Should we stop talking about The Crusades?

Arts Main Lecture Theatre (room 120)
Wednesday 1 May 2024 (18:00-19:00)

Professor William Purkis Inaugural Lecture

Over the past fifty years scholarly understanding of The Crusades has changed dramatically, especially in terms of where, when and why medieval Latin Christians “took the cross” to engage in acts of devotional violence. Yet in spite of these significant historiographical developments, grand narratives of the crusading past – especially those that are presented to wider audiences or feature in educational curricula – often rely on frameworks and paradigms that were first formulated centuries ago and should now be regarded as more limiting than helpful. 

In this lecture, William will argue that some of the most familiar aspects of the narrative and conceptual scaffolding for histories of The Crusades – including the idea of “The Crusades” itself – might fruitfully be dismantled and set aside, to clear the ground for a fresh and more holistic understanding of an innovative medieval devotional practice that might simply be called “crossing”.

The talk will be followed by a  drinks reception.

Inaugural lectures are a landmark in academic life, held on the appointment of new professorships. You can learn more about our other forthcoming talks and view our archive of previous lectures on our CAL Inaugural Lectures webpage.