Fellow 2022-2023SIMON JOHN
Term: 10/2022 – 01/2023
I am Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at Swansea University (Wales, GB). I joined the Department of History, Heritage and Classics in Swansea in 2016. Between 2013 and 2016 I was Departmental Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Oxford (affiliated to Balliol and Brasenose Colleges). I previously held a Junior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research, London, in 2011/12. My research specialisms are in the Central Middle Ages (c.1000 – c.1300). I have particular expertise in the history of the crusading movement and the development of crusader thought and memory in the Middle Ages. My work to date has also addressed themes including the theory and practice of historical writing, memorialisation and attitudes towards the past. My publications focus especially on exploring how Latin Christians processed the seismic events of the First Crusade (1095-99), an expedition that culminated in Latin Christian forces seizing the Holy City of Jerusalem from Islamic control in 1099. My first monograph, Godfrey of Bouillon: Duke of Lower Lotharingia, Ruler of Latin Jerusalem, c.1060-1100 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018), reexamined the life and memory of Godfrey of Bouillon, a leader of the First Crusade (1095-99), and the first to rule Jerusalem after its capture by the crusaders. I have also published a number of major articles for journals including the English Historical Review, the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, and the Journal of Medieval History.
The crusades and apocalyptic thought in the Middle Ages
My project focuses upon the medieval crusades, a series of religiously-inspired military expeditions carried out by Latin Christians against Muslims and other perceived enemies from 1095 until at least the sixteenth century. From the start, the crusades were framed according to medieval ideas concerning the apocalypse. Beginning in 1095, contemporaries interpreted pivotal moments in crusading history in the light of eschatological beliefs. This process was underpinned by the broader medieval impulse to place momentous historical events in the continuum of Christian history, which had begun with the Creation of Man, and which would conclude with the Final Judgement at the Endtimes. My research project at CAPAS will investigate the impact of eschatological ideas in a series of Old French chansons de geste (‘songs of deeds’) devoted to the history of the crusades, and above all the First Crusade (1095-99). These texts, composed during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and directed towards an audience of largely illiterate secular martial aristocrats, were almost certainly used as recruitment material for new crusades. By bringing these texts into a scholarly conversation concerning medieval perceptions of the crusades, my work will examine the extent to which secular armsbearers may have been exposed to apocalyptic imagery linked to the crusades.