Book Review: ‘The Military History of Tsarist Russia’, edited by F.W. Kagan and R. Higham (New York & Basingstoke, 2002)

This book review achieved a mid-2:2 in the first year of my undergraduate.

Book Review on The Military History of Tsarist Russia, F.W. Kagan and R. Higham (eds.), (New York & Basingstoke, 2002)

The Military History of Tsarist Russia contains in-depth looks at the campaigns and the development of the Russian (originally Muscovite) army from 1453 and Ivan IV (‘the Terrible’) up until 1917 and the eve of the Russian revolution. There is also the recurring theme of Russian exceptionalism; that of how to categorise Russia, both geographically and politically. In straddling two continents, Russia managed to fall into neither Europe nor Asia, and so it was considered neither a western power nor an eastern one. Most of the essays (particularly as the timeline progresses) also address one of the main issues faced by the rulers of Moscow throughout; that of the sheer size of Russia (and by extension, its army) overburdening the economy.

Although it is possible to argue that because the book is a collection of essays, there is no ‘main argument,’ there are certainly many recurring themes present between the various essays. The two main themes present throughout the book are those of the “geopolitical dilemma” (pp.249-57) and that of the army overburdening the already fragile economy. The essays all mention and assess the strain which the upkeep of the military placed on the economy, and most of them also address the issues of in what way (European or not) the military (and wider society) was to advance and modernise.

The issue of the “geopolitical dilemma” (pp.249-57) is also addressed in an almost summative chapter at the end of the book. The direction which is argued is that Russia struggled with the problem, and that it depended a lot, at least in the ‘early Modern’ period (between the 15th and early 18th centuries) on the contemporary monarch. However it emerges as the period advances that the authors begin to consistently come down on the side of the West (or perhaps more specifically Prussia); that the Russian military began to westernise, and follow Prussian military values. As is argued through many of the essays, this is shown convincingly by the development of the structure of the Russian army, as well as the wars which the Russian Empire became involved in (primarily in Poland and Eastern Europe).

In regards to the problem of the overburdening of the economy by the military, the authors unanimously argue that it was certainly a problem, although they do not really give a real idea as to how it could have been addressed. The main problem which is argued is that the economy simply was not strong enough to support the size of the army which was required to defend the whole of the emergent Russian Empire’s interests. The reasons for this are examined and in the process, as is the structure of the Russian society, and the institution of serfdom.  The conclusions drawn are that the process of serfdom effectively crippled the mobility and mobilisation of the early Russian army, while simultaneously meaning that the economy was in no state to support a large enough army to defend the Empire’s borders.

The authors do present convincing arguments on both of these issues, and this is one way in which the essays work well together. When reading the book there are only subtle changes in the style of writing between chapters (essays), while the argument remains the same throughout. The fact that the book is a collection of essays means that there is potential for it to be somewhat disjointed, but this does not happen, mainly due to the continuity of the arguments, and the fact that they are mutually supportive. The arguments for the westernisation of Russia (both militarily and as a result socially) are convincing mainly because a lot of the focus of the Russian military seems to be on Europe, mainly in wars with Sweden, Poland, or the Baltic elements of the Ottoman Empire (though Prussia and France can also be included). The fact that they were fighting wars against European armies means that westernisation was essential to their successes. The problems facing the rulers of Moscow in relation to the economy are clearly laid out as well, and the arguments for why they were present (much like the other main point) have a lot of good points. The social structure of Russia throughout the period (the system of Serfdom) was the difference between the ‘traditional’ European nations (the more western ones) and Russia, and it showed in the strength of their respective economies.

Word Count: 750

Feedback:

55%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Knowledge of topic: Good

Independence of thought: Good

Clarity of structure: Competent

 

Convincing development of argument: Good

Clarity of language: Competent

Accuracy of references and bibliography: Excellent

General Comments and Advice: Good job bringing out some of the unifying themes of the essays; however, a review of this type of book would normally give some details as to the topics and approaches of the individual contributors – whereas you do not even mention how many essays are included, not to speak of titles and names of contributors. Were any specific chapters better done (or more appropriate for the overall theme) than others? What is the precise role of the editors (e.g. did they write an introduction)? What readership is the book addressing, and to what extent does it succeed? All these questions would be helpful to at least touch upon. In general your analysis would benefit from the inclusion of a few more concrete examples of the arguments being advanced. Style needs polishing to make your text clearer.

 

Book Review: ‘War at the Edge of the World,’ by Ian Ross

War at the EdgeWith War at the Edge of the World, I decided to take a break from my usual, continuous fantasy binge to read a bit of historical fiction. I tend to really enjoy Roman-based books, and found this to be a refreshing change, set as it was in the later stages of the empire rather than during the height of Republican power.

With an endorsement from Conn Iggulden on the cover, I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed. The plot progressed at a good speed and even if some of the twists were expected, it was good to see them borne out. I found myself liking the main character, Castus, without apparent effort, and enjoyed the complex of subplots swirling just below all the visceral action.

The combat was well done, with good armour consistencies (a rarity in fantasy as well as historical fiction), and I found it highly educational with regards to later Roman equipment – for example, I did not realise the legionaries used darts as well as javelins.

Overall, I’d recommend this book as a good, solid read – I’ve already bought the next in the series, but I’m reading a few more fantasy books before I get round to it.

‘War at the Edge of the World,’ by Ian Ross is the first in the Twilight of Empire series.

The development of the historiography concerning Doge Enrico Dandolo, Byzantine-Venetian relations and the Fourth Crusade

This essay achieved a low 1st in the second year of my undergraduate.

Project Abstract

The diversion of the Fourth Crusade has attracted many eminent Crusade historians, and remains one of the areas where a consensus has still not yet been reached. The debate rages on as to whether the diversion to Constantinople was the product of careful planning or not.

This essay, of 5048 words, is a critical survey of the development of the historiography concerning the relations between Venice –and Enrico Dandolo- and Constantinople and how they affected the course of the Fourth Crusade. The essay begins with a consideration of two primary sources –Geoffrey of Villehardouin and Robert of Clari- and a discussion over their relative contributions to the debate. The conclusion is that Villehardouin is the more useful, although with limitations, and Robert is useful only as a complement.

The next section briefly discusses the existence of a traditionalist school, and assesses the difficulties when trying to catalogue the various developments in the two major schools of thought, the Chance Theory and the Premeditation Theory. The section closes with a consideration of the definition of ‘modern historiography,’ and the idea that de Mas-Latrie should be considered the ‘traditionalist school.’

What follows is a detailed, critical survey of the development of the Byzantinist School, the Chance School and the so-called ‘Post-Revisionist’ School in turn, followed by a brief summary of my own view. The validity and credibility of various aspects of each are questioned. When various parts of the more general argument came in is also tracked.

Overall, the development of the historiography is assessed, with comments and discussion on the problems faced when conducting this task. It assesses whether or not the Premeditation Theory is in fact dead, or if indeed a consensus has been reached, which it quickly becomes clear has not.

The development of the historiography concerning Doge Enrico Dandolo, Byzantine-Venetian relations and the Fourth Crusade

The Fourth Crusade remains, to this day, one of the most contentious areas of the Crusades, itself an already polemical topic. The debate over whether or not the events of 1201-4 were an accident is one area of historical discussion which shows no signs of abating, so much so that Claster has simply given up, claiming that ‘assessing blame is unimportant.’[1] The debate centres on interpretation of the primary sources, the most significant of which shall be examined below, and include Geoffrey of Villehardouin and Robert of Clari, both of whom have diverse viewpoints and varying levels of reliability.

It is generally accepted that there are two clear schools of thought: Byzantinists and proponents of the ‘Theory of Accidents,’ also known as the ‘Chance Theory.’[2] Despite this, it remains difficult categorise them into the commonly used traditionalist and revisionist schools. However it is still perhaps possible to identify a ‘post-revisionist,’ school, which is neither Byzantinist nor Chance Theory in nature.[3] By and large, the Byzantinist view is negative about western Christendom, the Venetians and Dandolo specifically, with the Theory of Accidents being a defence against this. The different schools all have some useful points; the most convincing argument takes something of each and combines them: the longer term context and strained Byzantine-Venetian and wider relations between the Empire and the west caused the development of a certain hostile mind-set. This would imply that, while the expedition was not a series of accidents, it was also not one big conspiracy.

Primary Sources

Perhaps the most significant historians of the Fourth Crusade are those who were contemporaries of it. While some might not consider these sources as part of the historiography, both authors form records of events and are each affected by various influences much like any other historian, and so must be considered. More than this though, the contemporary historians form the basis for the main viewpoints considered below, and a lot of the debate centres around their relative reliability.[4] There is an abundance of source material surrounding the expedition, but perhaps the most useful are the accounts of two knights who took part: Geoffrey de Villehardouin, and Robert of Clari.[5] Widely considered the most accessible account, Villehardouin’s has been considered the more significant, with Angold going so far as to state that modern historiography has reached the point where it now revolves around the reliability and accuracy of his account.[6] Possibly a slight exaggeration, the two accounts are of most benefit when used alongside each other – they complement each other due to their contrasting points of view. While Villehardouin was the Marshall of Champagne, Robert of Clari was a poor knight, and his account is often regarded as reflecting the opinion and feeling in the ranks of the Crusade.[7]

Villehardouin’s account is valuable largely due to his high standing in the Crusade, a quality which is emphasised by ‘Chance’ historians but criticised by the likes of Byzantinists such as Alphandéry, Brand, Pears and Riant. While Villehardouin must be considered a key historian due to his position and resultant intimate knowledge of the negotiations and treaties undertaken in the course of the campaign, the aforementioned Byzantinists have criticised this as being an ‘official point of view.’[8] In terms of his accuracy regarding the events of the campaign, its precise and specific nature is praised by supporters and critics alike, with some earlier historians such as Michaud (1767-1839) doing little more than summarising Villehardouin.[9]

The account does have problems however, not least the fact that it was written in medieval French, translation from which has inevitably thrown up problems and errors with mistranslations.[10] As well as this practical consideration, Burrow considers Villehardouin to be biased by his involvement in the campaign, embodied by a certain tone of self-justification which arguably shapes the narrative.[11] There is also the argument made by Beer and Dufournet that Dandolo was romanticised by Villehardouin, and framed in a ‘typical epic-hero mold’ like that of La Chanson de Roland, which seems plausible when one considers his account of the assault on Constantinople.[12] Villehardouin claims that Dandolo personally led the attack up the beach at Constantinople, despite his physical handicaps.[13] While there are obvious advantages to having such an eyewitness account as Villehardouin’s, the idea that the events of the Fourth Crusade were a series of accidents is far too simplistic. Such an inane view is perhaps symptomatic of the fact that Villehardouin was a soldier, not a historian in the modern sense of the word.[14]

Robert’s account by contrast is a view from the ranks, and reflects the more general feeling of the crusaders. While this makes it more useful in some ways than Villehardouin’s account, it does also mean that Robert was not particularly well-informed about the private meetings and negotiations which Villehardouin took part in.[15] This inevitably has led to inaccuracies in his account, which are shown in the numbers he reports for the deficit, and the projected size of the Crusade, which Villehardouin puts at 33,500 but Robert states is 104,000.[16] While Queller almost dismisses this as Robert having ‘no head for figures,’ it remains an issue, if a minor one, considering these are the only two points at which Robert is different when compared to Villehardouin.

