Most historians agree that after the fall of Acre in 1291, the crusading drive to conquer the Holy Land still remained strong in medieval Europe. What is less clear, however, is the precise legacy of the Latin East. As Tatum Tullis asks, "did this mark the end of Outremer? Did any remnants of the kingdom still live on, and would anyone remember it?" One work of later medieval literature, the romance Mélusine: or the Noble History of Lusignan may hold the answer.
In the later thirteenth century the Latin East, already crippled by civil war and treated as a pawn in the empire building schemes of several western rulers, also faced the rise of two new eastern powers. In this joint podcast, Sajia Hanif and Kevin Vogelaar recount the rise of the Mongol empire and the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. As these formidable new political dynasties rose to prominence, they quickly found that they had to contend with each other. Their titanic struggle set the stage for the final decades of the Kingdom of Jerusalem's survival on the Levantine mainland. Listen to find out how the shifting fortunes of the Mongols and the Mamluks changed the political landscape surrounding the crusader states.
The Crusader States is exceptionally grateful to Dr. Barbara Boehm, the Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the incredibly knowledgeable tour of crusade-related art at the Cloisters. In this week's podcast, Aurora Pfefferkorn asks Dr. Boehm about two major artworks at the Cloisters with links to the crusades and to crusader Jerusalem. Aurora asked Dr. Boehm about tomb of Jean d'Alluye with its mysterious eastern sword and a cross reliquary with a special "Outremer" design. As they inspect, describe, and discuss these objects, the importance of the crusading context comes to the fore. From an art historical perspective, despite all of the warfare and strife, the exchange and creativity of this period, was "something quite remarkable."
Some of the most extraordinary cultural monuments of the Frankish Levant are the massive legal texts composed by the aristocracy of the thirteenth-century Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, most of them living in Cyprus. These works and their authors provide an unparalleled resource for aspects of political and legal life. But, as Rachel Podd explains, the political context of Cyprus is also critically important in evaluating these works.
In 1187 the Kingdom of Jerusalem, and indeed the entire Frankish project in the Holy Land suffered a series of major disasters, including the defeat of the massed armies of the kingdom on July 4 and culminating in the conquest of Jerusalem on October 2. As Katrine Funding Højgaard explains, news of the disasters quickly spread to the West in letters desperately seeking help and western intervention. Commemoration of the events in writing did not end there, however, and a variety of chroniclers offered their own accounts of the great defeat. Among the many narratives is the somewhat mysterious, but greatly detailed chronicle known as the Lyon Eracles, whose account of the battle of Hattin and its consequences differs markedly from the one found in letters and other western accounts.
For much of the reign of King Amalric I (1163-1174) the kingdom of Jerusalem seemed not only secure, but in a position of unparalleled strength in the region. By the early years of the reign of his son Baldwin IV, however, the situation looked very different. Increasingly, the kingdom became the concern of western European powers, particularly the Angevin Empire of King Henry II and the rising power of Capetian France under King Louis VII. In this week's podcast, Robert Effinger considers the "International Status" of the kingdom in this period, looking closely at the question of Henry II's intentions. Did the English king really intend to come to the help of the Franks in the Levant? What were the implications of his failure to act?
How did the Latins of the crusader Levant practice their religion? In this week's podcast, Andrew Kayaian discusses the architectural imprint of the crusaders, Latin monastic culture in the East, and the existence of shrines shared between Latins, Greeks, and Muslims. All three elements, the architecture, the Latin religious communities, and he shared spaces, remain aspects of the religious landscape of the Holy Land, as Andrew explains with reference to his own recent pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Paiens unt tort e chrestiens unt dreit- "the pagans [Muslims] are wrong and the Christians are right." First shaped in the forge of holy war, we might expect the society of the Latin East to fully embrace this famous refrain from the Old French Song of Roland. But, as Alexa Amore explains, a diverse range of sources from the twelfth-century Levant may tell a different story. Sources as diverse as artworks and architecture, coins and seals, and the memoirs of the Syrian aristocrat Usamah ibn Munqidh. suggest a range of interactions and attitudes. But were these interactions driven by genuine cultural appreciation or cold political expediency?
Economically, the Latin East was a site of great complexity and apparent contradictions. As William Edwards explains in this week's podcast, the Franks had access to global trade routes and their principalities were sites for the production of sugar, olive oil, and wine. The crusader states were also characterized by their reliance on expensive imported goods. In many ways, the whole Levantine economy was dominated by the interests of the Italian maritime republics who operated communes within the ports of the Latin East, but the Kingdom also had an additional source of revenue: pilgrims.
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was once seen as an ideal feudal state, one ruled more by the will of the high nobility than the monarchy. Michael Lipari points out the many reasons why this position might now be revised. But when Jerusalem's kings acted to enhance their authority against their vassals, did they also gradually lose their grip on power in the region?
With their conquests in the Near East, the crusaders became the lords of large non-Latin populations. Amanda Haney explains how scholars have traditionally treated relations between the conquerors and the people they conquered, and how that treatment is beginning to change.
Were the establishment of Latin settlements in the Levant an inevitable result of the First Crusade? As Thomas Schellhammer explains, the motivations of the early crusaders, the personalities of the crusade's leadership, and the extraordinary events of the expedition all had a role to play.
This week Anna Lukyanova explains the complex Byzantine background to the First Crusade and shows why an understanding of this background is so important for our study of the establishment of the Crusader States.
In this first podcast we introduce the series, giving an overview of the geography of the crusader states and offering a brief commentary on some of the challenges associated with studying them. One serious question still hangs over the subject: were the crusader states European colonies?
Welcome to the Crusader States Podcast. This is the site where all episodes of our podcast will be posted and archived for further listening. Feel free to tune in to our discussion of a lost world from the Middle Ages and add your own comments. Respectful, constructive comments will be posted. We look forward to hearing from you.