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Major grant to produce modern edition of medieval narratives documenting the Crusades

10 February 2009

Some of the most significant historical works detailing the Crusades are being given a thorough reappraisal by historians at Cardiff University.

Professor Peter Edbury, of the School of History Archaeology is producing the first modern critical edition of the medieval narratives known as the Continuations of William of Tyre and the Chronicle of Ernoul and Bernard the Treasurer.

Together, the manuscripts provide the fullest narrative for the events from 1184 until 1277 in the territories in the Levant ruled by the crusaders, and are the most significant historical works composed in the Latin East to describe these years.

The interest of these texts lies partly in the historical information they contain, but also in their capacity to mirror the political and cultural preoccupations of the authors and the original audience.

Professor Edbury said: "There is widespread agreement that a modern, scholarly edition of the Continuations and Ernoul-Bernard is a major desideratum. The modern critical edition will include a textual apparatus, historical notes and an introductory commentary that will contain an evaluation of the historical content of these texts and reassess their literary and cultural context.

"The research will further our understanding of thirteenth-century secular perceptions of the crusades to the Holy Land and of the principalities established in the eastern Mediterranean."

Fifty-one manuscripts of the French translation of William of Tyre dating from before 1500, forty-five of which contain Continuations, and eight manuscripts of Ernoul-Bernard have survived . To date, their sheer bulk has deterred scholars from undertaking a project of these dimensions in the past.

The edition by Professor Edbury will constitute a research tool that will contribute significantly to advancing knowledge and understanding in the fields of history, art history, French language and literature.

The research, which will start in September 2009, is funded by a £410,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Notes to editors

1. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

2. Cardiff School of History and Archaeology

The School of History and Archaeology carries out teaching and research in four main areas: History and Welsh History; Ancient History; Archaeology; and Archaeology Conservation.

History and Welsh History offers a broad survey of the main aspects from the medieval period to the twentieth century. Areas of expertise include: Medieval England, the Crusades, military religious orders; early modern England and Wales; early modern Spain; and modern Indian historiography and gender history. The broad area of Europe and the British Empire in the Twentieth Century encompasses such research themes as: modern Germany; biological racism and ethics; the Right in France; and the Wilson era in British politics. Areas of expertise in Welsh history include early modern Wales; the gentry; industrialisation; popular culture and Welsh emigration/dispersal (with particular reference to North America)

Ancient History focuses on the social and economic history of the ancient world, with particular emphasis on: warrior elites; warfare and the formation; organisation and social effects of armies; violence and its control inside ancient societies; issues of identity, especially gender history and ethnicity; and slavery and other systems of labour and land exploitation.

Archaeology offers expertise in two main areas: the archaeology of Britain, Europe and the Mediterranean 5000BC-1000AD; and studies in ancient technology and the analysis of materials and conservation science.

The Archaeology Conservation degree scheme offered by the School is one of only two such undergraduate courses in Britain. It attracts conservation commissions from throughout the UK, giving students valuable hands-on experience. The teaching of Ancient History and Archaeology was assessed as "Excellent" in the recent national assessment of teaching quality in UK universities.

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