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University of North Florida/Paul Halsall/Spring 2005
HIS3124 0032 / HIS5934 AE 072
title image: the crusades

Office: Building 8, Room 2215.
Office Hours: Tues:12:30-1:30, Thu 12:30-1:30, 3-6 and by appointment
Class Hours: Tues, Thur 13:40-14:55, Building 15, Room 1304
Office Tel: (904) 620 1856
Email: phalsall@unf.edu
Class Website: www.unf.edu/classes/crusades/
Bibliography: Crusades Bibliography

Students are encouraged to make an appointment with
the instructor to discuss papers and/or issues raised in class.

Image of Crusades Class Poster

The Course

The crusades to the Holy Land lasted from 1095 until 1291, but the crusading movement came to encompass a much wider array of military expeditions -- against Jews, Spanish Muslims, European heretics, Baltic pagans, and eventually Native Americans. We will study the deep roots of the crusading movement in Western Christian society; the ways in which the crusades brought three world cultures (The West, Byzantium, Islam) into contact and confrontation; the type of cultural interaction that took place, and the continued vitality of the crusading idea in the expansion of Western Europe.

We will investigate different perspectives on the crusades in contemporary sources: Western Christian sources on the motives and experiences of the crusaders; Jewish responses to Crusader atrocities; Byzantine reactions to the influx of Westerners; and Muslim explanations of the events. In addition to texts from period, we will delve into crusader art, architecture, literature, and music.

This course will treat writing itself as a thinking process as each student works on a final paper project. We will use the World Wide Web to access primary sources in translation as well as some spectacular visual resources, and email as a medium for discussion outside of class.


HIS 3124 The Crusades is a 3000 level History course. It is focused on a study of the development of Crusading as a particularly well-documented phenomenon of medieval history with a clear modern resonance.  Students should learn how to weigh both original source material and modern scholarship in determining their own understanding of the period.  To this end the development and execution of an writing projects are central to the course.

HIS 5934 AE 071 is a 5000 graduate level section of the course. The development and execution of an individual research project of sufficient originality to justify conference presentation is the goal of this course. (Although such a paper need not be submitted to a conference, such submissions will be encouraged.)

Course Material: Books, Primary Sources,
and Audio-Visual Material

Students are required to do all assigned reading before class. The reading for this course comes in a number of forms -- printed books, articles on reserve, and primary documents available on the World Wide Web.

Required Books

Riley-Smith, Jonathan, The Crusades: A Short History, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1987.
A leading overview by perhaps the dominant voice in modern Crusade historiography. He is a historian who believes that an account of the crusades needs to cover the expeditions within western Europe as well as the eastern campaigns.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan, ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades, New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
A major collective work in which many of the leading modern scholars on the crusades contribute synthetic articles on their specialty.

Gabrieli, Francesco. Arab Historians of the Crusades. Translated by E. J. Costello. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Gunther, von Pairis, ca. 1150-ca. 1210. Hystoria Constantinopolitana. English. as The Capture of Constantinople: The Hystoria Constantinopolitana of Gunther of Pairis. Edited and translated by Alfred J. Andrea. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c1997.

Recommended Books

Christiansen, Eric. The Northern Crusades: the Baltic and the Catholic Frontier, 1100-1525. London: 1980. 2nd ed., New York: Penguin, 1998.

Riley-Smith, Jonathan, ed. The Atlas of the Crusades, New York & Oxford, Facts on File, Inc., 1990.
This is highly recommended. It is now out of print, but can sometimes be found online and you should buy it if you can.

Crusades Bibliography

A very extensive thematic Crusades Bibliography of books and articles on the crusades is available as part of this class site.

Primary Sources and More on the World Wide Web

Many of the primary source readings for each class are on the World Wide Web. If you are reading the online version of this syllabus all you need do is to select [often by "clicking"] the texts in question, which are listed under each class. You can then read on screen, or print out the document.

The primary source "textbook" is

Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Crusades

The Internet is now a valuable research tool for students. Accordingly, I shall also make this syllabus, course outline, and other class handouts available on the Web. Under each class there may also be reading material (marked as such), gathered from various WWW Extra sites. This material addresses or expands upon issues overlooked in the assigned readings, but is not required and will not be tested.

To access the class page from any web browser, just type in (at the prompt):

http://www.unf.edu/classes/crusades/ (i.e. this web page)

Discussion via Blackboard

The purpose of the wide reading in primary and secondary literature is so that students can discuss the issues with a firm grounding. As well as discussion in class, students will use the "discussion" aspect of Blackboard

Frequently students feel under pressure and tongue-tied in class. Contributing comments via Blackboards you more time to think about what you want to say. Each student should contribute at least two Blackboard posts (comments/ questions/discussions) for each class session. These can be short or long, but over the semester they should be substantial. What I am looking for is real thinking about the issues. You are especially encouraged to comment on my class remarks and other students' comments. 

See the Blackboard Instructions I prepared for my medieval survey course for log on instructions.

Films and Music

There are some spectacularly bad movies, and a few very good ones, about the crusades. Links are to the Internet Movie Database]

The Crusades (1935)

US, Historical/Drama, 123 mins (B/W). Director: Cecil B. DeMille; Cast includes: Loretta Young (Berengaria), Henry Wilcoxon (Richard), Ian Keith (Saladin)
Cecil B. De Mille's effort memorable not only for its conflation of all crusades into one big mess but most especially Loretta Young as Berengaria spending a brief vacation in Saladin's harem, and for C. Aubrey Smith as "The Hermit", tied to a stake on the Saracens' parapet, arms outstretched, crying "In this sign, you will conquer!!" The critic Pauline Kael noted that "DeMille willfully garbled every single character and incident." It is one of the major sources of misinformation about the crusades.

Alexander Nevsky (1938)

Russia, War/Historical, 107, No rating B&W
Director: Sergei Eisenstein, D.I. Vassillev; Cast includes: Nikolai Cherkassov
-The repelling of a German invasion in the 13th century. Score by Prokofiev. One of the great movies.

The Seventh Seal, (1957)

Sweden, Drama, 96, No rating B&W. Director: Ingmar Bergman: Cast includes: Max Von Sydow
Set in 14th-century Sweden, about a knight returning from a crusade playing a chess game with death. The film made Bergman famous.





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