Course overview

The term will begin with an analysis of Eastern Europe and the Near East at the beginning of the 11th century, exploring the steps towards a climate that would produce the first crusade. In particular, we will examine the condition and policies of the Byzantine Empire and why its position would be so critical in the events which unfolded later, along with the conquests and upheavals of the Seljuk Turks, leading to the critical battle of Manzikert. Thereafter, we will look at how developments in Western Europe would then lead to the circumstances and outcomes of the first crusade.

Course description

A detailed analysis of the circumstances and condition of the Byzantine Empire (particularly in its Anatolian regions) during the early 11th century will be used as a foundation for establishing the apparent stability and strength Of Anatolia and the Near East During the period. Thereafter, we will look at the successive crises and difficulties faced by the empire through the 11th century and why these problems would then lead to greater difficulties upon the Emergence of the Seljuk Turks from the east. Some closer assessment will be made of the Seljuk invasions, and the ways in which these conquests then destabilised the previous equilibrium of affairs in both Anatolia and the Near East. We will then go on then to look at the events and circumstances surrounding the critical battle of Manzikert, and the consequences of it immediate aftermath. Finally, the latter part of the course will examine the prevailing conditions within Western Europe (including both the society of the Frankish world and developments in Spain), along with the response of the papacy to those developments, that provided the circumstances for the emergence of the first crusade and its various movements, before finally looking at its ultimate achievement.

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