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The First Crusade, 1095-99

1. The Western Sources

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In this module, we think about the western sources for the First Crusade, focusing in particular on: (i) the four accounts of Pope Urban II's speech at Clermont: that of Guibert of Nogent, that of Fulcher of Chartres, that of Robert the Monk, and that of Baldric of Bourgueil; (ii) the similarities and differences between these four accounts, and what we can deduce about the reliability of each source; (iii) the legal documents (contracts, charters, etc.) in which departing knights make arrangements before they go on crusade, and the value of these sources for understanding the motivations of those who went on crusade, and what they hoped to achieve; (iv) letters written by the Pope; (v) crusade chronicles, include the accounts of Fulcher of Chartres, Peter Tudebode and Raymond of Aguilers, and the anonymous Gesta Francorum (Deeds of the Franks); (vi) the strengths and weaknesses of these accounts; (vii) letters written by the crusaders while they were on campaign; and (viii) the importance of sources to historians.


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 Western Sources [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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

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