Books interview with Christopher Tyerman: “Religious war isn’t an irrational act, and we shouldn’t dismiss it as irrational”

Christopher Tyerman talks to Matt Elton about his new book that considers the practical reality of going on crusade – and, by so doing, reveals the inherent rationality of the Middle Ages

The tomb of the Crusader knight Richard de Crupes.

This article first appeared in the September 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine.

In context

Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade in 1095 with the aim of securing Christian control of the area around Jerusalem, captured by Muslim armies centuries earlier. The resulting wars and conquests spanned hundreds of years and resulted in thousands of people leaving Europe to aid the war effort in the Holy Land. A military effort on such a huge scale required extensive organisation, including the provision of transport, food, equipment and medical care. The impact of the crusades remains contested, but they had a profound effect on everything from trade to culture.

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