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The First Crusade, 1095-99

6. Was the First Crusade a War Between Christianity and Islam?

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In this module, we consider whether the First Crusade should be seen as a conflict between Christianity and Islam, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which Christians and non-Christians worked together before the beginning of the crusade, e.g. Bohemond's siege of Amalfi with Muslim mercenaries; (ii) the inconsistency of the language used to describe the peoples inhabiting the Near East, who are either Saracens (i.e. Muslims) or Pagans (i.e. non-Christians); (iii) the primary objective of the First Crusade: the capture of Jerusalem; (iv) the extent to which the crusader armies fought alongside non-Christian allies; (v) the extent to which the crusaders negotiated treatises with non-Christians, e.g. negotiations with the Fatimids in Egypt; (vi) the anti-Muslim massacres that accompanied the capture of Jerusalem; and (vii) the extent to which the Seljuk Turks were fully Muslim at this point in time.


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 - Was the First Crusade a War Between Christianity and Islam? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Morton, N. "The First Crusade, 1095-99 – Was the First Crusade a War Between Christianity and Islam?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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