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The chapter on The Crusades gives the proper dates of the Holy War, yet does not discuss in detail the information it has. The text is watered down for the grade level and it is written from a Western European viewpoint. A viewpoint that never discusses the feelings and motives of those who were being attacked.
The chapter emphasizes the Christian's motives for starting The Crusades as a way to defend their territories and to "free the Holy Land from the Muslim infidels" (Armento, 296). The text never discusses the underlying reasons such as "the ambition of princes' to carve a principality in the far East, [the] interest of Italian towns to acquire the products of the far East more directly and cheaply, and thousands [of people's] hope of acquiring [spiritual enlightenment]" (Barker, 11) by participating in The Crusades. Many of the leaders wanted to be known and many of the people were interested of the spices, silks and luxury items that could be found only in the Far East. The Holy Wars were meant to "reestablish the Roman Catholic Christianity in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, [but] The Crusades [were in reality] wars of European expansion" (Bentley, 474). Not only did believers feel that the Holy Land must be returned to them but in the process other territories would be conquered in the name of the Roman Catholic Christianity.
The text refers to the Crusades as "eight wars Europeans fought to free the Holy Land from the Muslims"(Armento, 296) and only communicates the Western European viewpoint. No other viewpoint is brought into the text to show both sides of the story. The text does not inform the reader about the Crusades as "eight wars the Muslims fought to defend Jerusalem."
In Across the Centuries, Saladin is given power as ruler by the caliph. According to Elizabeth Hallam, "[Saladin] abolished the Fatimid caliphate and brought Egypt under the rule of the powerful sultan, [and when Nur ad-Din and his son died], Saladin made himself uncontested ruler of a unified Muslim Levant"(156). The information of how Saladin rose to power came incorrect from the lesson. There is not much said in the lesson about Saladin and none of his background is mentioned in the text. Once again the only the Western European viewpoint is portrayed to the readers.
Not only is the text based only on the Western European viewpoint, but also omits information.
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The text tries to summarize important battles of The Crusade, but leaves out many details of what occurred on the battlefield. According to T.S.R Boase, Reginald of Chatillon caused the battle of Hattin because he failed to follow a truce he had made with Saladin (136), this also broke the possibility that any more treaties would be made. When the battle was over "the True Cross, the most precious of all Christian relics, was captured"(Newhall, 64) causing Christians to lose hope and Reginald of Chatillon was executed by Saladin. The victory at Hattin made it easier for Saladin to win over Jerusalem and for the crusaders to lose hope.
The Fourth Crusade, was called by Pope Innocent III but "none of the Western Kings responded, and popular enthusiasm was not as great as the century before" (Newhall, 75). As the lesson puts it "the spirit of the crusades had been lost"(301). People were not as excited to go to war once more after first gaining and quickly losing the Holy Land. The Crusades were no longer generated for religious reasons; debts and corruption took over as the reason to continue the crusades. During the Fourth Crusade, the crusaders ravaged Constantinople in order to pay off debts that had been accumulated because of the war. The Byzantine Empire was never able to fully recover after the "sack of Constantinople."
The omissions can be a cause of the text being watered down. The text has been watered down in order for sixth and seventh graders to better understand the basic ideas of what occurred during The Crusades. An example of this can be seen on page 298 of Across the Centuries, "A Moment in Time", where a picture of a Crusader is shown. The crusader or "knight" as the text refers him is in a "field outside of Temitz, Austria, on October 20,1192, at 3:32 pm," yet the text never identifies any other battle that occurs outside of Jerusalem, Constantinople, or Hattin. The lesson does not go into detail of the battles that occurred in those cities. The text does not mention two major battles that occurred during the First Crusade, Edessa and Antioch, which were important strategic places in order for the crusaders to win over Jerusalem.
A whole page of the lesson is dedicated at pointing out pieces of the "knight's" uniform that the text feel's is important such as sword, shield, letter, bandage, pebble, quilted body suit and chain mail but does not go into full detail the importance of these objects. For example, "Letter: A commander near Jerusalem wrote this letter to the kind in northern Germany. Our knight cannot read the letter, which complains of water Shortage" (Armento, 298). The text does not go into detail the problems the crusaders faced in battle such as water shortage, lack of weapons, lack of soldiers, not enough food, etc. All factors that could have been motives for the crusaders to later lose their battles. "Quilted Body Suit: Protecting him against the chain mail, this suit hasn't been washed or removed in eight and a half month" (Armento, 298). The information that the knight is not clean is not as important as the knowledge that all those who were involved in the crusade did not wear the same uniform. Those with less money did not have all the articles as the picture, one was known as a crusader if "[a] white cross [was sown] on their shoulders, whence the term crusader (from the term meaning 'to mark with a cross')"(Newhall, 41). Also, the text doesn't discuss how women and children were involved during the Crusades. The picture continues to make the same type of comments about other articles of the knight's uniform but does not discuss the importance of these objects in the chapter. The picture gives the chapter more of a fictional tone in order to make the chapter less serious and more imaginative for the readers. The language and examples of the text intents to give the lesson a feeling of a story being told putting in quotes such as " The Byzantine emperor's daughter wrote about this as follows: Full of enthusiasm and ardor they thronged every highway... Like tributaries joining a river from all direction they streamed towards us in full force"(297). This passage is allowable from Anna Comnena in the lesson but not her other writings which include the Pope Urban II and King Henry IV having different point of views. "The dispute between the king and the pope was this: the latter (pope) accused Henry of not bestowing linings as free gifts, but selling them for money... The king... indicted the pope of usurpation, as he seized the apostolic chair without his consent"(Andrea, 367). This information would take away the feeling that the lesson first established of excitement and enthusiasm of the people to engage in the Crusades.
The author tries to maintain the readers' interest by writing only the major points, and somewhat taking out of context the incidents that occurred. The author summarizes the Crusades in order to not lose the reader but a lot of information is left out and it is a necessity to include other information as part of the lesson so the students can receive a better view of the Crusades.
Andrea, Alfred J. and James H. Overfield. The Human Record, 4th
Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2001
Armento, Beverly J., Gary B. Nash, Christopher L. Salter, Karen K. Wixen. Across the
Centuries. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
Barker, Ernest. The Crusades. New York: Books for Library Press, 1971.
Bentley, Jerry H. and Herbert F. Ziegler. Traditions and Encounters: a global
perspective on the past. Boston: Mc-Graw Hill Co, 2000.
Boase, T.S.R. Kingdoms and Strongholds of the Crusades. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,
Hallam, Elizabeth, ed. Chronicles of the Crusades: nine years and two hundred years of
bitter conflict for the Holy Land brought to life through the words of those who were
actually there. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, c1989.
Newhall, Richard Ager. The Crusades. New York: Holt, Reinhart, & Winston,1963.