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Campaigning in the Crusader States

Unit(s) of assessment: History

Research theme: Global Heritage

School: School of Arts and Humanities


The question of how the foundation of the Crusader States in the Near East affected relations between Christianity and Islam is one of longstanding importance, both for academic and popular audiences.  It remains closely argued and much debated. This present project will use new research techniques to offer new insights into this question, focusing on changing patterns of conflict and diplomacy in the Medieval Near East.

Addressing the Challenge

At its core, this project centres on an exceptionally detailed spreadsheet, which includes every single military encounter (whether raids, battles, sieges, skirmishes, naval battles) and diplomatic exchanges (whether treaties, marriage alliances and trading agreements) to take place in the Near East between the years 1095-1187. The spreadsheet contains over 2000 entries, covering all such activities.

Using this spreadsheet, Dr Morton is currently in the process of identifying patterns of conflict and co-operation across the entire region incorporating all local factions including: the Franks (crusaders), Turks, Fatimid Egyptians, Armenians, Kurds, the Byzantine Empire, Arab emirs and the Bedouin.

Having identified these patterns he will be able to address important questions such as: under what circumstances did Near Eastern factions make peace/war?  What caused military activity to escalate and under what circumstances did it subside? Did most military activity take place between factions belonging to rival religions or did other factors (such as ethnicity or realpolitik play a part in defining the conflicts between different factions)? What can we learn from a faction’s military and diplomatic conduct about their broader objectives and mentality?

This research has been conducted using and ‘all in’ approach.  In other words, Dr Morton is using every single primary source for the entire period which is both available and relevant (including sources written originally in a whole range of languages including: Old French, Hebrew, Latin, Armenian, Greek, Arabic, and Latin).  The compilation of this colossal body of evidence has taken many years.


This project is being carried out by Dr Nicholas Morton and draws upon his longstanding interest in inter-faith relations as well as military and diplomatic history.

Dr Morton is a specialist in the history of crusading and the Medieval Mediterranean between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. More recently he has begun to focus specifically upon the theme of inter-faith relations between Christianity and Islam in this region.

Making a Difference

This project is exciting because, for the first time, a vast corpus of data has been drawn together in such a way that measurable and statistically-evidenced conclusions can be drawn concerning the nature of inter-faith relations during this turbulent period.

The research findings will be published by Oxford University Press in a research monograph entitled: Campaigning in the Crusader States.

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