Book launch: Medieval Syria and the Onset of the Crusades

Tuesday, 18. June 2024
13:30 - 15:00

Y 326 / Zoom


James Wilson (Postdoctoral Fellow / History and Sociology) & Michael Köhler (Historian / European Commission)

About the book:

Between 1050 and 1128 the nomadic Seljuq Turks and European Crusaders subjected northern Syria to a series of invasions from the east and west. The migration of militant peoples from the Eurasian Steppe and Western Europe inserted a new set of political elites into a complex frontier zone already beset by numerous conflicts fought along several ethno-cultural and religious contours. Surveying this turbulent chapter of Syrian history from multiple perspectives, this book recalibrates the underlying power dynamics of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. Through this regional focus, it reassesses both the impact that the establishment of Turkish and Crusader lordships had upon bilad al-sham (Greater Syria) and the reactions of Syria’s established ruling elite to this unprecedented sequence of events.

Providing a unique reinterpretation of the political situation in bilad al-sham during one of the most important periods in Middle Eastern history, this book proposes a new model for understanding the political dynasties of this period and questions the significance ascribed to the establishment of the Crusader States by modern historians. (Edinburgh University Press)

About Michael Köhler:

Until October 2023, Michael Köhler served as Deputy Director-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations in the European Commission’s DG ECHO where he coordinated the world-wide EU humanitarian aid activities. From April 2022 to February 2023 (both inclusive), he also served as Acting Director-General at DG ECHO.

Michael Köhler has 36 years of professional experience in international cooperation, aid and foreign policy. After six years as a Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation director in charge of four German financed development projects in Morocco and Tunisia, he joined the German cooperation ministry BMZ for two years before starting his career in the EU in 1994, working in a succession of Middle Eastern, aid, policy coordination, maritime policy, energy, neighbourhood policy and humanitarian policy functions throughout his career. Michael has held a variety of senior management positions since 2008.

Michael Köhler holds a Dr. phil. in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Hamburg University (1987). Since 1997 he has been a professor for "Europe and the Mediterranean"at the College of Europe in Bruand; he also teaches at PSIA-Sciences Po Paris.