The Appropriation and Weaponisation of the Crusades in the Modern Era

In: International Journal of Military History and Historiography
Jason T. Roche Department of History, Politics and Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK,

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The introductory article proposes the hypothesis, which informed the decision making and editorial work in the present volume, that appropriations and weaponisations of the crusades in the modern era rely on culturally embedded master narratives of the past that are often thought to encompass public or cultural memories. Crucially, medievalism, communicated through metonyms, metaphors, symbols and motifs frequently acts as a placeholder instead of the master narratives themselves. The article addresses differences between medievalists’ and modernists’ conceptions of crusades, especially highlighting how the very meaning of words – such as crusade – differ in the respective fields. But the matter at hand goes beyond semantics, for the notion that the act of crusading is a live and potent issue is hard to ignore. There exists a complex and multifaceted crusading present. That people can appeal to master narratives of the crusades via mutable medievalism, which embodies zero-sum, Manichaean-type “clash of civilisations” scenarios, helps explain the continued appeal of the crusades to those who seek to weaponise them. It is hoped that the contributions to the special issue, introduced towards the end of the article, further a better understanding of the ways this has happened in the modern era.

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