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A History of the Crusades, Volume V: The impact of the by Kenneth M. Setton, Norman P. Zacour, Harry W. Hazard

By Kenneth M. Setton, Norman P. Zacour, Harry W. Hazard

The six volumes of A historical past of the Crusades will stand because the definitive background of the Crusades, spanning 5 centuries, encompassing Jewish, Moslem, and Christian views, and containing a wealth of data and research of the heritage, politics, economics, and tradition of the medieval international.

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It should be added, too, that Arab culture has been, for the most part, a masculine culture, in which women played a very minor role. By the end of the tenth Christian century Arab women had lost the greater part of their freedom and dignity. Under the Buwaihids, the system of total segregation of the sexes and stringent seclusion of women had become general. Coupled with concubinage, moral laxity, and sensual indulgence, these practices had so undermined the position of women that they had come to be looked upon as the source of all base sentiments.

It is, however, in its intellectual life and activity that the real nature of Arab culture in the twelfth century is best revealed; there its main features are best portrayed, its special characteristics depicted, and its spirit and breadth reflected. It has already been mentioned that intellectual activity lacked the luster of earlier achievements, being more concerned with preserving a glorious heritage than with adding to it. There was no real sign of creativity. Causes for this are not far to seek: the community was on the defensive, especially against persistent Shi'ite assaults, which had already become serious enough in the eleventh century to demand special refutation by al-Ghazziili (d.

22 A IDSTORY OF THE CRUSADES v treatise of Apollonius on conics, based on the ninth-century translation of the work by Thabit ibn-Qurrah (d. 901). In physics and technology the twelfth century was not Jacking in skill. Abii-1-Fatl} 'Abd-ar-Ralpnan al-Khazini, who flourished during the first quarter of the century, was the author of the Sinjari astronomical tables, which gave the positions of the stars for the year lllS-1116, and the latitude of the city of Merv. He also wrote a re. markable book on mechanics, hydrostatics, and physics, dealing with the specific gravities of many liquids and solids, leaning largely on the works of al-Blruni (d.

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