Robert’s account suffers from similar limitations to that of Villehardouin in terms of translation and bias. Bagley has also argued that Robert divides the participants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ individuals, although it has been done very generally, with the Venetians being ‘good’ and the leaders being ‘bad.’[17] While this is useful because it likely shows the feeling in the camp, the strength of Robert’s feeling may have led him to exaggerate somewhat. Robert is useful only in complementing to Villehardouin because of how removed he was from the centre of power – it is both a strength and a weakness. Even if he is of less use than Villehardouin, Robert likewise supports the ‘Theory of Accidents’ idea.

The ‘Traditionalist’ School

The existence of a ‘traditionalist school’ is potentially contentious, as there are at least five distinct phases of Fourth Crusade historiography. The first phase lasted from 1204-1861 uncontested, and was based largely upon Villehardouin’s account – a proponent of the Theory of Accidents. Following this, from 1861-1877 came the first incarnation of the Byzantinist Premeditation Theory led by Louis de Mas-Latrie, and later supported and expanded by the likes of Hopf and Riant.[18] In the early 20th century, Norden put forward a modified Chance Theory, where he argued that the Fourth Crusade was not quite a series of accidents, but certainly not premeditated, arguing that it was the product of a certain mind-set prevalent in the west.[19]

Following this, in what is perhaps considered ‘modern historiography,’ Runciman and Mayer took up the argument from a Byzantinist point of view, which meant a return to the Premeditation or ‘Intrigue’ Theory, starting in 1954 with the publishing of Runciman’s History of the Crusades.[20] The idea seemed to have returned to prevalence until 1977 when Queller returned to Norden’s idea of a modified Chance Theory. Ever since, the two ideas have remained alongside each other, despite Madden’s claims that by the end of the twentieth century, the Chance Theory was ‘unknown in academic scholarship.’[21] Some Byantinist historians such as Brand and Nicol retain their views in spite of Queller’s conclusions, however others such as Browning and Runciman ignore them altogether.[22] More recently in 2003 Harris and Angold have begun to form alternative theses, placing more emphasis on the long term causes of the diversion from Egypt.[23]

The discussion over the existence of a ‘traditionalist’ school then might seem simple: the Theory of Accidents put forward by Villehardouin is the traditionalist school – the argument stood largely unchallenged until 1861, with other contemporary accounts being largely dismissed due to their more obvious bias.[24] The most obvious examples of these are the accounts of Nicetas Choniates and the Gesta Innocentii, which are skewed strongly in favour of the Byzantine Empire and the papacy respectively.[25]  There are however those who would argue that Villehardouin and other authors of the primary sources should not be considered historians and should therefore not be included in the historiography. This would make de Mas-Latrie and his Premeditation Theory the traditionalist school.

Still more problems arise when one considers the definition of ‘modern historiography,’ as many Crusade historians, including Madden earlier in his career, refer to Runciman in 1954 as the significant commencement of the debate over the Fourth Crusade.[26] Only thorough surveys include the debate beginning in 1861, but it seems impossible to leave out the roots of the more modern points of view, and de Mas-Latrie should be considered the beginning of modern historiography. Therefore the Premeditation Theory of de Mas-Latrie should be considered the traditionalist school of modern Fourth Crusade historiography. The argument would be that although Villehardouin and other contemporaries must be considered historians, their viewpoints should not be taken into account as part of the historiography precisely because of their contemporary nature – many perceptions come with the benefit of hindsight, and knowledge of the wider context.

The Byzantinist School

The first point at which the Byzantinist school singled out the Venetians for blame in diverting the Fourth Crusade was in 1861. It started with Louis de Mas-Latrie based his argument on the accounts of Nicetas Choniates, a Byzantine politician, Ernoul the Cypriot chronicler and the Chronicle of Novgorod.[27] All of these accounts are decidedly anti-Venetian in nature, with Choniates perhaps being the more widely studied. De Mas-Latrie’s thesis was essentially that the Venetians as an entity were responsible for the diversion of the Fourth Crusade, due to their commercial interests in Egypt, and their relations with the Byzantine Empire – de Mas-Latrie claims they were on the verge of war anyway.[28] Much of the evidence for this thesis is based on the account of Nicetas Choniates, whose somewhat extreme Byzantinist views form an obvious basis for a Premeditation Theory with its stereotyped description of Latins.[29] That the Venetians are those held to account is beyond doubt, as is stated by Angold.[30] Even Byzantinist historians such as Nicol recognise that there is a certain amount of bias present in Choniates’ account, who argues that Venetian competition with Genoa and Pisa led them to seek ‘monopoly through conquest.’[31] By extension, Choniates has a somewhat negative view of Doge Enrico Dandolo, although it is more as a face of the Venetian entity than the Doge personally – the ideas of Dandolo harbouring personal grudges against Byzantium came in later.[32]

It is easy to see why such significance is placed on Choniates’ account as he was a Byzantine senator as well as chronicler, which means he would have been close to the centre of Byzantine power and so would have been a near eyewitness account, particularly following 1175. Magdalino argues specifically that Choniates’ combination of power, nuance, acuity and high moral tone make the account hard to refute initially, although he goes on to argue more credibly that the merits which make the account so convincing also make him a ‘sophisticated manipulator of the facts.’[33] This idea is supported by many of the Chance theorists, who point out that Choniates description of Dandolo in particular is second-hand – how could he have had such insights into a Doge he had never met?[34]

The argument gained further support in 1867 when Karl Hopf appeared to have dated a commercial treaty between Venice and Egypt to just prior to the onset of the Fourth Crusade. This seemed to put the idea that the Venetians had diverted the Crusade knowingly from Egypt to Constantinople.[35] Although this dating was later definitively disproved in 1877 by Hanotaux, the idea has survived in both popular works and those of some scholars.[36] Many of the more modern Byzantinists have argued that the Venetians did not need the excuse of a non-aggression treaty with the Egyptians in order to steer the Crusade to Constantinople, which would therefore incorporate Hanotaux. As mentioned above however, the story has persisted.

The next development in the theory of Premeditation came in the 1950s with Runciman, although he labelled it the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory. Others quickly adopted and modified the idea, emphasising different parts of it. The emphasis of the ‘clash’ theory itself is on the gradually deteriorating relations between western and eastern Christendom. Runciman particularly marked out the expulsion of the Venetians in 1171, the 1182 massacre and the 1185 sack of Thessalonica as significant points, while others such as Vasiliev, Gibbon and Ostrogorsky  have pointed as far back as 1054.[37] In the short term, the claim is that this animosity manifested most strongly in Doge Dandolo and the Venetians, and the theories as to their motivations vary widely, but equally negatively. It is similar to de Mas-Latrie’s original thesis, although placed in the context of gradually deteriorating relations between Byzantium and Venice.[38] While it is important to examine the long-term context, it is unwise to over-interpret events, as many Byzantinists appear to have.

Something which is a feature of this development, and was not part of de Mas-Latrie’s is the focus on Dandolo personally, and his supposed hatred of Byzantium. Theories of varying credibility began to circulate about the circumstances of Dandolo’s blinding and how it caused his hatred of the Empire, including the most imaginative: that the Byzantine Emperor Manuel used a burning glass on his eyes.[39] The more believable accounts draw upon Villehardouin’s claim that Dandolo’s blindness was the product of a blow to the head, although some take this further with only limited evidence, claiming that he sustained this injury during the embassy to Constantinople in 1172, during a brawl. While some Chance theorists claim a complete lack of evidence for this, the idea has been traced to the Chronica Venetum of Andrea Dandolo written over a century later, between 1344-51.[40] Understandably, this source has been granted less weight than that of Villehardouin, who claims that Dandolo had his sight until 1176.[41]

The argument is that Dandolo planned the course of the Fourth Crusade from the outset, including the supposed extortion of the crusaders so they would be in his debt. The counter to this is more than plausible; such planning would have relied on superhuman prescience.[42] Much of this debate within the Byzantinist school developed in the twenty years after Runciman first put forward the idea, but was only seriously challenged in 1977 with the emergence of Queller’s modified Chance Theory. While Brand and Nicol have tried to form counters to this latest incarnation of the thesis, Runciman and Browning have simply ignored it and others have considered it of similar weight to populist works.[43]

The ‘Theory of Accidents’

By contrast the ‘Theory of Accidents’ has its origins in the Crusade itself, with the accounts of Villehardouin and Robert of Clari, although the argument is potentially compromised, as is mentioned above. The first major development in the thesis came in direct opposition to de Mas-Latrie’s Byzantinist thesis of 1861 with Norden suggesting a ‘modified Chance Theory,’ in 1898. Norden essentially synthesised the Chance Theory set forward by Villehardouin and the Premeditation Theory, arguing that relations had been deteriorating between Byzantium and the Latin west, but that the expedition itself was not the victim of a conspiracy. If anything he casts the ‘blame’ on the crusaders rather than the Venetians, arguing that the crusaders were confronted with a series of opportunities, which they took.[44] It must be stressed that it is far from the simple and short-sighted approach of Villehardouin, but it does have similar fundamentals.[45]

Once again, the development of the school relied on that of the Byzantinist view. Following Runciman’s thesis of 1954, the next expansion of the Chance Theory came in 1977 with Queller, and later supported by the Riley-Smith and then his own student Madden, as well as Tyerman and Phillips.[46] The main points of the argument are similar to those of Norden, and the two theses are often compared.[47] Many of Queller’s other points are direct counters to those of the Byzantinists – there are arguments against the negative state of Byzantine-Venetian relations, Dandolo’s cynical nature and the mercantile opportunism of the Venetians in general.[48]

Much of the argument rests on the comparative reliability of Villehardouin and Robert of Clari against Nicetas Choniates, and the flaws and assumptions made by the ‘clash’ theory. Madden makes the point that, particularly in the case of Dandolo, Choniates is contradicted by a diverse body of contemporary witnesses.[49] The good point is made that Villehardouin and Robert of Clari are both eyewitnesses, while Choniates never met Dandolo, and is only really reliable for events between 1175 and the sack in 1204 – even then only from a Byzantine point of view. Queller and Harris both argue that the Byzantinist school rests on a series of assumptions or flaws, depending on which article you read. The assumptions which Queller points out he then proceeded to argue against, and form his central thesis. He argues for Venetian crusading motives, that the target of Egypt was certainly advantageous, and that Venice had no interest in diverting the Crusade to Constantinople.[50] By contrast, Harris opposes the Byzantinist view of the wider context of East-West relations, arguing that the two civilisations were in fact closely intertwined through intermarriage and the Byzantine reliance on western manpower, and that there was in fact a causal link between the growing tension and the sack.[51] Another criticism which is more than credible is Phillips’ point that the sense of outrage among Byzantinist historians overshadows the broader critical approach, which would mean they are not as objective as other historians at the time perhaps were.

