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Medieval Jerusalems? The Holy City between Christians, Jews & Muslims - MST00050M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

Jerusalem is perhaps the definitive medieval holy city: an urban space teeming with shrines in a region (Palestine or The Holy Land) crowded with even more, and considered to be holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. This module will explore the multiple understandings of the citys sanctity from the Islamic conquest of the seventh century to the aftermath of the Crusades as they were constructed by members of all three religious groups. Constructions of places as sacred or holy are not static and this module will emphasise a diachronic approach to the various attitudes held by pilgrims, religious scholars and rulers to Jerusalems sanctity. After the Islamic conquest, did Muslims attach significance to the same sites as their Christian and Jewish predecessors, or did they create new holy places and new meanings for old ones? How did Christians and Jews, in both Europe and the Middle East, react to the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem? Did the second great changeover of political rule in Jerusalem, from Muslims to Christians, during the Crusades have much of an impact on the ways in which scholars and rulers thought about and utilised Jerusalems sanctity. We will also address the matter of when and why Jerusalem was envisaged as a site of conflict between members of the different faiths, and when and why it was imagined as a city shared peacefully between them.

A wide variety of sources are available for such a study, ranging from chronicles, local histories, pilgrim guides and travel narratives to epigraphy, archaeology, numismatics and artistic representations. Moreover, the shared appreciation of Jerusalems sanctity among Christians, Jews and Muslims means that such sources are drawn from an excitingly wide range of linguistic and cultural traditions. As we investigate what Jerusalems sanctity meant to different people at different times, we will bring medieval Arabic sources fully to bear alongside those written by Europeans.

Module learning outcomes

a) Understand why Jerusalem was considered a holy city by medieval Christians, Jews and Muslims, and how its sanctity was compared to other cities they considered holy;

b) Have formed ideas about the political significance of medieval sacred spaces and holy cities;

c) Be aware of the variety of ways that medieval Christians, Jews and Muslims could imagine Jerusalem; and

d) Be familiar with the wide range of sources available for the study of Jerusalems history in this period, what they can offer modern historians and what their problems are.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written and/or verbal feedback on draft essay; written report on final assessment within 6 weeks of submission, and within 2 weeks of resubmission.

Indicative reading

Information currently unavailable

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.