Professor James M Powell

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 Route to the Crusades

After college, I was uncertain of my future.  I had the opportunity to take an MA at Xavier.  Then I took courses at the University of Cincinnati.  There I studied chiefly with Hilmar Krueger, who was an excellent teacher.  I focused on economic history, which was his field and prepared a seminar paper on the crusade of Frederick II.   I was encouraged by advice from Aziz Atiya, who was delivering his lectures on the crusades at Indiana University.  After transferring to Indiana University - Cincinnati did not offer doctorates then, I wrote my dissertation on the economic policy of Frederick II in the Kingdom of Sicily.  That led to my translation of the Constitutions of Melfi, but it was the connection to Frederick II that brought me to crusade studies.  I became convinced that much work needed to be done.  The culmination of several years of research was Anatomy of a Crusade.  At the same time I was interested in the thirteenth century church and papacy.  I had edited a booklet on Innocent III.  I found that this interest fit into my work on the crusade and, after finishing Anatomy, I decided to translate the Gesta Innocentii III.  The experience I gained there has proven invaluable.  If I decide to write a history of the crusades -my recent work seems headed in that direction - I suspect that the result will be rather different from what we now have.   But I do hope that some of my efforts will point the way for those who follow


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

  • PhD - Indiana University 1960
  • Graduate Study at University of Cincinnati, 1955-1957.
  • MA - Xavier University   1955
  • AB - Xavier University    1953

Career History

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

1997 - Professor Emeritus  Syracuse University 
1972 ­ 97  Professor  Syracuse University 
1967 ­ 72  Associate Professor  Syracuse University 
1965 ­ 67  Assistant Professor  Syracuse University 
1961 ­ 65  Assistant Professor  University of Illinois 
1959 ­ 61  Instructor  Kent State University 

Visiting Positions:

1996 - 7 Distinguished Visiting Professor of Medieval History  Rutgers University 
1963 - 4 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Summer, 1964 University of Iowa
Summer, 1966 University of Michigan
1966 - 7; 1969  Part-time Cornell University

Influences and Methodologies

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


Research Outlook

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


Research Output

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

Books edited* and authored

  • The Crusades, the Kingdom of Sicily, and the Mediterranean  (Aldershot: Ashgate (Variorum), 2007).  Collected essays.
  • The Deeds of Pope Innocent III by an anonymous author.  Translated with introduction and notes.  (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2004)
  • *Tolerance and Intolerance: Social Conflict in the Age of the Crusades. Edited with Michael Gervers. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001)
  • *Innocent III:  Vicar of Christ or Lord of the World?  2nd ed, revised and enlarged.  (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1994). 
  • Albertanus of Brescia:  The Pursuit of Happiness in the Early Thirteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992).
  • *Muslims under Latin Rule, 1100-1300 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).  Edited with essays by David Abulafia, Robert I Burns, Benjamin Z. Kedar, Joseph O'Callaghan, and myself.  I also wrote an introduction, conclusion, and chapter on "The Papacy and the Muslim Frontier."
  • *Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline.  Edited with George G Iggers (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1989)  I wrote the Introduction.
  • Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Fall, 1986) Awarded John Gilmary Shea Prize, American Catholic Historical Association, 1987.  Paperback edition, 1990, by University of Pennsylvania Press. 
  • *Medieval Studies: An Introduction (Syracuse University Press, 1976).  Edited.  New edition, revised and enlarged, 1992.
  • Liber Augustalis or Constitutions of Melfi, Promulgated by Frederick II in 1231 (Syracuse University Press, 1971).  Translated with introduction and notes.
  • Civilization of the West (New York, MacMillan, 1967) 
  • *Innocent III: Vicar of Christ or Lord of the World? (Boston: DC Heath, 1963).  Edited with introduction and translations from various languages.
  • "Medieval Monarchy and Trade: The Economic Policy of Frederick II in the Kingdom of Sicily," Studi Medievali, s.3, 3 (1962), 420-524.  For recent discussion, cf David Abulafia, Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor (London: Penguin, 1988), esp p 215, and bibliographical notes. Referred to as a “classico” lavoro by Raffaele Licinio in Il Mezzogiorno normanno-svevo e le crociate (Bari: ed Dedalo, 2002), 223.

