefore also the Crusades. He also wrote on the holy war, and if we can argue about his somewhat monolithic vision of jihad, it remains nonetheless essential on these subjects.
In the "Received Ideas" collection, Jean Flori has therefore chosen to break down one by one all the clichés and prejudices about the Crusades. To do so, he divides his work into several major parts: "the crusade, a clash of civilizations", "the pope and the crusade", "why do we go on a crusade?" "," The crusade and the Marvelous (Prophets, visionaries, enlightened and mystics) ". In each of the parts, he takes a "received idea", such as "the crusade is Christian jihad", "the crusade was the pope's political weapon", or "the crusaders were manipulated by papal propaganda", and l analysis before criticizing or deconstructing it.
It is not a question here of possibly criticizing certain approaches of Jean Flori, even if one can take for example the title of his first chapter with a certain hindsight, but there is no doubt that the reading of this small book is enriching and fascinating, as often with this author. Any fan of the Crusades should have read it.
J. FLORI, The Crusades, ed. Le Cavalier Bleu (collection of received ideas), Paris, 2010, 127 p.
By the same author, to read :
- Philippe Auguste, the birth of the monarchical state, Tallandier, Paris, 2002, 159 p.
- Holy war, jihad, crusade. Violence and religion in Christianity and Islam, Seuil, Paris, 2002, 340 p.
- Islam and the End of Times. The prophetic interpretation of the Muslim invasions in medieval Christendom, Seuil, Paris, 2007, 444 p.