Essays on the Crusades (Classic Reprint)

Essays on the Crusades (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Essays on the Crusades

A hundred years ago the French Academy offered a prize for the best work on the influence of the crusades. This offer produced two volumes, by Heeren and Choiseul-Daillecourt, which attracted much attention. But the action of the Academy was premature; at that time it was not possible to discuss the subject in a satisfactory manner. The necessary preliminary work in editing and criticizing the sources had scarcely been begun.

Realizing this, Ranke, some thirty years later, chose the sources for the first crusade as the subject for his seminar work. The outcome was the "Geschichte des ersten Kreuzzugs," published by Sybel, who had been one of Ranke's pupils. This placed the whole study of the crusades on a new basis, as Sybel demonstrated conclusively the unreliability of William of Tyre's account of the first crusade, on which earlier writers had relied. Some of Sybel's other statements aroused opposition which led to more careful study.

About the middle of the nineteenth century a group of able French scholars began the publication of the "Recueil des Historiens des Croisades." Up to the present time there have been published in this series fourteen large folio volumes, including Western, Greek, Arabic, Armenian, and legal sources. In addition other sources in each field have been edited critically. So that now, although much still remains to be done we have a large body of trustworthy material for the history of the crusades.

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