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This essay "The Crusades" deals with the writing edited by S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, and Memoirs of Usamah Ibn Munqidh, which is a translation by Phillip Hitti, are two texts that give an account of the period of crusades which were fought in the medieval period between Muslims and Christians. …
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 ‘The Crusades’, edited by S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt, and Memoirs of Usamah Ibn Munqidh, which is a translation by Phillip Hitti, are two texts that give account of the period of crusades which were fought in the medieval period, from 1095, between Moslims and Christians. Crusades were holy wars to free Jerusalem, the holy city of Christians from the Turks’ occupation. After a request from Byzantine Emperor, Alexis II, Pope Urban II exhorted Christian from other European States to fight against the Turks. After the sermon of Pope, the Christians launched crusades against Turks.
The first text comprises of eyewitness account of the sermon of Pope Urban II and the details of Crusade as given by various Christian eyewitness. Pope’s sermon has been embellished with lots of imagination and gory details of mass killings of Christians by Turks in the city of Jerusalem. Robert The Monk’s account of Pope’s sermon is interspersed with gruesome details of the killing in order to incite Christians to take part in the war and avenge desecration of Church. Baldric of Dol says that Pope had exhorted the Christian by telling them that ‘you may deem it a beautiful thing to die for Christ in that city in which he died for us’ (Allen and Amt, p44).
Most importantly it tells that the crusaders not only fought for religious purpose but many had vested interests. Bohemond, a great warrior, had to be bribed by the Emperor with ‘land in extent from Antioch fifteen days’ journey and eight in width’ (Allen and Amt, p62). The text shows that the crusades against Turks had defied human dignity with extreme brutality and violence. Indeed, Letter of Stephen of Bloise to his wife covers the religious fervor of the crusades and also describes the bloodshed and indiscriminate killing in the name of holy war.
An Arab Syrian Gentleman and Warrior: Memoirs of Usamah gives insight into the Arab culture and shows a humane perspective of people who were viewed as barbarians during the period of crusades. He gives personal accounts of his experience of Christians with whom he had maintained good relationships. In personal account, Usamah describes how Frankish physician had saved the life of son of an Arab artisan, whose neck was afflicted with scrofula, a dreaded disease. The text gives a more civilized picture of Moslems in Jerusalem and shows that Moslems and Christians had co-existed peacefully as contrarily described in the earlier text.
Usamah’s memoirs are critical part of Arab literature that presents highly credible account of the good relations between the Moslems and the Christian in Jerusalem, even during the period of crusades. It talks about a society where Franks and Moslems lived together in comparative harmony. In one of the poignant account, he says that a Frank (Christian) had once shown a picture of Mary with infant on her lap to a Moslem and said, ‘this is God as a child’ (Hitti, p164).
The Crusades describes the gory details of Holy war but Memoirs is distinct in its human relationship that also highlighted the period of crusades. The Memoirs also shows the cultural differences and informs that the Franks distinctly lacked jealousy in the sex affairs, including married partners. In fact, as against The Crusades, the anecdotes of Usamah are written with lots of humor which makes it extremely good read.
(words: 554)
Reference
Allen, S. J., and Amt, Emilie. (ed). The Crusades: A Reader. NY: Broadview Press, 2003.
Hitti, Phillip. (translator). An Arab Syrian Gentleman and Warrior: Memoirs of Usamah Usamah Ibn Munqidh. NY: Columbia University Press, 2000. Read More
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