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Britain and IslamA History from 622 to the Present Day$
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Martin Pugh

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300234947

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300234947.001.0001

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The Myths of the Crusades

The Myths of the Crusades

(p.25) Chapter Two The Myths of the Crusades
Britain and Islam

Martin Pugh

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the Crusades, which stamped their indelible mark on English identity. They formed a heroic episode, generated some of the iconic English figures, resulted in the adoption of the red cross as a symbol of England, and created a narrative that was to be resurrected later in the Victorian period. Yet the fact remains that they loom much larger in European history than in the history of the Muslim world; and even in Europe, their impact was largely erased during the period from the Reformation to the eighteenth century. Moreover, as one leading historian of the subject has put it: ‘Most of what passes in public as knowledge of the Crusades is either misleading or false’. Consequently, their significance must be heavily qualified in a number of ways. The most obvious is that they proved to be a failure. It is also arguable that not only did crusading fail, but it even undermined Christendom, in that it eventually weakened the Byzantine Empire, which lost its ability to protect Christians against the expansion of Turkish power in south-east Europe. Moreover, the motivation for participating in the Crusades was, at best, a mixture of the secular and the religious.

Keywords:   Crusades, English identity, England, Muslim world, European history, crusading, Christendom, Byzantine Empire, Christians

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