In Jay Rubenstein’s book, “Armies of Heaven”, he tells the story of the Crusade in its near entirety. Beginning with all of the events that shaped the world into the chaotic time period of the crusades. However, unlike most books on the Crusade he makes an interesting connection with the apocalypse, and the effect that it had on the crusade. What Rubenstein proposes in Armies of Heaven, is that the whole reasoning behind the crusade was to prepare for the apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
The book begins with the background to the city of Jerusalem and the first thousand years after Christ. In the first thousand years Rubenstein depicts all of the events that shaped the holy city’s state of being at the beginning of the crusade. Such as; being sacked by Roman’s in 70 AD, which in turn ended up destroying most of the cities important religious artifacts, then the city being completely destroyed and covered in 135 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, until nearly 200 years later when in 325 AD Emperor Constantine ordered for the holy sites to be recovered and restored as well as the destruction of the temple of Venus. However, almost of the work that had been done to restore the city was destroyed in seventh century AD when the city switched allegiance three times within fifteen years before finally being seized by the Muslims. The book then fast forwards to the eleventh century when Al-Hakim ordered for many churches and synagogues to be destroyed including the Holy Sepulcher. Which resulted in the death of Al-Hakim, in which the caliphate ordered all churches in Palestine to be destroyed, which infuriated French Christians. The French Christians blamed the Jews and forced them to either;...
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...ening and the reasoning behind it. Rather than long quotes or excerpts from first hand accounts or historians that are harder to understand, Rubenstein makes the context of the information very clear.
Rubenstein goes heavy into the details of the background to the crusade. Rubenstein does this because many of the things that inspired the crusade and many of the events and actions in which the crusade was based upon are critical events and ideologies that are important to understand in order to fully understand the real reasoning and justifications of the crusades. This is one of the ways in which Rubenstein varies from the Madden textbook, where as it starts at the council at Claremont. Madden does not give any background information that is key to having a full insight on the Crusade.
Rubenstein’s book is a great introduction book to the history of the Crusades.
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