Title of thesis: The Cultural Origins of Frankish Fortifications and their Administrative and Social importance in the Local Landscape
Supervisor: Dr Archie Dunn
BA Medieval and Ancient History (1st Class, University of Birmingham)
My interest in the Crusades began in the first year of my A Levels when we examined aerial photographs taken by T. E. Lawrence of Frankish fortifications. I continued this curiosity into Birmingham taking the Crusades Modules as well as writing an undergraduate final year dissertation on the non-military functions of Crusader castles.
In the middle of my undergraduate dissertation I became aware of the question of the cultural origins of the castles I was studying and after some research discovered that no historian so far has undertaken a systematic approach to the question. This interest resulted in my application to undertake an Mphil which I converted into a PhD in June 2012.
T. E. Lawrence summarised the construction of Frankish fortifications as ‘a series of exceptions to some undiscoverable rule.’ While true in essence, the majority of castles constructed by the Franks in the Levant display core characteristics that are recognisable throughout the region and period. My research involves the reverse engineering of Frankish fortifications to these component characteristics before examining their possible cultural origins: Western, Byzantine, Armenian, and Muslim. As a result of this I aim to compile a series of tables and maps detailing each fortification and the cultures that influenced it. From this I can then begin to discuss the question of cultural influence within these castles as well as any possible movement and dispersion of characteristics, for example, what role did the Military Orders play in the dissemination of those characteristics identifiable as ‘Oriental’
Paper given at GEM 9th October 2013 titled ‘Byzantine Culture in the First Crusade Sources’
Member of Society for the study of the Crusades and the Latin East