Erdmann, Runciman and the end of tradition?
in The Debate on the Crusades
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Carl Erdmann reopened investigation into the nature and origins of the phenomenon, largely ignored or assumed by the functional materialist focus on the crusaders' conquests. Walther Holtzmann took issue with Erdmann's opening distinction between holy war in general and crusading as a specific genre of religious violence. Erdmann's unorthodox career lent him a perspective that differed from the many German scholars who tilled that rich field of political, institutional and ideological conflict. Steven Runciman perpetuated the epic grand narrative, a drama of good and evil, heroism and villainy, civilisation and barbarism. Whole new national traditions of crusade scholarship have sprung up, in parts of eastern and northern Europe. Medievalists of and from Scandinavia and the Baltic, some stimulated by the end of the Cold War and issues of national identity and relations with an apparently resurgent European community, could hardly avoid studying crusading in the later middle ages.


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