What was the relationship between Southern Italy and Sicily, Crusading and the Crusader States, c. 1060-1198?

Paula Hailstone

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Despite the centrality of their geographical location in relation to routes to the East, the contribution of southern Italy and Sicily to the history of crusading and the crusader states (c. 1060-1198) has often only been recognised in passing. Historians have tended to focus upon either the development of the Italo-Norman states in southern Italy and Sicily, or on the crusades and their outcome in the Latin East. This thesis examines the interaction between these two different strands through an exploration of the role of identity. Building upon previous scholarship, it argues that an emergent Italo-Norman identity can be discerned in the actions and practices of the southern Italian contingent on the First Crusade and its aftermath. Different elements of identity were foregrounded by Bohemond et al for political purposes. A similar process of deliberate identification occurred following the creation of the kingdom of Sicily. Here, differences in the identities adopted on Sicily and the mainland were reflected in the subsequent political orientation of the two areas, with Sicily looking towards North Africa whilst the mainland continued to act as the principal conduit between the West and the Latin Near East. This changed over time resulting in an increasingly direct engagement with the Latin States, and by the end of this period the kingdom itself can be regarded as being a leading participant in the crusading movement. This thesis therefore significantly extends academic debate by arguing that the relationship between southern Italy, Sicily and the Latin East should not only be considered in terms of military involvement but also that of indirect support on different levels. This creates a far more nuanced picture of the situation than that created by William of Tyre’s dismissive portrayal, which has been largely accepted by later historians.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Phillips, Jonathan, Supervisor
Award date1 Mar 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019


  • Italo-Norman
  • Sicily
  • Crusades
  • Southern Italy
  • Latin Near East
  • Ifriqiya
  • Antioch
  • Identity

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