As a college librarian, I often hear stressed-out students searching for primary sources say, "I'll take anything." Don't settle for just anything. There is a treasury of primary source material available electronically. Peruse my selection of 200-plus primary source sites by conducting a keyword search, exploring the tag cloud at left, or browsing by historical era. You can also visit my Delicious and Diigo sites to review my bookmarks. Here's hoping you find what you're looking for.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Robin Hood: Merry Thief or Embattled Veteran?

Russell Crowe’s new version of Robin Hood opens in theaters across the country this weekend. This adaptation reportedly doesn’t depict Robin as a merry thief. Instead, he’s portrayed as a war-weary veteran who has recently returned from the Crusades, where he served as an archer in the army of King Richard the Lionheart. Personally, I’m not a big Russell Crowe fan and I favor the campy (and now cancelled) BBC Robin Hood Series over a Ridley Scott epic. If I want to gain some insight about what it was really like for a crusader fighting in the Holy Land, I’ll likely turn elsewhere, such as the Hanover Historical Texts Project. That project was launched by the History Department at Indiana’s Hanover College. The site features historical digitized texts that cover a period spanning from Ancient Greece and Rome to the 20th century. Its contents include some amazing materials such a letter that crusader Stephen, count of Blois and Chartres, wrote to his wife Adle in 1098. It reads in part :
Hastening with great joy to the aforesaid chief city of Antioch, we besieged it and very often had many conflicts there with the Turks; and seven times with the citizens of Antioch and with the innumerable troops coming to its aid, whom we rushed to meet, we fought with the fiercest courage, under the leadership of Christ. And in all these seven battles by the aid of the Lord God, we conquered and most assuredly killed an innumerable host of them. In those battles, indeed, and in very many attacks made upon the city, many of our brethren and followers were killed and their souls were borne to the joys of paradise.
The image above is titled The Crusaders arriving at Jerusalem. It is an illustration from Tasso's La Gerusalemme Liberata. and comes from The British Museum.

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