I am an historian of political culture in the central Middle Ages (c. 1000-c. 1300). To date, my research has concerned the lay aristocracies of this period, and the intersection between European aristocratic culture and the phenomenon of crusading. Seeking to uncover how shared concepts, such as nobility, lordship, and lineage were shaped, and to learn more about how attitudes toward crusading developed over time among the aristocracy, my work deals with topics such as literacy, material culture, and the uses of the past.
My first book, To Follow in Their Footsteps: The Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012) examines how the crusades became part of the collective memory of medieval noble families in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Drawing on a variety of literary, documentary, narrative, and artistic sources from across medieval Latin Christendom, the book reveals the texts, materials, and rituals through which images and ideas were transmitted among members of certain families. In 2016, the book was co-winner of the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America.
My current research concerns the place of the crusades within aristocratic performance culture. Provisionally entitled, Theaters of War: Status, Power, and Performance on the Crusading Frontier, my current book project was supported by a Fulbright-University of Birmingham US-UK Fulbright Scholar Award in 2019-2020.
I have collaborated widely with his Fordham colleagues, acting as co-editor, with Suzanne Yeager, of Remembering the Crusades: Myth, Image, and Identity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) and, with Laura Morreale, of The French of Outremer: Communities and Communications in the Crusading Mediterranean (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018). Together with Andrew Albin, Mary Erler, Thomas O'Donnell and Nina Rowe, he is the editor of Whose Middle Ages? Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019). The first two volumes emerged from Fordham conferences held in 2008 and 2014, respectively Most recently, together with History department colleague Wolfgang Mueller he has completed a the first ever edition and translation of the thirteenth-century Latin narrative How the Holy Cross Was Brought from Antioch to the Monastery of Brogne.
Digital Humanities Projects
Paul is the founder and supervising scholar of several of the digital humanities initiatives of the Center for Medieval Studies, including the French of Outremer website, the Oxford Outremer Map, the Independent Crusaders Project, the Siege of Antioch Project, and the Outremer Legal Texts Working Group.