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Crusader Studies

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Crusader Studies

MA
  • Option 1 year full time or 2 years part time
  • Year of entry 2021
  • Campus Egham

The course

The Royal Holloway MA in Crusader Studies offers a unique and fascinating examination of the ideas, impact and personalities of this compelling subject from the medieval age to the present day. You will be taught, inspired and challenged by internationally recognised experts in this field.

Royal Holloway has a long tradition of studying the History of the Crusades and in conjunction with the libraries and research seminars of central London, offers unparalleled expertise and resources. This is an ideal MA if you are pursuing an advanced interest in crusading history and will provide you with a further set of skills and a qualification that can lead to an impressive range of career paths. It also has a highly successful track record as a springboard to doctoral research.

The programme offers students an understanding of the context of the crusades, and the ideology that underpinned the movement as well as a consideration of its modern-day resonances. You will gain an unparalleled insight into the ideas, events and people of crusading history while engaging with a full array of source materials in this compelling field. The module will also consider the impact of the crusades on the Muslim world, as well as exploring western Europe’s first contacts with the terrifying Mongols.

We are one of the largest and liveliest History departments in the UK yet you will receive our individual attention and become part of our close-knit post graduate community.

We offer a wide range of postgraduate scholarships to help with funding your studies. We especially encourage eligible applicants to apply for one of the following:

  • Brian Harris scholarship – full tuition fee reduction plus £14,800 research, living and travel costs for UK students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree.
  • Dinah and Jessica Nichols scholarship – £12,000 scholarship for Home/EU or international students with, or expected to achieve, a First Class degree or equivalent.

We also have two awards specifically for the MA in Crusader Studies:

  • The Peter Le Grys Prize. Awarded annually in the memory of this former student of the College, and to the value of £1500.
  • The St John Historical Society Award, given annually and to the value of £500.

Core Modules

  • Centred on the largest crusade of the thirteenth century, the attempt by King Louis IX of France to recover Jerusalem and the Holy Land through the conquest of Egypt, this module looks at the origins, preaching and preparations for his invasion. We follow its disastrous progress and defeat, largely through the charismatic writings of the eyewitness John of Joinville, but also using texts from Arabic (including some unpublished translations). The crusade helped trigger upheaval in the Muslim Near East with the overthrow of the Ayyubid regime and the arrival of the formidable Mamluks. Into this potent mix appeared the Mongols, carving out an empire from Hungary to Japan, and briefly seeming to look to Louis for an alliance. Through the extraordinary account of William of Rubruck we can see western Europeans try to grasp the society and the beliefs of the terrifying steppe-warriors.

  • In this unique and ground-breaking module you will develop an understanding of the memory, impact and legacy of the crusades in the West and Muslim world since the medieval period. You will look at the evolution and mutation of the crusading idea over (especially) the last 200 years, examining how and why the European colonial and imperial powers adopted crusading during the nineteenth century, and how the idea was used in World War 1 and by General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. We will also consider how the idea has taken on, in the West, a more secular meaning. You will analyse how crusade and jihad have been treated in the Muslim Near East, tracing cultural developments in theatre and poetry, as well as politics and religion, from the nineteenth to the present day, with particular emphasis on the figure of Saladin, the hero of the Muslim world for recovering Jerusalem from the crusaders. We will see how his image, and the memory of the crusades has been used by Islamists such as Osama bin Laden and Arab Nationalists such as Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez al-Asad of Syria and Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians.

  • All students pursuing the MA in Medieval Studies and the MA in Crusader Studies take this module, and so it creates and fosters an intellectual community of medievalists during your time on the degree. The module aims to make you aware of the issues and topics associated with the study of the Middle Ages on a wide and interdisciplinary basis, give you the skills that you need to undertake research in the field of Medieval Studies, and provide opportunities for you to engage in and practise academic dismodule, particularly in an oral context.

  • You will carry out an extended piece of research. You will be appointed a member of academic staff who will act as your supervisor, providing you with support and guidance. You will produce a written report of between 10,500 and 12,000 words in length.

You will choose one of the following modules:

  • In this module you will be given specific training in the reading of medieval documents. You will look at simple texts in classical Latin and learn how to parse all five declensions and indicative verbs. You will examine a range of documents in basic medieval Latin such as wills, deeds and accounts and translate two medieval passages plus an unseen passage.

  • In this module you will further enhance your linguistic training in Latin. You will develop comprehensive grammatical knowledge including all declensions of nouns and moods of verbs, with specific training in a range of documents in medieval Latin, including wills, deeds, and chronicles. You will carry out a series of translations of medieval material.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Optional modules may include:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the crusading movement arose at a time of significant change for women. You will look at the effects of the Gregorian Reform and contemporary societal change on women’s traditional roles. You will examine how medieval historians used gendered language and moral tales to express their disapproval of women who took the cross, and the role of women in supporting crusader battles, often becoming the casualties of warfare. You will consider the role of noble women in providing political stability through regency and marriage after the First Crusade in the Latin society established in the East, including the dramatic reign of Queen Melisende of Jerusalem, and the effects of crusading on women who remained in the West.

  • In this half-unit module you will develop an understanding of the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade and to the establishment of the Latin East. You will look at the background of the empire as it was in the middle of the eleventh century, its relations with the Latin West and the accession and reign of Alexios I Komnenos from 1081 to 1118. You will examine the lead-up to and events of the crusade considering a range of Byzantine and Western source materials in translation in order to determine how the Byzantines viewed the crusaders, including what they considered their aims to be, what policies they adopted towards them, and what mistakes were made in dealing with this unprecedented phenomenon.

  • The aims of the module are to develop an understanding of the significance of pilgrimage in the medieval world through a combination of contextual study of the ideals and practices associated with this dimension of medieval piety, and specific study of contemporary pilgrimage accounts from the fourth to fifteenth centuries. Students should thereby be able to consider specific aspects of pilgrimage and the practices associated with it within a broad context of changing practices of piety. They should appreciate the value of interdisciplinary approaches to the understanding of medieval texts, and comparative approaches to medieval religious history. The content will be based on study of a number of pre-selected contemporary pilgrimage accounts from Latin and Byzantine sources, in translation. Typical topics will include: the practice of pilgrimage in religious traditions from Late Antiquity onwards, Saints' cults and sacred space, specific pilgrimage destinations, pilgrims' writings, gender, class, material culture, etc.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.

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