Non-Book Review: Jerusalem In The North

Jerusalem In The North: Denmark And The Baltic Crusades, 1100-1522, by Ane Bysted, Carsten Jensen, Kurt Jensen, and John Lind

I got this particular book from the De Re Militari, and its title greatly interested me, given that I am a student of the history of the Crusades, and that I do not happen to know a great deal about Danish history or the Baltic Crusades, both of which are among the main subjects of this book. Given that this work was written by what appear to be a group of Danish historians (presumably those most interested in Danish history), I was glad to see such an accessible work in English, even though I don’t really have a great deal of background to be able to weigh and judge their portrayal of Danish history in particular.

One of the aspects that attracted me to this book was that it dealt with a subject that has been somewhat neglected in books, and that is the crusades outside of the Middle East. During the same time that Europe was attacking the Byzantine Empire as well as the Turkish-dominated states of the Levant, Europeans were also attacking Orthodox Russia and the pagan Slavic and Baltic peoples of Eastern Europe. If nothing else, having at least some understanding of the Baltic Crusades can provide some comparison to the behaviors of Europeans in multiple crusades as well as the results of German settlement of Prussia and other areas and its fateful consequences for 20th century European history. Both of those happen to be areas of some interest for me, so I’m hoping that there is some worthwhile analysis to be found here.

This book is somewhat long (over 350 pages of solid text), and its subject is deeply obscure, so I am unsure exactly which people would be most interested in reading a book like this, as I am aware that my tastes in reading are sometimes a bit different from others around me. One particular mystery I hope this book shines at least some light on is how Denmark, a small nation without a large population, had such a large crusading interest despite the fact that its demographic weakness made it unable to consolidate gains or do much in the way of building a solid empire out of its conquests. To sustain a crusading spirit for centuries requires a significantly robust cultural mindset, and to remain a small nation on the periphery of Europe must be a bit frustrating for the Danes. I wonder how they look at their history given their colossal ambitions and rather lackluster results. That said, this book does include at least a little bit of information about Greenland, which is always a plus.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Military History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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