THE CRUSADES IN the Near East, eastern Baltic and Iberian Peninsula (in the context of the Reconquest/reconquista) were accompanied by processes of colonisation, characterising the expansion of medieval Europe and resulting in the creation of frontier societies at the fringes of Christendom. Colonisation was closely associated with - indeed, depended on - the exploitation of local environments, but this dimension is largely missing from studies of the crusading frontiers. This paper, the product of a European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop on 'The Ecology of Crusading' in 2009, surveys the potential for investigating the environmental impact of the crusading movement in all three frontier regions. It considers a diverse range of archaeological, palaeoenvironmental and written sources, with the aim of situating the societies created by the Crusades within the context of medieval colonisation and human ecological niche construction. It demonstrates that an abundant range of data exists for developing this largely neglected and disparately studied aspect of medieval frontier societies into a significant research programme.
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