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Much has been written about the Crusades, the religiously-inspired wars that pockmarked the later centuries of the Middle Ages. Yet for all of the...

Much has been written about the Crusades, the religiously-inspired wars that pockmarked the later centuries of the Middle Ages. Yet for all of the many books on the subject there has been surprisingly little focus on the men and the women who were entangled in these conflicts. In his book Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands (Viking, 2019), Dan Jones addresses this by detailing the role of key individuals played in these events. By drawing from a variety of perspectives, he shows how the Crusades was a different event depending upon one’s perspective, be that of a Norman ruler, a Byzantine princess, or a Muslim chronicler. Moreover, by expanding the scope of coverage beyond such traditional figures to include people such as the Norwegian king Sigurd I, Jones demonstrates the wide impact of the wars and the ways in which they drew in people from throughout Europe. From their stories, Jones shows how the purpose of the Crusades changed over time, as they reflected more the motivations of the individuals involved rather than the goals traditionally associated with them.