By Barbara Packard
PhD Dissertation, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2011
Abstract: The success of the First Crusade by the Christian armies caught the interest and arrested the imagination of contemporaries, stimulating the production of a large number of historical narratives. Four eyewitness accounts, as well as letters written by the crusaders to the West, were taken up by later authors, re-worked and re-fashioned into new narratives; a process which continued throughout the twelfth century and beyond.
This thesis sets out to explore why contemporaries continued to write about the First Crusade in light of medieval attitudes towards the past, how authors constructed their narratives and how the crusade and the crusaders were remembered throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It will analyse the development in the way the First Crusade was recorded and investigate the social, religious, intellectual and political influences dictating change: How, why and under what circumstances was the story re- told? What changed in the re-telling? What ideas and concepts were the authors trying to communicate and what was their meaning for contemporaries?
The thesis will also aim to place these texts not only in their historical but also in their literary contexts, analyse the literary traditions from which authors were writing, and consider the impact the crusade had on medieval literature. The focus will be on Latin histories of the First Crusade, especially those written in England and France, which produced the greatest number of narratives. Those written in the Levant, the subject of these histories, will also be discussed, as well as texts written in the Empire and in Italy.