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Agatha Christie’s 1970 novel Passenger to Frankfurt might seem like an unusual place to start a history of the Children’s Crusade in 1212. To capture the radical youth-culture of the 1960s lying at the heart of her plot, Christie invoked the Children’s Crusade as a familiar symbol of misguided and ultimately dangerous youthful folly.
Reading the introduction to this book one may be forgiven for thinking that the title is somewhat misleading for a volume given to the examination of ‘the processes of the making and breaking of peace treaties and truces’, rather than to war (p. 1).
Fighting for the Cross introduces the subject of crusading by exploring the experiences and ideas of individual crusaders travelling to the Holy Land between 1095 and 1291.
This book is the result of a bold and innovative research project funded between 1999 and 2002 by the then Arts and Humanities Research Board, with further funds provided subsequently by a number of scholarly institutions. The preface further acknowledges the support of a glittering array of scholars, not least Geoffrey Parker who read through the entire draft.
A new book on Henry VII is a major event. The last full-length study of the king and his reign, by S. B. Chrimes, was written in 1972, in a very different historiographical world. At that time, the explosion of interest in later-medieval history was still in its infancy, and the decades after 1485 were seen mainly through the lens of the 'Tudor Revolution in Government'.
Katie Stevenson, in her Chivalry and Knighthood in Scotland, 1424–1513, presents a thorough, scholarly, and informative research monograph. The years 1424 to 1513 carry one from the return to his kingdom of James I, after the long detention in England following his capture as a boy of twelve in 1406, to the death of James IV at Flodden.
This is a splendid book, weighty, richly documented and densely argued. The title might suggest a book of focused, perhaps rather limited scope.
Many scholars have thought to write a full presentation of the relations between the Catholic West and the Mongol Empire during the Middle Ages. It is a demanding task. The author should be specialised in many areas, know many languages, and he or she has to fit his or her presentation into a world historical context.
In the bicentenary year of Trafalgar it is appropriate to remember that the history of Britain, its current situation and future prospects reflect an overwhelming geographical fact. Britain is a collection of islands at once alongside, but not attached to the European Continent.