My book Women and the Crusades was published by OUP in the UK on 23 Feb. This certainly isn’t the first book on the subject and it won’t be the last, but I hope it will give readers an insight into the enormous range of different ways women were involved in crusades during the period from the eleventh to the sixteenth century.
The book is thoroughly referenced, so readers should be able to track down fuller accounts of these women in the primary and secondary sources I used and read more about the cases that interest them! There were certainly far more women involved in crusades in one way or another than I have mentioned in the book, but it’s easy to overlook them in the primary sources if you’re not looking out for them.
I hope this book will encourage researchers to keep an eye open for women’s involvement in crusades, from planning crusades, encouraging people to go on crusade, raising troops, taking part in expeditions as someone who had ‘taken the cross’ or in a support role (servant, merchant, laundress …), looking after the family estates in the absence of crusaders, lending money to crusaders, praying, donating money to institutions that ransomed crusaders who had been taken prisoner, buying crusade indulgences to support crusaders, paying for memorials to crusaders … or caught up in crusades against their will: women who were taken prisoner, saw the loss of their property and their loved ones, and perhaps had to make the choice between death or captivity.
Initially I thought of including a list of all the women who were involved in the crusades, but this turned out to be impractical. Many women mentioned by contemporaries as present on crusades remained unnamed. Much of the support given by women (and by men) was part of everyday life: taking part in prayer during the Mass or in a liturgical procession to support a crusade, praying at the beginning of a meeting of a charitable fraternity for Christian recovery of the Holy Land, or buying an indulgence to help finance a crusade.
The book is available directly from the publisher, or from the usual online suppliers (Amazon , Waterstones …)