nl en

Holy Wars in Western and Central Europe during the Middle Ages


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


The lecture class aims to give a panoramic survey of holy wars, understood as wars conducted for God, in Western and Central Europe during the Middle Ages. It begins with the so-called Donatist conflict, which one historian called “the first war of religion”, Charlemagne´s conquests, the classic crusades against Islam, war against “heretics” (thus all the way to the Hussite crusades of the fifteenth century), with a terminal glance beyond 1500 to the French Wars of Religion. It will address comparable configurations in Islam, Byzantium, and Japan, to elucidate how far holy war and crusades are idiosyncracies of Western and Central Europe. Questions of motivations, material interests, and commemoration will also be foregrounded.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student can:

  • 1) organise and use relatively large amounts of information;

  • 2) reflect critically on knowledge and understanding as presented in academic literature.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 3) The student has knowledge of the specialisation Medieval History, more specifically of the medieval origins of European history; in particular of ethnicity, state formation, international trade and shipping, and contacts with the non-European world.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this specific lecture course

The student:

  • 4) will have knowledge of the causes, experience, and commemoration of war for God;

  • 5) will get knowledge of the relevant social, political, economic, and religious contexts;

  • 6) will get insights about war for gods or alongside gods in comparative perspective.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method



The course will be assessed through two examinations, covering all course objectives:

  • Midterm examination: Short written examination in class with identification of terms

  • Final examination: Short written examination in class with identification questions

  • Take-home essay


  • Midterm examination: 30%

  • Final examination: 30%

  • Take-home essay: 40%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit exam will take place in one single resit, at which both subtests are offered.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Christopher Tyerman, The World of the Crusades (New Haven: 2019)

  • Other readings will be available electronically


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable.