Professor Simon Barton

Contact Details

Department of History
University of Exeter
Amory Building,
Exeter EX4 4RJ
Tel 01392 264429



When and where did you initially develop an interest in the history of the crusades and/or the Latin East?

My interest in the crusades, and Christian-Muslim relations more generally, was sparked by my doctoral research at the University of York on 12th-century Spain.

Who or what sparked your enthusiasm for the subject?

My supervisor, Richard Fletcher, author of an influential article on the Iberian crusades (Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 1987).


Please provide details of your Higher Education, including dates, institution(s) and the name(s) of your research supervisors.

  • 1980-83 BA History, University of Wales Aberystwyth
  • 1983-84 MA Medieval Studies, University of York
  • 1986-90 DPhil History, University of York (Supervisor: Professor Richard Fletcher) 

Career History

Please provide details of your academic career history, including confirmation of your current institutional affiliation and contact details.

  • 1990-93: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge (held in conjunction with research fellowship at Robinson College)
  • 1993-2006: Department of Hispanic Studies, University of Exeter
  • 2006-present: Department of History, University of Exeter (now Professor of Spanish History

Influences and Methodologies

What ideas and/or methodologies have informed your approach to your research?

Hardly surprisingly for a scholar of medieval Iberia, I have been strongly influenced by the ‘pluralist’ school of crusading history, which sees the Iberian peninsula as part and parcel of the wider European crusading movement.

Research Outlook

What do you consider to be the most important avenues for future research in the field of crusader studies?

It seems to me that many of the chief narrative sources for the history of the crusades would repay careful analysis.

Research Output

Please provide details of your research output, including publications and other media as appropriate.

  • The Aristocracy in Twelfth-Century León and Castile, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series (Cambridge: UP ), 1997, xvi + 366 pp; [reissued in paperback, 2002]. Awarded Premio del Rey prizeby American Historical Association (1998).
  • (with Richard Fletcher), The World of El Cid: Chronicles of the Spanish Reconquest (Manchester: UP ), 2000, xiv + 281 pp
  • A History of Spain (Palgrave Macmillan Press), 2004, xviii + 302 pp
  • ‘A Forgotten Crusade: Alfonso VII of León-Castile and the Campaign for Jaén (1148)’, Historical Research 73 (2000), 312-20.
  • ‘From Tyrants to Soldiers of Christ: the nobility of twelfth-century León-Castile and the struggle against Islam’, Nottingham Medieval Studies 44 (2000), 28-48.
  • ‘Traitors to the Faith? Christian Mercenaries in al-Andalus and the Maghreb, c 1100-1300’, in Medieval Spain: Culture, Conflict and Coexistence. Studies in Honour of Angus MacKay, ed R Collins and A Goodman (Palgrave Macmillan Press), 2002, 23-45.
  • ‘Spain in the Eleventh Century’, in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol IV, Part 2 ed D Luscombe and J Riley-Smith (Cambridge: UP ), 2004, 154-90.
  • ‘From Mercenary to Crusader: the Career of Álvar Pérez de Castro (d 1239) reconsidered’, in Church, State, Vellum and Stone: Essays on Medieval Spain in Honor of John Williams, ed J Harris and T Martin (Leiden: Brill Academic Press), 2005, 111-29.
  • ‘The “Discovery of Aristocracy” in Twelfth-Century Spain: Portraits of the secular élite in the Poem of Almería’, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 83 (2006), 453-68.
  • ‘Islam and the West: a View from Twelfth-Century León’, in S Barton and P Linehan (eds), Cross, Crescent and Conversion: Studies on medieval Spain and Christendom in Memory of Richard Fletcher,  (Leiden: Brill Academic Press), in press.