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Writing the Early Crusades

Writing the Early Crusades: Text, Transmission and Memory

Marcus Bull
Damien Kempf
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 178
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt5vj7k3
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  • Book Info
    Writing the Early Crusades
    Book Description:

    The First Crusade (1095-1101) was the stimulus for a substantial boom in Western historical writing in the first decades of the twelfth century, beginning with the so-called "eyewitness" accounts of the crusade and extending to numerous second-hand treatments in prose and verse. From the time when many of these accounts were first assembled in printed form by Jacques Bongars in the early seventeenth century, and even more so since their collective appearance in the great nineteenth-century compendium of crusade texts, the Recueil des historiens des croisades, narrative histories have come to be regarded as the single most important resource for the academic study of the early crusade movement. But our understanding of these texts is still far from satisfactory. This ground-breaking volume draws together the work of an international team of scholars. It tackles the disjuncture between the study of the crusades and the study of medieval history-writing, setting the agenda for future research into historical narratives about or inspired by crusading. The basic premise that informs all the papers is that narrative accounts of crusades and analogous texts should not be primarily understood as repositories of data that contribute to a reconstruction of events, but as cultural artefacts that can be interrogated from a wide range of theoretical, methodological and thematic perspectives. Marcus Bull is Andrew W Mellon Distinguished Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Damien Kempf is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Liverpool. Contributors: Laura Ashe, Steven Biddlecombe, Marcus Bull, Peter Frankopan, Damian Kempf, James Naus, Léan Ní Chléirigh, Nicholas Paul, William J. Purkis, Luigi Russo, Jay Rubenstein, Carol Sweetenham,

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-280-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)
    Marcus Bull and Damien Kempf

    Whatever its substantive focus in any given instance and the particular problems that it is addressing, the study of the Middle Ages always comes down, sooner or later, to the study of the primary evidence that survives. As a scholarly discipline, medieval history requires sensitivity towards both the potentialities and the limitations of the source bases at its disposal, and a corresponding openness to new methodological and conceptual approaches that revivify the study of seemingly familiar, sometimes very familiar, materials.1 Our understanding of the numerous narrative sources inspired by the First Crusade (1095–1102), as well as of those texts...

  7. BALDRIC OF BOURGUEIL AND THE FAMILIA CHRISTI
    (pp. 9-23)
    Steven Biddlecombe

    Baldric of Bourgueil reached the heights of influence and power in the northwestern French Church in the last quarter of the eleventh and first quarter of the twelfth century. He was prior, then abbot of the rich Benedictine monastery of Bourgueil, in the Loire valley between Orléans and Angers, for over thirty years. He was appointed archbishop of Dol in 1107 and died in 1130 at the age of around eighty-four.¹ Alongside this career as a senior churchman he was variously a writer of poems, letters and elegies,² a preacher, teacher and sermonizer,³ a hagiographer⁴ and a historian of the...

  8. GUIBERT OF NOGENT, ALBERT OF AACHEN AND FULCHER OF CHARTRES: THREE CRUSADE CHRONICLES INTERSECT
    (pp. 24-37)
    Jay Rubenstein

    Guibert of Nogent wrote his crusade chronicle,God’s Deeds through the Franks, in 1107–8, while living in his former monastery of Saint-Germer de Fly. Exiled from his abbacy in Nogent, he had a great deal of time on his hands, which he filled by writing a scholarly, elegant history of the crusade. His main source was theGesta Francorum.¹ Like his contemporaries Robert the Monk and Baldric of Bourgueil, Guibert found theGesta Francorumdissatisfying, particularly in terms of style.² On factual matters, by contrast, he stuck close to his source – sometimes to his frustration. The author of...

  9. UNDERSTANDING THE GREEK SOURCES FOR THE FIRST CRUSADE
    (pp. 38-52)
    Peter Frankopan

    In April 1081, a young general named Alexios Komnenos was crowned Emperor of the Romans in the great imperial city of Constantinople. He was the fifth man to rule the Byzantine empire in less than fifteen years. He took power from Nikephoros III Botaneiates, himself a usurper, who had been incompetent and ineffective in his three years on the throne, more keen on choosing fabric for his clothes than in dealing with affairs of state – a barb carefully chosen by an author writing later to contrast with Alexios’s commitment, resolve and lack of pretence.¹ The new emperor could barely...

  10. THE MONTE CASSINO TRADITION OF THE FIRST CRUSADE: FROM THE CHRONICA MONASTERII CASINENSIS TO THE HYSTORIA DE VIA ET RECUPERATIONE ANTIOCHIAE ATQUE IERUSOLYMARUM
    (pp. 53-62)
    Luigi Russo

    When focusing on the analysis of texts in order to reconstruct the past, we often overlook the importance of the geography of historiographical memory. One exception, made some years ago, is the case study of the abbey of Fleury-sur-Loire by Robert-Henri Bautier in an essay whose conclusions have since been resumed and expanded.¹ Indeed, in the period between the end of the tenth century and the first decades of the twelfth, this abbey was responsible for the writing of some of the most important texts that represent the origins of ‘official’ French historiography in the Middle Ages, by reason of...

