Two famous, firsthand accounts of the holy war in the Middle Ages translated by Caroline Smith
Originally composed in Old French, the two chronicles brought together here offer some of the most vivid and reliable accounts of the Crusades from a Western perspective. Villehardouin’s Conquest of Constantinople, distinguished by its simplicity and lucidity, recounts the controversial Fourth Crusade, which descended into an all-out attack on the Eastern Christians of Byzantium.
In Life of Saint Louis, Joinville draws on his close attachment to King Louis IX of France to recall his campaigning in the Holy Land. Together these narratives comprise a fascinating window on events that, for all their remoteness, offer startling similarities to our own age.
Published on 31 May 2009.
Published by: Penguin Classics
Throughout history, maps have been fundamental in shaping our view of the world, and our place in it. But far from being purely scientific objects, maps of the world are unavoidably ideological and subjective, intimately bound up with the systems of power and authority of particular times and places.
Mapmakers do not simply represent the world, they construct it out of the ideas of their age. In this scintillating book, Jerry Brotton examines the significance of 12 maps – from the almost mystical representations of ancient history to the satellite-derived imagery of today. He vividly recreates the environments and circumstances in which each of the maps was made, showing how each conveys a highly individual view of the world.
Brotton shows how each of his maps both influenced and reflected contemporary events and how, by considering it in all its nuances and omissions, we can better understand the world that produced it.
Although the way we map our surroundings is more precise than ever before, Brotton argues that maps today are no more definitive or objective than they have ever been. Readers of this beautifully illustrated and masterfully argued book will never look at a map in quite the same way again.
Published in 2014.
A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world, from the bestselling author of 1491. Presenting the latest research by biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the post-Columbian network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world.
In this history, Mann uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Mann has again given readers an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
Published in 2012.
In Empires of the Sea and City of Fortune, New York Times bestselling author Roger Crowley established himself as our generation’s preeminent historian of the great European seafaring empires, and the go-to author for post-Crusade clashes of East and West.
Now, in Conquerors, Crowley gives us the epic story of the emergence of Portugal, a small, poor nation that enjoyed a century of maritime supremacy thanks to the daring and navigational skill of its explorers—a tactical advantage no other country could match. Portugal’s discovery of a sea route to India, campaign of imperial conquest over Muslim rulers, and domination of the spice trade would forever disrupt the Mediterranean and build the first global economy.
Crowley relies on letters and eyewitness testimony to tell the story of tiny Portugal’s rapid and breathtaking rise to power. Conquerors reveals the Império Português in all of its splendor and ferocity, bringing to life the personalities of the enterprising and fanatical house of Aviz. Figures such as King Manuel “the Fortunate,” João II “the Perfect Prince,” marauding governor Afonso de Albuquerque, and explorer Vasco da Gama juggled their private ambitions and the public aims of the empire, often suffering astonishing losses in pursuit of a global fortune. Also central to the story of Portugal’s ascent was its drive to eradicate Islamic culture and establish a Christian empire in the Indian Ocean. Portuguese explorers pushed deep into the African continent in search of the mythical Christian king Prester John, and they ruthlessly besieged Indian port cities in their attempts to monopolize trade.
The discovery of a route to India around the horn of Africa was not only a brilliant breakthrough in navigation but heralded a complete upset of the world order. For the next century, no European empire was more ambitious, no rulers more rapacious than the kings of Portugal. In the process they created the first long-range maritime empire and set in motion the forces of globalization that now shape our world. At Crowley’s hand, the complete story of the Portuguese empire and the human cost of its ambition can finally be told.
Published on 1 December 2015.