Celebrating Our Scholarship: Katherine Allen Smith and "The Bible and Crusade Narrative in the Twelfth Century"

In 1096, about 70,000 European Christians from all walks of life joined the First Crusade, hoping to conquer the Muslim-held city of Jerusalem and in the process earn admittance to heaven. By 1099, the crusaders had committed the first pogroms against Jews in Europe, founded the first European settlements in the Middle East, and set Christian-Muslim relations on a dangerous new course. The significance of these events was not lost on contemporaries, who commemorated the First Crusade using a new mode of historical writing which relied heavily upon biblical language and traditional methods of biblical interpretation.

This book demonstrates that the Bible gave medieval Christians the language and precedents they needed to justify their holy war as a new chapter in providential history. More broadly, it encourages us to think about how communities use sacred texts to define their own identities and defend the use of force against their enemies.

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