Dr David Nicolle

Contact Details



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

Who or what sparked your enthusiasm for the subject?

My interest in the Near and Middle East began during my final year at school, but was at that time focused on Minoan history. An opportunity to travel in Greece and Turkey sparked an interest in Byzantine and medieval Turco-Islamic history and culture. Several years working for the BBC (TV News followed by the Arabic Service) and further travels in the Middle East shifted my interest firmly towards the medieval Islamic world, with a focus on the "Counter Crusades" of the 12th to 14th centuries. After resigning from the BBC, I returned to university to study history, which necessitated increasing specialisation. This eventually resulted in my doctoral thesis on medieval Islamic military technology.


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

Polytechnic of North London, 1971-5: Cert Ed and B Ed (history), dissertation on "Early Islamic
Arms and Armour" (supervisor, Dr R Seltman)

School or Oriental African Studies, London University,part-time 1975-77: MA (Area Studies Near and Middle East), dissertation on "The Impact of the European Couched Lance on Muslim Military Tradition" (supervisors Professor G Fehervari and Professor PM Holt)

Edinburgh University, 1977-83: PhD thesis on "The Military Technology of Classical Islam" (supervisor Dr R Hillenbrand)

Career History

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

  • BBC TV News (1963-67)
  • BBC Arabic Service (1967-71)
  • Yarmouk University, Department of Fine Arts, teaching world art history, Islamic art history (including general Islamic art history, Islamic ceramics, Islamic metalwork, Islamic architecture) (1983-87)
  • Self-employed researcher and writer (part-time 1968-87; full-time 1987 to date)
  • Nottingham University Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Medieval Studies (1987 to date)

Influences and Methodologies

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

I am afraid that I feel myself to be largely"self-taught" where my own specialised field of research is concerned (medieval Islamic military technology, arms, armour, etc ). In a more general sense, and where my broader publications are concerned, I regard myself as a "historical journalist" whose primary motivation is to make otherwise obscure or academic subjects available to the widest possible readership. I am, in fact, an unashamed popularizer.

Research Outlook

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

The bottom line should be broaden understanding between the so-called "West" and the almost as foolishly misnamed "Islamic world", to combat prejudice based upon ignorance and fear, and to struggle against the highly dangerous notion of a clash of civilisations. Beyond that, it really doesn't matter what avenues of research are to be pursued.

Research Output

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


  1. Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, New York 1988.
  2. Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350: Western Europe and the Crusader States, London 1999.
  3. Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350: Islam, Eastern Europe and Asia, London 1999.
  4. Early Medieval Islamic Arms and Armour, Instituto de Estudios Sobre Armas Antiguas, Madrid 1976.
  5. Medieval Knights.  See Through History, London 1997.
  6. Medieval Warfare Source Book.  Volume I: Warfare in Western Christendom, London 1995.
  7. Medieval Warfare Source Book.  Volume II: Christian Europe and its Neighbours, London 1996.
  8. The Mongol Warlords: Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hulegu, Tamerlane, Poole 1990.
  9. (ed) Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour, Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge 2002.
  10. Warriors and the Weapons around the Time of the Crusades, Variorum Collected Studies Series, Ashgate, Aldershot 2002.