This is What’s Wrong with the Crusader Fiction Genre
Who doesn’t enjoy a story of crusaders fighting to retake Jerusalem? It stirs your spirituality, sense of honor, and understanding of human nature when personal interest is truly pitted against moral ideals.
Saladin and King Richard, duking it out in Outremer is the first thing that you think of, right?
But that’s the thing. That is ALL you think of.
You think of Knights and Lords and Barons from all over Latin Europe coming together to take the Holy Land against the widely unknown Saladin and his Saracens.
You know so much about the Franks; The reputation of their knights, their piety, their men at arms entourage, the houses they represent, the fiefs they preside over, and their aspirations to join the elite orders of their journey.
Would you even suspect that the other-side is just as entrenched in tradition, care for honor, and even the status of knighthood, chivalry, and piety?
At least that’s what I thought, growing up reading stories that retold the events of the crusades.
No mention of the Mamluk knights that would go on to push back the Mongols at the battle of Ayn Jalut.
No talk of the Tabardarriya axmen infantry who, took the design of the Danish axe and used it to become elite shocktroops themselves.
Not even a whisper of the Sufi orders that were lead by the religious scholarship and ushered in an era of combined endowment structures; places where hospitals, education for students, spirituality centers, and prayer areas were built next to one another.
Do you know of the Seventh Crusade?
Fought, almost a hundred years after the crusades fought between Saladin and Richard Lionheart.
In that time, Richard and his successors lost the Angevin Dynasty that England had, with significant properties in France and England.
Saladin’s confederacy of family leaders in his Ayyubid empire were involved in heavy in-fighting along with battles with the Latin kingdoms who maintained a foothold in the levant….and a rising Mongol threat in the far east loomed on the horizon.
King Louis, the French King and only monarch to become a saint landed in Damietta, Egypt to FINALLY, take back what was taken those many years ago by Saladin: The Holy Land.
And you might think to yourself, this is just another crusade pitting Christian against Muslim.
But I ask you, do you really know anything about the Muslim experience? Are you fine with just opening up another Saladin vs King Richard story?
Aren’t you curious about what else is there?