A history book written for the general population seeks to tell the story of the Crusades from the personal experiences of a diverse group of people involved at various levels.
Best-selling author and historian Dan Jones released his latest book, Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands, earlier this month.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Thursday, Jones said his book varies from the many histories written about the Crusades in that it’s centered on the personal experiences and accounts of many of those involved.
“I call this book Crusaders, because it proceeds through viewpoint chapters of individuals involved on all sides of the Crusades,” explained Jones. “That means that each chapter is very personal to the individual involved. So it has a similar feeling, the technique is borrowed, in narrative terms, from historical fiction.”
Jones hopes readers will “get a new sense for the vast and almost dizzying plurality and scope and diversity of this story.”
“It’s not just Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This is a story that goes right across what was then the western world and indeed out to the eastern world,” he said.
A broad group of characters
Each chapter includes the experiences of an individual involved in some capacity with the Crusading period. These include figures such as Pope Urban II, who called for a crusade in 1095 to retake the Holy Land, and Saladin, the Muslim leader whose army conquered and took control of Jerusalem from the Christian forces in 1187.
Jones also includes lesser-known figures Margaret of Beverley, an English pilgrim in Jerusalem who found herself helping to defend the city against Saladin’s forces, and Hermann von Salza, a leader of the Teutonic Knights and diplomat.
He wanted “the casting of a very diverse group of characters ranging from Christians of the Latin West, but also Christians of the Greek Church, the Syrian Church, the Armenian Church,” the author added.
“Then we have Sunni and Shia Muslims, Jewish people, men, women, children and so on. It allows their experiences of crusading to speak to one another over the course of the book,” Jones said.
“It’s just an element of pragmatic storytelling. Which characters are going to take you through an important part of crusading history in a way that allows you to see as much of the world as possible?”
Jones compared it to “casting a movie” and wanting to have a “balance” between covering well-known characters and “more surprising characters.”
“I was always more drawn to the surprising characters,” he said. “I was looking for range and breadth and experience. I was also looking for characters who would take us into a familiar episode from an unfamiliar angle.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski