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Nature during the Crusades: Physical and psychological affects from the environment in crusader narratives

Crusaders marching to the Holy Land

Nature during the Crusades: Physical and psychological affects from the environment in crusader narratives

By Camilla Gustafsson

BA Thesis, Luleå Tekniska Universitet, 2017

Crusaders marching to the Holy Land
Crusaders marching to the Holy Land, Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana

Abstract: In this study, I have investigated what some of the crusaders thought of and how they were affected by the nature they encountered during the crusades. This have been done based on written sources from the crusades using the concept of Environmental imagination in medieval texts.

The texts in this study have been chosen depending on their availability and their translation. The crusaders found themselves in a new nature that they were not prepared for and in which the enemy could hide in. The nature could also work as a moral boost for the crusaders confirming that God was on their side or work as a death-trap when they were led astray. It is clear that the crusaders experienced both physical and psychological effects from the nature that they encountered during the crusades.

Introduction: In 1095 the crusades were started by Pope Urban II to take back the Holy Land from the Islamic rulers. This was a great military expansion that lead Christian people into new landscapes. As the landscape changed around them they encountered different difficulties and successes that were affected by weather and natural obstructions during their journey. As the crusaders were highly affected by their religion so also were these encounters with nature interpreted within the religious framework. Therefore, it is interesting to see how the crusaders wrote about these encounters with nature.


The purpose with this study is to investigate what some of the crusaders thought of nature and how they were affected by the nature they encountered during the crusades c. 1071- c. 1291. The central questions of the study are: What was important for the crusaders to write about the nature they encountered? How do the narratives describe how the crusaders were physically affected by the nature? How do the narratives describe how the crusaders were psychologically experienced the nature?

Click here to read this thesis from DiVA

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