*** DEBUG END ***

Battles long ago

19 August 2016

Anthony McRoy looks at the acts and motives of the Crusading era

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. caoursin MS lat. 6067

Naval scene: the Ottoman Prince Zizim is feasted by the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes, in an illustration from the book under review

Naval scene: the Ottoman Prince Zizim is feasted by the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes, in an illustration from the book under review

Crusade and Jihad: Origins, history, aftermath
Malcolm Lambert
Profile Books £20
Church Times Bookshop £18



THE title of this book is self-explanatory: this is a historical study of the interaction of Crusade and jihad, and the continuing consequences of that confrontation.

Lambert’s book is well-researched on the central themes (although academically non-critical on Islamic origins), and chapter three, “The Dog That Did Not Bark”, about the failure of the first call to a Crusade by Pope Sergius IV after the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre by Caliph Al-Hakim in 1009, is especially informative.

Lambert also refutes the Marxist claim that economic factors — longing for land, pillage, etc., —were the real motivations for the Crusades: religious idealism was indeed the spur. Tragically, this “idealism” took the form of pogroms against European Jews and the massacre of Muslims and Jews when the First Crusade — called in 1095 — took Jerusalem. The Jihadi reaction was at times as brutal. Lambert shows that Saladin, transformed into an ultra-chivalric knight by Sir Walter Scott, could also commit grisly acts, such as beheading captured Crusaders who refused to convert to Islam. When Islamic State (IS) behead those they denounce as “Crusaders”, their acts are not innovations.

Lambert is particularly good in showing that, contrary to popular suggestion, the Crusader states were viable (chapter six), and that their societies were comparatively tolerant, with co-operation between Christians and Muslims. It was the lack of royal male heirs of fighting age which doomed them.

Second, Lambert demonstrates the legacy of the Crusades. France justified its conquest of Algiers in 1830 as a Crusade, and the Russians, in their campaigns against the Ottomans, called themselves “Crusaders”. Equally, modern Muslims — not just Al-Qaeda and IS — see Western “aggression” as a Crusade. History still haunts us.


Dr Anthony McRoy is Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Union School of Theology, Wales.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)