SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H241 The Middle East in the Period of the Crusades, 1050-1291

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

The course examines a crucial period of Middle Eastern society, from the mid-11 century to the end of the Crusades. This period was on the one hand marked by the trend from a regionalised political landscape to increasingly centralised power. On the other hand, Latin Europe conquered for the first time since the rise of Islam regions within the heartlands of the Middle East. 

Focusing on the Syrian and Egyptian lands the course will trace the unification of the regions that had been in the hands of local rulers and the Fatimid Caliphate in the Ayyubid and subsequently the Mamluk Empires. With the advent of the Crusades outside powers from Latin Europe and neighbouring powers, such as Byzantium started to play an increasingly important role in the region's history. 

Besides the political events the course deals also with the period's economic and social history in order to show the long-term developments in the region. As the Crusades are a topic that plays an outstanding role in the modern perception of pre-modern Middle Eastern history with regard to its relationship with the European lands, the course will finally focus on varying modern perspectives on these events.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, a student will:

  • Be able to understand the main factors that shaped political, social and economic developments in the region's pre-modern societies.
  • Have a firm knowledge of the major political events in the Middle East, especially those linked to the Crusades.
  • Have developed independent perspectives based on the prevailing secondary literature on the subject, especially with regard to differing views on the Crusades.
  • Have further developed skills in researching and writing historical essays, delivering seminar presentations and thinking critically about historical issues.

Method of assessment

Exam (40%), 3 x Coursework (50%) and Class Presentation (10%)

Suggested reading

  • Hillenbrand, C. (1999): The Crusades: Islamic perspectives, Edinburgh.
  • Holt, P.M. (1986): The Age of the Crusades. The Near East from the eleventh century to 1517, London/New York.
  • Holt, P.M. (2004): The Crusader states and their neighbours, 1098-1291, Harlow.
  • Housley, N. (2006 ): Contesting the Crusades, Oxford.
  • Jotischky, A. (2004): Crusading and the Crusader States, Harlow.
  • Phillips, J. (2002): The Crusades, 1095-1197, Harlow.
  • Riley-Smith, J. ( 2002): What were the Crusades?, Houndmills et al.
  • Tyerman, C. (2005): The Crusades: a very short introduction, Oxford, New York.


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