Tyerman, Christopher 1953–

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Tyerman, Christopher 1953–

PERSONAL:

Born May 22, 1953. Education: M.A., D.Phil.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Faculty of Modern History, Hertford College, University of Oxford, Broad St., Oxford OX1 3BD, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Historian, educator, and writer. Hertford College and New College, Oxford, Oxford, England, lecturer in modern history.

MEMBER:

Royal Historical Society (fellow).

WRITINGS:

England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1988.

Who's Who in Early Medieval England, 1066-1272, Shepheard Walwyn (London, England), 1996, Stackpole Books (Mechanicsburg, PA), 2001.

The Invention of the Crusades, Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 1998.

A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

The Crusades: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

God's War: A New History of the Crusades, Belknap Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Contributor of articles to journals, including the English Historical Review.

SIDELIGHTS:

Christopher Tyerman is a British author of several books documenting the history of medieval England and the Crusades. In England and the Crusades, 1095-1588 he discusses the second and third Crusades, Lord Edward's expedition, the English who fought for the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic wars, the Lollard crusaders, and the transition of crusading principles and actions into the Tudor period.

Nearly a third of Tyerman's book deals with the period following 1272. Instead of the traditional focus on economic, colonial, ecclesiastical, and military perspectives, the author concentrates on how the Crusades influenced various aspects of English society and domestic and international politics. He discusses the positions and activities of the English kings between 1154 and 1327, all of whom took the cross. He also provides considerable detail about the lives of English crusaders and compares individuals at all social levels. "References are exemplary, as are the index and bookmaking," wrote J.W. Alexander in Choice. Times Literary Supplement contributor Norman Housley noted that Tyerman "has done the job not only thoroughly but brilliantly. It is hard to believe that any important aspect of the subject has been omitted…. The attention to detail is meticulous, and the author's use of the sources critical and astute." A reviewer noted in the Virginia Quarterly Review that Tyerman "sheds new light on a complex and bloody period in English history."

The first part of Tyerman's The Invention of the Crusades is a reprint of a 1995 article he wrote for English Historical Review titled "Were There Any Crusades in the Twelfth Century?" The middle section of the book covers the period between around 1200 and 1500. It was during this time that the concept of a Crusade was fully defined and all Christians were able to join one. Tyerman examines how societies received crusading and how canon law was applied in secular courts. The final section covers historical accounts of the Crusade to the present time.

In A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, Tyerman has written the first history of England's most famous public school after Eton. Using the school's archives, Tyerman reveals the significance Harrow has played in British history. Known as a school for the wealthy, the school has witnessed many changes over the years, from a de-emphasis on the classics and more emphasis on math, science, history, and foreign languages, to the end of the tradition of "fagging"—the bullying of new students. Michael V.C. Alexander wrote in History: Review of New Books that A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991 "will serve as a model for future educational historians."

Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades is a brief overall history of the Crusades. In the book, Tyerman dispels some of the myths associated with the Crusades, such as the belief that they were only wars targeting Islam in Palestine and that they were part of a movement to establish Western dominance throughout the world. In addition to discussing events that occurred during the Crusades, the author offers analyses of how the Crusades impacted history both during the four centuries that the Crusades encompassed and beyond. For example, he ends the book with an essay on how the Crusades influenced such historical eras and movements as the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. In the essay, the author also argues that the twenty-first-century battle against terrorism emanating primarily from the Middle East is part of a legacy passed down by the Crusades. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book an "excellent popular history." Writing in the Library Journal, Christopher Brennan commented, "Lacking the standard academic apparatus that intimidates many readers, this illuminating work is highly readable and highly recommended." Jonathan Sumption noted in the Spectator that the book is "short but stimulating" and also noted that the author offers "the best kind of historical analysis, and it will have served a valuable purpose if it makes readers think more carefully about historical analogies." A Contemporary Review contributor wrote that readers "will not find a better delineation of the issues and legacies of the events and their historians."

God's War: A New History of the Crusades covers similar territory as Fighting for Christendom, but in more depth. In it, Tyerman covers the genesis of the holy war idea in the rise of the papacy in the centuries before the Crusades began in 1095, to the last embers of the dissolving notion in the sixteenth century when the papacy no longer remained in control of people's daily lives. Unlike previous studies on the era, Tyerman makes no moral judgment about the Crusades, as either a noble endeavor or a mere excuse for war and pillaging. He believes the reasons each person engaged in battle—or did not—are unique and cannot be condoned or disparaged uniformly. The result is a book that critics hailed as the new standard in the field of Crusade studies. "Adjectives for God's War almost fail," wrote Alfred J. Andrea in a review for Christianity Today. "‘Comprehensive,’ ‘monumental,’ and ‘epic’ come to mind, and they are appropriate but scarcely adequate," he concluded. Tyerman attempts to overturn established preconceptions about the Crusades—that they led to Western (i.e. Christian) imperialism and that they are responsible for modern-day resentment by Muslims toward the West. On the contrary, he states, the Muslims largely ignored the Crusades after having fought them more or less successfully and enjoyed the long and fruitful Ottoman Empire that flourished from afterward until around 1900. It has been only in recent years, both Tyerman and his reviewers note, that the Crusades have been resurrected from the dust bin of history and established as a backdrop for the modern-day War on Terror.

