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The Crusades

Islamic Perspectives

Carole Hillenbrand


The first book to examine the Crusades from the perspective of the Islamic defenders

Following the 900th anniversary of the Crusader capture of Jerusalem, it is now time to reflect on how the phenomenon of the Crusades influenced the Muslim world, then and now: militarily, culturally and psychologically.

Carole Hillenbrand discusses a group of themes that highlight how Muslims reacted to the alien presence of the Crusaders in the heart of traditional Muslim territory. She examines ideological concerns and the importance of the jihad in the context of the gradual recovery of the Holy Land and the expulsion of the Crusaders.

  • Views the Crusades almost entirely through the prism of medieval Muslim sources, providing a counterbalance to centuries of Eurocentric scholarship in this field
  • Two chapters are devoted to an analysis of warfare – arms, battles, sieges, fortifications and the neglected aspect of the prominence – on the basis of written sources and extant works of art
  • Deals with the complex issue of the interaction between Muslims and Crusaders in a social, economic and cultural setting
  • Outlines the profound impact of the Crusades on Muslim consciousness until the present day

About the Author

Carole Hillenbrand is Honorary Professorial Fellow, Professor Emerita at the University of Edinburgh and Professor of Islamic History at the University of St Andrews since 2013. In 2005 she became the first non-Muslim scholar to be awarded the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies, reflecting her ‘revolutionary approach to the largely one-sided subject of the Crusades’. She is author of The Crusades (EUP, 1999), The Waning of the Umayyad Caliphate (Albany, 1989), A Muslim Principality in Crusader Times (Brill, 1990), and co-editor (with C. E. Bosworth) of Qajar Iran, (Edinburgh, 1984) and editor of The Sultan's Turret (Brill, 1999).


A magisterial and path-breaking study in its own right … a veritable treasure trove of material heretofore unavailable to the non-Arabist … The Crusades is a masterly and welcome contribution to the historiography of the Crusades. Hillenbrand has set an enviable standard of scholarship from which teachers and students of the Crusades, the medieval Middle East, and medieval Europe will long benefit.
Hillenbrand's admirable book, the first comprehensive attempt to pull together the relevant Muslim texts on these wars, lets the sources speak for themselves, and provides intriguing insights into the deeply rooted problems which face us today … she has done a masterful job, providing us with a whole new way to examine the traditional western material on the Crusades.
This is ground-breaking work, and its value lies not only in the detailed reportage, but also in the way Carole Hillenbrand gives western historians a guide to source material, either unknown to them or available only in partial translation, and introduces her readers to the mindset of medieval Muslims, providing an entirely different angle from which to look at the crusading movement. By putting modern ideas into context the book will enable readers in both the western and Islamic worlds to understand better events which to some extent are shaping the present.
- Jonathan Riley-Smith
The Crusades from a Western viewpoint have produced a very rich and abundant bibliography for more than a century. On the other hand, very few studies on the Muslim response to the Crusade have appeared. For the first time the subject is tackled here globally and an attempt is made to explain, through a deep analysis of the Arabic sources, the motives and aims of the Muslims … This work - which shows very clearly the impact which the Crusades have had in Islamic territory up until our own time - is a remarkable contribution to the history of relations between east and west.
- Anne-Marie Edde
It is a major contribution …The book is profusely illustrated and the illustrations are on the whole well chosen.