Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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Crusades and Religious Cultures in Medieval Mediterranean History

Will be offered in Summer 2015

Concentrating on the cosmopolitan, exotic and culturally advanced regions of Sicily, Spain and Byzantium, the workshop will focus around the place of the Normans in the history of the Crusades and in the interfaith relations between Muslims, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and the Jews from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Relevant field studies in England and Palermo will allow students to view first-hand museums, monuments, castles, cathedrals, and artifacts illustrative of aspects of the interfaith relations discussed in class. Emphasis will be placed on giving students the opportunity to develop their technical reading, research, analytical, writing and presentation skills.

Course Information


HIST 400/4.5 - Topics in History: Religious Identities and Cultural Intersections in the Medieval Mediterranean from Spain to Byzantium – 4.5 Units
This course examines the formation of religious identities and confessional cultures in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean world, including Muslim, Byzantine and Latin societies from Spain to Palestine, including Sicily and North Africa. It approaches these issues from two complementary vantages, examining intra and inter-religious difference. The course investigates the construction of religious orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, the nature of dissent, controversy and "heresy" in Muslim and Christian religious cultures. Likewise, it examines interreligious relations and experiences among Muslims, Christians and Jews and the treatment of religious minorities in the Mediterranean. It explores the possibility of interplay between these two processes historically in the Mediterranean world in order to understand the consequences on religious and political cultures and identities.

HIST 449/4.5 - Topics in Medieval Mediterranean History: Normans and Crusaders in the Mediterranean – 4.5 units
This course focuses on the intersection of Norman and Crusade history as it developed in the Eastern Mediterranean from the eleventh century. Readings and discussion will trace, on the one hand, the development of the Normans and their impact in both Northern and Southern Europe, and on the other, the emergence of the idea and practice of what later came to be known as Crusading. The general context in Northern Europe, Southern Italy, the Byzantine empire and the Middle East will be sketched in, while key topics examined in detail will include relations between Normans and the Papacy, the Norman conquest of Sicily, the history of the first Crusade (with special attention given to Bohemond and Alexios), Norman control of Antioch in the early 12th century, the development of distinctive Italo-Norman political control and culture and its Arab and Greek precedents, Norman-Byzantine relations in the 12th century, the growth in Norman-German relations, the crusades of the 12th and early 13th centuries, and the kingdom of Frederick II in Sicily. Throughout the course, the focus on the Normans will guide an exploration of the complicated and intertwined political, social, economic and cultural histories of the Mediterranean--the meeting ground of the Latin West, Middle East and Byzantium.

View the Classes and Outline of Topics for HIST 400 and HIST 449 document for more information

Teaching Methods

Lecture, discussion, independent reading and research, class presentations. Emphasis will be placed on helping students to develop their technical reading, research, analytical, writing and presentation skills. Evaluation in each course will involve a variety of formats potentially including quizzes, shorter and longer written assignments, classroom and on site presentations, a field journal/portfolio, participation, and a final research project (the latter will be due subsequent to the end of the program in Palermo).

Course work:

Each of these two courses will involve substantial readings in preparation for each class drawn from a) modern scholarship on historical, religious, cultural and literary aspects of the topics and b) from examples of various genres of primary sources from the medieval period, including historical chronicles, travel and pilgrimage narratives, religious treatises, church and government documents, and legal edicts and social regulations. Classes will also incorporate multi-media content (including documentary videos, films, artifacts, and images of art and architecture). Most importantly in the context of the BISC, classroom activities will be complemented by numerous field visits to museums and sites of relevant historical interest in both Southern England and Sicily (please see separate listing of venues). Students will be expected to participate fully in all classes and fieldtrips.

Evaluation: [N.B. While the final evaluation scheme will resemble that provided here, changes in some details are possible]

Assignments will range from traditional essays and research papers, to short written assignments, field reports and a field journal/portfolio; students will also be required to give oral presentations on seminar readings and on historical sites visited during the course. As the final project in HIST 449, students will write a research essay (10- 12 pages) on a relevant topic of their choice, explored through some use of primary source evidence; this will be due three weeks after the conclusion of the course and will be worth 40% of the final mark in the course.  In HIST 400 they will write two shorter historiographical essays (5-6 pages), critically reviewing and engaging with scholarship on major historical topics covered; these will be worth 20% each and will be written while at the BISC.

The balance of evaluation for the two courses will be derived from attendance and general participation and a variety of short assignments

HIST 449:  Attendance and Participation 15%; Essay 40%; Field journal  20%; short primary source response 10%; researched site visit presentation 15% = 100%

HIST 400: Attendance and Participation 15%; Two short essays 40%; Field journal 20%; library research  and seminar presentation 15%; site visit response paper 10% = 100

Field Studies

Possible Field Studies for Medieval Mediterranean History

The following half or full day trips will likely form part of the program in England.

Full day trips:

Bosham, Chichester and West Wittering

Bosham Church, Bosham harbor: an excellent example of a small, typical Saxon/Norman/13thC church; depicted in Bayeux tapestry; closely related to events of Norman English history; also the place where Canute tried to command the waves.

Chichester Cathedral: 11th and 12thC Norman Gothic cathedral; excellent example of much English medieval cathedral architecture; attractive and typical historic English town.

West Wittering: 12/13thC typical medieval parish church. Free time for the beach and sea side walks.


Canterbury Cathedral : one of the great English Cathedrals from the 11/12thC; a World Heritage Site.

St. Augustine’s Abbey: 6thC foundation which became a great medieval abbey; now in ruins from 15thC but well set out as an historical site.

St. Martins church: originally dating from 6thC, one of the oldest medieval parish churches in England.

