Prosopographical Research on the Crusader States

Prosopographical Research on the Crusader States

By Alan V. Murray

Prosopon Newsletter, Vol.4:2 (1996)

Introduction: Prosopographical research on the Crusader States, or to use a more accurate term, Outremer, has a long tradition. The first substantial modern work on the Frankish nobility, the Familles d’Outre-Mer by Du Cange and Rey, drew primarily on the Lignages d’Outremer, a medieval compilation of histories of Frankish families from the mainland states and Cyprus. Since the mid-nineteenth century numerous studies have appeared, most of them concentrating on single families or holders of particular lordships. However, few works have looked at the nobilities of the Frankish states as entire groups, although it might be assumed that information about the geographical origins and social composition of the Frankish ruling classes would lead to important conclusions about such issues as their relationships with their rulers and with western Christendom. My own research has focussed upon the origins of the nobility of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. For a long time the scholarly consensus was that this group essentially originated in the crusading army of Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin I, the first two rulers of the kingdom, and that most had been vassals of the Bouillon-Boulogne dynasty in Europe, primarily in Lotharingia. This assumed character of the early ruling class of Jerusalem was often believed to be a contributory factor in the relative strength of the early Jerusalem monarchy, in contrast to that of the later twelfth century and to the second Latin kingdom of the period after 1187.

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