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The Crusades and the Latin Kingdoms

What is a Primary Source

"A primary source is a document, image or artifact ... created contemporaneously with the event under discussion." (Williams, Historian's Toolbox, 2nd ed., p. 56)

Depending on your topic, it may be a diary, a letter, published memoirs and other source documents from the period of study, as well as electronic, microfilm, and printed collections of these documents published at a later date.

For more information, go to the guide, Primary Sources.

Search Omni for Books and More

1. Search by Subject or Keyword

You can locate items by doing a keyword Boolean search and then adding one of the following special terms to your search: correspondence; diaries; early works to 1800; pamphlets; personal narratives; sources; speeches, etc. For example:

crusades AND sources
jews AND crusades AND sources

Also do a subject heading heading search and add one of these special terms:

Byzantine Empire History 1081-1483 Sources
Christian saints France Correspondence
Church history  Middle Ages, 600-1500 Sources
Crusades First 1096-1099 Sources
Crusades Second 1147-1149  Sources
Crusades Third, 1189-1192 Sources
Crusades Seventh, 1248-1250 Sources                     
Crusades Personal narratives
Crusades Sources
Jerusalem History Latin Kingdom, 1099-1244 Sources

Collections of primary sources often have the word documents, chronicles, or memoirs in the title:

document? AND crusades

2. Look Up Historical Figures

If you know of a person involved in the event or from the time period, look that person;s name as a author for memoirs, diaries or correspondence. For example:

Urban II Pope
Bernard of Clairvaux Saint
Choniates Nicetas ca 1140-1213

3. Find Sources of Translation in our Collection

The Library has several volumes in the series, Crusade Texts in Translation

As well as general collections of primary sources.  Selected titles include:

  Chronicles of the Crusades
  The Crusades: A Reader
  The Crusades: Idea and Reality

Another resource to look at is the series, English Historical Documents, which is available online and in print. The most relevant for this class are the volumes:

v. 1  500-1042
v. 2  1042-1189
v. 3  1189-1327
v. 4  1327-1485

The best way to find more authoritative translations of medieval primary sources is by searching Omni. Search by the name of the author, or, if the work either does not have an author or you are looking for a specific work by a particular author, search under the title.

Search the Web

National archives, libraries, agencies & many other organizations publish primary source documents. A selection of sites include:

Internet History Sourcebooks Project

Avalon Project: Medieval Documents, 400-1399

EuroDocs: Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Hanover Historical Texts Collections: Medieval Europe, Letters of Crusaders

Voice of the Shuttle - the Crusades
News, scholarship and more.

Since anyone can create a website, it is important to evaluate the credibility of a site. 

One way to find a more reliable site is to search for ones created at or by educational institutions.  To do this, use the Google Advanced Search option and limit your search by setting domain or site preferences. Enter .edu (U.S.), (Australia), (United Kingdom) into the domain/site box and the results retrieved will only be associated with educational institutions. But even here, you will need to validate the information.

Walled City (15th Century) Bibliotheque nationale de France

The database, Medieval Travel Writing, provides access to a widely scattered collection of medieval manuscripts that describe travel in the Middle Ages, including the Crusades.