Women in the Crusades

By Dr Natasha Hodgson, published 9th March 2022

In this podcast Dr Natasha Hodgson of Nottingham Trent University discusses the role and experience of women during the Crusades. 

For Mediterranean women on the eve of the Crusades, life varied greatly depending upon their status. Women in positions of lordship were involved in all levels of strategy, and although women couldn’t be priests, they could hold influential spiritual roles. While Pope Urban II officially called for the Crusade, Medieval European women did have an active role in supporting it, spreading support for the Crusade, or going into battle themselves. Although there was significant stigma and barriers against women fighting in the Crusade.

Dr. Hodgson examines how women during the Crusades belonged to four categories; those who went on a Crusade, those who were impacted by Crusades, settlers, and those who remained at home. She then highlights four women with distinct stories during this time: Shagrat al-Durr (Sultan of Egypt), Sybil of Flanders, Morphia, mother of Queen Melisende , and Countess Ida of Salisbury.

1. What was life like for women in Medieval Europe and the Near East on the eve of the Crusades?
2. How were women portrayed in culture, literature and theology during the period of the Crusades?
3. To what extent did women play a role in calling for the Crusades, facilitating them and fighting them?
4. What can you tell us about the roles and influence of women in the Near East on the eve of the Crusades?
5. What was the impact of the Crusades on women in the Near East?
6. Can you talk about a few women who played major roles in the Crusades?

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