Crusade and Jihad: Holy War in the Middle East, 1095-1254

The papal call of 1095 to take up arms in holy war began a phenomenon that would endure for centuries, transforming the medieval world as masses of men and women were moved to journey thousands of miles to kill and die in the service of God. In this module you will explore the religious, cultural and military history of crusaders and mujahideen from the First to the Seventh Crusade, focusing on the Holy Land and Egypt. From the Christian triumph of the First Crusade to the encounter of Richard the Lionheart and Salah al-Din, and the calamitous defeat of Louis IX of France, you will investigate fundamental questions: why did people take the cross?; how did Christians and Muslims in the crusader states interact?; did women fight on crusade? You will also examine in combination Muslim perspectives on the period, including the concept and preaching of jihad. You will be encouraged to engage with the diverse range of sources available for the period, from narrative texts to letters, sermons, law codes, and physical evidence (in the form of the great crusader castles), as well as poetry written by the crusaders themselves.