Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 May 2014
This paper considers the written source material that was used by the author known to us as Robert the Monk when he composed his account of the First Crusade, the Historia Iherosolimitana. Its aim is to throw some light on where this texts sits within the patterns of influences and borrowings that connect many of the narratives about the First Crusade written in the Latin Christian tradition. A further aim, though constraints of space preclude a detailed examination, is to suggest that the close study of texts such as that by Robert, a work that both drew upon a guide source and itself served as a source in its turn, requires an in-depth consideration of questions of reader response and authorial creativity if we wish to understand the dynamics that energized the burst of writing about the First Crusade in the early decades of the twelfth century.
It goes without saying that before a text can inform the writing of another work, it must be read. But read in what ways? Those who read a narrative of the First Crusade with the specific intention of themselves crafting another text on the same subject cannot be taken as a representative sample of all its readers, for they must have brought to the act of reading unusually heightened sensitivities as to matters of both content and form.