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The Ethos of Crusade in Late Medieval Scotland

Project Description

Crusade is a neglected theme in the historiography of medieval Scotland. Despite being a key aspect of life in Latin Christendom, there has been only one monograph relating to the Scottish dimension of crusading, now 35 years old (Alan Macquarrie, Scotland and the Crusades 1095-1560 (1984)). General works on the crusade or crusade-related themes tend to accord Scotland limited prominence, the kingdom not featuring, for instance, in the index of Norman Housley’s Crusading and the Ottoman Threat, 1453-1505 (2013). Even where there has been Scottish coverage of the topic it is limited in scope. The main focus so far has been on identifying the practice of crusading in a national context; and the method has been the empirical historical approach of deriving factual information from written sources.

The present project aims to focus on cultures and mentalities in examining the Scottish crusade experience, rather than practical engagement narrowly conceived. This is a very neglected angle. The project also seeks to deploy an explicitly interdisciplinary approach. Examination of written sources from a historical angle will be complemented by exploration from theological and religious perspectives to illuminate the full complexity of crusading sentiments and cultures in Scotland. There will also be scope to explore the surviving crusade-related material culture, providing the benefits of another disciplinary angle. Sources such as the Melrose Chronicle and Walter Bower’s Scotichronicon contain abundant material related to crusade, and have never been examined in detail with that topic in mind.

The proposed project aims to establishing whether a distinctive ethos of crusade existed in later medieval Scotland, and to examine its nature if so. A long chronological perspective will be adopted to achieve this goal. Prior to 1300 Scotland appears to have evidenced limited but mainstream engagement in crusading (Kathryn Hurlock, Britain, Ireland and the Crusades, c.1000-1300 (2013)). The project will seek to examine whether the outbreak of war with England in 1296, and its long continuance thereafter, created the conditions for novel approaches to the crusade. Evidence for nationalistic co-option of the crusading ethos in the fourteenth century will be considered alongside changing devotional behaviours and church policies. Further changes will be investigated in the fifteenth century, as Stewart monarchs sought a more prominent position on the international stage, culminating in the intensive crusade-related foreign diplomacy of James IV (r.1488-1513). It will be considered whether, alongside these royal aspirations, changes to the broader Scottish conception of crusade can be identified.

The proposed project, in short, aspires to fill a major gap in extant Scottish historiography. It seeks to explore, in interdisciplinary fashion, the cultural history of crusading as an ethos in later medieval Scotland. It is hoped that this project will provide new and stimulating insights into Scottish state, society, religion and people, as well as making a distinctive contribution to the wider fields of crusade studies.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. There is no funding attached to this project.
Knowlege of Latin, Palaeography required.

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