Book Review: The Boy Crusaders

The Boy Crusaders
The Boy Crusaders: A Story of the Days of Louis IX by John G. Edgar is a historical fiction novel that takes place during The Seventh Crusade. The main protagonists of this story are two pious seventeen year old English squires that joined King Louis IX of France’s crusade to the Holyland.

This is a very well written and beautiful story. It is a tale of chivalry and friendship. The setting of this book and the events surrounding the story are for the most part historical accurate. Although there is one glaring significant event that does not lineup with the actual real life timeline, which is the Siege of Baghdad. As this happened years after The Seventh Crusade. This book does take into consideration some of the myths of the crusading era, for example there is an important (albeit similar) event that impacted the main story line, which involves the myth of The Children’s Crusade.

Overall, I want to say that this is a very uplifting story (which it is), but it’s hard not to feel sorrow given the end result of The Seventh Crusade. This book does an excellent job describing the failed military campaign.

Book Review – The History of the Crusades: Volume 1

The History of the Crusades: Vol 1

This is a really good on the crusades of the holyland. Considered to be one of the pioneered scholarly works on the crusades, this book does a great job describing these historic events. Written by Joseph Francois Michaud in French, and published in 1811, the English translation of this work on Project Gutenburg is absolutely fantastic. Although this book is technically a scholarly work, to me it didn’t really felt as such. It is very well articulated as it felt like it was being told as a story; good or bad, but captivating either way. Of the different books regarding the crusades in the Holyland, this book is by far the best that I’ve read thus far.

This first Volume, describes the events from Byzantium’s call for aid, to the events of the end of Third Crusade. One thing to keep in mind while reading this book is that some of the cities, battles and even some of the historical figures have different names. I’m not quite sure if this was a consequence of a direct literal translation to English. Regardless, a quick Google search will be necessary to help put into perspective which exactly what the author is describing.

Book Review – The Order of the Holy Sepulchre

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre: The History of the Catholic Order Established during the Crusades for the Promised LandThe Order of the Holy Sepulchre: The History of the Catholic Order Established during the Crusades for the Promised Land, is the second Charles River Editors book that I’ve read, and perhaps it might be my last. Much of the complaints mentioned for The Order of Santiago apply for this book as well.

This book is just an over simplified summary of the crusades in the holy land. It doesn’t really go into detail regarding the history The Order of the Holy Sepulchre from it’s inception to its current form. In fact it mentions the Order’s military role, which as far as I’m aware, unlike other religious orders; The Order Holy Sepulchre didn’t participated in the actual military campaigns. But rather as strict religious and chivalric order only. Whose only military duty was to guard to The Holy Sepulchre itself in Jerusalem, similar to the Citadel guards in The Lord of The Rings.

Given that Charles River Editors books are essentially available free of charge if you own a Kindle, I would not otherwise recommend reading them.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions

As tradition states for almost ten years now, here are my new year’s resolution in no particular order:

  • Lose the weight I gained in 2019
  • Linguistic studies
  • Obtain all AWS Associate and Professional (non-specialty) level certifications
  • Bible studies
  • Extend my knowledge of the medieval world
  • Practice meditation more

More HR Friendly Documents

AWS Certified

When I was let go on my last job, I decided I was going to take a one year off from all work. I also made the personal goal of getting all AWS Associate and Professional level certifications during my time off. This is in large part because I really dislike not being technically productive in one way or another even if I’m not working (This explains why I have a homelab and I’m always experimenting new tools around it).

By setting the goal of getting the certifications, I could held myself accountable (preventive measure from playing videos games all day!) during my one year sabbatical, at the same time improving my resumé so when the time come to search for a new job, having the one year off on my CV wouldn’t look to bad on the eyes of potential employers. Needless to say my plans didn’t turned as I originally planned. I accepted a new job offer just four months into my supposed one year sabbatical. Everything was not doom and gloom because I’m really excited on this new venture that I’ve taken, and I did achieve to get some certifications during my short time off:

Of all three exams I took, surprisingly I found the CompTIA Cloud Essentials to be the most difficult. This was mainly because much of the exam contents is a general overview of cloud computing concepts from ten years ago! On the other hand, working with AWS on a daily basis for over fours game me much exposure and knowledge to easily pass both the AWS Cloud Practitioner and AWS Solutions Architect Associate with not much problems. In fact, I found both exams being fairly easy.

I’m still planning on eventually getting the reaming Associate and Professional level AWS certifications, however it may a little more time now that I’m working full time.

Book Review – The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon

The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon

As a follow up to Saint Fernando III: A Kingdom for Christ, I opted to read The Book of Deeds by James I of Aragon. King James was a contemporary with King Fernando, and also like Fernando III of Castile, James I of Aragon was a great crusader king. This book is Jame’s autobiography written and narrated by him. In addition of having the distinction of being the only monarch to have written an autobiography, James also had the longest reign in all of the high and late middle ages. In this book we get to see why just about everything of Jame’s life was spectacular.

This book can be mainly divided into three parts, first we to start of reading about his parents, then we go into his troubled youth as the heir to The Crown of Aragon, and the different rebellions within his nobility. The second part, which is the bulk of his book is the content regarding his crusades on capturing the kingdoms of Majorca, Valencia, and Murcia. This is where we get to see why he is known to history as James “The Conqueror”. Finally, the last section is mostly regarding how he incorporated the conquered territory, and the problems he faced doing so.