The Chance theorists have been if anything helped by the arrival of populist works which support the Byzantinist school. There are numerous populist works, and they almost exclusively support the outdated view set forward by Runciman. Amongst the most heavily criticised are those of Godfrey, Bradford and Sayers, with Madden stating that there are few footnotes, errors of fact, and limited depth of reading.[52] If anything, these unscholarly books have only detracted from the Byzantinist argument and thus added to the Chance Theory as they generally draw from each other, leading them to simply deteriorate, with the repetition of myths, or conjecture lacking evidence.

‘Post-Revisionism’

While Harris is a self-styled ‘post-revisionist,’ it has been shown above that his argument is nearer to that of the Chance theorists than is perhaps thought.  Harris considers Angold another whose viewpoint is not strictly Chance Theory or Premeditation.[53] These theses have developed in the last two decades, with both Harris and Angold publishing books in 2003 which put forward their new ideas. Although they are generalised as ‘post-revisionism,’ the ideas are somewhat different. Harris’ argument is essentially that of a failure of Byzantine foreign policy, a view which is not as original as he might claim – Brand made a similar point almost thirty years prior and Richard’s argument is also comparable.[54]

Angold’s argument is somewhat different, as he examines both long- and short-term accidents. In a sense his theory is also one of accidents, but he looks further back, at the history of Byzantine-Venetian relations, as well as Byzantine relations with the wider western Christian world, and the accidents which took place. In his thesis, one can clearly discern aspects of other arguments. As an example, he argues that the expedition itself was a series of accidents – he does however also argue that Byzantine relations with Venice were poor at the inception of the Crusade.[55] In general, his thesis is somewhere between Byzantinist and Chance theorist in nature when considering the period preceding the Crusade. While he argues that relations were indeed poor, he challenges the premise that taking Byzantium was the answer to Venetian troubles, something that can perhaps be considered a legacy of Queller’s initial thesis.[56] However when considering the campaign itself, his argument aligns more with the Theory of Accidents, including with regards to Dandolo himself.

My own view does not fit neatly into one or another of the broad schools discussed above, although it perhaps comes closer to the Chance Theory than the Byzantinist viewpoint. Byzantine-Venetian relations certainly were strained, for all the claims that eighty-five per cent of reparations for 1171 had been paid by 1203, and relations had been fully repaired.[57] The mistake of many historians has been to consider only the most well-known events, those of 1171 and 1182. What is perhaps more important is study of the chrysobulls through the two centuries before the Fourth Crusade, the trade negotiations entered into with the other Italian cities, and the tension that created throughout Europe, as Emperors attempted to manipulate not just the Italian cities, but also the Holy Roman Empire and the Normans in Sicily. It is, however unlikely that relations were quite as bad as has been suggested by such Byzantinists as Brand.[58]

What is equally clear is that the expedition was not planned out, by Dandolo or anyone else. For the expedition to be following a plan, there were too many variables; too many contingencies had to fall into place. Such planning would have relied upon near-supernatural intelligence. While possible, it remains unlikely. Most compelling of all is the argument put forward by Pryor, about the composition of the Venetian fleet. The fleet was suited for a campaign to Egypt, much more so than Constantinople, as the ships did not lend themselves to an amphibious assault of the type which later took place.[59] Many would probably not have noticed the subtle difference, and so there would have been no reason to jeopardise the campaign for the sake of a cover.

Although the course of the Crusade was not premeditated, it would be inaccurate to call it a series of accidents. An argument among some historians is that there was a gradual decline in relations between Byzantium and both Venice and western Christendom – that there was a development of a certain mind-set alongside and perhaps as part of Crusader ideals. Magdalino in particular talks of the diversion being ‘a reversion to a prevailing tendency,’ claiming that the ‘sack expressed and deepened old hatreds,’ but he is not the only one. Phillips makes a similar point, and Tyerman describes it as a product of policy, not conspiracy, and overall the argument is more than credible.[60] In short, the events of the Crusade itself should be framed within wider, longer term causes as has been argued by Kindlimann, although they should not be considered accidents, as Angold suggests.[61]

Conclusion

Overall then the debate seems no closer to coming to a conclusion than when it opened in 1861, despite Chance theorist claims that the Premeditation Theory is unknown in academic scholarship. One might make the mistake of assuming that, because Queller’s thesis has survived without any serious challenge since 1977, it means that his is the standard work. It is far more complicated than this however – there are both Byzantinist and Chance Theory arguments which are currently alive and well, as has been mentioned above. Despite this, some important conclusions can be drawn through the above analysis of the development of the historiography. The contemporary authors should certainly be considered historians despite their flaws and potentially compromised viewpoints, and as such, Villehardouin and the simple Theory of Accidents are to be considered the traditionalist school.[62]

Therefore, this makes de Mas-Latrie’s Premeditation Theory the revisionist school. It is possible to argue that Norden’s argument is far enough away from the original Theory of Accidents to warrant it being named post-revisionism. However his main influence was Villehardouin, and as such he should only be considered to be revisiting traditionalism, or at least his own interpretation of it. Similarly, Runciman and the like merely re-interpret and expand on de Mas-Latrie’s argument, and so true post-revisionism should be restricted to Angold’s view, alongside which the thesis above should perhaps be placed. Although these broad schools do exist, there are many ideas which do not fit entirely into one school or another, and there will continue to be for as long as the debate continues. This essay has by no means been exhaustive in its examination of the different arguments, as there are too many myriad aspects of the Fourth Crusade and its context. It has however examined the more significant facets of the development of the historiography concerning the Fourth Crusade and its background of Byzantine-Venetian tension. As Luchaire said in 1907 ‘the issue will likely never be settled,’ but it seems premature to resign oneself to that fact, without at least trying for some sort of consensus.[63]

Word limit: 5,048

[1] J.N. Claster, Sacred Violence: The European Crusades to the Middle East, 1095-1396 (Toronto, 2009), p.214.

[2] For a brief summary, see J. Harris, ‘The Debate on the Fourth Crusade,’ History Compass 2 (2004), pp.1-10.

[3] An example of this is perhaps M. Angold, The Fourth Crusade (Great Britain, 2003), although Harris also counts himself as such, see Harris, ‘Debate,’ p.6.

[4] T.F. Madden (ed.), The Fourth Crusade: Event, Aftermath and Perceptions (Aldershot & Burlington, 2008), p.viii, D.M. Nicol, Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations (Cambridge, 1988), p.125.

[5] For a comprehensive list, see D.E. Queller and I.B. Katele, ‘Attitudes towards the Venetians in the Fourth Crusade: The Western Sources,’ The International History Review 4 (1982), pp.1-36.

[6] Angold, Fourth Crusade, p.11, see also N. Jaspert, The Crusades (New York & London, 2006), p.52.

[7] D.E. Queller, ‘Review of “La Conquista di Constantinopoli (1198-1216),” by Roberto di Clari (trans. Nada Petrone),’ Speculum 49 (1974), p.719.

[8] Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ p.8-9, see also J. Burrow, A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century (London, 2007), p.261.

[9] J.J. Norwich,  A Short History of Byzantium (London, 1997), p. 299, Harris, ‘Debate,’ p.2, D.E. Queller and T.F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (Philadelphia, 1997), p.18.

[10] J.L. La Monte, ‘Some Problems in Crusading Historiography,’ Speculum 15 (1940), p.63.

[11] J. Shepard, ‘Review of “The Fourth Crusade: Event and Context” by Michael Angold,’ The International History Review 27 (2005), p.348, Burrow, History, p.262, D.E. Queller and T.F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (Philadelphia, 1997), p.18.

[12] Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ p.11.

[13] Geoffrey of Villehardouin, Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and the Conquest of Constantinople, ch.42, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/villehardouin.asp accessed 19/3/13.

[14] Queller and Madden, Fourth Crusade, p.18.

[15] Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ p.13.

[16] Robert of Clari, The Conquest of Constantinople in eds. S.J. Allen and E. Amt, The Crusades: A Reader (Toronto, 2003), p.227.

[17] Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ p.16.

[18] A.A. Vasiliev, History of the Byzantine Empire, 324-1453, vol.2 2nd edn. (Madison & London, 1952), p.456, J. Harris, Byzantium and the Crusaders (London, 2003), p.xiv, H.E. Mayer, The Crusades Second Edition (Oxford, 1988), pp.201-2.

[19] For a broad overview of the earlier historiography, see Mayer, Crusades, pp.201-2, D.E. Queller and G.W. Day, ‘Some Arguments in Defense of the Venetians on the Fourth Crusade,’ The American Historical Review 81 (1976), pp.717-8.

[20] S. Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol.3: The Kingdom of Acre (Cambridge, 1954), pp.114-5.

[21] T.F. Madden (ed.), The Fourth Crusade: Event, Aftermath and Perceptions (Aldershot & Burlington, 2008), p.ix.

[22] T.F. Madden, ‘Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,’ The International History Review 17 (1995), p.734.

[23] Harris, ‘Debate,’ pp.6-7.

[24] Argued by Vasiliev, History, p.456.

[25] Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ pp.21-3.

[26] Madden, ‘Outside,’ p.730, Angold, Fourth Crusade, p.4.

[27] Mayer, Crusades, p.201, Madden, ‘Outside,’ p.732.

[28] J. Richard, The Crusades, c.1071-c.1291, trans. J. Birrell (Cambridge & New York, 1999), p.248.

[29] A. Kazhdan, ‘Latins and Franks in Byzantium: Perception and Reality from the Eleventh to the Twelfth Century,’ in eds. A.E. Laiou and R.P. Mottahedeh, The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), p.88, C. Tyerman, God’s War (London & New York, 2006), p.515.

[30] Angold, Fourth Crusade, p.8.

[31] Nicol, Byzantium, p.88, Queller and Day, ‘Some Arguments,’ pp.734-6.

[32] Nicetas Choniates in C.M. Brand, Byzantium confronts the West, 1180-1204 (Cambridge, 1968), pp.203-4.

[33] P. Magdalino, ‘The Byzantine Empire, 1118-1204,’ in eds. D. Luscombe and J. Riley-Smith, The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol.4: c.1024-c.1198 (Cambridge, 1995-2005), p.613.

[34] J.H. Pryor, ‘The Venetian Fleet for the Fourth Crusade and the Diversion of the Crusade to Constantinople,’ in eds. M. Bull and N. Housley, The Experience of Crusading (Cambridge, 2003), p.106, T.F. Madden, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice (Baltimore, 2003), p.118.

