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The Powerful Women of Outremer (Hardback)

Forgotten Heroines of the Crusader States

Colour Books Women of History

By Helena Page Schrader
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 296
Illustrations: 20 colour & black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526787552
Published: 4th April 2024

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In the mild climate of the Mediterranean, a rare blossom once bloomed: a prosperous, urbanised society inhabited by various ethnic and religious groups living harmoniously together for nearly two-hundred years. At the apex of this society, ruled a feudal elite notorious for its wealth and love of luxury. It was composed of politically savvy, diplomatically adept, well-educated and multilingual men – and women.

These women played an astonishing and indispensable role in shaping the character of their unique society. They were ruling queens, independent barons, nuns and pilgrims. They were merchants and artisans, diplomats and spies. They were warriors defending besieged cities and the most pitiful victims of conflict as slaves after a defeat.

While many primary sources readily recorded specific and noteworthy actions taken by individual women, there is no comprehensive or systematic description of women’s contribution to the life and society of Outremer. All we have are fragments of a mosaic badly damaged by time. Yet even these remnants have largely been neglected due to the prevailing emphasis on the era’s military history.

The Powerful Women of Outremer redresses that imbalance. In a chronological narrative, women’s contributions to the crusader states are highlighted. The book then explores women’s societal role in thematic chapters. Finally, a series of short biographies shine a light on the lives of individual women. By piecing together the scattered remnants of the historical mosaic, The Powerful Women of Outremer offers readers a clearer understanding of the importance of women to the history of the Near East and a richer picture of the women themselves.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In this fascinating history book about the Crusades in the medieval period, Helena Page Schrader focuses on the queens and noblewomen from the Outremer territories of west Asia (Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey). Bringing the vibrant cultural diversity and social scene of Outremer to life, Page Schraer brings the women of the region to life, emphasizing their power, strength, and political influence in the region. Focusing on Outremer and the Crusades, Page Schrader also explores the Crusades from the Outremer perspective and from the eyes of the women, like Eleanor of Aquitaine, who traveled on crusade with their husbands. Bringing some interesting primary documents and a history of Outremer into this book, Page Schrader creates the historical backdrop and context of the book needed to understand women’s roles and position in Outremer’s society. This dual challenge of Crusade historical narratives, readers will enjoy learning about some of the queens regnant, queens consort, princesses, and noblewomen from Outremer in Page Schrader’s latest book. A fantastic historical read which brings women’s history to life and challenges the mainstream narrative of the Crusades, this book on the women of Outremer is a must read for women’s history enthusiasts and fans of medieval history.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

An interesting survey of the people living in the Crusader States (Outremer) and the politics that went on around it. I enjoyed learning more about the rights of women in this time period and feudal society in general even more than the larger politics and attention to queens and princesses. The differences between how Christian and Muslim religion (and therefore politics) viewed women was well explained, and led well into why slavery was such a big thing that Christian women had to worry about. The author desensationalised this and used contemporary resources to bring home what life was like for women in slavery and the development of groups to free them, which I had never read about before and found fascinating.

NetGalley, Anne Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I never really heard a lot of the crusader and enjoyed getting to know the women in this time. It was great getting these women to live again through this book. I was enjoying what I read and thought the overall feel of the story worked. Helena Page Schrader has a great writing style and I'm excited to read more from her.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting look at the ladies that impacted and were impacted by a part of history that many have assumed didn't really have much womanly influence or characters.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

This was the first book I read about these women and I found it informative and well done.
Recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Powerful Women of Outremer - Forgotten Heroines of the Crusader States by Helena Page Schrader is an absolutely compelling insight into the women of the crusades who are largely unreported throughout time. There is a long standing argument that women were uneducated chattel who were rarely taught to read and write and while this can be said for a good majority of women in this era, we are now learning more about the time and that the facts portray something very, very different.

Helena Page Schrader has brought together an extensive litany of evidence to research and write this fascinating account which begins with a really useful chronology which is very helpful in cross-referencing and anchoring the narrative into established accounts and as such, builds on them whilst opening up a whole new world in the Middle Ages.

I was hooked frim the first page due to the writing style. The author is able to communicate a lot of facts in an engaging and affable way (I never knew that Roman women were not considered to legally exist for example).

"All Roman women, therefore, lived only by the 'grace' of their father - and were expected to be eternally grateful for being allowed to exist at all".

The author goes on to discuss the impact of Christianity, Literacy in the upper classes, feudalism and chivalry and contrasting these with the Muslim world of the time and how this contrast set the foundation for the diversity of the "Outremer" states.

The book also includes deeply intriguing biographies, detailed maps and royal family trees that add an extra flourish to an already highly interesting and very well-researched book.

If you have an interest in history and new breakthroughs in the field, this is certainly a book for you. Likewise, if you have interest in the Crusades or the sociocultural history of women. A fantastic, highly intelligent and very palatable read.

NetGalley, Ink Reads
 Helena Page Schrader
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The Near East in the era of the Crusades was home to diverse populations Orthodox and Latin Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Jews and Samaritans. It was the meeting-point for Arab, Turkish, Byzantine and Frankish culture, the latter itself a mixture of Western traditions adapted to circumstances in the crusader states by the Europeans who had settled in the Holy Land. While the Crusades have become a synonym for brutality and bigotry, the crusader states represented a positive example of harmonious coexistence across two centuries. Likewise, while scholars from a wide range of disciplines including…

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