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Aims and Assessment

Learning Outcomes

  • To evaluate and critique the role of the papacy in the development of the crusader movement
  • To develop an understanding of the political developments in Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with a view to understand the motivations and aims of various groups of people who took part in the crusading movement
  • To develop an understanding of the key political and economic developments in the Eastern Mediterranean in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
  • To analyse and compare different types of primary sources, and enhance the students' ability to critique and develop historical arguments
  • To engage critically with relevant theoretical approaches and historiographical debates

The assessment for this module is:

  • Seminar participation/engagement (10%)
  • 1500 word essay (book review)(10%)
  • 3000 word source based essay or equivalent (40%)
  • 3000 word essay (40%)

For information on Deadlines please see Tabula


18 2-hour long seminars. 4 hours of feedback and long essay preparation.

Please note:

There will be no summer exam or any non-assessed written work.

Those of you who are considering linking their dissertations to this module: please feel free to discuss your ideas with me via email or in person.

First assignment: 1500-word book review

Your review should be based on one of the following books:

Bennett, Stephen, Elite Participation in the Third Crusade (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2021)

Bull, Marcus, Eyewitness and Crusade Narrative : Perception and Narration in Accounts of the Second, Third and Fourth Crusades (Boydell & Brewer, 2019)

Cassidy-Welch, Megan, Crusades and Violence (Amsterdam University Press, 2023)

Christie, Niall, Muslims and Crusaders : Christianity's wars in the Middle East, 1095-1382, from the Islamic sources (New York: Routledge, 2020) 

Edgington, Susan B., Baldwin I of Jerusalem, 1100-1118 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019)

Hodgson, Natasha R., Katherine J. Lewis and Matthew M. Mesley (eds), Crusading and Masculinities (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019)

Horswell, Mike and Kristin Skottki, The Making of Crusading Heroes and Villains (London: Routledge, 2021)

Jonathan Phillips (eds), Perceptions of the Crusades from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century: Engaging the Crusades Vol I (Routledge, 2018)

Jordan, William Chester , The Apple of His Eye: Converts from Islam in the Reign of Louis IX (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2019)

Hillenbrand, Carole, Syria in Crusader Times: Conflict and Co-existence (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2020) (as this is a long book, you don't have to include all the articles in your review, but make sure to cover at least three of the book's 'parts')

Murray, A.V., Baldwin of Bourcq (Count of Edessa and King of Jerusalem, 1100-1131) (London: Routledge, 2022)

Nicholson, H., Sybil, Queen of Jerusalem, 1186–1190 (London: Routledge, 2022)

Rubin, Jonathan, Learning in a Crusader City: Intellectual Activity and Intercultural Exchanges in Frankish Acre, 1191-1291 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Spacey, Beth C., The Miraculous and the Writing of Crusade Narrative (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2020) 

Spencer, Stephen, Emotions in a Crusading Context, 1095-1291 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

You might find the following points useful:

  1. Please include the full bibliographical details of the book in the title.
  2. Introduce the main argument of the book. If it is a collection of articles, what are the main themes? If it is a single-author book, then you may want to introduce the author (are they a well-known historian working in this field? what else have they written? where does this book stand in relation to their former work?). What questions does the book raise?
  3. Situate the book within the historiography (is this a new area of research? is it a new contribution to a well-established branch within crusader studies?)
  4. Think about the use of primary sources by the author(s). What kind of sources were used? Were they relevant? Were they used effectively?
  5. What do you like/dislike about the book? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Don't quote huge chunks of text from the book (or from any other study).

Second Assignment: 3000-word Source Based Essay

You will be working closely with a primary source of your choice, focusing on the analysis of a question/issue of your choice (for example, ‘the depiction of the crusaders in Anna Comnena’s Alexiad’, ‘masculinity in Usamah Ibn Munqidh’s Memoirs’). You can choose one of the texts we have looked at in the seminars, alternatively you can pick a text we have not looked at (but please confirm with me first if this is what you are planning to do). You could also compare two texts on a given issue (for example, comparing Robert of Clari and Villehardouin’s views on Doge Dandolo and the Venetians). You will need to explain the context of the text(s) and also engage with other secondary material.

Guidelines for a good Source Analysis:
o Discuss the context of the document, providing commentary on the nature of the
document (originally published, unpublished, limited circulation or secret, and text,
illustration, statistical or other) and on its date, origins, purpose and intended
o Describe the authorship of the document, the status or background of the author(s),
and the role or significance of the author(s) in the social, political, cultural or
intellectual context of the time concerned.
o Analyse the content of the document, paying particular attention to meanings of
terms, words or symbols, language used etc.
o Explain the arguments, bias, subjectivity or views of the document, whether explicit
or implicit.
o Make an argument about the usefulness of the document for the historian, in terms
of its utility as a document of information, in terms of its reliability, accuracy,
comprehensiveness or partiality, and in terms of what it reveals concerning
contemporary ideas, prejudices, mores, opinions, attitudes, state of knowledge, or
discourses at the time it was written or produced.
o Engage with the historiography: if other historians have commented on its
usefulness, do you agree with their conclusions?
Things to Avoid:
o Wordiness/irrelevance.
o Mere paraphrasing i.e. don’t just repeat what the document says in your own words.
o An over-broad discussion in which the focus moves away from the source
concerned. Keep your focus on the document itself.
o A misunderstanding of the nature of the source. Be sure that you understand the
document that you have chosen.

Third Assignment: 3000-word Essay

You can base your essay on one of the seminar questions, or formulate your own question (please feel free to check with me).

Or you can pick one of the questions below:

To what extent was social mobility possible in the Frankish Levant?

What made the military orders so popular?

Was the dissolution of the Templar Order justified?

Was the success of the First Crusade mainly due to luck?

Can we describe the crusading movement as the 'foreign policy of the papacy'?

Is it accurate to call the Muslim response to the Latin presence in the eastern Mediterranean a ‘counter-crusade’?

How did women contribute to the crusading movement?

Why was female participation in the crusades seen as problematic in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries?

How did the crusading movement affect elite male identity?

Why was there an ongoing interest in the crusading movement in the fourteenth century?

'The crusade mentality never excluded profit'. Discuss

What were the contributions of the Italian city states to the crusades?

To what extent were the military orders crucial to the survival of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem?

To what extent did the military orders contribute to the stability of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem?

In what ways did crusader castles facilitate Latin settlement in the Holy Land?

'The Franks' perilous situation in hostile territory in the Holy Land forced them to be militarily inventive'. Discuss.

Why did Louis IX's crusade fail?

Is it fair to describe the Fourth Crusade as 'the most materially focused of all the crusader campaigns to the East'?

What were the reasons behind the failure of crusading efforts in Egypt in the thirteenth century?

Is it fair to describe the Templar Order as being 'a church within a church, a state within a state'?

Seminar Participation/Engagement

Please fill in this form and submit it via Tabula. You will find that keeping the seminar contribution marking criteria in mind will help (scroll down the page, it's after 'written work').