Defenders of Christendom by James Fitzhenry (paperback version)
Battles – Honor – Miracles! This book is filled with amazing stories of little-known Catholic heroes presenting spectacles of bravery and valor never exceeded in all the annals of history. Demonstrating his gallantry through daring feats of arms, the knight’s faith, coupled with his marvelous courage, made him nearly invincible on the field of battle. Built around a stirring chronicle of the Knights of St. John, these inspiring accounts bring to life Catholic heroes who fought with courage, chivalry, and an unwavering trust in God to protect their neighbor, their country, and their Faith.
This HAS to be one of the best, most inspiring, impeccably researched, and impossible-to-put-down collections of knightly biographies ever written! The subtitle of the book is “The Knights of Saint John and other Heroes of the Cross,” and it could easily be summed up as a glorious chronology of the entire Crusades.
The author, a renowned Catholic historian, has broken the book into twelve chapters, each recounting a specific Crusading movement and centered around the saintly heroes whom God raised up for that particular victory. The first chapter is entitled
“The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem” and is devoted to the history of the Order, which sets the stage for the rest of the book (although not all the heroes included were Knights of St. John.) Chapter Two moves on to the First Crusade, focusing on
the great leader Bohemond, and the chapters then follow in chronological order, hero-by-hero (some famous, others not, but all playing deeply courageous and inspiring roles in the great drama of the Crusades), all the way through the threats of
the Ottoman Empire, the Siege of Malta, and ending with the famous Battle of Lepanto.
Each chapter is written in a captivating style, with plenty of action and drama …not to mention enough heart-stopping
battle scenes to satisfy any teenage boy! Most stories included are very little-known and so fascinating they could be fiction! But
everything is researched and true, as can be seen in the intensive bibliography, which makes these stories all the more amazing.
Anyone who is interested in the Crusades or Church history should have a copy of this book. I also recommend the other books by this author (El Cid, and Saint Fernando III). James Fitzhenry is fast emerging as THE Catholic historian of the 21st century, and it’s not hard to understand why!
Reviewed by Susan Peek
Author of “Crusader King,” “A Soldier Surrenders,” and “Saint Magnus The Last Viking”