Looking back, I’ve had my fair share of history in my posts. Real-life history and real-life figures. But The Crusader Kings 2 is a totally different story. A story I’m happy to tell it through both cool video games and awesome movies as well.
Sure, I’ve written about the Napoleonic wars, about the infamous Vikings, the Industrial Revolution and even about WW2. Not to mention there’s an entire post here at IndieGala dedicated to great statesmen and leaders. And there’s Assassin’s Creed. Both the video game and the movie partially take place in the era of the Crusades.
But, I feel that the Crusades are totally different, and of course worthy of a separate post. Why? Well, first and foremost because we do have Crusader Kings II: Royal Collection on sale here at IndieGala. It’s also a topic worth exploring. Next, because it’s one of the most terrifying yet fascinating periods of human history.
The Crusades take place in a pretty big slice of human history, that’s for sure. But before I go any further in this post, I’d like to do a quick reminder of them.
Crusader Kings 2: What were the Crusades exactly?
Well, according to most historians, the Crusades were a series of religious wars. They were initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. Also, the period of the Holy Land Crusades. The Smyrniote crusades came right after them. And there’s no way of forgetting the Northern Crusades which effectively ended around 1410. However, The term (Crusades) can also apply to other church-sanctioned campaigns against paganism and heresy, but yeah. Like I said. It was a vast period with lots of interests at stake. But I digress. Let’s get back to the game itself.
Crusader Kings 2: And what’s the game all about?
Developed by Paradox Development Studio and published by Paradox Interactive, Crusader Kings 2 is a grand strategy game set in the Middle Ages. Crusader Kings 2 explores one of the defining periods in world history. The Crusades. Medieval Europe is brought to life in this epic game of knights and thrones during the Crusades.
Also, you get to be a part of that epic history just by playing this game. Do you have what it takes to be a Crusader king? The game contains numerous historical figures such as William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Robert Guiscard, Robert the Bruce. There’s also El Cid, Richard the Lionheart, Baldwin I of Jerusalem, and even Saladin on the roster. However, the game also allows you to choose less significant figures. It even allows you to create entirely new characters too.
Cool right? Yup. It’s very cool. And last but not least, there’s the option to start a game at any point between 1066 and 1337. And of course to play that very game well until 1453. As a key feature, you can defend your people against the Mongol Horde but you can also struggle with the Pope and his bishops. It’s up to you.
But what about the movies? Well, because of the large period of time, I don’t think that it’s wise to separate the movies in periods. So, because of that, it’s best to have movies that have the Crusades in the main setting. And also movies that portray key figures of that era as well. Let’s begin. Shall we?
Let’s begin with a true masterpiece, shall we? Because that’s what El Cid is. To be perfectly honest with you, I watched El Cid for the very first time this winter. It was 184 minutes long, but oh so worth it. Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren are incredible, and the direction from Anthony Mann is outstanding. And as the title suggests, El Cid is a movie about well… El Cid. Or the Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar and his fascinating attempt to defend Spain against the Moors. Watch it if you have the chance. The costumes, the locations and the epic scope of the production. It’s all there. You won’t regret it. It’s a fantastic experience.
Kingdom Of Heaven
Another masterpiece, but a more recent one of that. I’m talking about Ridley Scott’s masterpiece the Kingdom Of Heaven. Set in the 12th century, it’s a heavily fictionalized story about Balian of Ibelin. A crusader and noble of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. And aside from Balian, there are plenty of other historical figures that are also featured in the Crusader Kings 2. Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, Saladin and so many others. The film is filled with epic fights, impressive set design, incredible cinematography and great acting. Especially from Edward Norton and Ghassan Massoud. Kingdom of Heaven is one of the greatest Crusade-themed movies. It’s worth checking out.
Arn – The Knight Templar
Yes, the Swedes can do Crusade movies beautifully and Arn – The Knight Templar is the perfect example of that. Unlike the previous movies, Arn – The Knight Templar is a story about a fictional character. Arn Magnusson. However, although the main character is fictional, there are some real-life characters throughout the movie. Characters like Saladin and Arnold of Torroja. But overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The outstanding Joakim Nätterqvist is in the titular role, but the supporting cast roster is filled to the brim with incredible talent. Stellan Skarsgård and his son Gustaf Skarsgård are here, and so is the late Michael Nyqvist. It’s a good movie.
I know I mentioned Valhalla Rising in my Viking post, but I feel that I bear repeating in the Crusades as well. Also, I thought to include classics like Robin and Marion, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves here but I just had to go with Valhalla Rising. It has barbaric Vikings, Christian crusaders clash of cultures and the incredible Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role. What’s not to like? This is also one of Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpieces and I think it deserves a lot more attention. Although the pacing is slow, the beautiful cinematography glues everything together in a visually stunning way. Check it out!
Crusader Kings 2: Your picks
Which movies would you put on this list? Which movies had an impact on you? Feel free to share your picks and favorites about the best crusade movies. We’d love to know all about them.