[35] Queller and Madden, Fourth Crusade, p.51, Harris, Byzantium, p.xiv.

[36] J. Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople (London, 2005), p.70, Madden (ed.), Fourth Crusade, p.ix, J. Phillips, Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London, 2009), p.174, Queller and Day, ‘Some Arguments,’ p.729, Mayer, Crusades, pp.201-2, Harris, Byzantium, p.xiv.

[37] Harris, Byzantium, pp.xiv-xv.

[38] R. Browning, The Byzantine Empire Rev. Ed. (Washington, 1992), p.176, for a more complete detailing of the decline, see Nicol, Byzantium, pp.70-111.

[39] E. Bradford, The Great Betrayal: Constantinople 1204 (London, 1967), p.31, see also, Phillips, Fourth Crusade, p.58.

[40] J.J. Norwich, A History of Venice (London, 1982), p.124, Harris, Byzantium, p.115, Queller and Katele, ‘Attitudes,’ p.7.

[41] Norwich, Venice, p.125.

[42] Queller and Madden, Fourth Crusade, p.55.

[43] See Madden, ‘Outside,’ pp.734-6.

[44] Harris, ‘Debate,’ p.4, E. Sakellariou, ‘Byzantine and Modern Greek Perceptions of the Crusades,’ in ed. H.J. Nicholson, Palgrave Advances in the Crusades (London, 2005), p.254, Vasiliev, History, p.458.

[45] M. Angold, ‘The road to 1204: the Byzantine background to the Fourth Crusade,’ Journal of Medieval History 25 (1999), p.257.

[46] Madden, ‘Outside,’ pp.733-4, Tyerman, God’s War, p.543.

[47] G.A. Zinn Jr., ‘Review of “The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, 1201-1204” by Donald E. Queller,’ Church History 48 (1979), p.337.

[48] Queller and Madden, Fourth Crusade, p.10, Angold, Fourth Crusade, p.58, Phillips, Holy Warriors, pp.173-8, for on overview of the thesis, see Queller and Day, ‘Some Arguments,’ pp.717-37.

[49] Madden, Enrico Dandolo, pp.118-9.

[50] Queller and Day, ‘Some Arguments,’ p.718.

[51] Harris, Byzantium, pp.xv-xvi, ‘Debate,’ pp.5-6.

[52] Madden, ‘Outside,’ pp.735-6.

[53] Harris, ‘Debate,’ pp.6-7.

[54] See Sakellariou, ‘Byzantine,’ p.254, Richard, Crusades, p.248.

[55] Angold, Fourth Crusade, p.88.

[56] Queller and Day, ‘Some Arguments,’ p.732.

[57] T.F. Madden, ‘Vows and Contracts in the Fourth Crusade: The Treaty of Zara and the Attack on Constantinople in 1204,’ The International History Review 15 (1993), p.445.

[58] Brand, Byzantium, p.195.

[59] See Pryor, ‘Venetian Fleet,’ pp.103-23.

[60] Magdalino, ‘Byzantine,’ pp.611, 633, Phillips, Fourth Crusade, p.xxii, C. Tyerman, Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades (Oxford, 2004), p.59.

[61] Sakellariou, ‘Byzantine,’ p.254.

[62] Vasiliev, History, p.456

[63] Madden, ‘Outside,’ p.738.

Bibliography

Primary Sources                                                                

Geoffrey of Villehardouin, The Conquest of Constantinople, in Allen, S. J., and E. Amt (eds.), The Crusades: A Reader (Toronto, 2003)

Geoffrey of Villehardouin, Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and the Conquest of Constantinople http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/villehardouin.asp accessed 19/3/13

Robert of Clari, The Conquest of Constantinople, in Allen, S. J., and E. Amt (eds.), The Crusades: A Reader (Toronto, 2003)

Robert of Clari, Chapters 1-30 http://web.archive.org/web/20110605020855/http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCES/SOURCES/clari1.htm accessed 18/3/2013 accessed 18/3/13

Robert of Clari, Chapters 31-60 http://web.archive.org/web/20110605021016/http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCES/SOURCES/clari2.htm  accessed 18/3/13

Robert of Clari, Chapters 61-90 http://web.archive.org/web/20110605021005/http://www.deremilitari.org/RESOURCES/SOURCES/clari3.htm accessed 18/3/13

 Secondary Sources

Andrea, A. J., ‘Innocent III, the Fourth Crusade and the Coming Apocalypse,’ in S. J. Ridyard (ed.), The Medieval Crusade (Woodbridge, 2004), pp.97-106

Angold, M., ‘The Road to 1204: the Byzantine background to the Fourth Crusade,’ Journal of Medieval History 25 (1999), pp.257-278

Angold, M., The Byzantine Empire 1025-1204: A Political History (London & New York, 1984)

Angold, M., The Fourth Crusade (Great Britain, 2003)

Bartlett, W. B., God Wills It! An Illustrated History of the Crusades (Stroud, 1999)

Bradford, E., The Great Betrayal: Constantinople 1204 (London, 1967)

Brand, C. M., ‘A Byzantine Plan for the Fourth Crusade,’ Speculum 43 (1968), pp.462-475

Brand, C. M., Byzantium confronts the West, 1180-1204 (Cambridge, 1968)

Brown, H. F., ‘The Venetians and the Venetian Quarter in Constantinople to the Close of the Twelfth Century,’ Journal of Hellenic Studies 40 (1920), pp.68-88

Browning, R., The Byzantine Empire, revised edition (Washington, 1992)

Brundage, J. A., ‘Recent Crusade Historiography: Some Observations and Suggestions,’ The Catholic Historical Review 49 (1964), pp.493-507

Brundage, J. A., The Crusades: A Documentary Survey (Milwaukee, 1962)

Burrow, J., A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century (London, 2007)

Claster, J. N., Sacred Violence: The European Crusades to the Middle East, 1095-1396 (Toronto, 2009)

Constable, G., ‘The Historiography of the Crusades in A. E. Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh (eds.), The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), pp.1-22

David, C. W., ‘American Historiography of the Middle Ages, 1884-1934,’ Speculum 10 (1935), pp.125-137

Dennis, G. T., ‘Defenders of the Christian People: Holy War in Byzantium,’ in A. E. Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh (eds.), The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), pp.31-40

Fotheringham, J. K., ‘Genoa and the Fourth Crusade,’ The English Historical Review 25 (1910), pp.26-57

Godfrey, 1204: The Unholy Crusade (Oxford & New York, 1980)

Gregory, T. E., A History of Byzantium (Oxford, 2005)

Harris, J., ‘The Debate on the Fourth Crusade,’ History Compass 2 (2004), pp.1-10

Harris, J., Byzantium and the Crusades (London, 2003)

Harris, J., Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium (London, 2007)

Hendy, M. F., ‘Byzantium, 1081-1204: an economic reappraisal,’ in A. Jotischky, The Crusades: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, vol.1 (Abingdon & New York, 2008), pp.169-186

Hillenbrand, C., The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh, 1999)

Hodgman, A. W., ‘The Fourth Crusade,’ The Classical Journal 43 (1948), pp.225-228

Housley, N., ‘Crusades against Christians: Their Origins and Early Development c.1000-1216,’ in T. F. Madden (ed.), The Crusades (Oxford, 2002), pp.69-98

Housley, N., The Crusaders (Stroud, 2002)

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/crusaders-and-historians-42    accessed 9/2/13

Hussey, J. M., ‘Byzantium and the Crusades, 1081-1204,’ in K. M. Setton, A History of the Crusades, vol.2: The Later Crusades, 1189-1311 (Madison & London, 1969), pp.123-151

Jaspert, N., The Crusades (New York & London, 2006)

Jordan, W. C., ‘Review of “An Ungodly War: The Sack of Constantinople and the Fourth Crusade” by W. B. Barlett,’ Church History 71 (2002), pp.185-186

Kacznski, B. M., ‘Review of “Medieval Diplomacy and the Fourth Crusade” by Donald E. Queller,’ The International History Review 4 (1982), pp.152-154

Kazhdan, A., ‘Latins and Franks in Byzantium: Perception and Reality from the Eleventh to the Twelfth Century,’ in A. E. Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh (eds.), The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), pp.83-100

Kostick, C., The Crusade and the Near East: Cultural Histories (Abingdon, 2011)

La Monte, J. L., ‘Some Problems in Crusading Historiography,’ Speculum 15 (1940), pp.57-75

Laiou, A. E., ‘Byzantine Trade with Christians and Muslims and the Crusades,’ in A. E. Laiou and R. P. Mottahedeh (eds.), The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World (Washington, 2001), pp.157-196

Lane, F. C., Venice: A Maritime Republic (Baltimore, 1973)

Lock, P., The Routledge Companion to the Crusades (Abingdon, 2006)

MacEvitt, C., The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance (Philadelphia, 2008)

Macrides, R., ‘Constantinople: the crusaders’ gaze,’ in R. Macrides (ed.), Travel in the Byzantine World: Papers from the Thirty-fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Birmingham, April 2000 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2002), pp.193-212

Madden, T. F. (ed.), The Fourth Crusade: Event, Aftermath and Perception (Aldershot & Burlington, 2008)

Madden, T. F., ‘Outside and Inside the Fourth Crusade,’ The International History Review 17 (1995), pp.726-743

Madden, T. F., ‘Venice, the Papacy and the Crusades before 1204,’ in S. J. Ridyard (ed.), The Medieval Crusade (Woodbridge, 2004), pp.85-96

Madden, T. F., ‘Vows and Contracts in the Fourth Crusade: The Treaty of Zara and the Attack on Constantinople in 1204,’ The International History Review 15 (1993), pp.441-468

Madden, T. F., Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice (Baltimore, 2003)

Magdalino, P., ‘The Byzantine Empire, 1118-1204,’ in D. Luscombe and J. Riley-Smith (eds.), The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol.4: c.1024-c.1198 (Cambridge, 1995-2005), pp.611-643

Magdalino, P., ‘The Phenomenon of Manuel I Komnenos,’ in J. D. Howard-Johnston (ed.), Byzantium and the West, c.850-c.1200: Proceedings of the XVIII Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies (Amsterdam, 1988), pp.171-200

Marin, S., ‘Between Justification and Glory: The Venetian Chronicles’ View of the Fourth Crusade,’ in T. F. Madden (ed.), The Fourth Crusade: Event, Aftermath and Perception (Aldershot & Burlington, 2008), pp.113-121

Marshall, C., ‘The Crusading motivation of the Italian City Republics in the Latin East, 1096-1104,’ in M. Bull and N. Housley (eds.), The Experience of Crusading (Cambridge, 2003), pp.60-79

