F2017 Syllabus – Texas Wesleyan University

Instructor: Chris Ohan

HIS 3342-40 Era of the Crusades

Office: PUMC 244

Phone: 817-531-4913

Meeting: Tuesdays 7-9:30

Office Hours: Mon/Wed 11-12; 1:30-3:30;

Tues 2:30-5; Thurs 9:30-1:00, or by appt.

Location: PUMC 124

Web: www.historymuse.net

E-mail: cohan@txwes.edu


I am fairly sure that those who are now demanding an apology for the crusades are themselves, without knowing it or understanding how rapidly the ground is shifting beneath them, sharing in a new consensus which is often not very far from the war theology they are condemning. A stance that justifies a "humanitarian" war on moral grounds has placed itself at least in the same field as that once occupied by crusade theorists. The language that demands that our ancestors be posthumously anathematized is not too distant from that of the men who wanted the corpse of Pope Boniface VIII to be exhumed and burnt. We may be entering a period of conceptual uncertainty about the most difficult of all society’s dilemmas—when or when not to use force—and we need not emotion, but cool heads and an objective analysis of the past. –Jonathan Riley-Smith, (2000)


If truth may cause a scandal, it is better to allow that scandal than to deny the truth.
–St. Gregory the Great (7th century)



Cartoon: the crusades (medium) by toons tagged crusades,christianity,middle,east,war


Course description: The Crusades helped Western Europe emerge out of the Middle Ages and also marked the beginning of European imperialism in the Muslim Near East. This course will examine the Crusading era from 1000-1300 and show how it affected the three great civilizations that participated in them, how/why they ended, and, ultimately, their legacy.


Details and Objectives: The Crusading era is one of the most recognized events of the Middle Ages, yet the importance of this period is not nearly as well understood.  In fact, it is one of the most misunderstood of historical events. This course will introduce the student to the crusading movement from various perspectives between 1000 and 1300, namely as an important facet of a broad movement of European encounter with other civilizations and societies (Islamic and Byzantine). Students will study and upon successful completion of the course, be able to articulate the themes of cultural diffusion, conquest and colonization within the context of interactions between the competing societies of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and those of the geographic area of the Levant/Egypt/Anatolia.  The significant learning outcome should be an increased understanding of the period and an increased tolerance.


Learning Objectives                                                                             History Program Goals


Objective 1: This course will provide students with an outline of this history of the crusading era in Europe, Byzantium and the Levant from approximately 1000 through 1300 including, but not restricted, to the following major points through lecture, textual material, films, and websites:


·        historiography of the era from three different perspectives: European (Christian), Byzantine (Orthodox), Levantine (Islamic)

·        major historical figures

·        development of European and Levantine military tactics over the era

·        major cross-cultural influences between the three areas/groups

·        fundamental causes for each crusade

·        the legacy of the crusading era in the modern Middle East and Europe/the West today


1. Develop a general knowledge of human history, including a basic chronology of both western and non-western societies covering time periods from the ancient to the modern.


Objective 2: This course will provide students with an understanding of the period through a discussion of historiography: using the major primary and secondary sources for each group.



2.  Understand Historical Interpretation and Historiography.


Objective 3: Students will learn the various skills associated with the craft of history by the following assignments:

a.       Read essays and primary sources relative to the period

b.       Write DBQ essays using primary sources.

c.       Use computer software to produce all assignments.


3. Learn the various skills associated with the craft of history. These skills include:

a. Reading Comprehension and Cognitive Skills

b. Historical Thinking Skills

c. Research Skills

d. Written Communication Skills

e. Oral Communication Skills

f. Computer Literacy


Objective 4:  This course is an optional course for other history majors and satisfies the 3-hour degree requirement for a social-cultural history class.

4. Students completing a major in the Department of History will be prepared to enter graduate programs in History, teach History in secondary or middle schools, or enter other careers open to graduates with degrees in the Liberal Arts.



Required Materials:

Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades (Yale, 2005)


S. J. Allen and Emilie Amt (eds.), The Crusades: A Reader (Broadview, 2003)


Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (Al Saqi, 1984)


Supplemental (Optional) Reading Materials:


Thomas Asbridge, The First Crusade : a new history.*

A. R. Azzam, Saladin.*

Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple.

Richard Bedser, Holy warriors [video recording]: Richard the Lionheart & Saladin .*

James A. Brundage, Medieval Law and the Crusader.

The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir.*

Carl Erdmann, Origins of the Idea of the Crusade.

John France, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade.

