Speaking after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 US President George W Bush promised a war against the terrorists. He said 'This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.' Bush's ill-considered use of the word 'crusade' evoked little comment in the United States. In Europe and the Middle East many recognised the resonance of the 'holy war' conducted by the Christian powers of Europe between 1095 and 1291 to seek to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims.
Jonathan Phillips, our speaker this month, is Professor of History of the Crusades at Royal Holloway University of London. He is a leading expert on the Crusades and their legacy. As well as publishing the results of his research in numerous books and papers Professor Phillips has appeared in, presented and acted as consultant for television and radio programmes and a play, Holy Warriors, performed at Shakespeare's Globe.
Professor Phillips's talk will explore the contrasting memories and legacies of the Crusades in the modern age. It will examine nineteenth-century Europe's revived interest in crusading through literature and art, coupled with a growing Western presence in the Near or Middle East. Alongside this, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt (1798) sparked powerful memories of the Crusades in the Muslim world. The apparent continuation of earlier holy wars emerged as an important theme in resisting the West, finding clearer form in the twentieth century through Arab Nationalism (with Nasser and Assad) and also Islamism, moving down to the present-day rhetoric of Islamic State or Daesh.
Members' Christmas Visit and Buffet at the Victoria Art Gallery
As usual there will not be a lecture during the month of December. Instead members will be able to enjoy a visit to the Victoria Art Gallery on Thursday 14 December. As I write 35 members have already reserved places at this event, paying £20 each. More information is available from me (email@example.com).