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I always consult James Bowman’s movie reviews because they are so informative. I do think that his review of Kingdom of Heaven was not one of his better efforts. The movie got the main points of a historical event correct but the film is loaded ridiculous anachronisms. Oh, the humanity!
Besides Hollywood epics, my knowledge of this period is based mainly on a series of lectures by Professor Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane offered by the Teaching Company. In it he states that the new leader of the Crusader Kingdoms, the Christian ones, as opposed to the Islamic ones set up in the late 7th century, did in fact ignore advice and took a shortcut across the wastes only to find that Saladin, the great Kurdish warlord, had place his army between them and water. Many great victories are due to the fact that someone did something stupid. After the battle, Saladin gave generous terms to the defeated kingdom because not only was he a noble man but mainly because he wanted to save his army for the real enemy, Arab competitors for power in the region.
James Bowman’s idea of the Christian identity of the knights was also a little anachronistic. Before making great contributions to the Crusades, the Normans had in fact been at war with both the Pope and the Byzantine Empire and would later go on to sack Constantinople. Many Crusaders took up the Cross because it gave them a chance to establish an earthly feudal kingdom while being guaranteed heaven despite the most unchristian lifestyles that they intended to live to the fullest.
In general in this preliterate culture, a people’s religion was often a function of their ruler’s religion. One exception to this was that at the time of the Crusades, the majority of the population in the old Roman provinces around Jerusalem had yet to convert to Islam. Of course, these conquered peoples were relegated to second class citizenship and forced to pay extra taxes for the privilege of living in the Islamic Crusader state.
There is a great deal of information on the background of the Crusades here.p>Finally, it one wants to deflate the Arab Jihadists while still accepting the reality of history, repeatedly stress the fact that it took a great Kurd to finally displace the Frankish kingdoms of the Near East. br> — Laurence /p>
Regarding the helpful article on the Crusades movie:
An example of your style that makes the progression of your ideas difficult to follow: “Though without any particular expertise or knowledge about the Crusades themselves, I think a very basic historical knowledge should be sufficient to realize that it is mere nonsense to make the lesson they teach the virtues of liberal and secular governments in the holy land a good half a millennium before people had any idea of the existence of such things.”
Strictly speaking, the “Though…” phrase is a dangling phrase and has the disadvantage such phrases have.
Also, better to say: “it is mere nonsense to have the lesson that the Crusades teach turn out to be the virtues of….” The reader is slowed down by the fact that “they teach the virtues” looks like a sentence, whereas “virtues” refers back to lesson. Making “lesson” plural might have helped. And there are a number of other ways this sentence could be rewritten to make the sentence easier to follow.p>As a person who admits to not being an expert on the Crusades, you might want to research exactly what threats were made regarding Jerusalem. Some reviewers seem to disagree with you about both what could have happened and did happen. br> —
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