Dr Stephen Spencer, Past & Present Fellow
Remembering the Third Crusade in Western Europe and the Latin East, c.1187-c.1300
Stephen Spencer completed his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, with a thesis on ‘The Representation and Function of Emotion in Narratives of the Crusades, c.1095–c.1291’. It investigated the ways in which a number of emotions and affective displays were understood, represented, and utilised in twelfth- and thirteenth-century sources pertaining to the crusades. In addition to charting continuities and changes over time in the emotional landscape of crusading, this study examined the underlying social, cultural, and religious influences which shaped how medieval authors perceived and used crusader emotions; analysed the passions Latin participants were expected to embrace and reject; and assessed whether the idea of crusading profoundly altered western conceptions of the emotions.
Stephen’s postdoctoral project, ‘Remembering the Third Crusade in Western Europe and the Latin East, c.1187–c.1300’, evolved out of his research on representations of Richard the Lionheart’s anger. While the narratives of the First Crusade have been subjected to unprecedented scrutiny in recent years, the ways in which the events of the Third Crusade (1187–92) were remembered and retold in Western Europe during the Middle Ages have received surprisingly little attention. This project aims to enhance knowledge of how and why the story of the Third Crusade evolved over time and was understood in different geographic settings, especially England, France, Germany, and the Latin East. As well as advancing our understanding of the texts, the research will also shape historians’ approaches to them by identifying and explaining the myriad influences which conditioned chroniclers’ accounts of the expedition, analysing textual relationships between the narratives, and by shedding light on the manuscript transmission and evolution of the histories.
Research and publications
- ‘'Emotions and the "Other": Emotional Characterizations of Muslim Protagonists in Narratives of the Crusades (1095-1192)', in Literature of the Crusades, ed. S. Parsons and L. Paterson (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2018), pp. 41-54
- ‘Constructing the Crusader: Emotional Language in the Narratives of the First Crusade’, in Jerusalem the Golden: The Origins and Impact of the First Crusade, ed. S. B. Edgington and L. García-Guijarro (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), pp. 173–89
- ‘“Like a Raging Lion": Richard the Lionheart's Anger during the Third Crusade in Medieval and Modern Historiography', English Historical Review, vol. 132/556 (2017), pp. 495-532
- ‘Piety, Brotherhood and Power: The Role and Significance of Emotions in Albert of Aachen’s Historia Ierosolimitana’, Literature Compass, vol. 13/6 (2016), special issue: Emotions and Feelings in the Middle Ages, pp. 423–43
- ‘The Emotional Rhetoric of Crusader Spirituality in the Narratives of the First Crusade’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, vol. 58 (2014), pp. 57–86