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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

MEDV5260M Warfare in the Age of the Crusades (1095-1204)

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Alan Murray

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module will study the conquest of the Holy Land by the First Crusade (1096-99) and its defence and support by long-range land and naval expeditions up to 1204.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
a) understand the course and outcomes of the crusades to the Holy Lane and the dynamics of the defence of the Frankish states of Outremer between 1095 and 1204.
b) develop critical analysis and interpretation of Western, Greek, Arabic, Armenian and Syriac primary sources pertaining to the crusades the Latin East.
c) understand the logistics of long-range land- and sea-based military expeditions.
d) understand the historical geography of the Near East and its impact on medieval warfare.

Skills outcomes
- To train students in producing concise textual commentary on medieval primary sources.
- To introduce students to issues of quantitative military logistics.


The First Crusade (1096-99) was one of the most crucial events in the history of the Near East: in the course of four years an outnumbered force of Western Europeans captured Jerusalem for Christendom and established principalities in Palestine and Syria in which the Franks (i.e. Westerners) exercised domination over Muslims, Jews and native Christians, until the states of Outremer were overthrown by Saladin in 1187.

The attempts by Europeans to conquer, support and recover the Holy Land up to 1204 give us an insight into the conduct of long-range military expeditions in the Middle Ages, notably the organisation and logistics of land expeditions, and the major move towards sea-based expeditions which culminated in the diversion of the crusade of 1204 to Constantinople.

The study of the expansion and defence of Outremer enables analyses of the nature of confrontation between Western and Eastern systems of warfare, with reference to strategy, tactics, organisation, the use of castles, and sieges.

These events are remarkable in the amount of primary source material available: numerous dedicated histories written in Latin and Old French, which can be supplemented by Latin letters and by narratives originally written in Greek, Arabic, Armenian and Syriac. This will be a research-led module, with an emphasis on source criticism and analysis. Sources will be read in English translation, but a few key passages (all of them optional in terms of assessment) will be studied in Latin.

Classes will deal with the following topics:

- Technology of warfare in the late 12th century (taught at the Royal Armouries)
- Sources for the Crusades and the history of Outremer
- Military organisation and tactics in the Near East in the age of the Crusades
- Western Logistics and supply of land expeditions
- The First Crusade
- The expansion of Outremer to 1131
- The defence of Outremer (including the Second Crusade) to 1174
- Saladin and the Conquest of Outremer
- Ships and naval transport
- The Third Crusade
- The Fourth Crusade.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- By 2 x 2,000 word essays and 1 x 2,000 word source commentary exercise.
- Shorter non-assessed source commentary exercises will be set in weeks 1-4.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000-word essay due by Monday of teaching week 733.33
Essay1 x 2,000-word source commentary due by Monday of teaching week 1033.33
Essay1 x 2,000-word essay due by Tuesday of exam week 133.34
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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