In a review for the New York Sun, Adam Kirsch appreciated Tyerman's "massive erudition and patient synthesis," even if the result is "a good deal less pleasure than information." Timothy Renick, writing in the Christian Century, appreciated Tyerman's revisionist reading of historical events, with more emphasis placed on economics and social aspects of life during the Middle Ages than previous studies of the Crusades. "Writing with clarity and in command of an incredible amount of historical detail," Renick summarized, Tyerman "takes the reader on a journey that, like the treks of the crusaders themselves, is idled with curious sights and unexpected twists."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Albion, winter, 2001, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 684.

American Historical Review, June, 1990, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 799.

Antioch Review, summer, 2007, M. Edmund Hussey, review of God's War: A New History of the Crusades, p. 577.

Atlantic Monthly, November 2006, review of God's War, p. 124.

Canadian Journal of History, December, 1990, John H. Trueman, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 399.

Catholic Historical Review, July, 1989, James A. Brundage, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 486; July, 2007, Christoph T. Maier, review of God's War, p. 635.

Chicago Tribune Books, October 29, 2006, Ron Grossman, review of God's War, p. 8.

Choice, February, 1989, J.W. Alexander, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 992; December, 1998, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 734; September, 2005, M.M. Johnson, review of Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades, p. 180; March, 2007, W.L. Urban, review of God's War, p. 1219.

Christian Century, January 23, 2007, Timothy Renick, review of God's War, p. 34.

Christianity Today, July 19, 2007, Alfred J. Andrea, review of God's War, p. 55.

Church History, March, 1999, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 159.

Contemporary Review, March, 2001, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 187; February, 2005, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 126.

English Historical Review, April, 1992, Alan MacQuarrie, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 449; February, 2000, K.S.B. Keats-Rohan, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 176; February, 2003, Howard Tomlinson, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 157; September, 2005, Colin Morris, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 1037.

First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, June-July, 2005, Thomas F. Madden, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 26; December, 2006, Thomas F. Madden, review of God's War, p. 44.

Guardian (Manchester), October 20, 2007, Ian Pindar, review of God's War.

Historian, spring, 2000, Thomas F. Madden, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 701.

History: Review of New Books, spring, 1989, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 114; spring, 2001, Michael V.C. Alexander, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 116.

International History Review, November, 1989, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 718; June 1999, Norman Housley, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 455; December, 2005, Jonathan Riley-Smith, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 825; December, 2007, John France, review of God's War, p. 850.

Journal of British Studies, October, 1990, Scott L. Waugh, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 390.

Journal of Church and State, winter, 1990, James M. Power, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 136; spring, 1999, Donald J. Kagay, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 382; summer, 2007, Mark Nicovich, review of God's War, p. 567.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History, April, 1990, R.B. Dobson, review of England and the Crusades, p. 286.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, autumn, 1989, E. Howard Shealy, review of England and the Crusades, p. 284.

Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1990, Michael Prestwich, review of England and the Crusades, p. 109.

Journal of Theological Studies, October, 1990, Colin Morris, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 738.

Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Christopher Brennan, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 138; September 15, 2006, Robert J. Andrews, review of God's War, p. 74.

London Review of Books, June 7, 2001, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 116.

Nation, December 11, 2006, Daniel Lazare, review of God's War, p. 44.

Naval War College Review, spring, 2007, Mark K. Vaughn, review of God's War, p. 159.

New York Review of Books, October 19, 2006, Eamon Duffy, review of God's War, p. 41.

New York Sun, December 13, 2006, Adam Kirsch, review of God's War.

New York Times Book Review, April 3, 2005, Hugh Kennedy, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 24.

Publishers Weekly, December 20, 2004, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 55; February, 2005, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 126; July 24, 2006, review of God's War, p. 46.

Religious Studies Review, July, 1990, review of England and the Crusades, p. 266.

Spectator, February 11, 1989, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 38; December 16, 2000, Charles Sprawson, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 87; October 23, 2004, Jonathan Sumption, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 51; August 26, 2006, Jonathan Sumption, review of God's War.

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, October, 1990, J.G. Rowe, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 1069; January, 2000, Sylvia Schien, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 253; October, 2007, Deborah Gerish, review of God's War, p. 1045.

Tikkun, January-February, 2007, review of God's War, p. 81.

Times Educational Supplement, November 24, 2000, Peter Gordon, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. S23.

Times Literary Supplement, November 18, 1988, Norman Housley, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 1276; September 4, 1998, Bernard Hamilton, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 25; February 16, 2001, J.H.C. Leach, review of A History of Harrow School, 1324-1991, p. 29; January 28, 2005, John Tolan, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 8; September 6, 2006, Robert Irwin, review of God's War, p. 4.

Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1989, review of England and the Crusades, 1095-1588, p. 43; winter, 1999, review of The Invention of the Crusades, p. 8.

Weekly Standard, July 4, 2005, Steven Ozment, review of Fighting for Christendom, p. 31.

ONLINE

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs Web site,http://www.cceia.org/ (March 20, 2007), John E. Becker, review of God's War.

National Public Radio Web site,http://www.npr.org/ (February 27, 2005), Sheilah Kast, inverview with author.

University of Oxford Faculty of History,http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/ (August 30, 2005), faculty profile of author.