As the editor notes in his introduction to this collection, the events of 2001 and after have created intense interest in the Crusades and the conflict between Christianity and Islam and the West in the Middle Ages. A wealth of publications has appeared from popular histories to detailed articles in academic journals.
The Ottoman Empire, over the course of its existence, evolved a cultural synthesis of strands coming from its Arab, Persian and Byzantine antecedents, as well as the folk culture of its constituent populations. Culinary traditions were part of this legacy, and the taste for sweets an ever popular and refined element, constituting a repertoire extending into modern Turkey and the Middle East.
The main charateristic of Crusade studies in the post-Runciman era has been expansion and diversification (much like the crusading ‘movement’ itself). One of many new ways into the topic is to focus on how crusades and crusading were received, understood and interpreted by different social groupings.
Contemporary interest in the period of the Crusades has intensified in the last decade or so, partly because of the inflammatory invocations of holy war and jihad made immediately after the traumatic events of 9/11.
Penelope Buckley’s recent monograph, The Alexiad of Anna Komnene sets out to present the first thorough literary study of Anna Komnene’s renowned 12th-century history. As a literature specialist first and foremost, whose background is in English drama and poetry (p. 290), in many ways Buckley succeeds in her brief.
The Andalusian jurist Abū Bakr al-Ṭurṭūshī (d. 1126) was once asked whether or not it was permissible to eat cheese imported into Alexandria from the Christian territories along the northern coastline of the Mediterranean. The question clearly intrigued al-Ṭurṭūshī, since he went to considerable lengths to research the subject before issuing his final response.
Hannah Barker’s book is a thorough and engaging evaluation of late medieval slave trading practices in the Mediterranean. The tile is taken from the 15th-century recollection and denunciation of an Alexandrian slave market by Felix Fabri, a German friar (p. 209).