Professor Norman Housley

Norman Housley 2013Professor of History

Contact Details


I was born in Wiltshire in 1952 and studied for my BA and PhD degrees at Cambridge University. I have spent my career working on different aspects of the crusades, publishing on most features of the movement, but focusing on the ways in which the theory and practice of crusading developed from c. 1200 onwards. Since 1983 I have researched and taught at the University of Leicester, where I have been professor since 1991. I have held visiting fellowships at Oxford, Princeton and Washington.

In this film Professor Norman Housley talks about his research on the history of the crusades, and why this is a good field to get into medieval history.


Related Events and Lectures

'Theology, Holy War and History in the West from the European Middle Ages to the Recent Past'


PhD Supervision

Research themes: the majority of my publications have addressed one or more of four recurrent topics:

  • The systems of ideas that characterized the practice of crusading, in terms of the way the crusades were justified, preached and memorialized, as well as the various critiques and polemical exchanges that they generated
  • The role of the papacy in promoting and managing crusading
  • How participation in crusading expeditions was made possible in terms of leadership, shipping, finance and provisioning
  • The variable popularity of crusading, and issues of intentionality and behaviour that are bound up with its interpretation

Current research project:  I am writing a monograph provisionally entitled Crusading and the Ottoman Threat 1453-1505. The text is due for delivery to Oxford University Press in December 2013, and it will analyze the way the Church responded to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and the westwards advance of Ottoman power, with an ambitious programme to revive crusading as Christendom’s military defence mechanism.

Areas of research supervision: I am willing to supervise PhD students in any of the four areas outlined above, and will consider proposals for working on other crusade-related topics.


I teach medieval European History from 1000 to 1500. I specialize in the history of the Crusades, and teach a special subject on the Crusading Movement in the Fourteenth Century. One of my major interests is the way warfare developed in the Middle Ages, and I teach a third-year option on the war between England and France in the fifteenth century (Agincourt and Orleans). I regularly supervise undergraduate dissertations across the span of medieval history from the eleventh century to the fifteenth, and many of my dissertation students work on topics that relate to the Crusades, the Military Orders and the crusader states in the East.

Most Recent Publications

  1. ‘Matthias Corvinus and Crusading’, in Between Worlds IV: Matthias Corvinus and his time
  2. Norman Housley, 'Pope Pius II and Crusading' in (ed) Crusades
  3. Recent and forthcoming publications include:
    Fighting for the Cross (Yale University Press, 2008)
  4. ‘Recent scholarship on crusading and medieval warfare, 1095-1291: convergence and divergence’, in War, Government and Aristocracy in the British Isles, c. 1150-1500 (2008)
  5. ‘Crusading and state-building in the middle ages’, in Power and Persuasion: Essays on the Art of State Building (2010)


Forthcoming Publications

  1. ‘Crusading and interreligious contacts in the Eastern Mediterranean: the religious, diplomatic and juridical frameworks’, in Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean
  2. ‘Crusading 1450-1650: Mobilization and Memory’, in Fighting for the Faith during Renaissance and Reformation: Late medieval and early modern crusading, 1400-1650
  3. ‘Pope Pius II and crusading’, Crusades 11 (2012)
  4. Robur imperii: Mobilizing Imperial Resources for the Crusade against the Turks, 1453-1505’, in Partir en croisade à la fin du moyen âge: financement et logistique

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