The Crusader Strategy: Defending the Holy Land


The Crusader Strategy: Medieval states, particularly crusader societies, have often been considered brutish and culturally isolated. It seems unlikely that they could develop “strategy” in any meaningful sense. However, the Crusaders were actually highly organized in their thinking and their decision-making was rarely random.
In this lively account, Steve Tibble draws on a rich array of primary sources to reassess events on the ground and patterns of behavior over time. He shows how, from aggressive castle building to implementing a series of invasions of Egypt, crusader leaders tenaciously pursued long-term plans and devoted single-minded attention to clear strategic goals. Crusader states were permanently on the brink of destruction; resources were scarce and the penalties for failure severe. Intuitive strategic thinking, Tibble argues, was a necessity, not a luxury.


Steve Tibble’s “The Crusader Strategy” challenges prevailing narratives of medieval strategy, particularly those of the crusader states, by applying modern business strategy and planning models to medieval historical contexts. Tibble argues against the notion that medieval societies, specifically the Crusaders, were strategically naive, demonstrating instead their sophisticated use of limited resources under extreme constraints. He utilizes a methodology derived from his background in the corporate world to deduce strategies from historical actions and outcomes, thus providing startling insights into the strategic thinking and planning of the Crusaders.

The book is a significant contribution to the field of medieval history and military strategy, offering a fresh perspective that combines historical analysis with business strategy models. Tibble’s approach not only sheds new light on the operational and strategic competencies of the crusader states but also challenges contemporary perceptions of medieval warfare and governance.

Targeted at both academics and enthusiasts of medieval history, “The Crusader Strategy” stands out for its innovative methodology and the compelling argument that medieval leaders were far more strategically adept than commonly believed. Tibble’s writing is accessible and engaging, making complex strategic concepts understandable to a wide audience. This work is a valuable resource for those looking to deepen their understanding of medieval military strategy and the nuanced challenges faced by the crusader states.


“Tibble is the most interesting military historian of the Crusades writing today. . . . While he does not break new ground, he helps readers see the old ground more profitably. He is an entertaining writer and his tone is often casual, but that does not come at the expense of scholarship or insightful use of historical sources.”—Timothy D. LuschChronicles Magazine

Shortlisted for the 2020 Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History

The Crusader Strategy tackles the fundamental problem faced by ‘the defenders of the East’ in the twelfth century. How did practical men implement God’s will in almost impossible circumstances? Tibble’s penetrative analysis shows that they responded by developing intelligent long-term strategies, skilfully adapted to the numerous challenges which confronted them.”—Malcolm Barber, author of The Crusader States

“Viewing the crusader states’ first century through the lens of strategic theory, Steve Tibble finds broad designs amid a whirlwind of battles, sieges, and negotiations. It is a compelling story vigorously told of medieval men and the plans that they made.”—Thomas F. Madden, author of The New Concise History of the Crusades

“Confident, brisk, and engaging, Tibble offers a sharp new understanding of the Crusader States. He deftly reveals the strategic imperatives that shaped the early eras of conquest and consolidation, convincingly showing how and why the Crusaders made their strategic choices. Pithy anecdote and clever analysis illuminate the crucial competition for Egypt, a race won by Saladin, who forced the Crusaders out of their mighty castles and onto the fateful battlefield at Hattin. Insightful, original and persuasive – the perfect sibling to Tibble’s Crusader Armies.”—Jonathan Phillips, author of The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin

“Yes indeed! The kings of Jerusalem did have a strategy. The case is argued with great panache. Tibble brings a freshness and a breadth of knowledge to his subject and has clearly thought long and hard as to why things went wrong. A welcome addition to a lively debate.”—Peter W. Edbury, author of The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade

The Crusader Strategy Defending the Holy Land by Steve Tibble
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.8 stars
Publication Date: 29th September 2020
ISBN13: 978-0300253115


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The Crusader Strategy Defending the Holy Land by Steve Tibble
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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.

  • The Crusader Strategy: Defending the Holy Land: Tibble, Steve: 9780300253115: Books. (2023).


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