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Home > Research > Projects > Monasticism in the Crusader States, c.1050-1300
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Monasticism in the Crusader States, c.1050-1300

Project: Non-funded ProjectProjects

1/01/06 → …

A collaborative project by Professor Bernard Hamilton (University of Nottingham, Emeritus) and Dr Andrew Jotischky (Lancaster University), this study will comprise the first full-length survey of monastic life and culture in the Crusader States, covering Latin, Greek Orthodox and Monophysite foundations. It will document all functioning monasteries in the Crusader States, including Cyprus, examine the circumstances of foundation and/or refoundation, analyse monastic land-holding and monastic involvement in governance, and explore monastic culture, spirituality and art.

Palestine has a good claim to be considered the crucible of monasticism. The earliest Christian monastic communities, which owed their origins to the growing practice of pilgrimage, were already in place by the mid-fourth century. Between the fifth and seventh centuries, scores of monasteries were founded, and a distinctive international monastic culture and theology emerged. The compact geography of Palestine enabled monks to develop a tradition of austere desert monasticism while still remaining close to the shrines, and in particular to Jerusalem. The Judean desert - the region between Jerusalem and Jericho to the east of Jerusalem, and extending to the south of Jerusalem as far as a line between Hebron and the Dead Sea - became home to a network of largely autonomous but linked monasteries. The Persian and Arab invasions of the seventh century disrupted, but did not bring an end to monastic life in Palestine and Syria, and despite further turmoil, in the form of the Seljuq occupation and the crusades monastic communities continued to thrive. The crusader settlement in the Levant (1097-1291) saw the foundation of new western monasteries, representing both the Benedictine tradition and the new reforming orders of the 11th-12th centuries. It also saw a revival of Orthodox monasticism, with the rebuilding and restoration of Byzantine houses of the 4th-7th centuries.