Cross purposes: Frankish levantine perceptions of gender and female participation in the crusades, 1147-1254
By Gordon M. Reynolds
Master’s Thesis, University of Canterbury, 2017
Abstract: Though numerous historians have studied the participation of women in the Levantine crusades during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, few have investigated the trends in gender perceptions within the Latin states. There were dramatic societal shifts in the Latin East in this period, most significantly in the aftermath of the loss of Jerusalem in 1187. There are still many questions that remain unanswered about the effect of these social changes on perceptions of gender.
The focus of this thesis has been on discerning what the Levantine Frankish perception of the female gender was before and after the cataclysmic events of 1187, and how these changes affected women’s participation in crusading. This has been examined through three areas of female participation: crusade warfare, queenship in Outremer, and women’s presence in political negotiations.
In order to gain a grasp of the trends in perspectives of gender in each of these areas, the thesis has used a variety of narrative sources from Byzantine, Muslim, Eastern Latin, and western European authors. Though a variety of types of written material have been consulted, there was a particular focus on chronicles.
This thesis has demonstrated that women living within the Latin East experienced a far greater ability to take on male-‐dominated gender roles during the twelfth‐century than their contemporaries in Europe. However, by the thirteenth‐century, the society within Outremer re-asserted many patriarchal attitudes causing women to loose the ability to shift gender roles as easily.