In this module students will examine the origins and development of the crusading movement, from its formation in the late eleventh century through to its evolution and diversification in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The course will begin by exploring medieval European attitudes towards violence, warfare and papal authority, and considering the devotional significance of the Holy Land in western religious culture. Attention will then turn to focus on the political climate of the eastern Mediterranean region from c.1071 onwards, the preaching and course of the First Crusade, and the subsequent establishment of the crusader states of the Latin East. Students will examine topics such as the difficulties encountered by the settlers, who sought to defend their newly-established territories from the threat of the Muslim `counter-crusade'; the nature of the relationships between the Levantine Frankish aristocracy and their subject populations; the foundation of the Military Orders; and the military successes (and, more often, failures) of the armies of western crusaders that fought for the Holy Land in the period to c.1336.
Students will also analyse how, from c.1120 onwards, crusading privileges came to be extended to arms-bearers who fought in other theatres of war, such as the Iberian peninsula and the Baltic region, and against other groups that were perceived to be `enemies of the cross', such as heretics, Mongols and the political opponents of the papacy. Students will compare these campaigns with those that were fought in the eastern Mediterranean, and consider the similarities and differences between the frontier societies created by crusaders in Iberia, the Baltic and the Levant.
Wherever possible, students will approach the subject through analysis of the wide range of Latin, Arabic, Greek and Old French primary source materials that are available in translation in print and on the Internet. Engagement with the lively and ongoing historiographical debates (such as those surrounding the motives of crusaders and of the churchmen who defined and promoted crusading warfare) will be also be central.