That dreaded word “journey” appears to have been banned: instead, we have proper, old-fashioned narrative history of the sort that TV has almost forgotten how to do, starting at the beginning and continuing until the end.
— Robert Colvile
I vote in favor of old-fashioned narrative history, as with this series from a few years back.
Holy War 1/3: How the first crusaders marched 3,000 miles from Europe to recapture Jerusalem from Islam.
Clash of the Titans 2/3: Dr Thomas Asbridge examines the lives of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.
Victory and Defeat 3/3: Dr Thomas Asbridge reveals how the outcome of the holy wars was decided in Egypt.
The official BBC Two site is The Crusades, with further background by Colvile:
The Crusades: holy warriors (The Telegraph)
Robert Colvile is inspired by a new BBC Two series telling the real history of the crusades.
A few years ago, I found myself standing on the ramparts of Krak des Chevaliers, Syria’s great crusader castle, just as a thunderstorm broke. As the wind howled through the slitted stone windows, I tried to imagine what would have gone through the heads of the knights who garrisoned this lonely fortress for more than a century, as medieval Christendom’s first line of defence against the Muslims to the east.
In BBC Two’s new three-part documentary series, The Crusades, Dr Thomas Asbridge of the University of London asks his viewers to make that same leap of imagination – to understand a world in which faith was so important that in 1095, Pope Urban II was able to convince anything up to 100,000 people to forsake their family lives and homes and answer his call to reclaim Jerusalem, even though the holy city had fallen to the Muslims centuries earlier. So alien is the devotion – the fanaticism – that was displayed that Asbridge has to spend almost a third of the opening episode easing us into the medieval mindset, making us understand how the Pope’s promise of salvation could outweigh any worldly good or blessing.
The resulting story, while gripping, is far from pleasant …