Francesco Gabrieli, Arab historians of the Crusades.*

John Gillingham, Richard the Lionheart.

Norman Housley, The Later Crusades, 1274-1580.

D. E. P. Jackson, Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War.

Terry Jones, Crusades.*

William Chester Jordan, Louis IX and the Challenge of the Crusade.

Angus Konstam, Historical atlas of the Crusades .*

Peter Lock, The Routledge companion to the Crusades .*

Derek W. Lomax, The Reconquest of Spain.

Christoph T. Maier (ed), Crusade propaganda and ideology: model sermons for the preaching of the cross.*

Jean Richard, The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusade and the Idea of Crusading.*

Jonathan Riley-Smith, The First Crusaders.

Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam.*

Jonathan Riley-Smith, What were the Crusades.*

Christopher Tyerman, God's war : a new history of the Crusades.*

Villehardouin and de Joinville, Chronicles of the Crusades .*


Instructional Methods.  Most classes will consist of a lecture, with some give and take as questions come up.  Do not hesitate to bring up questions and comments at any moment.  It is assumed that you will complete the assigned reading for each week.  It is also assumed that you will attend all classes.


Class Schedule.  See p. 7 below.




Book Review


Midterm Exam


Research Project


Final Exam







Grades will be assigned according to the following percentages: 90-100=A; 80-89=B; 70-79=C; 60-69=D; 0-59=F


Exams.  The midterm and final exams will be out-of-class written essays answering a series of questions provided.  The midterm essay will be due on Oct 10 at 7pm in Blackboard.  The final exam will be due in Blackboard at the time of the class’ regularly scheduled final exam (Dec 12 at 7pm). 


Book Review.  You are responsible for completing one book reviews on the Maalouf text listed above.  The review will be turned in via Blackboard by 7pm on Oct 24.  See guidelines/format below.


Research Paper.  The largest chunk of your grade, is your research paper.  You may choose almost any topic in crusading history but you must first clear the topic with me.  Stop by my office during regular office hours, or make an appointment to talk about your topic.  (Given the general ignorance on this topic by most, I will have a list of possible topics from which you may select.  Once a topic is selected, however, change is not possible.) The Supplemental Reading list, browsing through the Riley-Smith text or the reader is a good place to start.  I have also assembled some good internet sources for the crusades.  See the class website for these.  You must meet with me by Sept 19 to discuss/finalize your working thesis. (Please do not ask to discuss/finalize your thesis during or immediately after class.) 


The students in the class will be randomly divided into groups of three for the purpose of reading/critiquing each others’ papers.  Students will use OneDrive to share their papers (Word docs only) with their teammates and the instructor.  Papers should be shared by Nov 17.  Each student will read two other papers, make substantive comments, offer critique and return the paper to the student by 7pm on Nov 27.  The final paper is due in Blackboard Dec 4 by 7pm.  See paper guidelines below.


Finally on Dec 5, you will make a brief presentation (not more than 8-10 minutes) explaining your thesis and supporting evidence.  This presentation will make up part of your paper grade.


Attendance is mandatory.  If you miss more than 1 class (for us, the equivalent of one week) consider the effect on your grade.  Should you miss more, please do not offer excuses, notes or request special consideration.  Keep in mind a) that “dropping a course” is perfectly legitimate when circumstances arise that prevent you from completion, and b) that I should not be expected to change class expectations based on your circumstances.  You are responsible for all class assignments regardless of attendance.  Quizzes covering assigned readings may be given at any time and factored into the course grade at the discretion of the instructor.  If you are unable to complete this course, you must withdraw from it.  Please note that if you miss more than the equivalent of one-week’s worth of class, I reserve the right to drop you from the course.  The last date to drop is Tuesday, November 14.


Class Participation.  A large portion of class time will be devoted to discussion.  Discussions will draw primarily on the primary source readings from the Allen/Amt and Maalouf texts.  Your class participation will consist of my evaluation of your preparedness and the level of your participation in these discussions.  Obviously, if you are absent on a discussion day you will be unable to participate very effectively. 


Internet/Blackboard:  Feel free to send email to the address above.  Please assume I have no idea who you are so include your name and course number in the message.  Keep in mind that I will not entertain discussion about grades, missed classes &etc over email—that’s why faculty have office hours.  In addition, this syllabus, the lecture/reading schedule, some of the course readings and any other class handouts will be posted on the above web address.  Announced changes to the lecture/reading schedule will be reflected in the schedule’s online version.  All student work will be turned in through Blackboard.


