‘The greatest event since the Resurrection’
Some medieval views of the crusades
in The Debate on the Crusades
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The earliest accounts of the First Crusade adopted a tone of advocacy, a register that never entirely left medieval, and some modern descriptions of crusading. William of Tyre's Historia was the first scholarly crusade history to combine research in earlier chronicles and, contemporary commentary with a considered academic reflection on both. William's image of the charismatic Peter the Hermit suited the emphasis on apostolic poverty, evangelism to the laity and moral rearmament characteristic of the polemics of crusading's second century. Throughout the process of retelling the story of the First Crusade, Latin/clerical invention and interpretive tropes readily cross-pollinated with vernacular literature. The use of the crusade and its history, by humanists and other contemporary writers, occupied a world of polemic, serving parochial religious, cultural and political functions. The fusion of crusade and pilgrimage was rapid.

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