Symposium: ‘Bringing the Holy Land Home’, Rehm Library College of the Holy Cross, Saturday 25 March 2023

In conjunction with the Cantor Art Gallery exhibition, explore the cross-cultural impact of the Crusades on medieval western Europe.

The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece

In conjunction with the Cantor Art Gallery exhibition, Bringing the Holy Land Home, this daylong symposium explores the impact that the Crusades had on medieval western Europe. At the heart of the exhibition are digitally reconstructed medieval floor tiles depicting the Crusades unearthed at Chertsey Abbey in England. Created during the time when the Holy Land was actively occupied by crusader kingdoms—the tiles are unexpectedly rare and a valuable witness to a significant historical event.

The Crusades were marked both by brutal violence, much of which was directed against people who were not European (Latin) Christians, and by sustained cross-cultural encounters which, for many Europeans, affected their sense of self for centuries to come. It can be difficult to process both of these truths simultaneously, yet essential to develop this more complex and more accurate understanding of the Crusades.

The symposium is held under the auspices of the New England Medieval Consortium and is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.


8:30 – 9 a.m.: Check-in, coffee & pastries

9 – 10:30 a.m.: Welcome and Introduction

  • “Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece” | Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
  • “Paving Over Paradise: The Aristocratic Landscape and the Crusading Experience, 1187-1291” | Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
  • Moderator: Cecilia Gaposchkin, Dartmouth College

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.: Break

10:45 a.m. – Noon: Chertsey Abbey and England

  • “The Middle Ages and the British Museum: Past, Present and Future” | Lloyd de Beer, British Museum
  • “‘So Much National Magnificence and National History’: The Medieval Abbey at Chertsey, Then and Now” | Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
  • “The Chertsey Tiles and ‘Art and Crusade’ in England: Historical and Historiographical Contexts” | Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
  • Moderator: Sonja Drimmer, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Noon – 1 p.m.: Lunch

1 – 2 p.m.: Sites

  • “The Place of Relics in the Crusades” | Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College & Graduate Center of the City University of New York
  • “The Visual Arts and the Shaping of the Frankish Experience of the Holy Land” | Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
  • “The Galley as Display Space in the Fourth Crusade” | Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
  • Moderator: Anne Lester, Johns Hopkins University

2:15 – 3:30 p.m.: Objects

  • “How to Move a Mountain: Visual Representations of the Pas Saladin” | Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • “Fragments and Wholes: Medieval Textiles across the Indian Ocean” | Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks
  • “Material Connections: The St. Eustace Head Relic Wrappings” | Naomi Speakman, British Museum
  • “Ivories Come to England” | Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
  • Moderator: Alicia Walker, Bryn Mawr College

3:30 – 4 p.m .: Break

4 – 5:30 p.m.: Crusades, Then and Now

  • “A Clash of Civilizations? A Revisionist Reading of the History of Muslim-Frankish Encounters in the Crusader Period” | Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
  • “A Clash of (Academic) Civilizations: The Politics of Studying the Crusades after 9/11” | Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
  • Closing Remarks | Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
  • Moderator: Sahar Bazzaz, College of the Holy Cross

5:30 – 7 p.m.: Exhibition Viewing and Reception | Cantor Art Gallery

Register for tickets here.


Conference sessions will be held in Rehm Library, 3rd Floor of Smith Hall, at the College of the Holy Cross. Free parking is available in the lots adjacent to the Hogan Campus Center and Prior Performing Arts Center. Directions to campus.


A limited number of rooms have been set aside for symposium attendees at the AC Hotel Worcester Marriott, 125 Front St., Worcester, MA 01608. Reserve by February 22 to receive a special conference rate of $179 per night.

Limited rooms are also available at the Hilton Garden Inn, 35 Major Taylor Blvd., Worcester, MA 01608. Call 508-753-5700 and use the code 2646953 to reserve at the Holy Cross rate of $139 per night.

Review a list of other nearby hotels.


Registration for the Symposium is $40 plus a processing fee and includes all sessions, lunch, exhibition viewing and reception. Symposium sessions (excluding lunch) are free to Holy Cross faculty, staff and students.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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