Academic Integrity:


Familiarize yourself with Texas Wesleyan’s Student Code of Conduct.  Academics are not only devoted to learning, research, and the advancement of knowledge, but also to the development of ethically sensitive and responsible persons. By accepting membership in this class, you are joining a community characterized by free expression, free inquiry, honesty, respect for others, and participation in constructive change.  All rights and responsibilities exercised within this academic environment shall be compatible with these principles. 


Academic Dishonesty is a breach of the Student Code of Conduct.  Dishonesty includes:

  1. Plagiarism, representing the work of another as one's own work;
  2. Preparing work for another that is to be used as that person's own work;
  3. Cheating by any method or means;
  4. Knowingly and willfully falsifying or manufacturing scientific or educational data and representing the same to be the result of scientific or scholarly experiment or research;
  5. Knowingly furnishing false information to a university official relative to academic matters;
  6. Soliciting, aiding, abetting, concealing, or attempting conduct in violation of this code.


Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course. Any offense will result in an F in the class (not simply on the assignment) and be referred to the appropriate academic officials for adjudication. If you have any questions regarding this subject please see me.  For a detailed description and further clarification, please see the link for “Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty” on my website, the Texas Wesleyan Catalog, or the Student Handbook.


Writing for this course should employ standard academic formatting—double spaced, typed—with citations following either MLA or Chicago style.  If you need help with this see the guides on the links page of the class website, the Wesleyan library or the instructor.  Correct use of source information and citations is assumed on the college level.  Failure to cite or format according to one of the styles listed will result in a lower grade.  See Grading Guidelines on the class webpage for specific grading criteria regarding written work. 


Statement of Understanding:


As a professional, I follow the American or western model of higher education.  According to this model the instructor encourages the students to think critically.  This is not merely the expression of an opinion, but well-thought, structured and supported arguments.  Do not be surprised if I voice an unconventional argument—particularly as we get into more current events.  My purpose is not to express my own opinion but to challenge you to think critically about the topic being considered.  If you find yourself offended by something said in the classroom, consider than in the Humanities and Social Sciences “Truth” is at best illusive and tolerance essential. 


A valid method of instruction that has been used in the east and west for centuries, since 500 BCE, was founded in Greece; the Socratic method is based on rhetorical argumentation.  Rhetorical argument, in the classical sense, means the following: to inform, to convince, to explore, to make decisions, and even to meditate, as odd that may sound.  Although arguments may at times “pique” you emotionally, as an educated person you must learn to weigh ideas and use logic and not emotion to counter the argument.  Scholars of pedagogy agree that we learn best when we are confronted with a problem or, put another way, when we are humbled.  Therefore you should not consider a critique from me or anyone else in the class to be a negative attack or an occasion for anger and vengeance, but an opportunity for critical thought and reflection.  Moreover, and most importantly, education requires us to be tolerant of ideas that we may not understand and to consider values that we do not embrace.  Tolerance means that we allow others to believe a certain way even though we do not believe it; it does not mean that we have to embrace that belief.  If, however, we do not open our minds enough to understand ideas that we might disagree with, then we all will live in shallow, ignorant worlds of like minds and never come to agreement about anything except among people who thing just like us.  The latter is not characteristic of a university and as a member of Texas Wesleyan’s academic community, I assume that you agree. 


I respect students who respect learning, so please do not show disrespect to me or your fellow students by asking to submit papers late.  Also, if you turn in writing that does not meet the standards set for class, you will receive the grade you deserve.  That grade does not reflect anything personal; it is strictly a professional assessment of academic work.  I have many years of experience on the university level, so I am fully aware of how to score work.  Although I am always happy to explain why you earned a particular grade on an assignment, please think carefully before asking me to change a grade; to do so is tantamount to asking me to undermine the integrity and professional standards to which I try to adhere.  It is also an insult to the students who earned a higher grade.  I will protect the students who earned those grades. 



·        I grade the quality of your work rather than the amount of time and effort you spend on it.

·        I will strive to help you perform at your best.


My Goal in teaching this class is that you develop an understanding of the crusading period from multiple perspectives.  In our class, ideas will hold precedence over facts, dates, and the like.  It is important that you consider the classroom an open forum for discussion—of anything related to the themes and topics of the course.  (Of course, any argument—whether spoken or written—must be supported.)  While I (or other students) may challenge beliefs/perspectives, realize that the purpose is not to change them.  That said, an open/tolerant attitude is essential in this class.  Remember—this is a college course where you ought to be able to discuss things openly and intelligently.  If you choose to be intolerant and interrupt class discussion, I reserve the right to you to leave the classroom.


