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Beginning in the eleventh century and ending as late as the eighteenth, the Crusades were penitential war-pilgrimages fought in the Levant and the eastern Mediterranean, as well as in North Africa, Spain, Portugal, Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary, the Balkans, and Western Europe. Believed to be authorized by Christ, these holy wars were waged against Muslims and a host of other enemies of the Church, convincing generations of laymen and laywomen to vow to fight for the sake of Christendom. Operating under the premise that many in the West lack a thorough understanding of crusading, Jonathan Riley-Smith explains why and where the Crusades were fought, identifies their architects, and shows how deeply their language and imagery were embedded in popular Catholic thought and devotional life. He then traces the legacy of the Crusades into modern times, specifically within the attitudes of European imperialists and colonialists and within the beliefs of twentieth-century Muslims. The Europeans fashioned their own interpretation of the Crusades out of the writings of Sir Walter Scott and a French contemporary, Joseph-Franois Michaud. Scott portrayed Islamic societies as forward-thinking, while Christian crusaders were cast as culturally backward and often morally corrupt. Michaud, in contrast, glorified crusading, and his followers used its imagery to illuminate imperial adventures. Muslims were profoundly influenced by these depictions, and in order to understand the preoccupations of Islamist jihadistoday, Riley-Smith asks that we recognize the prevalence of distorted perceptions, not only in the language and imagery of Arab nationalists and pan-Islamists but also in the words, images, and character of our own discourse.