On the settler cultural dynamics of the Crusader states: Julian Jay Theodore Yolles, Latin Literature and Frankish Culture in the Crusader States (1098–1187), PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 2015


Abstract: The so-called Crusader States established by European settlers in the Levant at the end of the eleventh century gave rise to a variety of Latin literary works, including historiography, sermons, pilgrim guides, monastic literature, and poetry. The first part of this study (Chapter 1) critically reevaluates the Latin literary texts and combines the evidence, including unpublished materials, to chart the development of genres over the course of the twelfth century. The second half of the study (Chapters 2–4) subjects this evidence to a cultural-rhetorical analysis, and asks how Latin literary works, as products by and for a cultural elite, appropriated preexisting materials and developed strategies of their own to construct a Frankish cultural identity of the Levant. Proceeding on three thematically different, but closely interrelated, lines of inquiry, it is argued that authors in the Latin East made cultural claims by drawing on the classical tradition, on the Bible, and on ideas of a Carolingian golden age. Chapter 2 demonstrates that Latin historians drew upon classical traditions to fit the Latin East within established frameworks of history and geography, in which the figures Vespasian and Titus are particularly prevalent. Chapter 3 traces the development of the conception of the Franks in the East as a “People of God” and the use of biblical texts to support this claim, especially the Books of the Maccabees. Chapter 4 explores the extent to which authors drew on the legend of Charlemagne as a bridge between East and West. Although the appearance of similar motifs signals a degree of cultural unity among the authors writing in the Latin East, there is an abundant variety in the way they are utilized, inasmuch as they are dynamic rhetorical strategies open to adaptation to differing exigencies. New monastic and ecclesiastical institutions produced Latin writings that demonstrate an urge to establish political and religious authority. While these struggles for power resemble to some extent those between secular and ecclesiastical authorities and institutions in Western Europe, the literary topoi the authors draw upon are specific to their new locale, and represent the creation of a new cultural-literary tradition.

%d bloggers like this: