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Women's involvement in the Crusades

Nicholson, Helen ORCID: 2015. Women's involvement in the Crusades. Boas, Adrian, ed. The Crusader World, Routledge Worlds, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 54-67.

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Women in medieval Catholic Christendom were inevitably involved in crusading, which was central to their society and culture. Yet both the form that involvement took and its depiction by contemporary commentators were circumscribed by social convention and expectations. Both Christian and Muslim writers agreed that women should not be involved in physical conflict. Catholic canonists and preachers alike discouraged women’s active involvement in crusading, to protect male warriors from sexual pollution in this spiritual undertaking. Yet contemporary records reveal that noblewomen took on leadership roles in holy wars and the Holy Land. Women played a role in organising crusades as well as encouraging recruitment. Women accompanied male crusaders, played a diplomatic role and were involved in prayer, finance and commemoration of crusaders, roles that contemporaries viewed as just as valuable as actual fighting. Women who lived in the warzone or who travelled there as pilgrims became involved in the conflict, either as victims or active participants in war. Even female saints were co-opted as supporters of the crusade. For most women, however, as for most men, the crusade was an expression of faith which they supported but in which they were not personally involved.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Uncontrolled Keywords: Medieval History; women's history
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9780415824941
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2022 11:12

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