For nearly two centuries, from 1096 until 1291, a tide of pilgrims, knights, men-at-arms, priests, traders and peasants swept from Western Europe to the Levant - Crusaders whose common aim was to recover the Holy Place of Christendom. The Sword and the Scimitar is a saga of one of the most fanatical religious wars in world history. It is a story abounding with highly distinctive personalities - popes, saints, kings, sultans and heroes like Saladin and Richard Coeur de Lion, of the encounter of two great cultures and their cross-fertilization. It tells of the three great Military Orders, the Knights Hospitaller of St John, the Teutonic Knights and the Knights Templar. It does not disguise the savagery that accompanied the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders or the scenes of fire and carnage when the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell nearly two centuries later, and the markets of the East were so flooded with Christian slaves that a young Frankish woman might be sold for one silver coin.