Eastbridge hospital: 12thC pilgrims’ hospice.

Free time to visit the town which retains many medieval characteristics.


British Museum: Medieval (Byzantine) and Islamic world collections

Victoria and Albert Museum: Islamic Middle East collections

Westminster Cathedral: classic example of 19thC neo-Byzantine style; probably the best place to become acquainted with some features of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture in England.

Walk across central London (weather permitting) seeing some of the major sites (Picadilly, Leicester Square, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge, St. James’ Park, Buckingham Palace etc) on the way.

Students may choose to extend their stay in London for another day at the weekend.

Half day trips:

Pevensey Castle: site of 11thC Norman invasion; 12thC castle.

Battle Abbey: site of famous battle of Hastings in 1066 where Normans under William Conqueror defeated Anglo-Saxons; Abbey was of 11thC foundation; some 13-16th century buildings stand with ruins of others.

Hastings Castle: originally 11thC Norman castle; free time in typical seaside town or at the beach.

The following site visits will likely form part of the program in Sicily:

Note: Only sites of directly relevance to this program are listed, but there are lots and lots of other wonderful historical sites from earlier and later periods, museums, galleries and places of interest or natural beauty to see, either in free time or if students choose to extend their stay at the end of the program.

In central Palermo (where we will likely stay for seven nights):

San Cataldo (12thC chapel; a good example of Arabian-Norman style) and La Martorana (church built in 1143 by George of Antioch; 12thC mosaics; good example of Norman-Byzantine style).

Albergheria quarter and Piazza Ballarò (fruit, vegetable and fish market for impressions of medieval city life).

San Giovanni degli Eremiti (monastery church built in 1132 under patronage of Roger II; a good example of Arabian-Norman style; church built on remains of mosque with nice cloister garden).

Palazzo dei Normanni (9thC Saracen palace enlarged and decorated by Normans 1132-1170s + later additions; includes 12th secular mosaics) and Capella Palatini (Roger’s spectacular private chapel with Byzantine-Norman fusion mosaics).

Cattedrale (the Cathedral: major Norman monument founded in 1185; some original parts of building remain but heavily reworked in 18thC; royal tombs from Roger II to Frederick II) and Palazzo Arcivescovile with Museo Diocesano (medieval art work, etc).

Porta Carini (medieval gate) and market (for more impressions of medieval life); and Sant’ Agostino (13thC Church).

La Magione (Arab-Norman style church built in 1151, headquarters of Teutonic knights) and park.

La Vucciria market (for more impressions of medieval life).

In the suburbs of Palermo:

La Zisa (Norman royal palace begun in 1160; collection of Islamic art and artifacts); La Cuba and La Cúbula (Norman pavilions from the original grounds of La Zisa).

San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi (the oldest Norman church in Palermo) and the Ponte dell’Ammiraglio (Norman bridge built in 1113).

Field School Information

Program Schedule 2014 Dates

May – June: Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle, England (5 weeks)

June: Palermo, Sicily (1 week)

Enrolment / Deadline

15 students

Participant Profile / Prerequisite

Queen’s students must be registered in a concentration in History and have taken a core seminar (from HIST 300-329). Students from other universities will need to have satisfied equivalent requirements at their own institutions.


$9,900 CAD which includes tuition, residence and meals at the Castle, accommodations and most meals in Palermo, one way transport to Palermo and entrance fees for field studies.  Students will need additional funds for personal spending, some meals in Palermo, Visas, health and travel insurance, and transport to the UK and return from Palermo.


Adnan Husain is Associate Professor of Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic World in the Department of History at Queen’s since 2005. Previously, he taught at New York University in the Departments of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History after receiving his doctorate in Medieval European and Middle Eastern history from the University of California, Berkeley (1998). He has studied at the School for Oriental and African Studies at the University of London as a British Marshall Scholar and at Abu al-Noor Religious College in Damascus, Syria. For the past three years, he has directed the Muslim Societies, Global Perspectives initiative at Queen’s.

His research and teaching centers upon comparative and connected, cross-cultural histories of the religious cultures of Muslims, Christians and Jews across Eurasia. His earlier work focused on comparative histories of spiritual/mystical traditions and the social imagination, principally among Franciscan friars and Sufis. Currently, he has concentrated on inter-religious and cross-cultural interchange in the Mediterranean world from 1095 to 1350, examining conversion, translation from Arabic into Latin, inter-religious polemics among Muslims, Christians and Jews, and narrative accounts of crusader and missionary encounters between Christians and non-Christians.

Richard Greenfield studied at King’s College London and the British School at Athens. He holds an undergraduate degree in Theology (1977) and a PhD in Byzantine Studies (1985).

For the past 25 years his undergraduate teaching has regularly included a variety of lectures and seminars on Byzantium, the Crusades, Medieval Greece, and Medieval Mediterranean religion, as well as Ancient Greek language; he has also taught courses on general Medieval history and Western Intellectual history.

The main focus of his research is the broad field of Byzantine popular religion. One aspect of his work looks at Byzantine demonology and sorcery, the other at hagiography and various aspects of Byzantine monasticism. After teaching briefly at Queen's University, Belfast and Concordia University in Montreal in the mid 1980's, he received an appointment at Queen's in 1988. Since 2002 he has been a tenured Professor in the Department of History with a cross appointment to Classics. He has served as Chair of the Department of History, co-ordinator of Medieval Studies, and President of the Queen’s University Faculty Association. He is currently a member of the editorial board for the Greek Series of the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library for Harvard UP. He is also proud to be the parent of a Queen’s alumna and a current Queen's student (who has studied at the BISC).”

Amended February 2014