Men did the bulk of the fighting during the crusades, but their families, including women, helped inspire them. How they passed on the stories of the crusades is of interest to Nicholas Paul, Ph.D., assistant professor of history.
“We can find examples of families in which no one has ever been on crusade, but when one of them marries a woman whose family does have a tradition of crusading, that interest becomes common to both families,” he said. “It’s suggested that this diffusion of interest is the result of some sort of transmission of ideas. I want to know what those ideas were and how they were transmitted.”
During his faculty fellowship, Paul will finish Crusade and Family Memory, a book that will show how 25 prominent European families passed on stories about their participation in the crusades during the 12th and 13th centuries, a time of intense crusading activity.
Whether they were fighting in the Holy Land or elsewhere, such as in Spain, Paul noted that families such as the Dukes of Austria would have been constantly reminded of their family commitments and traditions of crusading by stories and memorabilia, such as banners, weapons and other objects associated with crusading.
“I’m interested in the significance of storytelling within medieval cultures. I think that family traditions of crusading are based, in part, on stories that families told about themselves,” he said.
The book will be built upon archival research he conducted with the support of a prior Fordham faculty research grant at Archivo de la Corona de Aragón in Barcelona, the Archives Départmentales de la Haute-Vienne in Limoges, the Archives Départmentales de Maine-et-Loire in Angers, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Bibliothèque de Saint-Geneviève in Paris.