  11. NOVA PEREGRINATIO: THE FIRST CRUSADE AS A PILGRIMAGE IN CONTEMPORARY LATIN NARRATIVES
    (pp. 63-74)
    Léan Ní Chléirigh

    Despite a considerable historiography on the crusades, there are still flickers of division among historians as to the definition of a crusade, or rather, divisions as to when all the features of a crusade became established. The First Crusade suffers the most from this tendency. Although it was the first campaign of its kind which historians agree to be definable as a ‘crusade’, the campaign of 1096–9, like many ‘firsts’, did not have all of the features of a crusade in a fully developed form.¹ For example, the indulgence, which became a defining characteristic of the crusades, was in...

  12. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO EURVIN DE CRÉEL’S DONKEY? ANECDOTES IN SOURCES FOR THE FIRST CRUSADE
    (pp. 75-88)
    Carol Sweetenham

    Just before the climactic battle in theChanson d’Antioche, the author breaks off into a hundred-line account about a donkey.² The animal belongs to Eurvin de Creel. One morning Eurvin goes off to Mass. His best friend Pierre Postel is watching narrowly. He has several squires to feed and nothing to give them. End of the road for the donkey, which is turned into kebabs. Eurvin returns to find no donkey and a smell of roasting meat. There is a quarrel with Pierre followed by a tearful reconciliation. The two go into the battle as best friends and we hear...

  13. PORTA CLAUSA: TRIAL AND TRIUMPH AT THE GATES OF JERUSALEM
    (pp. 89-104)
    Nicholas L. Paul

    As the sites which welcomed the prince, defied the enemy and regulated the passage of the merchant and traveller, the gateways and entrances (portae) of the eleventh-century west were markers and thresholds of community, power and sanctity. For the inhabitants of this gated world who took to the roads with the First Crusade, the portals of the cities and fortresses of the Near East represented important and recurring features in the landscape that they traversed. The gates that the crusaders encountered at the old Roman and Byzantine cities of Constantinople, Nicaea and Antioch were part of an urban architecture rendered...

  14. THE HISTORIA IHEROSOLIMITANA OF ROBERT THE MONK AND THE CORONATION OF LOUIS VI
    (pp. 105-115)
    James Naus

    The First Crusade captured the medieval imagination on an unprecedented scale. In addition to several letters composed by participants while still on the expedition, four eyewitness narrative accounts were circulating throughout western Europe by c. 1110. These, in turn, inspired the production of a number of ‘second generation’ chronicles and vernacular histories in the first half of the twelfth century.¹ It is difficult to think of another event in the Middle Ages that piqued this level of literary interest. As a result, historians have long sought to understand the relationship between the sources, in particular the process of narrative transmission...

  15. TOWARDS A TEXTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE FIRST CRUSADE
    (pp. 116-126)
    Damien Kempf

    The unusually rich repertoire of historical narratives prompted by the First Crusade remains, in many ways, uncharted territory. Primarily used by historians as mere ‘sources’, as repositories of facts, since the foundations of crusading history as a genre in the nineteenth century, these texts have shaped the constitution of a particular type of historiography that unceasingly seeks to tell and retell a story that was told in different forms by its contemporaries.¹ One can still clearly hear nowadays strong echoes of Heinrich von Sybel’s programmatic agenda (back in the early 1840s) to ‘penetrate into the facts and reach thekernel...

  16. ROBERT THE MONK AND HIS SOURCE(S)
    (pp. 127-139)
    Marcus Bull

    This paper considers the written source material that was used by the author known to us as Robert the Monk when he composed his account of the First Crusade, theHistoria Iherosolimitana.¹ Its aim is to throw some light on where this texts sits within the patterns of influences and borrowings that connect many of the narratives about the First Crusade written in the Latin Christian tradition. A further aim, though constraints of space preclude a detailed examination, is to suggest that the close study of texts such as that by Robert, a work that both drew upon a guide...

  17. REWRITING THE HISTORY BOOKS: THE FIRST CRUSADE AND THE PAST
    (pp. 140-154)
    William J. Purkis

    In c. 1110 a French cleric known as Robert the Monk set out the reasons why he had begun to compose hisHistoria Iherosolimitana, a Latin prose narrative of the First Crusade that would go on to become the most widely-copied and extensively-circulated history of the expedition in the medieval west.¹ Taking his cue from those historians who had contributed to the composition of the Old and New Testaments, Robert wrote in the Historia’s prologue of ‘how pleasing it is to God that a record should be made for his faithful people when he carries out any miraculous work on...

  18. THE IDEAL OF KNIGHTHOOD IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH WRITING, 1100–1230: CRUSADE, PIETY, CHIVALRY AND PATRIOTISM
    (pp. 155-168)
    Laura Ashe

    This paper seeks to re-examine a knotty problem: the extent and nature of the relation between the crusade movement and the knightly ideal of chivalry.¹ My focus is on the lay, aristocratic culture of the Anglo-Norman world, as revealed by twelfth- and early thirteenth-century vernacular texts, and the study arose from a serious and simple question: round about when and, much more importantly, how did knights stop thinking that, inasmuch as they were knights, they were going to hell?

    Certainly a change can be observed. There is no shortage of evidence for aristocratic fears of damnation in the eleventh and...

  19. INDEX
    (pp. 169-174)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 175-175)