Summer 2011

The Crusades and the Crusading Ideal in Medieval Europe and After - Foundational Course Option


07/04/2011 - 08/05/2011
Monday & Wednesday 06:30 PM - 09:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 422

Special Schedule: July 4th Holiday makeup class will be held Friday, July 8 from 6:30pm-9:30pm

Foundational course option: Students taking the course with this option will receive more extensive and detailed feedback on their work through more frequent writing assignments and individual meetings with the instructor. Foundational courses are intended to provide an additional level of guidance, support, and feedback to ensure that students cultivate the tools and skills necessary for graduate level research and writing. All GLSP students working toward a degree are strongly encouraged to take a foundational course during their first few courses in the program. To choose the Foundational course option, please register for SOCS 653W.

No medieval events or ideas are better famous and more intriguing than the Crusades. Part piety, part warfare, this series of expeditions has a fascinating and conflicted history, growing out of concerns for pilgrimage, penance, and lawless violence in Europe. Their military and political expeditions brought Europeans into first violent, then sometimes peaceful contact with Eastern Orthodox Christians and the various forces of Mediterranean Islam from Spain to Syria. Eventually, crusading expanded to embrace warfare against Eastern European pagans and Catholic heretics. What's more, the Crusades had direct and sometimes dire implications for Europe's Jewish minority. While the main military activity lasted for about 200 years, the implications, controversy and rhetoric have persisted to contemporary times.

By examining both medieval sources and modern historians' writings, this course will attempt to survey the course and significance of the crusading movement. This will include the seven main crusades to the Near East, the Reconquista in Spain, the Teutonic Knights in the East, as well as puzzles such as the children's crusade. We'll also examine the Crusades as an idea from its origins in the "dark ages" of early medieval Europe even to its echoes after the Middle Ages as a synonym for both intolerant war as well as righteous war. The course will examine such ideas as the theory of the peace of God, the just war, and pilgrimage, asking questions about legalized violence. Special attention will be given to the perception and reaction of non-Catholics to the crusaders, whether Muslim, Byzantine or Jewish. As important will be the personalities and mythologies that emerged from the crusades and their role in making possible the idea of the chivalric knight and the Christian king, embodied by such people as the emperors Frederick I and II, King Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, St Louis of France but also in the monastic military orders, pre-eminently the Knights Templar and Hospitallers. Ultimately, we seek to explain why the crusades occurred, how they endured, and why they failed. While focusing on the medieval period, some consideration of early modern Crusading movement and comparable activities in the modern world will also be discussed.

Readings will include The Crusades: A Reader, Edited by S.J. Allen & Emilie Amt; Thomas Madden, A New History of the Crusades ISBN: 0742538230; Jonathan Riley-Smith, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades or the Oxford History of the Crusades (same text, but cheaper without illustrations); Fulcher of Chartres, The First Crusade; Jean de Joinville and Geofroi de Villehardouin, Chronicles of the Crusades; Francesco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades; Internet Medieval Reader:

In addition to timely reading of assigned sources and participation in class discussion, students will write one research paper (approximately ten pages) and two shorter papers (approximately four pages) on assigned texts or issues.

Enrollment is limited to 3 students.

This course is not open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Wednesday, July 6 at 5:00 pm. Please visit our website for a complete list of registration and withdrawal dates for this session.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Gary Shaw (B.A. McGill University; D.Phil Oxford University) is professor of history. He is the author of The Creation of a Community (1993) and Necessary Conjunctions: The Social Self in Medieval England (2005). He co-edited The Return of Science: Evolution, History and Theory (2002) with Philip Pomper. His current research interests include the circulation of people and ideas in later medieval England and bishops and indulgences in the later medieval English church.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 3

Texts to purchase for this course:
SJ Allen & Emilie Amt, The Crusades, University of Toronto Press

Thomas F Madden, New Concise History of the Crusades, Rowman and Littlefield

Jonathan Riley-Smith, Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, Oxford

Reading Materials are available at BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 Broad Street, Middletown, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

Register for Courses

Contact to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459