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History   >   Crusades – The First Crusade, 1095-99

The Western Sources

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Crusades – The First Crusade, 1095-99

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.

The Western Sources

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.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Morton, N. (2018, August 15). Crusades – The First Crusade, 1095-99 - The Western Sources [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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

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Dr Nicholas Morton

Dr Nicholas Morton

Nottingham Trent University