2nd Edition

Franks and Saracens A Psychoanalytic Study of the Crusades

By Avner Falk Copyright 2025
    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    256 Pages
    by Routledge

    Franks and Saracens is the first and only book to examine the Crusades from the viewpoint of psychoanalysis, studying the hidden emotions and fantasies that drove the Crusaders and the Muslims to undertake their terrible wars.

    Using original documents as well as secondary sources, Avner Falk demonstrates that the deepest and most powerful motives for the Crusades were not only religious or territorial - or the quest for lands, wealth, or titles - but also unconscious emotions and fantasies about one's country, one's religion, one's enemies, God, and the Devil, Us and Them. The book demonstrates the collective inability to mourn large-group losses and the collective needs of large groups such as nations and religions to develop a clear identity, to have boundaries, and to have enemies and allies. Falk investigates the unconscious dynamics of the Crusades, both on the individual and on the collective level, to understand why the Crusading fantasies persisted for nearly two centuries, and why the “northern Crusades” went on until the early fifteenth century. This updated edition adds a new chapter on collective trauma both as cause and as consequence of the Crusades and has been fully revised to include literature on trauma and other psychological aspects of the Crusades.

    Franks and Saracens will be of great interest to historians, political scientists, medievalists, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, anthropologists, and sociologists interested in questions of conflict, fantasy, and identity, collective psychological processes, and to academics of the Crusades and military history.



    Chapter 1. Us And Them

    Chapter 2. Romans, Germans, and Berbers

    Chapter 3. Myths of Origin

    Chapter 4. The Cross and the Crusades

    Chapter 5. The Fantasy of the Holy Roman Empire

    Chapter 6. A Short History of the “Saracens”

    Chapter 7. The First Crusade: Acting Out Rescue Fantasies

    Chapter 8. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as a Psychogeographical Fantasy

    Chapter 9. The Second Crusade: Persisting Rescue Fantasies

    Chapter 10. Templars And Hospitallers: Monastic Knights?

    Chapter 11. The “Saracens” Look at The “Franks”

    Chapter 12. The Third Crusade: A Lionheart in Search of a Holy Land?

    Chapter 13. The Fourth Crusade: “Latin” Christians Kill “Greek” Christians

    Chapter 14. The Fifth Crusade: An Invasion of Egypt that Predictably Fails

    Chapter 15. The Sixth Crusade: Winning Jerusalem Peacefully

    Chapter 16. The Seventh Crusade: The Unhappy War of “Saint Louis”

    Chapter 17. The Eighth Crusade: The Tragic Death of “Saint Louis”

    Chapter 18. The Ninth Crusade: End of a Two-Century Fantasy

    Chapter 19. Trauma in the Crusades

    Chapter 20. Aftermath: The End Of A Two-Century Fantasy


    Epilogue: “The New Crusaders”




    Dr Avner Falk (born 1943) is an internationally known Israeli clinical psychologist and independent scholar. His scholarly specialty is applied psychoanalysis, including psychohistory, psychobiography, political psychology, and psychogeography. He has published eleven books and dozens of articles. His most recent book is Agnon’s Story: A Psychoanalytic Biography of S. Y. Agnon, the winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature (Brill 2018).

    “The Crusades that occurred between 1095 and 1291, are among the most violent and ruthless events in human history. Their religious, historical, political, and economic aspects have been extensively studied. Avner Falk’s unusual book, first published in 2010, focuses on the psychodynamic aspects involved in carrying out the Crusades. It illustrates how both individual and large-group fantasies and behaviors, such as perceiving our own large group as “good” and the Other as “bad”, the need to establish psychological borders between “enemy” large groups, the difficulties in collective mourning and the psychology of shared trauma, played roles in the Crusades. This new version of this important book includes an expanded, up-to-date bibliography and a new chapter on the traumatic aspects of the Crusades.”

    Vamık D. Volkan, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Virginia; Past President, International Society of Political Psychology, American College of Psychoanalysts and International Dialogue Initiative