Crusader Criminals: The Knights Who Went Rogue In The Holy Land


Crusader Criminals: 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.


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. This book delves into the lives of crusaders who deviated from their noble paths, engaging in criminal activities amidst the chaos of the Holy Land.

Steve Tibble’s Crusader Criminals presents an in-depth examination of the criminal activities that occurred during the Crusades. The book is divided into six parts: The Crusader Crime Wave, Crime and Punishment, Vice and Victims, Murderers, Outlaws, and Pirates. Each section addresses different aspects of criminality, from the prevalence of crime and frontier justice to specific groups such as murderers, outlaws, and pirates.

Steve Tibble is an established author and historian with a focus on the Crusades. His previous works include The Crusader Armies (2018), The Crusader Strategy (2020), and Templars: The Knights Who Made Britain (2023). Tibble’s extensive research and expertise in medieval history are evident in his detailed and scholarly approach to the subject matter.

The book is well-organized, with a clear division into thematic sections that guide the reader through various facets of crusader criminality. Each chapter is meticulously structured to provide a comprehensive analysis of specific topics, supported by historical evidence and primary sources.

Tibble’s writing style is engaging and accessible, balancing scholarly rigour with a narrative that captivates the reader. His use of vivid descriptions and anecdotes brings the historical period to life, making complex topics understandable and interesting.

Tibble’s analysis is thorough and well-researched, drawing on a wide range of primary sources to support his arguments. The book presents a nuanced view of crusader criminality, considering both the broader socio-political context and the individual experiences of those involved. Tibble effectively highlights the interplay between grand historical forces and the personal actions of the Crusaders.

While Crusader Criminals is a historical non-fiction work, Tibble does provide detailed portraits of various historical figures, giving readers a sense of their personalities and motivations. Figures such as Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul, are depicted with depth and complexity, illustrating the human side of historical events.

The central theme of the book is the pervasive criminality during the Crusades and its impact on the Holy Land. Tibble explores how factors such as demographics, dislocation, and socio-political instability contributed to the crime wave. He also considers the moral and ethical dimensions of the Crusaders’ actions, offering a critical perspective on their legacy.

Crusader Criminals stands out for its original approach to the subject of the Crusades, focusing on the less-heroic aspects of the Crusaders’ activities. Tibble’s balanced critique highlights both the strengths of his analysis and the challenges of interpreting historical evidence. His comparison with other periods and regions adds depth to the study, providing a broader context for understanding crusader criminality.

The book is highly engaging, drawing readers into the world of the medieval Holy Land with its compelling narrative and rich historical detail. Tibble’s ability to weave together different strands of history into a cohesive story makes the book a captivating read.

In conclusion, Crusader Criminals offers a fascinating and insightful look into the criminal aspects of the Crusades. Tibble’s meticulous research and engaging writing style make this a valuable contribution to the field of medieval history. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the Crusades, medieval crime, or the human side of historical events.

Crusader Criminals is recommended for historians, students, and enthusiasts of medieval history. Readers interested in the darker aspects of the Crusades and the socio-political dynamics of the medieval period will find this book particularly enlightening. For further reading, Tibble’s previous works on the Crusades and other scholarly studies on medieval crime and justice are suggested.

Crusader Criminals: The Knights Who Went Rogue in the Holy Land by Dr. Steve Tibble
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.5 stars
Publication Date: August 6, 2024
ISBN13: 978-0300276077


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Steve Tibble

Dr. Steve Tibble

Steve Tibble is a distinguished scholar who holds degrees from both Cambridge and London Universities. Presently, he serves as a research associate at Royal Holloway College, University of London. His expertise lies in the field of the Crusades, and he is considered one of the leading academics in this area.

Tibble’s contributions to the study of the Crusades are noteworthy. He has authored the warfare and strategy chapters in two acclaimed books: ‘The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades’ and ‘The Cambridge History of the Crusades’ (2023). In addition to these academic achievements, his recent publications have garnered critical acclaim. Notably, ‘The Crusader Armies’ (Yale, 2018) and ‘The Crusader Strategy’ (Yale, 2020) were particularly well-received, with the latter being short-listed for the prestigious Duke of Wellington’s Military History Prize. 

Interestingly, academia represents a return to familiar territory for Steve Tibble. Following the completion of his Ph.D., he authored a book for Oxford in 1989, delving into the political tensions within the crusader states. Subsequently, he veered into the communications industry, focusing on strategy development within financial markets. During this phase, Tibble held the position of Communications Director at a prominent private equity company in Europe for over a decade. Additionally, he played an integral role in various significant projects, including the privatizations of major UK companies, designing corporate communications and investor relations strategies for numerous FTSE100 firms, and creating communication programs for several governments such as Germany, Dubai, Brazil, Finland, and Taiwan.

After his time in the financial world, Tibble embraced an honorary position at the University of London (Royal Holloway), where he found solace in pursuing his passion for academic writing, particularly specializing in the captivating era of the crusades, which had deeply intrigued him since his early days as a student.

The diverse nature of his career experiences has shaped Tibble’s approach to his work as a historian. Having engaged with non-specialist audiences during his time in the communications industry, he now endeavors to make complex historical concepts accessible to a wider readership. He adeptly weaves together far-reaching implications from current academic research in medieval history, introducing these ideas to broader audiences for the first time.


  • Tibble, S. (2023). Steve Tibble. Steve Tibble.

  • Tibble, S. (2024).  Crusader criminals: How knights went rogue. Yale University Press.


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