As a goal, historians strive to be objective.  Therefore, for the purposes of this class regarding the religious beliefs that are held by the various groups we will examine, all are equally valid.  That is, while faith and organized religion certainly affected the period, we will avoid arguments that suggest one group or religion has any more claim to absolute “Truth” than another.


Small Print:


Texas Wesleyan University Policies


·  Students should read the current Texas Wesleyan University Catalog and Student Handbook to become familiar with University policies.


·  Cheating, plagiarism (submitting another person’s material as one’s own), or completing assignments for another person who will receive academic credit are impermissible. This includes the use of unauthorized books, notebooks, or other sources in order to secure or give help during an examination, the unauthorized copying of examinations, assignments, reports, or term papers, or the presentation of unacknowledged material as if it were the student’s own work.  Disciplinary action may be taken beyond the academic discipline administered by the course instructor. Course exams may not be printed out. Any person possessing a hardcopy of a course exam will be in breach of copyright and may be held liable.]


·  Texas Wesleyan University adheres to a disability policy which is in keeping with relevant federal law. The University will provide appropriate accommodation as determined by the Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Michael Ellison. Students must notify instructors of any permanent or temporary disabilities and must provide documentation regarding those disabilities prior to the granting of an accommodation. For assistance, students should consult with Dr. Ellison at mellison@txwes.edu or (817) 531-7565.


·  Course syllabi are intended to provide students with basic information concerning the course. The syllabus can be viewed as a 'blueprint' for the course; changes in the syllabus can be made and students will be informed of any substantive changes concerning examinations, the grading or attendance policies and changes in project assignments.


·  Any course taken at Texas Wesleyan University and repeated for a grade must be repeated at Texas Wesleyan University. Any course taken at another university may be repeated at Texas Wesleyan, and the most recent grade on the course will be counted. When a course is repeated, the grade point average will be computed using the most recent grade achieved.


·  As noted in the catalog under the Unified Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Texas Wesleyan University is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and sexual harassment.  If you have experienced any such discrimination or harassment, including gender- or sex-based forms, know that help and support are available from the following resources:

o Complete online incident report at https://txwes.edu/student-life/report-a-concern/

o Contact Campus Conduct Hotline (24 hours a day): (866) 943-5787

o Campus security (24 hours a day): (817) 531-4911

o Dean of Students: deanofstudents@txwes.edu OR (817) 531-4872

o Please be aware that all Texas Wesleyan University employees, other than designated confidential resources (i.e., Community Counseling Center) are required to report credible evidence of prohibited discrimination or harassment to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, or to one of the Title IX Assistant Coordinators.  If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, please contact the Community Counseling Center at (817) 531-4859 to schedule an appointment.

Book Review Format (please consult the book review rubric: https://lat.taskstream.com/rubricExternal/awcwcscwcyc2cqct)


1.     5-6 pages typewritten, double-spaced.  Title page, if used, does NOT count.  Observe the normal rules of writing such as standard one-inch margins, page numbering, etc. 

2.     Full bibliographic citation on the title page or at the top of the first page.  (Consult an MLA or Chicago style guide if you’ve forgotten how to do this.  Do NOT make up your own form.)

3.     Brief introduction to the topic or subject of the book.  Why is this topic or subject important to the period of history being covered?

4.     Summarize the author’s thesis (argument) and main points concisely but fully.  (What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by writing the book?)

5.     Briefly say something regarding the author’s qualifications.

6.     Critique the book.  (What you’re doing is analogous to what happens in a courtroom. Consider yourself the judge and the author a lawyer who has presented an argument/case.  It’s up to you, having read his/her argument/case to decide whether or not her claims have validity.)  Based on your answer to #4 do you find his/her arguments and conclusions convincing?  How does s/he do in terms of accomplishing his purpose for writing?  Do not walk fences or resort to elementary tactics such as pleading ignorance.  (This should be about one-half of your paper.)

(6a. If the book is a work of literature, you’ll still consider what the author is trying to accomplish, but you’ll need to think about what the work says about the time period or place in which it’s set, the characters, the environment, etc.  For example, you’d look at it the same way an historian would look at More’s Utopia or possibly Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Those works are good literature but say a lot about the time period in which they were written.)

7.     While a review does not usually include the readers own opinion, you may provide a brief personal evaluation of no more than one paragraph.  Be sure to explain and support your opinion carefully and coherently.  At this point in your academic career, you ought to have an informed opinion.  “Informed” suggests that you’re offering specific evidence as to how and why you agree or disagree.

