This is the up-to-date, authoritative history of the Crusades from the First Crusade in 1096 to the fall of the last Crusader kingdom - Malta - in 1798. In 1095, Pope Urban II granted absolution to anyone who would fight to reclaim the Holy Land. With God at their backs, the first Christian crusaders embarked on an unprecedented religious war. While addressing the contribution of flamboyant characters like Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, Malcolm Billings also looks at the experiences of the peasants, knights and fighting monks who took the cross for Christendom and the Holy Warriors of Islam who, after battle on battle, emerged victorious. He analyses the ebb and flow of crusade and counter-crusade, and details the shifting structures of government in the Levant, which became the perennial battleground of East and West.
Malcolm Billings has been closely associated with history and archaeology throughout his career. He has written and produced many documentaries on history and archaeology for BBC Radio and has published several books including The English: The Making of a Nation from 430-1700 and London: A Companion to its History and Archaeology. He is a Middle East foreign radio correspondent for the BBC and knows all to well the connections between the Crusades of the Middle Ages and their interpretation today by extremist Muslims.