Like many aristocratic families across medieval Europe, the Furnivals could look back on an eminent crusading heritage by the mid-thirteenth century. From the Third Crusade experiences of Gerard I de Furnival until the 1240s, this kin group made a significant contribution to the movement set in motion by Pope Urban II in November 1095. But it paid a high price for such devotion: of five known crusaders, four perished overseas. As recent scholarship has demonstrated, family traditions were fundamental in maintaining the momentum of crusading throughout the Middle Ages, and the presence of three Furnival brothers on the Barons’ Crusade is compelling evidence that the ghosts of crusading ancestors whispered in the ears of their descendants, stirring new generations to take the cross. However, a range of forces acted upon the Furnival’s potential crucesignati. This paper will examine the interplay of crusading heritage and more immediate pressures to crusade. It demonstrates that, for the Furnivals, crusading heritage was a facet of family spirituality and culture that did not in itself trigger action but was the tinder ignited by more immediate concerns, such as political expediency, networks of patronage and social ambition.
All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.