8.     This is not a research paper, so formal footnoting is not necessary.  If you do quote or draw on information that is not your own, simply use a parenthetical reference according to MLA or Turabian/Chicago style. 

9.     Papers which are turned in after the time they are due will be penalized one letter grade for each day.  No papers which are more than four days late will be accepted.  If you or someone close to you is looking like they’re coming down with the latest disease or that they might need emergency surgery, turn it in early.  If you want mercy, pray.


Research Paper Format

            (Please consult the grading rubric for this assignment: https://lat.taskstream.com/rubricExternal/k7ecfjfjfifhf6ep)


1.      8-12 pages typewritten, double-spaced.  Title page, if used, does NOT count.  Observe the normal rules of writing such as standard one inch margins, page numbering, etc.  (Consult an MLA handbook or the Turabian/Chicago manual of style.  Also, please do not use folders or plastic covers.  A staple will suffice)

2.      Begin with a very general overview of your specific topic providing the necessary context to prepare the reader to understand your own research.  Then move into a discussion of your argument/thesis.  Explain it carefully and concisely.  This should be about 1-2 pages.

3.      The bulk of your paper will be the presentation of your sources/evidence.  Specifically, explain your documents and how they support your argument.  You should also consider if there are sources that might possibly refute your thesis and then address any conflicts.  5-7 pages should be about right.

4.      Next you will want to consider if your argument/thesis has already been considered by historians.  (Don’t be discouraged if you can’t come up with something original.)  Who are these historians, when did they write, and what were their conclusions?  How does your thesis differ from theirs (if at all)?

5.      When you quote or draw on information that is not your own, use either Chicago or MLA style.  (Consult your Freshman Comp guide if you’ve forgotten.)

6.      Late papers are penalized one letter grade per day after the due date. No papers which are more than four days late will be accepted. Again, if you or someone close to you is looking like they’re coming down with the latest disease or that they might need emergency surgery, turn it in early.  If you want mercy, pray.



HIS 3342 The Crusades - Tentative Lecture Topic and Reading Schedule

(Riley-Smith + number refers to chapters in The Crusades. Maalouf + number refers to chapters in The Crusades Through Arab Eyes.  Allen + number refers to a document in The Crusades, A Reader.)


Aug 22


Aug 22

Rome’s 3 heirs

Aug 29

Regional Introduction:
#1 Abbasid Baghdad and Fatimid Egypt, the Seljuk Turks

#2 Byzantium

Readings: Allen 3, 5

Sept 5

Regional Introduction:

#3 Western Europe and Medieval Warfare

Readings: Allen 2, 8, 9

Sept 12

Papacy, Piety and Pilgrimage, Examples of Spain and Sicily

Readings: Riley-Smith 1; Allen 1, 6, 7, 11

Sept 19

Alexius I, Urban II and the First Crusade

Readings: Riley-Smith 2; Maalouf 1-3; Allen 10, 12-22, 46 

Sept 26

Conquest and Defense of Outremer

Readings: Riley-Smith 3, 4; Maalouf  4-5; Allen 23, 24, 26, 27, 28

Oct 3

Native Politics in the Levant, Egypt and Asia Minor

Readings: Maalouf 6-7; Allen 29, 30

Oct 3

Midterm Discussion (Midterm Due Oct 10 @7pm)

Oct 10

The Second Crusade and Bernard of Clairvaux;
Muslim Unity and Saladin

Readings: Riley-Smith 5; Maalouf 8-10; Allen 33-40

Oct 17

Byzantine Recovery, Trade and Cultural Exchange

Oct 24

The Horns of Hattin and the Third Crusade (Book Review due @7pm)

Readings: Riley-Smith 6; Maalouf 11-12; Allen 41-44

Oct 31

The Fourth Crusade: Jerusalem to Constantinople

Readings: Riley-Smith 7; Allen 56-58, 61

Nov 7

Ayyubid Egypt and Seljuk Anatolia and the Fifth Crusade

Readings: Riley-Smith 8: Allen 63, 71-73

Nov 14

The End of the Crusades

Readings: Riley-Smith 10; Maalouf 13-14

Nov 17

Paper drafts should be shared with your group.

Nov 27

Groups should return critiqued drafts by 7pm.

Nov 28

The Crusades Today

Dec 4

Final papers turned into Blackboard by 7pm.

Dec 5

Research Presentations

Dec 12

Final Exam Due 7pm