Martin, M., ‘The Venetians in the Byzantine Empire before 1204,’ in J. D. Howard-Johnston (ed.), Byzantium and the West, c.850-c.1200: Proceedings of the XVIII Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies (Amsterdam, 1988), pp.201-214

Mayer, H. E., The Crusades Second Edition (Oxford, 1988)

McNeal, E. H., and R. L. Wolff, ‘The Fourth Crusade,’ in K. M. Setton, A History of the Crusades, vol.2: The Later Crusades, 1189-1311 (Madison & London, 1969), pp.153-186

Moore, J. C., Pope Innocent III: To Root up and Plant (Aldershot, 2011)

Murray, A. V., The Crusades: an encyclopedia (Oxford, 2006)

Nicol, D. M., Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations (Cambridge, 1988)

Norwich, J. J., A History of Venice (London, 1982)

Norwich, J. J., A Short History of Byzantium (London, 1997)

Oldenbourg, Z., The Crusades (trans. A. Carter) (London, 2001)

Paine, M., The Crusades (Harpenden, 2001)

Phillips, J., Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London, 2009)

Phillips, J., The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople (London, 2005)

Powell, J. M., ‘Rereading the Crusades: An Introduction,’ The International History Review 17 (1995), pp.663-669

Pryor, J. H., ‘The Maritime Republics,’ in D. Abulafia (ed.), The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol.5: c.1198-c.1300 (London, 1999), pp.419-446

Pryor, J. H., ‘The Venetian Fleet for the Fourth Crusade and the Diversion of the Crusade to Constantinople,’ in M. Bull and N. Housley (eds.), The Experience of Crusading (Cambridge, 2003), pp.103-123

Qadir, K., ‘Modern Historiography: The Relevance of the Crusades,’ Islamic Studies 46 (2007), pp.527-528

Queller, D. E., ‘Review of “La conquista di Constantinopoli (1198-1216)” by Robert of Clari,’ Speculum 49 (1974), pp.719-722

Queller, D. E., and G. W. Day, ‘Some arguments in defence of the Venetians on the Fourth Crusade,’ The American Historical Review 81 (1976), pp.717-737

Queller, D. E., and I. B. Katele, ‘Attitudes towards the Venetians in the Fourth Crusade: The Western Sources,’ The International History Review 4 (1982), pp.1-36

Queller, D. E., and T. F. Madden, The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (Philadelphia, 1997)

Queller, D. E., T. K. Compton and D. A. Campbell, ‘The Fourth Crusade: the Neglected Majority,’ Speculum 49 (1974), pp.441-465

Richard, J., The Crusades, c.1071-c.1291, trans. J. Birrell (Cambridge & New York, 1999)

Ridyard, S. J. (ed.), The Medieval Crusade (Woodbridge, 2004)

Riley-Smith, J., The Crusades: A Short History (New Haven & London, 1987)

Rist, R., The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245 (London & New York, 2009)

Runciman, S., ‘Byzantium and the Crusades,’ in T. F. Madden (ed.), The Crusades (Oxford, 2002), pp.211-220

Runciman, S., A History of the Crusades, vol.3: The Kingdom of Acre (Cambridge, 1954)

Sakellariou, E., ‘Byzantine and Modern Greek Perceptions of the Crusades,’ in H. J. Nicholson (ed.) Palgrave Advances in the Crusades (London, 2005), pp.245-269

Schmandt, R. H., ‘The Fourth Crusade and the Just-War Theory,’ The Catholic Historical Review 61 (1975), pp.191-221

Shepard, J., ‘Review of “The Fourth Crusade: Event and Context” by Michael Angold,’ The International History Review 27 (2005), pp.347-350

Throop, S. A., Crusading as an Act of Vengeance 1095-1216 (Farnham, 2011)

Tyerman, C., Fighting for Christendom: Holy War and the Crusades (Oxford & New York, 2004)

Tyerman, C., God’s War (London & New York, 2006)

Tyerman, C., The Debate on the Crusades (Manchester & New York, 2011)

Vasiliev, A. A., History of the Byzantine Empire, 324-1453, vol.2, Second Edition (Madison & London, 1952)

Vryonis Jr., S., Byzantium and Europe (London, 1967)

Wright, C., ‘On the margins of Christendom: the impact of the Crusades on Byzantium,’ in C. Kostick (ed.), The Crusades and the Near East (Abingdon, 2011), pp.55-82

Zinn Jr., G. A., ‘Review of “The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, 1201-1204” by Donald E. Queller,’ Church History 48 (1979), pp.337-338

Feedback:

70%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Choice and definition of topic: Excellent

Range of resources used: Outstanding-Excellent

Organization of the material: Excellent-Good

Critical approach to historiography: Excellent

Lucidity and cogency of argument: Excellent-Good

Depth of understanding and insight: Excellent

Factual accuracy: Excellent

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Excellent-Good

Fluent and correct English: Excellent-Good

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Excellent-Good

Sources cited correctly: Good-Competent

General Comments and Advice: This essay demonstrates a good understanding of the medieval and modern historiography, and a very impressive amount has been read and used, and it is well evaluated. The two chronicles are nicely compared. You have a good array of the more marginal sources too, and rightly give a good deal of attention to the 19th century historians. You say some important things about what the various schools/historians say about and other, and you categorise them intelligently. Lovely conclusion, but the preceding section on your own view should go there too.

I got a bit lost trying to keep track of the various terms used for schools of thought, but aside from that you address the various positions, with their various ‘sub-positions’ and variants/modifications well. You understand their development over time well. You could have said more about historians not wanting to clarify the primary sources as part of the historiography. Presumably it is more to do with the fact that the chronicles, especially Villehardouin, influenced events?

Nicely written. In fact a great deal of care has been taken of content and style. But you could have said more about the Doge, as per the title.

 

Seminar Report: Why did the nobility go on the First Crusade?

This report achieved a low 2:1 in the second year of my undergraduate.

Seminar Report – Why did the nobility go on the First Crusade?

 

The debate concerning the motivations of the lay elite on the First Crusade is a widely contested one. Many consider the roots of the historiography to be with Runciman in the 1950s, and it has since progressed through revisionism with such as Tyerman and Riley-Smith, all the way to the newest ‘post-revisionism,’ with the contrasting views of Throop and Murray. Traditionalists led by Runciman argue for material motives, while revisionists argue for genuine piety. So-called ‘post-revisionists’ argue a variety of motivations, though the most well-received have been Throop arguing for crusading being an act of vengeance, and Murray arguing the importance of familial ties and feudal obligations. Most convincing would be the argument that there was no single incentive for all the participants – different nobles had different motivations.

The traditionalist viewpoint, which has been largely dismissed as the historiography has developed, has developed from Runciman’s initial thesis that the younger sons of the European nobility lacked opportunities to inherit, and they saw the Crusades as a way to gain wealth and land in the Levant. Mayer later expanded this by arguing that poor economic conditions, combined with the internecine warfare of Europe made the nobility more open to the idea of the Crusades, especially preached as it was – to present the Holy Land as affluent. Both historians include the examples of the sack of Jerusalem in 1099, and the Jewish Pogroms on the journey to the Holy Land as evidence that the crusaders were motivated purely by greed.

This view has been strongly challenged by the likes of Riley-Smith, Phillips and Constable, who emphasise through the analysis of charters that many of the crusading nobles sold all they had to pay for their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While the evidence would seem indisputable due to its physical nature, it could be argued that it was a calculated gamble; that they sold their possessions in Europe in the hope of gaining more in the Holy Land. More convincing though is the more obvious argument that genuine piety existed among the elite of Europe, that they felt it their religious duty to free the Holy Land, even at great personal cost.

The challenge to the traditionalist view ties in with the revisionist school, which argues that the crusaders were motivated by the prospect of redemption of their sins. Revisionist historians all have a different take on the same general argument, with Oldenbourg stating that the knightly classes were aware of the poor situation their souls were in, considering the almost constant warfare they were involved in, throughout Europe. Meanwhile, Riley-Smith emphasises the growth of contemporary hagiography, especially those accounts based on military saints, such as St. George and St. Michael. Alongside this, Tyerman has argued for the promotion of the theory of the ‘just war,’ which would obviously have made the Crusades appealing for professional soldiers such as much of the nobility were. The offering of papal indulgence to those who fought on Crusade meant that nobles could now fight and be absolved of their sins simultaneously. This would then seem to be a convincing argument for religious fervour being crucial in terms of motivating the nobility of Europe.

Although one can term the last school as ‘post-revisionist,’ this is potentially inaccurate, as there is no real unifying theme among the various historians’ arguments. As mentioned before, Throop argues that crusading was an act of vengeance, although she does qualify the idea with the point that it was nowhere near as prevalent as in the later Crusades. She does concede that the First Crusade planted the ‘roots’ for the idea though. Both Riley-Smith and Murray have argued differently, for the importance of familial ties and feudal obligation. The argument is that many people were obliged to make a pilgrimage simply as a result of their ties to other crusaders, and not for any of the other factors listed above.

It seems counter-productive to raise one factor above the others as the sole motivation of the early crusading nobility, as that act would oversimplify the diverse nature of the first crusaders themselves. While some nobles, such as Bohemond of Taranto and his second, Tancred, quite obviously went in search of material gain, the most convincing argument is that the majority of the noble participants, including Godfrey de Bouillon and Raymond of Toulouse went for genuine religious reasons. As France has said, what else could compel so many to travel so far in the eleventh century?

Feedback:

62%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

 

Understanding and Insight: Excellent-Good

Critical approach to historiography: Good

Breadth and depth of reading: Good

Use of evidence and examples: Competent

Reflection on seminar performance: Excellent-Good

Sources cited correctly: Fail

Fluent and correct English: Excellent

Relevance: Excellent

General Comments and Advice: A good report, and well written. You didn’t manage to say much that was original, but it was a good survey nonetheless. It lacks footnotes however and a bibliography.

 

Did the conquerors of the Baltic lands put colonisation before conversion?

This essay achieved a mid-2:1 in the second year of my undergraduate.

Did the conquerors of the Baltic lands put colonisation before conversion?

The Baltic was conquered in a series of brutally efficient campaigns, initially led by the local elite, and later by military orders, in a process with spanned over two centuries. The conquerors of the Baltic lands almost exclusively considered themselves –or claimed to be- crusaders. While the wording of the question might not suggest it, the definition of a Crusade is crucial in determining the motives and aims of the majority of the conquerors of the Baltic. There are several significant distinctions to be made before one approaches the issue of ‘colonisation versus conversion,’ such as those between crusaders and clergy, and crusaders and pilgrims, as different groups moved into the area for a variety of reasons, and not all took part in the conquest of the Baltic.[1] Before any of the questions over the motives of the conquerors can be assessed however, the legitimacy of the Baltic ‘Crusades’ should be questioned, as this would perhaps give a greater insight into the character of the participants, especially in a region where religious identity played such a role. At first evaluation, the more likely argument is that the conquerors did indeed place colonisation, and by extension their own material and temporal welfare, before conversion.