Articles and Essays

  • “Church and Crusade: Frederick II and Louis IX,” Catholic Historical Review, 93(2007), 251-264.  Presidential Address, American Catholic Historical Association, January 6, 2007, Atlanta, GA.
  • “St Francis of Assisi’s Way of Peace,” Medieval Encounters, 13(2007, 271-280.
  • “The Fifth Crusade to 1291: The Loss of the Holy Land,” in Crusades: The Illustrated History. Thomas Madden, Editor. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), 142-171.
  • “The Misericordia of Bergamo and the Frescos of the Aula Diocesana: A Chapter in Communal History,” in Pope, Church, and City.  Edds Frances Andrews, Christoph Egger, and Constance Rousseau (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 345-356. 
  • “Innocent III: The Making of an Image,” in Innocenzo III:  Urbs et Orbis. Atti del Congresso Internazionale, Roma 9-15, settembre, 1998.  Edited by Andrea Sommerlechner.  2 vols (Rome: Società Romana di Storia Patria; Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, 2003), 2: 1363-1373.
  • “Innocent III and Alexius III: a crusade plan that failed,” in The Experience of Crusading.  Marcus Bull and Norman Housley, edds 2 vols(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 1:96-102.
  • “Innocent III (1198-1216),” in The Great Popes through History: An Encyclopedia. Frank J Coppa, ed 2 vols (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002), 1:123-131.
  • “Matthew Paris, the Lives of Muhammad, and the Dominicans,” in Dei Gesta per Francis: Festschrift for Jean Richard (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001), 65-69.
  • “Preface,” Gendering the Crusades.  Susan B Edgington and Sarah Lambert, edds  (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2001), vii-ix.
  • “Fifth Crusade,” in Trade, Travel, and Exploration in the Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia. JB Friedman and KM Figg, edds. (New York: Garland, 2000), 140-142.
  • “Francis of Assisi,” Encyclopedia of Monasticism. 2 vols (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2000),l:497-499.
  • “Franciscans,” Encyclopedia of Monasticism, 1:504-508.
  • “Trinitarians,” Encyclopedia of Monasticism, 2:1305-1306.
  • “Innocent III, the Trinitarians, and the Renewal of the Church, 1198-1200,” La Liberazione dei ‘Captivi’ tra Cristianità e Islam: Oltre la crociata e il Gihad: Tolleranza e servizio umanitario (Città del Vaticano: Archivio Segreto Vaticano; Gangemi Editore, 2000), 245-254.
  • “Frederick II and the Rebellion of the Muslims of Sicily, 1200-1224,” Uluslararasi Haçli Seferleri Sempozyumu: 23-25 Haziran 1997, Istanbul (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, 1999), 13-22.
  • “Innocent III and Petrus Beneventanus: Reconstructing a Career at the Papal Curia,” Pope Innocent III and his World (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 1999), 51-62.
  • “Patriarch Gerold and Frederick II: the Matthew Paris Letter,” Journal of Medieval History, 25(1999), 19-26.
  • “Catholics and American Politics: Exploding the Myths,” America, 175:3 (August 3-10, 1996), 8-11.
  • “Myth, Legend, Propaganda, History: The First Crusade, 1140-ca. 1300,” Autour de la première croisade. (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1996), pp 127-41.
  • "Albertano da Brescia e i suoi lettori: Studio sulla trasformazione del significato," Albertano da Brescia: Alle origini del razionalismo economico, dell'umanesimo civile, della grande Europa, a cura di Franco Spinelli (Brescia: Grafo, 1996), 83-93
  • "The Humanities in America:  The Final Quest? Language and Literature Today: Proceedings of the XIXth Triennial Congress of the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures. 3 vols  (Brasília: Universidade de Brasília, 1996), 1: 453-61
  • "Religious Diversity and Communal Politics in Thirteenth Century Italy," Portraits of Medieval and Renaissance Living.  Essays in Memory of David Herlihy.  Edited by Steven Epstein and Sammuel Cohn. (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1996), pp 363-381.
  • "Rereading the Crusades:  An Introduction," The International History Review, XVII (1995), 663-669.
  • "Frederick II and the Muslims:  The Making of an Historiographical Tradition," Iberia and the Mediterranean World of the Middle Ages (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1995), 261-269.        
  • "Frederick II, the Hohenstaufen, and the Teutonic Order in the Kingdom of Sicily," in The Military Orders, ed Malcolm Barber (Aldershot, England:  Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 1994), pp 236-244.
  • "Economy and Society in the Kingdom of Sicily under Frederick II:  Recent Perspectives," Intellectual Life at the Court of Frederick II Hohenstaufen, ed William Tronzo (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1994), 263-271.
  • "Pelagius Galvani," Lexikon des Mittelalters, 6, 1862.
  • "The Crusade:  Recommended Resources," Christian History, 12, No 40 (1993), p 46.
