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The First Crusade, 1095-99

4. The Situation in the Near East

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In this module, we consider the situation in the Near East in the years leading up to the First Crusade, focusing in particular on: (i) the situation in 1000 AD: the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and the Levant, and the Abbasid caliphate in the north; (ii) the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, the nature of their rule, and their (un)popularity with local populations; (iii) environmental factors that impacted regional geopolitics: the extent to which the Turks were driven south as a result of climate change; (iv) the extent to which the Fatimid dynasty had been weakened by the Nile repeatedly failing to flood; (v) the rise of pilgrimage to the Near East – and especially Jerusalem – from Western Europe in the second half of the 11th century; (vi) the in-roads made by the Turks into Anatolia, especially following the Battle of Manzikert (1071); (vii) the death of the Seljuk sultan, Malik-Shah I, in 1092, the subsequent instability in the Near East; and (viii) the extent to which the crusaders were helped by the weakening of the Seljuk Turks in the years immediately before they arrived.


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 - The Situation in the Near East [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morton, N. "The First Crusade, 1095-99 – The Situation in the Near East." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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