Why was a Crusade that was initially meant for Syria end up in Tunis? How did the aspirations of the King of France and the Mamluk Sultan, the King of Sicily and the Hafsid Emir of Tunis, get entangled in the years following the Mongol invasion of the Middle East? More broadly, how should we approach the Crusades, a series of events that have traditionally focused on either the European or the Near Eastern perspectives, and can these perspectives become integrated into a more wholistic, Mediterranean approach? In The Tunis Crusade of 1270: a Mediterranean History
(Oxford University Press, 2018), Dr. Michael Lower
, professor of History at the University of Minnesota, offers a broad and deep dive into the Tunis Crusade, an unlikely but impactful moment of Mediterranean History.
In our conversation, Michael and I touch upon traditional and new methodological approaches to the Crusades, the important roles played by Mediterranean rulers and the political, religious, and economic pressures that shaped their decisions, and the reasons behind the strange detour the so-called eighth Crusade, originally bound for Syria, took 1500 miles to the West, to Tunis.