Jonathan Sumption

Jonathan Sumption is the author of The Albigensian Crusade, published in 1978. He is now writing a book on the Hundred Years’ War.


Jonathan Sumption, 16 July 1981

There are many reasons why a reflective Israeli should be interested in the Crusades apart from the obvious one that geographical coincidence has made them part of the history of his country. The conquest of an Eastern territory by force of arms and the creation of a European society in exile are achievements common enough in the history of the past two centuries. But they have been, by and large, the achievement of colonial powers, and their political development remained in the retentive hands of European functionaries. Israel is different, and so were the Crusading kingdoms of the Levant which preceded it. Here, moreover, Europeans were not colonials but migrants, creating their own institutions. Here they did not have the advantage enjoyed by the Spanish in South America and the British in North America – of being able without too much difficulty to extinguish the indigenous population. Instead they encountered sustained hostility from the previous inhabitants, fed by a religious enthusiasm as powerful as their own.


On the Court

27 January 2022

Conor Gearty is right to say that the UK Supreme Court has lately adopted a more restrained approach to cases challenging the exercise of executive power (LRB, 27 January). He is also right that this marks an important change of judicial mood. But he trivialises the reasons for it when he attributes it to the advent of Lord Reed as president of the court in place of Lady Hale. In the process, he...

Jonathan Sumption throughout the Reith Lectures takes it as given that the UK is a parliamentary democracy. Nowhere does he speak of what the UK actually is, a constitutional monarchy. The irony is that...

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‘It​ was the common man, after all, who was doing all the dirty work in the war and the army. He deserved a fanfare.’ This is how Aaron Copland explained his Fanfare for the Common...

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Like Edward Gibbon, that earlier master of narrative history, Jonathan Sumption went to Magdalen College, Oxford and stayed the course there longer and more successfully than his great...

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