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The role of castles in the political and military history of the Crusader States and the Levant 1187 to 1380

The role of castles in the political and military history of the Crusader States and the Levant 1187 to 1380

Molin, Bengt Kristian (University of Leeds)

PhD Thesis, The University of Leeds, School of History, October (1995)

Abstract

This thesis deals with the various functions of Latin and Armenian fortifications in Cilician Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, Syria and Palestine between 1187 and c.1380. Offensively, such structures were needed as starting points for both land based and naval campaigns into enemy territory, and could thereafter be used to colonize and suppress newly acquired land. Defensively, individual strongpoints could also prevent Greek, Bulgar or Muslim attackers from making any permanent conquests, whilst at the same time protecting local farmers and traders against the ravages of war. In addition, they were frequently relied on to maintain internal security and to deter hostile locals from rebelling against their overlords. The security provided by fortifications meant that they also fulfilled a wide variety of non-military functions as prisons, residences, courthouses and administrative centres.

Most importantly, however, they enabled heavily outnumbered Latin newcomers to conquer large parts of the eastern Mediterranean without having to match their opponents man for man, or risking a direct confrontation with numerically superior invasion forces. These factors made castles and urban fortifications vital to the entire crusading movement, and they will therefore be discussed in great detail, with reference to a variety of contemporary chronicles and documents. In addition, extensive use will be made of archaeological and architectural evidence, for the design of an individual fortress was clearly determined by the numerous military, economic and political functions which it was expected to fulfil.

Click here to read this thesis from The University of Leeds

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