Remembering the Crusades: Myth, Image and Identity

28th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies

Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York City: March 29-30, 2008

Conor Kostick, Myths of the First Crusade in Baldric of Dol's amendments of the Gesta Francorum

Baldric, or Baudry, was elected Archbishop of Dol in 1107. He was a leading humanist in his day. The Historia Hierosolymitana was written not long after Baldric’s appointment to the archbishopric. He took the anonymous eyewitness account of the First Crusade, the Gesta Francorum, as the fons formalis for his own history. But he amended the original text so that the expedition would be remembered in a particular theological way. Most importantly, Baldric presented the expedition as a living example of the harmony that could be achieved in Christian society, for him it was a model for restoring the ecclesia primitiva.

For a historian attempting to reconstruct a narrative of events this additional material has to be treated sceptically, as often it distorts the account of events to suit a Baldric’s purpose. As a result, the Historia Hierosolymitana has been rather neglected by historians and no modern edition of the text exists. But from the point of view of understanding the theological perspective of a northern French archbishop in an era of reform and how they wanted to mythologise the First Crusade, Baldric’s additions and emendations to his source are extremely valuable and worth examining in detail.

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