University of Wisconsin–Madison

Elizabeth Lapina

Assistant Professor of History


Office: 4114 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4014 Mosse Humanities
Curriculum Vitae (pdf) | Crusader Imagery
Office Hours: Tuesdays 9:30-10:30, Thursdays 9:30-10:30

Elizabeth Lapina


I am a historian of the Middle Ages with a research focus on the history of the crusades. My main interest is in the the perceptions and representations – both textual and visual – of the crusading movement in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In other words, I am less concerned with what had actually happened than with what contemporaries and near-contemporaries thought had happened. In a series of articles and a forthcoming book, I examine several chronicles of the First Crusade to uncover the existence of sophisticated and often conflicting interpretations of the event. I am particularly interested in one key theme that is found in all of the chronicles: sacralization of warfare. Hence, in my research, I pay close attention to accounts of miracles, hagiographies and saints’ cults, especially as they relate to war. More broadly, I am interested in the the ways, in which medieval authors thought about history, the explanatory devices that they used and the major problems that they had to resolve.

I am currently working on a new project, which has to do with crusader imagery in monumental art in France and England. My aim is to demonstrate that, compared to texts, images provide a different point of view on the perceptions of the crusades, the crusaders and their Muslim enemy.  Concurrently, I am working on representations of nature in medieval chronicles. I address the complex relationship between empirical experience of nature and interpretations and transformations of this experience in medieval texts.


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
M.A., Johns Hopkins University; Maîtrise: University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne)
B.A., University of Wisconsin – Madison


Selected Publications

  • The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, co-edited with Nicholas Morton (in progress)
  • Depicting the Holy War: Crusader Imagery in Programs of Mural Paintings in France and England in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (in progress)
  • “Gambling and Gaming in the Holy Land: Chess, Dice and Other Games in the Sources of the Crusades,” Crusades 12 (2013), 121-132.
  • “Maccabees and the Battle of Antioch (1098).” Dying for the Faith, Killing for the Faith: Old-Testament Faith-Warriors (Maccabees 1 and 2) in Historical Perspective, ed. Gabriela Signori, 147-159. Leiden: Brill, 2012.
  • “St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki: Patron Saint of Crusaders.” Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 40 (2009): 93-112.
  • “Anti-Jewish Rhetoric in Guibert of Nogent’s Dei Gesta Per Francos.” Journal of Medieval History 35 (2009):
  • “La représentation de la bataille d’Antioche (1098) sur les peintures murales de Poncé-sur-le-Loir.” Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale 52 (2009): 137-157.
  • “Nec signis nec testibus creditur: the Problem of Eyewitnesses in the Chronicles of the First Crusade.” Viator: Medieval and Renaissance Studies 38 (2007): 117-139.
  • “The Paintings of Berzé-la-Ville in the Context of the First Crusade and the Reconquista.” Journal of Medieval History 31 (2005): 309-326.

Selected Awards

  • Kent University Leverhulme Early-Career Research Fellowship
  • Marjorie McLean Oliver Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Queen’s University
  • Gilbert Chinard Fellowship, Institut Français de Washington
  • George E. Owen Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University

Advisor To

History Courses