Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna), an 11th-century Persian physician
The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.
 

 

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Crusader Criminals: The Knights Who Went Rogue in the Holy Land by Dr. Steve Tibble
Crusader Criminals: The Knights Who Went Rogue in the Holy Land by Dr. Steve Tibble
4.5/5
Crusader Criminals
By Steve Tibble

The religious wars of the Crusades are renowned for their military engagements, but the era witnessed brutality beyond the battlefield. The Holy Land, more so than any other medieval war zone, was rife with unprecedented levels of criminality and violence.

In this groundbreaking history, Steve Tibble delves into the criminal underworld of the Crusades. From gangsters and bandits to muggers and pirates, Tibble presents extraordinary evidence of an illicit subculture. He reveals that the true issue in the region stemmed not from religion but from the abundance of dislocated, disinhibited young men. These men, present in disturbingly large numbers, were the catalyst for two centuries of relentless warfare and shocking criminal activity.

Crusader Criminals traces the downward spiral of desensitization that emerged from the horrors of incessant warfare, uncovering some of the most surprising stories of the time.

Reviews

“Crusader Criminals: Knights Who Went Rogue in the Holy Land” by Steve Tibble, published by Yale University Press in 2024, offers a unique exploration of the darker side of the Crusades. Tibble delves into the lives of crusaders who deviated from their noble paths, engaging in criminal activities amidst the chaos of the Holy Land. The book is divided into six parts, covering the crime wave, frontier justice, and specific groups like murderers, outlaws, and pirates.

Tibble’s extensive research and expertise in medieval history are evident in his detailed and scholarly approach. His previous works include “The Crusader Armies” (2018), “The Crusader Strategy” (2020), and “Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain” (2023). In “Crusader Criminals,” Tibble presents a nuanced view of crusader criminality, considering both the broader socio-political context and the individual experiences of those involved. His analysis is supported by a wide range of primary sources and historical evidence.

The book is highly engaging, balancing scholarly rigor with an accessible narrative that captivates the reader. Tibble’s vivid descriptions and anecdotes bring the historical period to life, making complex topics understandable and interesting. His portrayal of historical figures, such as Zengi, adds depth and complexity, illustrating the human side of historical events. “Crusader Criminals” is recommended for historians, students, and enthusiasts of medieval history, offering a valuable contribution to the field by highlighting the less-heroic aspects of the Crusaders’ activities.

About the Author

Steve Tibble is a distinguished scholar specialising in the Crusades, holding degrees from Cambridge and London Universities, and serving as a research associate at Royal Holloway College, University of London. He has made significant contributions to the study of the Crusades, authoring chapters in ‘The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades’ and ‘The Cambridge History of the Crusades’ (2023). His notable works, ‘The Crusader Armies’ (2018) and ‘The Crusader Strategy’ (2020), have received critical acclaim, with the latter shortlisted for the Duke of Wellington’s Military History Prize.

After completing his PhD and authoring a book on crusader states in 1989, Tibble transitioned to the communications industry, holding a decade-long role as Communications Director at a prominent European private equity firm. He worked on significant projects, including UK company privatizations and communication strategies for various governments. Returning to academia, Tibble now holds an honorary position at the University of London (Royal Holloway), focusing on making complex historical concepts accessible to a broader audience by integrating his diverse career experiences into his historical work.

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