As has been explained, the definition of what exactly constituted a Crusade is important for the discussion of whether or not the expeditions in the Baltic were Crusades or not. Perhaps the best summary of the general debate has been set forward by Constable, who states that there are four schools of thought. Traditionalists, such as Mayer, argue that only campaigns which set Jerusalem as the ultimate goal can be considered Crusades, though this has been challenged by Pluralists, championed by Riley-Smith, who place greater emphasis on the initiation of the expeditions: on the vows and indulgences of the participants. These two schools have later been joined by the Populists such as Alphandéry and Delaruelle, who focus on the collective prophetic and eschatological elements of the campaign, and Generalists such as Hehl, who class any act of holy war as a Crusade, and is almost all-encompassing.[2] More specific to the Baltic, perhaps the most convincing argument is that initial expeditions were supported by specific papal Bulls, such as the 1147 Divina dispensatione and as such can be considered true Crusades.[3] By contrast, while the later ‘crusaders’ considered themselves so, they had corrupted the ideal. They may have seemed ‘official’ Crusades to spectators, but they were not worthy of the name.[4]

The obvious argument that conversion was just as important as colonisation if not more so, is that as Crusades, the campaigns had religion at their core, something shown most in the earlier Crusades against the Wends, the Livs and arguably the Prussians. Taylor in particular argues that Eugenius III’s actions in the lead up to 1147 were crucial. She argues that the remission of sins was only offered in exchange for conversion rather than subjugation, and that Eugenius put a lot of effort into promoting this idea.[5] Later, in the Livonian Crusade, Celestine III and later Innocent III granted indulgences to those who went on Crusade in defence of the Livonian church, which implies that, at least under that Pope, the campaigns were seen as defensive wars, and as such the focus was not at all on colonisation.[6] Maschke argues that the Prussian Crusade was one of the so-called ‘missionary Crusades,’ and had far more religious roots than the later war against the Lithuanians.[7] Ehlers argues along similar lines, but it should be stressed that it is only deemed a genuine Crusade by comparison with the later Lithuanian conflict, the nature of which many historians have cast aspersions on.[8] The strongly religious nature of the early campaigns would suggest that conversion was more of an aim than colonisation.

Many historians argue that all ventures in the region which had been legitimized by the papacy were to convert the population, something which has led to them being labelled ‘missionary crusades.’[9] Including the likes of Jakštas, Riley-Smith and Paravicini, these historians argue that colonisation was parallel to, or a product of conversion – a view which has been heavily criticised by some, addressed below.[10] The argument is supported by the idea that great numbers of the clergy participated in the movement east, and their main aim was in fact conversion, and also by the evidence of widespread church-building in the conquered regions.[11] As well as this, Ekdahl argues that Riga was founded as a base for missions rather than campaigns, and that it was to be a centre of cultural rather than military expansion, which shows that the intent was to convert the population, rather than subjugate them.[12] Preceding this, there is considerable debate over Bernard’s preaching of the Wendish Crusade, during which he seemed to advocate forced conversion, something prohibited in the Bible. This could be seen as an example of the lengths to which the westerners were willing to go to convert the local pagans.[13] The argument for conversion being more of a motive than colonisation would therefore seem to be a convincing one, but it has been widely challenged.

The direct challenge comes in the form of the argument that conversion attempts proved ineffectual. Kala makes the good point that the heathens stayed heathen until the 13th century, and Spence gives a possible reason for this as papal neglect.[14] On the other hand, Taylor goes so far as to say that in 1147, the entire venture was a complete failure, both in terms of colonisation and conversion.[15] While the latter evaluation is a little harsh, the former is stark evidence that conversion was probably not the main aim of the conquerors of the Baltic: they did manage to conquer the majority of the Baltic but as Kala argues, they failed for a long time to convert the newly-subjugated population. Tyerman has also argued along these lines that conversion attempts rested on the desire of the local nobles for land: if they wanted to expand, the target population would be left pagan, in an attempt to legitimise any warfare under the guise of a Crusade.[16]

Colonisation was important to the conquerors of the Baltic, potentially more so than the conversion of its inhabitants. Historians such as Phillips, Housley and Tyerman argue that the local nobility in particular were motivated by a desire for land, rather than religious zeal.[17] There is ample evidence for this, particularly in the 1147 campaign, but also throughout the period. Palmer has pointed out that campaigns to occupy territories had been taking place in the region much earlier, for example under Adolf II of Holstein in 1140, and that the ‘Crusades’ were such ventures with papal legitimization.[18] The siege of Stettin in 1147 is perhaps the most overt example, as it was a Christian city, and yet the crusaders still very nearly attacked it, for their own strategic benefit.[19] Taylor and Ekdahl consider the wider period, citing the Saxon colonialism and the sheer number of new settlements – in the period, Ekdahl claims 100 new cities and 1400 new villages were created.[20] While these examples do not show that colonisation was considered more important than conversion, they do show that colonisation was deemed significant.

In support of this argument for material motives over religious, trade is obviously cited as an important motive. The majority of historians including Blomqvist argue that this perhaps above all else shows that there was more concern with material wealth than spiritual reward.[21] Tyerman and Palmer also specify, citing some of the later campaigns, when the crusaders came into contact with Russian interests, and the rich trade in fur, fish, amber, wax and slaves.[22] Concern over trade was a motive elsewhere during the Crusades, most notably in Antioch during the First Crusade, so it is only reasonable to suppose that such factors were motivating other participants in the Baltic, and while not directly colonisation, the influx of traders would naturally have led to the establishment of colonies. As such trading considerations can be counted as in line with colonisation attempts.

Twentieth century historiography on the Baltic Crusades focused on the ideological aspect of the campaigns, and historians such as Maschke and Purcell have argued that the Crusade ideology was only used for the purpose of legitimisation.[23] This argument has been supported more recently by Tyerman and Spence, who have both expanded on it somewhat. Spence states that the newly-baptised were not treated as equals by the conquerors and this would suggest that they still considered them unsophisticated if not pagan.[24] Tyerman argues that the 1147 Wendish Crusade was ‘regional warfare under a new flag of convenience,’ and that later Danish colonising attempts only had formal Crusade Bulls attached sporadically.[25] Tyerman’s argument in particular would support the view that colonisation was of more concern than conversion, as it would suggest that the Crusades were simply a continuation of earlier internecine warfare. The fact as well that the colonisation attempts continued even without papal authorisation shows that the illusion of papal direction was thin at best.

Potentially the most convincing argument for colonisation over conversion however, is the challenge to the point above that colonisation was a result of conversion. Many historians argue in a variety of ways that the opposite was in fact true – that conversion was made possible only through colonisation.[26] Lotter’s argument is particularly interesting, as he states that Bernard’s call to convert the pagans or destroy them was somewhat metaphorical, and that he only meant a cultural destruction so as to facilitate conversion.[27] It is perhaps dangerous to read too much into Bernard’s words, but the theory is a plausible one, and offers an explanation as to why he preached such a direct contradiction to the Bible. Alongside this, Phillips argues that the fighting was not a brutal as it might have been, because the would-be conquerors had no desire to kill potential subjects.[28] While this makes sense, it contradicts other historians such as Herder, Baczko and Kotzebue, who state that the activity of colonisation involved the extermination of many of the inhabitants, and so cannot necessarily be considered as evidence that the crusaders’ priority was colonisation.[29] As well as this, one could argue that the reason the crusaders were not overly brutal was so that they could convert them. The more simple arguments however are more convincing, that colonisation was necessary for conversion to take place, and that contemporaries recognised this and acted accordingly.

Similar to this, there is the argument that the conversion was only made possible by colonisation.[30] Cited as evidence is the destruction of pagan religious sites, which could be considered part of a campaign of cultural destruction, as Lotter might suggest.[31] While it is possible to argue that this points to religious motives as being important, what seems more likely is that in fact religious sites were either more affluent targets. More cynically, one could argue that the crusaders wanted to maintain the appearance of the war being for religious purposes by attacking the centres of the Slavic religion. Overall then, conversion was perhaps considered difficult when independent of colonisation, which arguably contributed to its primacy as an aim among the conquerors of the Baltic lands.

The approach the crusaders took to the conquest of the Baltic would also point to colonisation being a primary objective. The focal point of this argument is the establishment of Riga and the use of it as a military base for expansion in the years after its foundation.[32] Plakans talks as well about the fact that some of the littoral peoples took the side of the crusaders at various points, despite the fact that they were pagans, and the fact that there was a lot of focus on strategic security rather than religion.[33] Other historians including the likes of Jensen and Tyerman point to the tactics of the crusaders, or more specifically their brutality. They argue that the brutality shown perhaps more by the later crusaders is indicative of a campaign for dominance rather than conversion, and Bacon has argued that such a operation in fact made the activity of conversion all the more difficult.[34] Since the aim of colonisation is to subjugate the inhabitants of the target area, it seems certain that these brutal campaigns of dominance were with colonisation in mind rather than conversion.

In short then, there was a great diversity of motives present in the Baltic littoral right from the outset of the legitimised Crusades.[35] Perhaps shown best in the disjunction between preaching and local aspirations, this makes it difficult to make a generalised answer to the question, as there were different factions on the Crusades, and even among the conquerors.[36] Assigning one motive to the whole movement would therefore mean dismissing many of these factions. In spite of this however, there were overarching themes to the period, and the general consensus is that the Crusades in the Baltic degenerated into a sham, and only served personal, local interests rather than converting the population.[37] What can be considered definitive evidence that the majority of crusaders in the Baltic did put colonisation before conversion are the circumstances surrounding the 1386-7 Christianisation of Lithuania. Taking place independently of the actions of the Teutonic Order, it shows that had the crusaders wanted only to convert the populace, it was entirely possible to do so, and the colonisation which took place only complicated the situation.[38] Insomuch as one can generalise then, the majority of the conquerors of the Baltic lands did indeed put their own, colonising interests before those of the clergy and the papacy.

Word Count : 2,950

[1] C. Tyerman, God’s War (London & New York, 2006), p.684, A. Ehlers, ‘The Crusade of the Teutonic Knights against Lithuania Reconsidered,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), p.33.

[2] See C. Tyerman, The Debate on the Crusades (Manchester & New York), p.225.

[3] J. Phillips, Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London, 2009), p.85, P. Taylor, ‘Moral Agency in Crusade and Colonization: Anselm of Havelberg and the Wendish Crusade of 1147,’ The International History Review 22 (2000), p.758.

[4] Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ pp.21, 23-4, Tyerman, God’s War, p.712.

[5] Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.772.

