Eyewitness and Crusade Narrative
Title Details

19th June 2020

406 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Series: Crusading in Context

Imprint: Boydell Press

Eyewitness and Crusade Narrative

Perception and Narration in Accounts of the Second, Third and Fourth Crusades

by Marcus Bull

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
The idea of what an "eyewitness" account is here scrutinised through examination of key Crusading texts.
Eyewitness is a familiar label that historians apply to numerous pieces of evidence. It carries compelling connotations of trustworthiness and particular proximity to the lived experience of historical actors. But it has received surprisingly little critical attention.
This book seeks to open up discussion of what we mean when we label a historical source in this way. Through a close analysis of accounts of the Second, Third and Fourth Crusades, aswell as an in-depth discussion of recent research by cognitive and social psychologists into perception and memory, this book challenges historians of the Middle Ages to revisit their often unexamined assumptions about the place of eyewitness narratives within the taxonomies of historical evidence. It is for the most part impossible to situate the authors of the texts studied here, viewed as historical actors, in precise spatial and temporal relation to the action that they purport to describe. Nor can we ever be truly certain what they actually saw. In what, therefore, does the authors' eyewitness status reside, and is this, indeed, a valid category of analysis?
This book argues that the most productive way in which to approach the figure of the autoptic author is not as some floating presence close to historical events, validating our knowledge of them, but as an artefact of the text's meaning-makingoperations, in particular as these are opened up to scrutiny by narratological concepts such as the narrator, focalization and storyworld. The conclusion that emerges is that there is no single understanding of eyewitness runningthrough the texts, for all their substantive and thematic similarities; each fashions its narratorial voice in different ways as a function of its particular story-telling strategies.

MARCUS BULL is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Introduction: Medieval and Modern Approaches to Eyewitnessing and Narratology as an Analytical Tool
Memory and Psychological Research into Eyewitnessing
The Second Crusade: The De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi and Odo of Deuil's De Profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem
The Third Crusade: Ambroise's Estoire de la Guerre Sainte and Points of Comparison and Contrast
Geoffrey of Villehardouin's and Robert of Clari's Narratives of the Fourth Crusade
Conclusion
Bibliography
"This book is an undoubted academic tour de force, furthering modern understanding of several canonical 'crusade' narratives and challenging the prominence of the eyewitness in historical analysis." SPECULUM
"This richly interdisciplinary book should benefit anyone teaching or researching historiography, memory, literature, or the crusades." SEHEPUNKTE
"This well-researched study examines the problems of human memory and perception, and includes a lengthy chapter on recent psychological research into the accuracy of eyewitness accounts. Recommended." CHOICE

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Title Details

19th June 2020

406 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Series: Crusading in Context

Imprint: Boydell Press