SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Encountering the Other: The Middle East during the Crusading Period 15PHIH037

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2022/23
Year of study:

During the Crusading period populations from Latin Europe and the Arabic Middle East experienced the closest interaction in the pre-modern period. Traditionally seen in terms of warfare and military conflict this course aims at offering a wider perspective on the two centuries between 1098 and 1291. Students will discuss a range of issues including diplomatic relations, perceptions of the Other, daily life and modern perceptions of the Crusading period.  In order to get a more refined understanding of what forms the encounter took, students will consider primary sources beyond the standard chronicles, for instance travel literature, poetry, documentary sources and material culture. Throughout the course we will try to come to terms with the question how we can write a history of this period beyond binary notions such as Crusade vs. jihad and Franks vs Muslims.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course the students:

(1) Gained insights into medieval Middle Eastern history.

(2) Acquired a strong understanding of how medieval Middle Eastern societies reacted to the Crusading movement.

(3) Have knowledge of the pertinent sources.

(4) Are able to critically assess prevailing approaches to the subjects covered.

(5) Be able to write a competent well-structured essay making substantial use of primary materials.

Method of assessment

Essay of 3,000 words worth 80% of the final mark, Reaction paper/book review of 1,000 words worth 20% of the final mark

Suggested reading

  • Chamberlain, M.: The Crusader Era and the Ayyubid dynasty, in: C.F. Petry (ed.): The Cambridge History of Egypt, vol. 1: Islamic Egypt, 640-1517, Cambridge 1998, 211-241.
  • Christie, N.: Muslims and Crusaders. Christianity’s Wars in the Middle East, 1095-1382, London 2014.
  • Eddé, A.M.: Bilad al-Sham, from the Fatimid conquest to the fall of the Ayyubids (359-658/970-1260), in: M. Fierro (ed.): The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 2, Cambridge 2010, 161-200
  • Eddé, A.-M.: Saladin, tr. J.M. Todd, Cambridge (MA) 2011.
  • Ellenblum, R.: Frankish Rural Settlement in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge 1998.
  • Hillenbrand, C.: The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, Edinburgh 1999.
  • Holt, P.M.: The Age of the Crusades. The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517, London/New York 1986.
  • Holt, P.M.: The Crusader States and Their Neighbours, 1098-1291, Harlow 2004
  • Holt, P.M.: Early Mamluk Diplomacy (1260-1290): Treaties of Baybars and Qalawun with Christian Rulers, Leiden 1995.
  • Housley, N.: Contesting the Crusades, Oxford 2006.
  • Humphreys, S.: Zengids, Ayyubids and Seljuqs, in: D. Luscombe/J. Riley-Smith (eds.): The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 4/2, Cambridge 2004, 721-752.
  • Jotischky, A.: Crusading and the Crusader States, Harlow 2004.
  • Köhler, M. A.: Alliances and Treaties between Frankish and Muslim Rulers, tr. P.M. Holt, ed. and intr. K. Hirschler, Leiden 2013.
  • Kostick, C. (ed.): The Crusades and the Near East. Cultural Histories, London 2011
  • Lapidus, I.M.: A History of Islamic Societies, Cambridge 2002.
  • Mourad, S./Lindsay, J.: The Intensification and Reorientation of Sunni jihad Ideology in the Crusader Period: Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus (1105 - 1176) and his Age, Leiden 2013,
  • Phillips, J.: The Crusades, 1095-1197, Harlow 2002.
  • Riley-Smith, J: The Crusades: A Short History, London 22005.
  • Setton, K.M. (gen.ed.): A History of the Crusades, 6 vols, Madison 1969-89.
  • Tyerman, C.: God’s War. A New History of the Crusades, London 2006.
  • Tyerman, C: The Crusades: A very short Introduction, Oxford/New York 2005.
  • Zouache, A.: Armées et combats en Syrie de 491/1098 à 569/1174. Analyse comparée des chroniques médiévales latines et arabes, Damascus 2008.


    Selected Primary Sources in Translation

  • D.S. Richards: The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-Kamil fi 'l-ta'rikh, part 1: The years 491-541/1097-1146 (Aldershot 2006); part 2: The Years 541-589/1146-1193 (2007); part 3: The Years 589-629/1193-1231 (2008).
  • D.S. Richards: The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin by Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad, Aldershot 2001.
  • A. Holt/J. Muldoon (eds.): Competing Voices from the Crusades, Oxford 2008.
  • H.A.R. Gibb: The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades, Extracted and Translated from the Chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi, London 1932.
  • P. M. Cobb: Islam and the Crusades: the writings of Usama ibn Munqidh, London 2008.
  • P.M. Holt: The Memoirs of a Syrian Prince, Wiesbaden 1983.
  • P. Jackson: The Seventh Crusade, 1244-1254: Sources and Documents, Aldershot 2007.
  • A.-M. Eddé/F. Micheau: L'Orient au temps des croisades, Paris, 2002.


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