[6] J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades: A Short History (New Haven & London, 1987), pp.130, 131, see also for the Prussian Crusade as a defensive war: L. Pósán, ‘Prussian Missions and the Invitation of the Teutonic Order into Kulmerland,’ in eds. Z Hunyadi and J. Laszlowsky, The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity (Budapest, 2001), pp.432-3, M. Starnawska, ‘Military Orders and the Beginning of Crusades in Prussia,’ in eds. Z Hunyadi and J. Laszlowsky, The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity (Budapest, 2001), pp.421-2.

[7] Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ p.23.

[8] Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ pp.36-7, 42.

[9] Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.759.

[10] S. Ekdahl, ‘Crusades and Colonization in the Baltic,’ in ed. H.J. Nicholson, Palgrave Advances in the Crusades (Basingstoke, 2005), p.172, Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.757, see also Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ p.24.

[11] For the clergy, see Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.99, R. Spence, ‘Pope Gregory IX and the Crusade on the Baltic,’ Catholic Historical Review 69 (1983), pp.7-9. For church-building, see Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.784, A. Palmer The Baltic: A New History of the Region and its People (Woodstock & New York, 2006), p.45, A. Plakans, A Concise History of the Baltic States (Cambridge, 2011), p.38.

[12] Ekdahl, ‘Crusades,’ p.174.

[13] J. Phillips, The Crusades, 1095-1197 (London, 2002), p.72, Holy Warriors, p.85, N. Housley, Contesting the Crusades (Oxford, 2006), p.110.

[14] T. Kala, ‘The Incorporation of the Northern Baltic Lands into the Western Christian World,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), pp.19-20, Spence, ‘Pope Gregory,’ pp.2-3.

[15] Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.784.

[16] Tyerman, God’s War, p.679.

[17] Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.99, Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ p.23, Spence, ‘Pope Gregory,’ p.4, Tyerman, God’s War, p.676, Housley, Contesting, p.112.

[18] Palmer, The Baltic, p.38.

[19] Palmer, The Baltic, p.39, Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.100, The Second Crusade: Expanding the Frontiers of Christendom (New Haven & London, 2007), p.242.

[20] Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.784, Ekdahl, ‘Crusades,’ p.177.

[21] Palmer, The Baltic, p.43, Plakans, A Concise History, p.39, Ekdahl, ‘The Crusade,’ p.174, Kala, ‘Incorporation,’ p.20, Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.762, see also Phillips, The Second Crusade, p.241, J.W. Thompson, ‘Early Trade Relations between the Germans and the Slavs,’ Journal of Political Economy 30 (1922), p.550.

[22] Tyerman, God’s War, p.685, Palmer, The Baltic, p.48.

[23] See Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ p.23.

[24] Spence, ‘Pope Gregory,’ pp.13-14.

[25] Tyerman, God’s War, pp.680, 685.

[26] Plakans, A Concise History, pp.38, 39, Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.762, Tyerman, God’s War, p.683, Housley, Contesting, p.110.

[27] F. Lotter, ‘The crusading idea and the conquest of the region east of the Elbe,’ in eds. R. Bartlett and A. MacKay, Medieval Frontier Societies (Oxford, 1989), pp.289-90.

[28] Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.100, The Second Crusade, pp.241, 243.

[29] See Ekdahl, ‘Crusades,’ p.177.

[30] Thompson, J.W., ‘The German Church and the Conversion of the Baltic Slavs: Concluded,’ The American Journal of Theology 20 (1916), p.386.

[31] Tyerman, God’s War, p.678, Thompson, ‘German Church,’ p.388.

[32] Plakans, A Concise History, pp.36-7, Palmer, The Baltic, p.43.

[33] Plakans, A Concise History, p.40.

[34] See Tyerman, God’s War, p.688, K.V. Jensen, ‘Introduction,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), p.xxii, Palmer, The Baltic, p.44.

[35] In general, see Ehlers, ‘The Crusade,’ p.22, Kala, ‘Incorporation,’ p.20, Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.761. For 1147, see Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.99, The Crusades, p.72, The Second Crusade, p.241, Thompson, ‘German Church,’ p.381. For 1200s, see Palmer, The Baltic, p.40, Spence, ‘Pope Gregory,’ p.6.

[36] Phillips, Holy Warriors, p.100, Taylor, ‘Moral Agency,’ p.774, Spence, ‘Pope Gregory,’ p.4.

[37] Tyerman, God’s War, p.712.

[38] Ekdahl, ‘Crusades,’ p.174, Tyerman, God’s War, p.688.

Bibliography

Ehlers, A., ‘The Crusade of the Teutonic Knights against Lithuania Reconsidered,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), pp.21-44

Ekdahl, S., ‘Crusades and Colonization in the Baltic,’ in ed. H.J. Nicholson, Palgrave Advances in the Crusades (Basingstoke, 2005), pp.172-203

Housley, N., Contesting the Crusades (Oxford, 2006)

Jensen, K.V., ‘Introduction,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), pp.xvii-xxv

Kahl, H-D., ‘Crusade Eschatology as seen by St. Bernard in the years 1146 to 1148,’ in ed. M. Gervers, The Second Crusade and the Cistercians (New York, 1992), pp.35-47

Kala, T., ‘The Incorporation of the Northern Baltic Lands into the Western Christian World,’ in ed. A.V. Murray, Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500 (Aldershot & Burlington, 2001), pp.3-20

Kreem, J., ‘The Teutonic Order in Livonia: Diverging Historiographic Traditions,’ in eds. Z. Hunyadi and J. Laszlovsky, The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity (Budapest, 2001), pp.467-480

Lotter, F., ‘The crusading idea and the conquest of the region east of the Elbe,’ in eds. R. Bartlett and A. MacKay, Medieval Frontier Societies (Oxford, 1989), pp.267-306

Palmer, A., The Baltic: A New History of the Region and its People (Woodstock & New York, 2006)

Phillips, J., Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London, 2009)

Phillips, J., The Crusades, 1095-1197 (London, 2002)

Phillips, J., The Second Crusade: Expanding the Frontiers of Christendom (New Haven & London, 2007)

Plakans, A., A Concise History of the Baltic States (Cambridge, 2011)

Pósán, L., ‘Prussian Missions and the Invitation of the Teutonic Order into Kulmerland,’ in eds. Z. Hunyadi and J. Laszlovsky, The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity (Budapest, 2001), pp.429-448

Riley-Smith, J., The Crusades: A Short History (New Haven & London, 1987)

Spence, R., ‘Pope Gregory IX and the Crusade on the Baltic,’ Catholic Historical Review 69 (1983), pp.1-19

Starnawska, M., ‘Military Orders and the Beginning of Crusades in Prussia,’ in eds. Z. Hunyadi and J. Laszlovsky, The Crusades and the Military Orders: Expanding the Frontiers of Medieval Latin Christianity (Budapest, 2001), pp.417-428

Taylor, P., ‘Moral Agency in Crusade and Colonization: Anselm of Havelberg and the Wendish Crusade of 1147,’ The International History Review 22 (2000), pp.757-784

Thompson, J.W., ‘Early Trade Relations between the Germans and the Slavs,’ Journal of Political Economy 30 (1922), pp.543-558

Thompson, J.W., ‘The German Church and the Conversion of the Baltic Slavs: Concluded,’ The American Journal of Theology 20 (1916), pp.372-389

Throop, S.A., Crusading as an Act of Vengeance, 1095-1216 (Farnham & Burlington, 2011)

Tyerman, C., God’s War (London & New York, 2006)

Tyerman, C., The Debate on the Crusades (Manchester & New York, 2011)

Feedback:

65%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Breadth of Reading: Excellent-Good

Critical approach to historiography: Outstanding-Excellent

Focus on question: Excellent

Organization of the material: Good

Depth of understanding and insight: Good

Use of examples: Excellent-Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Good

Factual accuracy: Good

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Excellent

Fluent and correct English: Good

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Excellent

Sources cited correctly: Excellent

General Comments and Advice: This is a very well-informed and thoughtful essay, using an impressive range of secondary material and with good coverage geographically and chronologically.

It lacks something in terms of structure, with ideas being reiterated, and the distinction between different schools of thought not being well reflected.

Some conceptual issues in the introduction – who are the ‘local elite’ as distinct from conquerors? Sound conclusion, relating to the introduction – the clergy were part of the conquest. In future, progress to using primary sources. There are a couple of places where they could have been quoted.

 

Book Review: ‘The Grim Company’, by Luke Scull

Grim CompanyI dived into this without really knowing too much about the premise, instead starting it because I know it’s been very well received. This makes it difficult for me to stay that I wasn’t too sure about it. I didn’t not enjoy it per se, and I thought the writing was very good, but I found myself not liking the characters.

Having had time to consider, it feels like there are distinct similarities between The Grim Company and Abercrombie’s style, both in terms of cast and the general bleakness of the world. Many of the character archetypes seem overfamiliar from several of Abercrombie’s books (at this point I’ve read The First Law, Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country).

This is by no means a bad thing –I very much like Abercrombie- but I felt that it fell somewhat short, and I found it very hard to empathise with many of the characters, in particular Davarus Cole, who just downright annoyed me and seemed to have very little in the way of common sense.

Alongside this, the plot initially seemed a little directionless, while the exploration of the world took place. That is to say, there did not seem to be any clear, realistic goal in mind. I always enjoyed trying to work out where the plot is going before it gets there, as I find it really helps me to explore the minds of characters – almost as if I’m trying to think from their perspective.

Having said all that, I do very much like the history of the world. I also enjoyed the refreshing magic system, with magic as a physical resource to be harvested. While this seems so simple, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it, and I always massively appreciate original fantasy.

‘The Grim Company,’ by Luke Scull is the first in The Grim Company Trilogy.

How sustainable were the polities created by the crusaders in the Holy Land?

This essay achieved 60% in the first year of my undergraduate.

How sustainable were the polities created by the crusaders in the Holy Land?

It is almost exclusively argued that, in hindsight, the Crusader states were not at all sustainable. The basis of this argument is that there were many long term problems caused by the Western presence in Outremer, as well as the political situation in Europe throughout the period. This political instability in Europe translated to the Holy Land in the form of political dissension among the leaders of the various crusades. As well as this, there was also the ongoing tension between the Norman leaders (traditionally those of Antioch) and the Byzantine Empire[1] which culminated in the Norman defeat at Durazzo in 1107[2]. The other main arguments include the lack of support for Jerusalem[3], as well as lack of manpower[4], the debatable lack of strong leadership[5], and to a certain extent the arrogance of the Crusaders[6]. By contrast to this, the Muslims benefitted from strong leadership at various points throughout the period, perhaps most notably the likes of Il-Ghazi (1119-22), Zengi (1128-46), Nur-ad Din (1146-74) and Saladin (1174-93)[7].

There are however some significant counter examples to this, and it is argued by some that rather than being doomed to inevitably fail, the fall of the Crusader states was based on a few major turning points. These are widely considered the battle of the ‘Field of Blood’ in 1119, the fall of Edessa in 1144, the breaking of the alliance with Damascus in 1148[8] and finally and perhaps more obviously the Battle at Hattin[9] in 1187. Most historians[10] follow the argument that there were certain important points, but many simultaneously argue that the fall of the Crusader states was inevitable.

