We assume that the era of the crusades was one of rigid and fanatical religiosity – but there were also stunning instances where the febrile intensity of the time triggered tectonic shifts in individuals’ beliefs and behaviours.
A Fragile Fanaticism is a book about the forgotten and discarded people of the crusades. For the first time, it sheds light on the women and men who became renegades and witches, turncoats and heretics in the most unlikely of places - the medieval Holy Land. It explores how the emotional intensity of that extraordinary time and place produced generations of traumatised people, many of whom took dark and desperate paths on their journey to try to understand the world around them.
We look at the stories of Christian monks becoming generals for Saladin; crusaders becoming ‘heretics’ and devoted knights being executed for satanism; devout Muslims shifting faith and becoming Christian priests; Frankish knights fighting for their Turkish enemies; and elite North African warriors fighting for the Christian lords of the early Reconquista.
The modern world has a comfortingly rigid perception of what the crusades were like and what they represented – but everything was far less certain on the ground.
Dr Steve Tibble is a graduate of Cambridge and London Universities, and is a research associate at Royal Holloway College, University of London. He is one of the foremost academics currently working in the field of the crusades.
His latest book, 'Templars - The Knights Who Made Britain' (2023) was published by Yale University Press to wide acclaim. Other recent publications have been similarly highly praised and include 'The Crusader Armies' (Yale, 2018) and 'The Crusader Strategy' (Yale, 2020, short-listed for the Duke of Wellington's Military History Prize). He is...
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