The book itself is a literal translation from medieval Catalan to English, which to be honest I found it hard to read at times. Thus said, the book is fully annotated by the translators, providing more details that put into context what James is narrating. I would’ve probably understand more if I would’ve read a Castilian (modern) translation instead, but I would’ve not gotten the additional benefit of reading the translator’s annotations.

I’m a massive Tolkien fan, so seeing James’s devotion to Our Lady during dire times seemed similar to how the elves revered Varda in their times of need. Another thing that struck me, was reading about the division and even hostility between Aragonese and Catalan factions in Jame’s nobility and army. A division, albeit different that can be seen today in Spain over 800 years later.

Overall if you’re interested on learning about life in the middle ages, even if you’re not fully interested in the history of Spain, or in the crusades; this book is still a fascinating read and would highly recommend it.

Book Review – Saint Fernando III: A Kingdom for Christ

Saint Fernando IIISaint Fernando III: A Kingdom for Christ is a biography work that venerates one of histories greatest crusader kings. Fernando III of Castile and Leon has been canonized and recognize in the Catholic Church as a saint. So in this book we get to read about the life and deeds of Fernando III from a Catholic’s perspective.

It is important to note that this book is presented firstly as a religious novel, and not specifically as a scholarly work. It includes the different reconquista myths and legends (or miracles as seen by many) that may not necessarily be fully historically accurate. Thus said, I feel scholarly readers or students will definitely get something out of reading this book. The author did an excellent job portraying the different battles and military campaigns. He even included custom hand drawn illustrations.

James Fitzhenry is a brilliant writer, this book has lots of beautifully written passages. Not only can this book be seen a very good uplifting spiritual novel, but also as a wonderful piece of literature as well. Were it may even rival the famous Arthurian Legends.

Book Review – Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain

Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain

Of the different books that I’ve read relating to The Reconquista, Reconquest and Crusade in Medieval Spain has to be the best one thus far. It makes sense why I keep seeing this book being referenced by numerous other historians online. Joseph F. O’Callaghan did an incredible work given us an overview of a very extremely complex topic. The author gives us an overview of the different events, using both Christian and Moorish sources. Then analyze it’s accurateness from an unbiased historian’s perspective.

I haven’t read any other book in where most of my highlighted notes were “lol” (for laugh out loud). It’s rather amazing to read about the events that ended up changing the course of human history forever, yet how comical the political landscape in medieval Iberia was at times.

This is the best book anyone can read regarding The Reconquista. The only caveat I see is that this is probably not the best first book to read on the subject. Since this book is an overview of an almost 800 year conflict, it is quite easy for someone to get completely lost in the sea of names of Kings and Queens, Nobles, and Religious Figures that took part of these historic events. Thus said, this book is hands down the best history book that I’ve read so far.

Oops I Did It Again

For the third time in the twelve year history of this blog, I’ve moved the site URL to a new one. Originally this blog started under www.abaltazar.org, then switched to www.rubyninja.org, now www.antoniobaltazar.com/blog/ is its permanent home. The primary reason for this new switch is because I’m consolidating my webapps into fewer domains as possible. The actual config changes made to WordPress for the URL move was overall a relatively pain free process.

1. Update database

UPDATE wp_options SET option_value=’http://www.antoniobaltazar.com/blog’ WHERE option_name=’siteurl’;
UPDATE wp_options SET option_value=’http://www.antoniobaltazar.com/blog’ WHERE option_name=’home’;

2. Update .htaccess

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /blog/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !=/server-status
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !=/server-info
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /blog/index.php [L]

3. Update Varnish vcl config vlc_recv() to handle all old redirects;

if (req.http.host ~ “(?i)^(www.)?rubyninja\.(org|net)”) {
set req.http.host = “www.antoniobaltazar.com”;
set req.backend_hint = antoniobaltazar;
return (synth(750, “http://” + req.http.host + “/blog” + req.url));
}

The old rubyninja.org domain will continue to function as my primary domain used on my homelab server architecture.

Book Review – El Cid: The Making of a Legend

El Cid: The Making of a Legend
This book takes a factual based approach to the legend of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid. It analyses the chronicles contemporary during the life of El Cid, many of which were fully included the book The World of El Cid, however unlike The World of El Cid, in this book we get an in-depth analysis of the famous poem El Cantar de mio Cid, which has fueled Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar a folk hero of Spain. In addition it includes other sources, like films and plays that portrayed the legends of El Cid.

This book provides really good research and analysis showcasing the elements of what turned El Cid from a medieval military leader to a present day national hero. It is worth mentioning the author is English. So from an Englishmen’s perspective the author provides a lot of comparisons between medieval England and Spain. In addition comparisons between the Arthurian legends and El Cid.

A very interesting anecdote was learning how the author was first captivated by the character of El Cid because of the Hollywood movie of El Cid when he was just a child. Yet the author rightfully is not shy to differentiate the legends and myths surrounding El Cid from the true historical person.

Given the times the movie is mentioned in this book, perhaps it may be a good idea to watch the movie prior to reading this book. As well as the podcast from Real Crusades History which takes an in-depth look on El Cid.