If they are looked for, the stages which led to the fall of Jerusalem have their roots in problems present since the creation of the states. Of these, and perhaps the most important were the divisions in many aspects of the Crusader polities. There were both divisions among the secular rulers as well as those inevitably between the secular rulers and the church. As well as these internal problems, there were also the potentially more damaging divisions between the Normans who made up a good proportion of the Crusaders and the Byzantine Empire which was the nearest Christian state. These divisions effectively crippled Crusader polities at one time or another, with those among the secular rulers primarily causing crises at any succession, although these gradually receded as the states became more established. The initial dispute[11] between the secular leaders and the church as to the nature of the emergent state[12] meant that even after it was clear that it was to be a secular state, there was constant tension between the two groups. These somewhat crippling internal disputes had lasting effects in that they caused a certain degree of introversion, in place of the required focus on external enemies[13].

However, the external tension between the Crusader polities and the Byzantine Empire, as well as the far more explicit manifestation of this with the Normans were arguably far more damaging, due to the fact that a strong and good relationship would have made the Crusader states far more sustainable. This is because the Byzantine Empire, as the closest Christian state would have been able to provide the supplies and manpower which the Crusader polities so sorely needed[14]. As well as these external political problems, the crusaders suffered from an almost chronic lack of support from their European parent states, as is shown by the fact that a Crusade was only arguably[15] launched in response to one of as many as nineteen appeals between 1099 and 1186[16]. The sustainability of the Crusader states was impossible due to these divisions, as it meant that there was not the influx of men, supplies and support necessary for their survival.

This is because there were conflicting objectives between the flow of support from Europe (under Papal direction) and the feudal, secular states in Outremer, the most explicit of these being the actions of the crusaders during the Second Crusade, with the breaking of the Damascene alliance in 1148[17]. The ‘native’ Franks were far more aware of how precarious their position was, and were more realistic about the need for local alliances, while the new crusaders from Europe were still filled with the religious fervour by virtue of various Papal Bulls[18] and therefore not as pragmatic. As well as this, the poor relations with the Byzantine Empire[19] meant that any aid from Europe would either have to pass through borderline-hostile territory before they even reached Muslim lands, or make the treacherous journey by sea. The lack of clear support, as well as the intervening distance between Europe and the Crusader states meant that their sustainability was questionable at best and their fall inevitable at worst. These divisions (both internal and external) were the reason for the lack of support for the polities in the Levant as well as the accompanying lack of manpower. They were also debatably the reason for the lack of strong leadership[20], as the constant political dissension meant local rulers felt they were unable to act decisively, and were arguably pressured into popular actions.

Concerning the practical geographical problems, as well as the distance between Europe and Outremer, the shape and locations of the various Crusader states in relation to one another meant that they were strategically vulnerable, mainly to isolation, because of the fact that they were quite narrow. There were other issues with many of the Frankish leadership, as many of the Latin occupants of the Levant were arguably motivated by greed rather than any religious fervour, at least past the end of the First Crusade. It is argued that at least a partial motive for the shift in objective of the Second Crusade was greed, as Damascus was a wealthy city, and offered an arguable trade opportunity further into the East. Other than this, and perhaps more obviously; the pursuit of the conquest of Egypt was mainly due to the riches provided by the trade and land along the Nile, while the strategic and tactical benefits were negligible by comparison to potential targets in Northern Syria. This meant that the strategic thinking required for the survival of the polities was perhaps overrode by more material incentives.

Coupled with the lack of support was arguably a certain degree of arrogance among the Franks following the resounding successes of the First Crusade. While this legacy was also a source of inspiration, it meant that the Franks had an inflated sense of their own military abilities, as is shown by various actions throughout the decline of the Crusader states, perhaps most notably at the ‘Field of Blood’ in 1119[21] and to a certain extent at Hattin in 1187[22], though there were other less famous instances, such as on the 1st May 1187[23]. This arrogance was borne of the fact that the victories of the First Crusade were at the time contributed to a combination of the religious fervour and the military power of the crusaders and not the fragility of the Muslim factions[24].

This arrogance or serious misconception meant that the emergence of strong Muslim leaders able to create a united foe along the borders of the Crusader states caused considerable pressure. The increasing regularity with which these emerged became synonymous with Frankish losses. These losses were what are now considered among the key turning points in the fall of the Crusader polities, with the ‘Field of Blood,’ the first major defeat for the Christians in 1119 at the hands of Il-Ghazi, followed by the fall of Edessa in 1144 to Zengi, and then perhaps more importantly the fall of Damascus to Nuraddin in 1154[25] and the defeat of the Christian army at Hattin in 1187 by Saladin. The periods of Muslim strength were characterised by these grievous losses for very little if any gain, and they became more continuous as the Muslim world reacted to the shock of the Crusades. The fall of the Crusader states must therefore be considered inevitable and their sustainability questionable, as it was to be expected that the Muslims would unify in the face of the Crusades.

There are however other arguments to consider; those that the fall of the Crusader polities were due only to a series of turning points. These arguments emphasise the gains made by the stronger rulers through the period, notably Baldwin III, who took Ascalon in 1153[26] and Amalric with his gains in Egypt in the 1160s[27]. As well as this prominence placed on the positives, the same arguments also stress the importance of the Frankish losses by contrast, emphasising just how grievous they were, by referencing Muslim sources[28] which were likely to be biased at least slightly. Most historians[29] however, while accepting that there were gains made, do not devote too much attention to them as positive gains. The main point raised concerning the conquests is that the focus in the south, particularly in 1153-4, allowed Nuraddin to consolidate his hold on northern Syria with the capture of Damascus. At the same time, it is argued that the major Christian losses acted simply as accelerants to the process of the fall of the Crusader polities.

The major points were important, but they simply accelerated the steady decline as the Muslims realised that the Crusades were a Holy War, and responded with their own lesser jihad[30]. As the Muslim forces gradually became more unified, it became clear that the Crusader states would eventually fall. The geography: the fact that any support would have to travel a great distance, as well as the fact that the novelty of crusading wore off to a certain extent[31], with appeals being answered infrequently at best, meant that the manpower and supplies available to the Latin East were always restricted. With the simultaneous increase in their opponents’ supplies, the Frankish position only grew more untenable as the period advanced.

Word Count: 1,995

[1]See  H.E. Mayer, The Crusades, pp.86-7

[2] T.F. Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades, p.44

[3] Which manifested as lack of a focused crusading effort, for example during the Second Crusade, see J. Richard, pp.156-8, or J. France, The Crusades and the Expansion of Catholic Christendom 1000-1714, pp.132-3

[4] See B. Hamilton, The Crusades, p.13

[5] T.F. Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades, pp.39-97

[6] Perhaps the legacy of the First Crusade.

[7] For a full description see B. Hamilton, The Crusades, pp.35-44, or J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, p.32, p.37, pp.93-5 and pp.123-36

[8] B. Hamilton, The Crusades, p.37

[9] Also the ‘Horns of Hattin’

[10] T.F. Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades, pp.39-97, B. Hamilton, The Crusades, pp.35-44,

[11] J. Richard, The Crusades c.1071-c.1291, pp.67-70

[12] E. Barker, The Crusades, p.26

[13] See J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, p. 27

[14] J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, p.27

[15] The term crusade is used loosely by some, such as T. F. Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades.

[16] J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, p.27

[17] B. Hamilton, The Crusades, pp.36-7 and J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, pp.74-6

[18] At the time of the Second Crusade: Quantum Praedecessores.

[19] E. Barker, The Crusades, pp.36-7

[20] There are arguable exceptions to this: King Fulk and Queen Melisende, see J. Phillips, Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades, pp.52-8

[21] For a description, see J. Phillips, The Crusades, 1095-1197, pp.32-3, or for an Arabic source see Ibn al-Qalanisi in C. Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, p.81

[22] For an in-depth description, see J. Prawer, Crusader Institutions, pp.484-500.

[23] See J. France, The Crusades, p.141

[24] Shown outside Antioch in June 1098, see A. Maalouf, The Crusades through Arab Eyes, pp.33-4

[25]See  J. France, The Crusades, p.138

[26] See T.F. Madden, A Concise History of the Crusades, p.66

[27] J. Phillips, The Crusades 1095-1197, pp.95-6

[28] C. Hillenbrand, The Crusades, p.81, pp.112-4

[29] Including those above.

[30] For reference see C. Hillenbrand, The Crusades, pp.89-97

[31] See T. Asbridge, ‘Why Islam crushed the Crusaders’, History Magazine, 13 (2012), pp.52-3 for counter argument.

Bibliography

Asbridge, T., ‘Why Islam crushed the Crusaders’, History Magazine, 13 (2012), pp.52-3.

Barker, E., The Crusades (London, 1925).

Conder, C.R., The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 1099 to 1291 A.D. (London, 1973).

Emerson, A., ‘The French Kingdom of Jerusalem’, The North American Review, 207 (1918), pp.40-51.

France, J., The Crusades and the Expansion of Catholic Christendom 1000-1714 (Oxon and New York, 2005).

Hamilton, B., The Crusades (Stroud, 1998).

Hillenbrand, C., The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh, 1999).

Jacoby, D., ‘The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Collapse of Hohenstaufen Power in the Levant’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 40 (1986), pp.83-101.

Madden, T.F., A Concise History of the Crusades (Lanham and Oxford, 1999).

Mayer, H.E., The Crusades (Oxford and New York, 1990).

Phillips, J., Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades (London, 2009).

Phillips, J., The Crusades 1095-1197 (Great Britain, 2002).

Prawer, J., Crusader Institutions (Oxford and New York, 1980).

Richards, J., The Crusades, c.1071-c.1291 (Cambridge and New York, 1999).

Riley-Smith, J., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades (Oxford and New York, 1995).

Feedback:

60%

All the following feedback is rated on the following scale: Outstanding-Excellent-Good-Competent-Pass-Fail.

Breadth of Reading: Good

Critical approach to historiography: Good-Competent

Focus on question: Good

Organization of the material: Good

Depth of understanding and insight: Good

Use of examples: Good

Introduction and Conclusion: Good

Factual accuracy: Good

Comprehensiveness of coverage: Good

Fluent and correct English: Good-Competent

Accurate spelling/proof reading: Good

Sources cited correctly: Good-Competent

General Comments and Advice: A generally well thought out essay. Your introduction was good allowing the reader to appreciate what you were going to say. The rest of the essay was well structured with each point being well defined. I thought the ending was not as strong, perhaps being a little brief, but you never the less managed to come to a balanced conclusion.

Your breadth of reading was good but was let down a little by too few references to historiographical opinions. Your citations were generally ok, but perhaps there could have been a few more.

Overall a good start.