A slice of Warfare during the Crusades.

A very fine first hand account of warfare in what the crusaders called Outremer. Here’s a vivid excerpt showing the reality of hand to hand combat but also the surprisingly competent nature of combat surgery in the Islamic world.

‘There was in my service a man named Numayr al-‘Allaruzi. He was a footman, brave and strong. With a band of men from Shayzar, he set out to al-Ruj to attack the Franks. When still in our territory, they came across a caravan of the Franks hiding in a cavern, and each one began to say to the other, “Who should go in against them?”
“I,” said Numayr. And as he said it, he turned over to his companions his sword and shield, drew his dagger and went in against them. As he entered, one of them came to receive him, but Numayr stabbed him immediately with the dagger, overthrew him and knelt upon him to slay him Behind the Frank stood another one with a sword in his hand and struck Numayr. The latter had on his back a knapsack containing bread, which protected him. Having killed the man under him, Numayr now turned to the man with the sword, intent upon attacking him. The Frank immediately struck him with the sword on the side of his face and cut through his eyebrow, eyelid, cheek, nose and upper lip, making the whole side of his face hang down on his chest. Numayr went out of the cavern to his companions, who bandaged his wound and brought him back during a cold rainy night. He arrived in Shayzar in that condition. There his face was stitched and his cut was treated until he was healed and returned to his former condition, with the exception of his eye which was lost for good.’

From “AN ARAB-SYRIAN GENTLEMAN AND WARRIOR IN THE PERIOD OF THE CRUSADES. MEMOIRS OF USAMAH IBN-MUNQIDH.” Available on Archive.

See you again for another adventure in Historyland.

Josh.

Historyland’s Top Five History Books from 2018

Once more good people, books flooded my reading list last year in such quantities that at times I found myself swimming in them. In total I think I read one, maybe two books that was not related to research or that I had not been asked to review. My undying thanks goes out to all the wonderful author’s and publicists who have given me the opportunity to indulge in what I love to do. So now I present my five favourite history books from 2017, there’s no particular order here but here they are in the order they were posted.

Isabella of Castile. Giles Tremlett.
‘For its blend of grandeur, cruelty, drama and sheer unrepentant passion nothing can match the history of the Spanish Empire. And it all started with a young strawberry blond Castilian girl named Isabella. This wonderfully produced book will engross you to the very finish’.
https://adventuresinhistoryland.com/2017/03/21/book-review-and-discount-code-isabella-of-castile-by-giles-tremlett/

The Late Lord. Jacqueline Reiter.
‘The Late Lord is a confident, elegantly written biography, rooted in iron clad fact, rarely ever straying from what cannot be substantiated. I think it also brings to the fore the wider strategy Britain adopted to defeat France. Brilliantly highlighting, at the same time, the life of a man who represents a substrata of British statesmen and aristocrats during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This book does much to retake lost ground, questioning what has been taken for granted, and bringing a much needed spotlight of unbiased scholarship to a fascinating and tragic life.’
https://adventuresinhistoryland.com/2017/04/10/book-review-the-late-lord-by-jacqueline-reiter/

Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain. Ian Mortimer.
‘Ian Mortimer’s Books are so brilliant. Not because they bring the past back to life, but because they prove that there was once life in the past … The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain maintains the high standard of the series, with Mortimer’s usual verve and humour. An eye opening tour that thoughtfully opens up, not a world lost, but a world gone by’.
https://adventuresinhistoryland.com/2017/05/11/book-review-the-time-travellers-guide-to-restoration-britain-by-ian-mortimer/

Koh I Noor. William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.
‘A book that shines in its ability to string together thousands of years of history, involving politics, war, personalities and rivalries into a fluid tale. In many ways parting the mists of myth that surround the diamond. A highly readable, exciting and poignant work, that cleverly tells the history of the diamond and at the same time using it as a vehicle to tell the history of India’.
https://adventuresinhistoryland.com/2017/07/27/book-review-koh-i-noor-by-anita-anand-and-william-dalrymple/

Tartan Turban. John Keay.
‘This … is a story that is worthy of motion picture treatment. Few lives could have been so heroically flawed and so madly eccentric or so deserving of notice, but at the same time it was a life played in a sort of gaudy, inglorious, undertone, because Gardiner never stepped fully into the limelight in his own lifetime. Happily we now have John Keay’s book to bring this fascinating character back into focus’.
https://adventuresinhistoryland.com/2017/10/11/book-review-the-tartan-turban-by-john-keay/

Happy reading in 2018 everyone.
Josh.

Chasing Snowflakes.

The early science of snowflakes.

Snow crystals, these pieces of visible magic, this cloth of dreams, which conjures up images of Christmas, of rosy cheeks, red robins, excitement and raging fires that would make the inside otherwise dreary. Like all magic, it can be somewhat malevolent. In proper quantities and in remote places it mocks humanity’s self assurance, and can try a soul to its limits. No other substance on earth, save perhaps it’s mother; water, is so inhospitable to life and yet so desired. Like all things that bring pleasure and pain, snow has fascinated all that have ever seen it. As a natural phenomenon, scientist and layman can derive something different from it. But most of all it is something that many of us discover as children, and those magical hours it allowed us to fill leave us chasing snowflakes for the rest of our lives. Continue reading

Book Review: The Northwest Passage Overland. E.C Coleman.

Very witty… sometimes downright absurdly ridiculous… exciting and well described. This… tale… of an earnest and enquiringly Doctor, a lazy but courageous Viscount, and their formidable Canadian guides attempting to map a route to the Canadian goldfields will absorb the long winter nights and infuse them with a spirit of old time adventure. Continue reading