The underclass in the first crusade: A historiographical trend

D. Malkiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study explores a recent trend in the historiography of the First Crusade, specifically the behaviour of the Jewish and Christian 'underclass'. This term is used to refer to women in the Jewish society of Latin Europe and to the 'common folk' in the neighbouring Christian society; both of these groups did not traditionally dictate social and political norms in their respective milieus. The argument is that historians traditionally accorded both sectors a leadership role in the Rhineland pogroms, based on medieval sources, but that they have recently revised the record and claimed that events were actually driven by the traditional (adult male) leadership, i.e. rabbis and nobles. The article studies the sources that served as the bases for the traditional and revisionist perspectives and traces the chain of historiographical development through the views of prominent historians. It also suggests contemporary issues that appear to underpin the revisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-197
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002


  • First Crusade
  • Jews
  • Women


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