The First Crusade (1096–1099) owed its success to a decentralized political landscape that consisted of autonomous urban centres and fortresses governed by Arab dynasts and scions of the fragmented Saljuq Empire. By the early twelfth century the crusaders and their successors – known collectively to locals as “Franks” – had established several polities along the Levantine coastal plain. Yet Muslim communities continued to live under Frankish rule, especially in the rural areas of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Whereas current research shows that concerns about a hostile “fifth column” occupied the Christian rulers of Early Modern Spain during the Ottoman wars, the evidence for such concerns in the Latin East is sparse. Nevertheless several sources indicate that setbacks in the political and diplomatic relations between Frankish and Muslim rulers could have repercussions on Muslims living under Frankish rule. Conversely, efforts aimed at interstate conciliation could improve the living conditions of subjected Muslims. This presentation will focus on three aspects of minority relations involving, first, pressure exerted on Muslims to leave the Kingdom of Jerusalem; second, the circumvention of safe-conduct protocols for Muslims traveling through the Kingdom; and third, concerns expressed by third parties on the well-being of Muslim minorities. Based on the lecturer’s PhD research, it will be argued that Frankish and Muslim rulers were aware of the effects of their political activity on minorities and also took their circumstances into account during negotiations.
Bogdan C. Smarandache is a Ph.D. student at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.
All CIMS lectures are open to the public and free of charge.