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Warriors and Civilians in the Crusade Movement: Military Identities and Status in the Liberation and Defence of the Holy Land (1096-1204)

Warriors and Civilians in the Crusade Movement: Military Identities and Status in the Liberation and Defence of the Holy Land (1096-1204)

By Alan V. Murray

Millars: Espai i historia, Volume 43, Number 2, 2017

Crusaders marching to the Holy Land

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

Abstract: In terms of their social composition, the crusades to Palestine and Syria were unlike any other military campaigns in the Middle Ages or the modern world.

The liberation and defence of the Holy Land required primarily the participation of experienced, motivated and well-equipped members of the traditional Western military classes, and the core of each crusade expedition was made up of the retinues of kings, prelates and the higher aristocracy from the countries of Europe which produced the main responses to papal calls to crusade.


However, the canonical definition of crusades as penitential pilgrimages meant that most expeditions during the first century of the movement included large numbers of non-combatant men, women and children, which caused significant problems with regard to discipline and logistics. This situation only changed in the later twelfth century with a shift to the use of naval transport rather than the traditional land routes.

Click here to read this article from Jaume I University

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