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The First Crusade, 1095-99

3. Motivations

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In this module, we think about the crusaders' motivations for going on crusade, focusing in particular on: (i) the various reasons why someone might choose not to on crusade: the length of the journey, the high casualty rate, the time away from home, the expense, etc.; (ii) the view that crusaders were motivated by money, the support for this view in the sources, and the arguments for and against this view; (iii) the view that crusaders were motivated by religion, the support for this view in the sources, and the arguments for and against this view; (iv) the view that the crusaders were motivated by considerations of chivalry (i.e. 'being a hero'), the support for this view on the sources, and the arguments for and against this view; (v) the extent to which people might have been persuaded by a range of motivations; and (vi) the question of who got to decide whether they went on crusade or not.


In this course, Dr Nicholas Morton (Nottingham Trent University) explores the First Crusade, a massive military campaign in the Near East which ended with the Crusaders' capture of Jerusalem in 1099. The course begins by considering the nature of the sources at our disposal when thinking about the Crusades: in the first module, we consider the Western sources, and in the second, the non-Western ones. After that, we consider the motivations of the Crusaders for making the long and extremely dangerous journey to the East, before moving on in the fourth module to think about what the situation was in the Near East in the years immediately before the Crusaders' arrival. In the fifth module, we think about why it was that the First Crusade was a success, despite the apparently overwhelming odds against it, before turning in the sixth and final module to consider whether the First Crusade should be thought of as a conflict between Christians and Muslims, as has commonly been supposed.


Dr Nicholas Morton is a specialist in the history of crusading and the Medieval Mediterranean between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. More recently he has begun to focus specifically upon the theme of inter-faith relations between Christianity and Islam in this region. He has published extensively on topics connected to this subject area, writing a range of monographs and scholarly articles. He is also an editor for the Ashgate series Rulers of the Latin East.

Currently Dr Morton is completing a monograph exploring the First Crusaders' attitudes and behaviour towards the various non-Christian peoples they encountered during their campaign. This will be a highly revisionist work addressing many key scholarly and public orthodoxies surrounding the nature of Christian/Islamic interaction during the crusade.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morton, N. (2018, August 15). The First Crusade, 1095-99 - Motivations [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morton, N. "The First Crusade, 1095-99 – Motivations." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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