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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Merchants, Pirates and Crusaders in the late medieval Mediterranean (HIST10415)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will provide students with an exciting look into the highly fragmented, violent and often contradictory world of the late medieval Mediterranean. It will concentrate on a number of remarkable merchants, pirates and crusaders were able to carve out their own domains, motivated by profit and adventure, but also by religious zeal and a desire to defend their lands. The course will utilize a range of translated sources, including documents from the archives of the Vatican, Genoa and Venice, merchant handbooks, crusade treatises and travel narratives.
Course description At the turn of the fourteenth century the Mediterranean was on the brink of a series of major religious and political transformations which would shape the region for centuries to come. In the central Mediterranean the major powers of Western Europe were embroiled in the War of the Sicilian Vespers, in the East the last Latin Christian crusader outposts had fallen to the Mamluks of Egypt, and in Greece and the Aegean the Byzantine Empire was on the verge of being consumed by Turkish warlords in Anatolia, amongst whom were the Ottomans.

Yet in this period of extreme instability, a number of remarkable merchants, pirates and crusaders were able to carve out their own domains in the Mediterranean, motivated by profit and adventure, but also by religious zeal and a desire to defend their lands from those who they perceived to be enemies of the faith. Some of these individuals gained fame and fortune for their maritime daring, as well as favour from popes and kings for their role in fighting the enemies of the faith. However, others were attacked for their ruthless policies and even had crusades proclaimed against them for allying with Muslims and enslaving their fellow Christians.

This course will focus on a number of these individuals, including Roger of Lauria, the Italian admiral who was the commander of the Aragonese fleet during the War of the Sicilian Vespers, the Genoese adventurer Benedetto Zaccaria, who established a crusader dynasty on the island of Chios, the mercenary Catalan Company, who ravaged Greece and Anatolia before ruling Athens as a pirate-duchy from 1311-1388, and the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, who governed Rhodes until 1522. The course will utilize a range of translated sources, including documents from the archives of the Vatican, Genoa and Venice, merchant handbooks, crusade treatises, travel narratives and chronicles, especially the account of the Catalan mercenary Ramon Muntaner.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, PTs are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Administrator to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 504030).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have 3 History courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Enrolments for this course are managed by the CAHSS Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department. All enquiries to enrol must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
4000 word essay (80%)
1000 word written assignment (20%)
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the relevant areas of late medieval Mediterranean history;
  2. Execute defined research and produce structured and analytical essays on aspects of the course;
  3. Critically analyse the sources relevant to the course and be familiar with their strengths and limitations;
  4. Work effectively with classmates and take part in detailed discussions and debates.
Reading List
Carr, M., Merchant Crusaders in the Aegean, 1291-1352 (2015).
Epstein, S.A., Purity Lost: Transgressing Boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1000-1400 (2007).
Lane, F.C., Venice: A Maritime Republic (1973).
Lock, P., The Franks in the Aegean, 1204-1500 (1995).
Marino Sanudo Torsello, The Book of the Secrets of the Faithful of the Cross, trans. P. Lock (2011).
Ramon Muntaner, The Catalan Expedition to the East: from the Chronicle of Ramon Muntaner, trans. R.D. Hughes (2006).
Setton, K.M., The Catalan Domination of Athens (1948).
Setton, K.M., The Papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571, vol. 1 (1976).
Stantchev, S.K., Spiritual rationality: Papal Embargo as Cultural Practice (2014).
William of Adam, How to Defeat the Saracens, trans. G. Constable (2012).
Zachariadou, E.A., Trade and Crusade: Venetian Crete and the Emirates of Menteshe and Aydin: 1300-1415 (1983).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Michael Carr
Tel: (0131 6)50 2554
Course secretaryMiss Sara Dennison
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501
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