The reputation of the Normans is rooted in an uneasy interplay between warfare and faith. The Normans were famed as warriors and at the same time noted for their religious devotion; their association as builders of both great castles and cathedrals is seemingly symbolic of the key juxtaposition inherent in Norman history. Yet, we might add a third defining feature of the Normans, one that underpinned the other two: mobility. The Norman proclivity to operate on and beyond established frontiers, and to move between different theatres of action across the medieval world, is a noteworthy one. In the Middle Ages few activities offered a better conduit to combine warfare, religiosity and movement than crusading and pilgrimage. It is no surprise then that both feature heavily in the phenomenal rise of the Normans from the tenth through to the early thirteenth century. And yet it is a surprise that the Norman relationship with crusading and pilgrimage has hitherto not received extensive scholarly treatment, at least not in the form of a single, focused volume.
Certainly, several journal articles and book chapters have been published on the subject of the Norman role in crusading and/or pilgrimage; for example, contributions by Emily Albu, John France, Aryeh Grabois, Natasha Hodgson, Graham Loud and Léan Ní Chléirigh. Likewise, broader works on crusading, pilgrimage and sanctity address Norman input, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly; for example in the works of Thomas Asbridge, Samantha Kahn Herrick, Kathryn Hurlock, Paul Oldfield, Jonathan Riley-Smith, Christopher Tyerman and Simon Yarrow. But collectively – in addressing the inter-relationship between the Normans, crusading and pilgrimage – these existing works might only deal broadly with the subject, and do not aim to delve deeper; alternatively they might focus closely on one restricted area of it, or in many cases their main focus might lie elsewhere, and the Normans appear as a rather peripheral presence. Taken together, these works testify to the value and potential in studying crusading and pilgrimage in the Norman world, but demonstrate the clear need for more extensive examination collected within one volume. Inevitably, a single volume alone cannot fill completely such a lacuna in such a wide subject-field. But it is the aim of this present work to offer a first step towards doing so.