Alongside the incessant warfare of the period, an unspoken but pervasive ‘sex war’ was also being waged. The testosterone-filled atmosphere and distorted demography of the region led to extremes of behaviour in human relationships.
Sex and the Holy City tells the stories of these extraordinary individuals. Stories of sex workers who will go to great lengths for their livelihoods, taking their services to an exhausted, dangerous and needy clientele. It is about reckless, entrepreneurial freelancers - women and men - selling their skills to whoever paid the most - and it is about sexual encounters with people of different races and religions at a time when the modern reader might imagine such interactions to have been impossible and forbidden.
Sex and the Holy City is a book about passion and illicit sex in the most unlikely of places - the medieval Holy Land. It is the tabloid material of the times - the hard-working prostitutes, the adulterers and the philanderers - but presented in a broadsheet style, with an unobtrusive academic underpinning to the evidence. For the first time, we will discover that the crusades were a sexual war zone, and a passionately hyper-charged one at that.
Above all, despite the religious strictures that were bandied about so easily by the chroniclers and propagandists, we explore a strange and challenging truth - that the crusades were a time of lust and the extremes of passion just as much as an expression of religious commitment and piety.
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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