  • "Italy, 962-1300," Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropedia, 1993, 196-206.
  • "The Role of Women in the Fifth Crusade," The Horns of Hattin (Jerusalem, 1992), pp 294-301.
  • "The Papacy and the Muslim Frontier," in James M. Powell, ed Muslims Under Latin Rule (Princeton, 1991), p 175-203.
  • "Gnosticism in the Thickets of Academe," America, 165  (September 28, 1991), 194-5.
  • "William of Apulia," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 12, 636.
  • "The Kingdom of Sicily," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 11, 263-277.
  • "The Sicilian Vespers," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 11, 261.
  • "The Confusing and Ambiguous Legacy of Leopold von Ranke," Syracuse Scholar, 9:1 (1988), 5-8.
  • “The Use of Electronic Data Processing for Medieval Prosopography," Medieval Prosopography, 8 (1987), 81-4.
  • “Robert Guiscard," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 10:433.
  • “Roger I," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 10:440.
  • “Roger II," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 10:440-1.
  • “St Pirmin,’ Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9, 663.
  • “Piero della Vigna," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9, 643.
  • “Peter's Pence," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9, 526-27.
  • “Palermo," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9, 35l-52.
  • “Naples," Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 9, 56-59.
  • “Melfi, Constitutions of,” Dictionary of the Middle Ages, 8, 268.
  • “Frederick II," Dictionary of the Middle Ages (1985), 214-5.
  • “Crisis and Culture in Renaissance Europe," Medievalia et Humanistica, n.s., 12 (1984), 201-224.
  • “Honorius III's Sermo in Dedicatione Ecclesie Lateranensis and the Historical-Liturgical Traditions of the Lateran," Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, 21 (1983), 195-209.
  • “Francesco d'Assisi e la Quinta Crociata: Una Missione di Pace," Schede Medievali, 4 (1983), 68-77.
  • “Professionalism and the Liberal Arts in the American University," Liberal Education, 69 (1983), 225-32.
  • “Crusading by Royal Command: Monarchy and Crusade in the Kingdom of Sicily (1187-1230)," Potere, Societa e popolo tra eta normanna ed eta sveva (Bari:  Edizioni Dedalo, 1983), 131-46.
  • “St Boniface," Dictionary of the Middle Ages (New York: Scribners, 1983), 2, 321-2.
  • “The Prefatory Letters to the Sermons of Pope Honorius III and the Reform of Preaching," Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia, 33 (1979), pp 95-l04.
  • “Greco-Arabic Influences on the Public Health Legislation in the Constitutions of Melfi (1231)," Archivio Storico Pugliese, 31 (1978), 77-93; Atti delle quarte giornate Federiciane (Bari: Grafica Bigiemme, 1980).
  • “Public Schools and the First Amendment," America 139:l (1978), pp 6-9.
  • “Pastor Bonus: Some Evidence of Honorius III's Use of the Sermons of Pope Innocent III," Speculum, 52 (1977), 522-537.
  • “Honorius III and the Leadership of the Crusade," Catholic Historical Review, 63 (1977), 521-36.
  • “Adventures of Three Manuscripts: The Sermons of Pope Honorius III: An Abstract," Manuscripta, 21:1 (1977), 21.
  • “The Papacy and the Early Franciscans," Franciscan Studies, 36 (1976), pp 248-262.
  • “A Medieval View of Jimmy Carter," America, (October 1976).
  • “Alexander III" (Pope), and Gregory IX (Pope)," Encyclopedia Brittanica (Micropedia edition, 1974). Up-dated for CD version, 1997.
  • “Henry III (Emperor), Henry IV (Emperor), Frederick I (Emperor), Frederick II (Emperor), Manfred, Robert Guiscard, Tancred, Urban III (Pope), William of  Apulia," New Catholic Encyclopedia, (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967).
  • “Genoese Trade and the Kingdom of Sicily," Medieval Studies, 26 (1966) pp 346-54.
  • “Frederick II's Knowledge of Greek," Speculum, 38 (1963), pp 481-2.
  • “Frederick II and the Church: A Revisionist View," Catholic Historical Review, 48 (1963) 487-97.
  • “Frederick II and the Church in the Kingdom of Sicily, 1220-1224," Church History, 30 (1961) 28-34.

More than sixty reviews have appeared in Catholic Historical Review, Classical Journal, Crusades, Manuscripta, Speculum, Historian, Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale, American Historical Review, International History Review.

Accepted for publication

 “Fifth Crusade: Why did the Fifth Crusade end in failure?” in History in dispute: v 10, The Crusades.  Abate, ed Charleston, SC, 2003.

In preparation

  • Book on the formation of civic culture in the thirteenth century Italian communes, focused on Lombardy.  Tentative title: Witnesses: A Perspective on the Medieval Italian Communes.
  • Revision of Christian Society and the Crusades. With Peters and Bird (UPenn)
  • Contribution to Andrews, Drell, and Jensen, Sources for Medieval Italy (UPenn)
  • “Innocent III and Secular Law, For festschrist for James Brundage, submitted.