Debut by an exciting young narrative historian - a revisionist history of Medieval Palestine
The year is 1187 and Saladin's armies are besieging the holy city of Jerusalem. He has previously annihilated Jerusalem's army at the battle of Hattin: it is only a matter of time until the city will fall. Inside, a last-ditch defence is being led by an unlikely trio: the leader of the church, a single Lord named Balian of Ibelin, and Sibylla, Queen of Jerusalem. Sibylla's husband is Saladin's captive, and for many months now she has witnessed her kingdom slowly crumbling. This siege is her last chance to save her kingdom, or at least her people.
Queen Sibylla cuts a mysterious and forlorn figure in the chronicles of this period. She was the last in a long line of formidable female rulers to rule in Outremer before the fall of Jerusalem. Yet for all the many books written about the crusades and Christian states of Outremer, one thing is conspicuously absent: the stories of women. Queens and princesses are too often presented as only passive transmitters of land and royal blood. In reality, women ruled, conducted diplomatic negotiations, made military decisions, forged alliances, rebelled, and undertook architectural projects.
Sibylla's grandmother Queen Melisende of Jerusalem was the first queen to seize real political agency in Outremer and rule in her own right. She defied the conventions of her time, outmanoeuvring both her husband and her son to claim real
Fascinating, intriguing, exciting and authoritative. Here are the female rulers of the crusader states as shrewd politicians, warrior queens and mothers and wives, holding their own against male crusader states and Islamic warlords in the ruthless arena of the Middle East. The female crusader potentates have long been neglected, so this is long overdue and it was worth waiting for