The Powerful Women of Outremer (Hardback)
Forgotten Heroines of the Crusader States
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.
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…By Helena P Schrader
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