Post-classical history

Preface

In this volume I have attempted to tell the story of the Frankish states of Outremer from the accession of King Baldwin I to the reconquest of Jerusalem by Saladin. It is a story that has been told before by European writers, notably with German thoroughness by Rohricht and with French elegance and ingenuity by Rene Grousset, and, too briefly, in English by W. B. Stevenson. I have covered the same ground and used the same principal sources as these writers, but have ventured to give to the evidence an interpretation that sometimes differs from my predecessors’. The narrative cannot always be simple. In particular, the politics of the Moslem world in the early twelfth century defy a straightforward analysis; but they must be understood if we are to understand the establishment of the Crusader states and the later causes of the recovery of Islam.

The twelfth century experienced none of the great racial migrations that characterized the eleventh century and were to recur in the thirteenth, to complicate the story of the later Crusades and the decline and fall of Outremer. For the moment we can concentrate our main attention on Outremer itself. But we must always keep in view the wider background of western European politics, of the religious wars of the Spanish and Sicilian rulers and of the preoccupation of Byzantium and of the eastern Caliphate. The preaching of Saint Bernard, the arrival of the English fleet at Lisbon, the palace-intrigues at Constantinople and Baghdad are all episodes in the drama, though its climax was reached on a bare hill in Galilee.

The main theme in this volume is warfare; and in dwelling on the many campaigns and raids I have followed the example of the old chroniclers, who knew their business; for war was the background to life in Outremer, and the hazards of the battlefield often decided its destiny. But I have included in this volume a chapter on the life and organization of the Frankish East. I hope to give an account of its artistic and economic developments in my next volume. Both of those aspects of the Crusading movement reached fuller importance in the thirteenth century.

In the Preface to my first volume I mentioned some of the great historians whose writings have helped me. Here I must pay special tribute to the work of John La Monte, whose early death has been a cruel blow to Crusading historiography. We owe to him, above all others, our specialized knowledge of the governmental system in the Frankish East. I wish also to acknowledge my debt to Professor Claude Cahen of Strasbourg, whose great monograph on Northern Syria and whose various articles are of supreme importance to our subject.

I owe gratitude to the many friends who have helped me on my journeys to the East and in particular to the Departments of Antiquities of Jordan and of Lebanon and to the Iraq Petroleum Company.

My thanks are again due to the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press for their kindness and patience.

STEVEN RUNCIMAN

London 1952

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