A-level Topic Guide: the Crusades

Published: 29th June 2022

The Crusades is a popular area of study at A-level across the examination boards. Whichever board you are studying with and whatever the focus of your study unit on this period of history, the resources in this unit will support you as you develop your subject knowledge, write essays and revise. 

This unit is available to view by Student members and Corporate Secondary members.

This resource is FREE for Corporate Secondary Members


This resource is FREE for Student HA Members.

HA Members can sign in to access this content or you can Join the HA if you are not already a member.


  • The Crusades at A-level

Europe and the near east before the First Crusade

  • Introduction
  • Muhammad: the emergence of a prophet
  • Succession and legacy
  • The Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)
  • The Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258)
  • The Byzantine Empire and regional rivals
  • The Byzantine Empire on the eve of the Crusades
  • Christianity and medieval European life
  • The Early Medieval State
  • The Medieval empire
  • The world on the eve of the First Crusade
  • Which ideas mattered to people in the Middle Ages?

The First Crusade

  • Introduction
  • The First Crusade (article)
  • The First Crusade (pamphlet)
  • The First Crusade – causes
  • The First Crusade – development across Europe and Asia Minor
  • The First Crusade – Antioch, Edessa, the fall of Jerusalem and the creation of the Crusader states
  • Eastern sources and different interpretations
  • The miraculous crusade

The Crusader States

  • Introduction
  • An introduction to the Crusader and Italian maritime states
  • A crusading outpost: the city and county of Edessa, 1095–1153
  • The Knights Templars
  • Women in the Crusades

The Second Crusade

  • Introduction
  • The Second Crusade
  • The memory of a saint: managing the legacy of St Bernard of Clairvaux
  • Saladin and the revival of Islam
  • Film: Writing history – The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin

The Third Crusade

  • Introduction
  • An overview of the Third Crusade

The Fourth Crusade

  • Introduction
  • An overview of the Fourth Crusade

The legacy of the Crusades

  • Introduction
  • The decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire
  • A historiography of the Crusades
  • The legacy of the Crusades
  • Memory, myth and misuse in the modern age

Reading & Revision

  • Reading list
  • Viewing, listening and fiction
  • Timeline
  • Past exam papers


  • The Historiography of the Crusades
  • “Maximising the View”: Sources and Resources for Women and the Crusades
  • The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
  • Islam and the Crusades