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Peter Frankopans relatively short History coming in at 200 page, plus appendices of the infamous First Crusade deals primly with the Byzantium aspect of it being called by Pope Urban II during the very late 11thC This was unusual because of the religious schism between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire, however Alexios I Komnenos was facing revolts between the Turks and Steppe Nomads across his empire, and asked the Pope for help Unprecedented It reads like dissertation than anything, but still informative and interesting, albeit a bit of a dry wade to get through I much preferred his latest two books on the Silk Roads, which are reviewed here This study does not cover Islam that much, or at least does not focus on what the success the First Crusade had throughout our History 3 stars, ok, but wanted something lighter to be honest. This book is very unusual in that it provides a clear and defensible alternative view of important events that I thought I knew about In this case, the subject is the set of events surrounding the First Crusade in the last decade of the eleventh century Frankopan makes the argument that in order to understand the First Crusade, it is necessary to understand the role of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios sp in calling the Crusade Since high school, I had known about Pope Urban II calling on Western nobles to engage in the Crusade to win back the Holy Land What was never clearly understood is a what prompted the call to be issued and the crusade to occur when it did and b how did it happen with sufficient organization and planning that it could be such a success an important question given the lack of central political authority in Europe at the time The punchline is that it was the Byzantine Emperor who needed help and needed to obtain that help from the West, because his prior strategies for controlling Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean coast had failed He provide the central control, planning, and logistical support Pope Urban also could make use of the Crusade to not only pursue religious objectives but also to shore up his position as Pope versus a competitor The nobles had their own reasons and the Pope fashioned a rich set of incentives to encourage participation.The argument is easy to follow, once the book gets moving It makes lots of sense and much sense that traditional explanations of the Crusades and seems to fit the facts fairly well.I love history books, but they often than not add richness and nuance to my understanding of a subject area This book changes how you look at the Crusades That is not a bad accomplishment.The style is a bit thick and there are lots of odd names, but it is worth the effort. A concise only 200 pages account of the First Crusade which is both well argued organised and engaging The book s central hypothesis is to write a Byzantine centric view of the Crusade, in particular concentrating on the figure of the Emperor Alexios and how circumstances in his empire dictated the timing and nature of the appeal made to the West as well as some of the subsequent course of events but not all, given the unpredictability of the large force unleashed. Accounts of the First Crusade have always tended to begin with Urban II s call at Clermont for Europe s knights to go on an armed pilgrimage to Jerusalemand forgotten about the Levantine background Byzantium, the Seljuk Turks, the Fatimids in Egypt, and the tangle of local politics and warfare Frankopan s The First Crusade The Call from the East addresses that lapse He points out that the Crusade began with the collapse of the Byzantine position in Asia Minor in the early and mid 1090s, and emphasizes that it was the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komnenos who first sought allies and Frankish cavalry not so much for Jerusalem as for Antioch and Nicaea and other Byzantine cities lost to the Turks Frankopan highlights the story of how the Frankish leadership first agreed to turn over captured cities to imperial control and then slowly turned on Alexios, with Frankish and Norman lords and bishops treating Alexios as a hindrance both to the expedition to Jerusalem and to the growing territorial ambitions of men like Count Bohemond of Taranto, the Norman warlord who emerges as the villain of the tale, the man most responsible for the unravelling of the Crusade s original mission.Frankopan is a fine writer, and The First Crusade is a straightforward, well told tale Now the book does assume a fair amount of knowledge on the part of readers about the Normans in Sicily, about the endless fractures inside the Muslim world, about papal politics around Urban II It s not an account for beginners, and while Frankopan has a masterful grasp of primary sources, his account of the actual fighting on the route from Constantinople to Jerusalem could profit from military analysis.Still a book that does remind readers that the First Crusade didn t happen in a local vacuum, that the Frankish armies riding into the Levant came at a Byzantine call and rode into a set of local conditions that have been neglected by all too many accounts. [ FREE BOOK ] ⚑ The First Crusade ⚖ According To Tradition, The First Crusade Began At The Instigation Of Pope Urban II And Culminated In July , When Thousands Of Western European Knights Liberated Jerusalem From The Rising Menace Of Islam But What If The First Crusade S Real Catalyst Lay Far To The East Of Rome In This Groundbreaking Book, Countering Nearly A Millennium Of Scholarship, Peter Frankopan Reveals The Untold History Of The First CrusadeNearly All Historians Of The First Crusade Focus On The Papacy And Its Willing Warriors In The West, Along With Innumerable Popular Tales Of Bravery, Tragedy, And Resilience In Sharp Contrast, Frankopan Examines Events From The East, In Particular From Constantinople, Seat Of The Christian Byzantine Empire The Result Is Revelatory The True Instigator Of The First Crusade, We See, Was The Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, Who In , With His Realm Under Siege From The Turks And On The Point Of Collapse, Begged The Pope For Military SupportBasing His Account On Long Ignored Eastern Sources, Frankopan Also Gives A Provocative And Highly Original Explanation Of The World Changing Events That Followed The First Crusade The Vatican S Victory Cemented Papal Power, While Constantinople, The Heart Of The Still Vital Byzantine Empire, Never Recovered As A Result, Both Alexios And Byzantium Were Consigned To The Margins Of History From Frankopan S Revolutionary Work, We Gain A Faithful Understanding Of The Way The Taking Of Jerusalem Set The Stage For Western Europe S Dominance Up To The Present Day And Shaped The Modern World Must read everyone who want to know about the birth of Crusades This book fills some important gaps in our knowledge of the motives nature of the First Crusade I really really enjoyed this book. A compact but rich account of the events leading up to the First Crusade, the Crusade itself and its aftermath and consequences some of which still play out in the Middle East and Europe today. A fantastic look at the Emperor Alexios, the First Crusade, and the knights of the West Very well written I look forward to reading the Silk Roads. Frankopan s analysis of Anna Comnena s misleading presentation of her father s the Emperor Alexius Comnenus success in the years before the First Crusade is one of the best bits of historical research I have read In particular, she falsifies the history of the Turkish pirate Chaka, who posed a serious threat to Byzantine control of the Aegean, by saying that he was defeated before the First Crusade In fact, Frankopan shows that other evidence mainly from monasteries in the Aegean islands testifies to Chaka s ominously growing power right up to the launch of the First Crusade, with his subsequent defeat attributable to the crusaders victory at Dorylaion, which allowed the Byzantines to successfully attack and destroy Chaka s power base at Smyrna These findings represent the most important re interpretation of the origins of the First Crusade made in many years i.e that Alexius call to Urban II for a crusade was made out of desperation rather than from his own success against the Turks including Chaka as presented by Anna Comnena There are other interesting insights into the precarious nature of Alexius hold on power before the First Crusade and how it was the success of the crusaders that saved both Byzantium and Alexius.