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JOINT LECTURE WITH CBRL: On the Crusades with Jonathan Riley Smith

Malcolm Billings, Author and broadcaster




4pm, 11th January 2018, BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum

Tickets are available through the British Museum 1 month - 2 weeks before the lecture. To book, contact the British Museum Box Office:  020 7323 8181 or  and go to the 'What's On' option at the top of the BM homepage. Choose the 'Events Calendar' and scroll down the page to see events listed by date and time. If the event is not yet listed, please try again at a later date.                                                                        

Poster Lecture January 11th 2018.pdf


PEF-P-2615 The Citadel Jerusalem%2C 1880 - 1900

Photo: The Citadel, Jerusalem. Photochrom Co. c.1800-1900. PEF Archives

 In  1095 CE, Pope Urban II granted absolution to anyone who would fight to reclaim the Holy Land. With God at their backs, the first Christian crusaders embarked on an unprecedented religious war. While addressing the contribution of flamboyant characters like Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, in his new book, ‘The Crusades: The War Against Islam 1096 - 1798’ Malcolm Billings also looks at the experiences of the peasants, knights and fighting monks who took the cross for Christendom and the Holy Warriors of Islam who, after battle on battle, emerged victorious. He analyses the ebb and flow of crusade and counter-crusade and details the shifting structures of government in the Levant, which became the perennial battleground of East and West. In this lecture, Malcolm Billings will focus on the First Crusade and its outcome of almost two centuries of Christian rule in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. 1798 marked the end of the main Crusading period when Napoleon sailed into the Grand Harbour of Malta. The lecture is a tribute to Professor Jonathan Riley Smith, the Cambridge University historian and a Knight of the Order of St John, whose scholarship changed our understanding of the history of the Crusades.

Malcolm Billings

Malcolm Billings did not reach the study of history and archaeology by a conventional route. Although he was interested in the subjects  at  school in Melbourne, Australia, his career in London at the BBC was centred on Current Affairs.  Throught the 1960s, and 70s, he broadcast for  BBC RADIO 4 as a reporter and presenter on the  flag ship  “TODAY PROGRAMME”.
 In 1977 he took up a new role as presenter of the RADIO 4  series “ORIGINS”. The programme  quickly became established as an important source of archaeological information and proof that radio could create archaeological “pictures” as sharp as any TV series dealing with the subject.  He was also associated with the BBC World Service archaeolgical programme "HERITAGE"
SInce retiring from broadcasting, Malcolm has begun a new carreer as an author and lecturer. His books include 'The English, Making of a Nation from 430-1700' (BBC Books, 1991);
'History of Queen’s College' (James and James Ltd, 2000);  'London, A companion to its History  and Archaeology'  (Kyle Cathie Ltd, 1994) 'Vartan of Nazareth , Missionary and Pioneer in 19thCentury  Palestine' (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2012);  and 'The Crusades' (new edition, The History Press, 2016)

Malcolm has given public lectures  at the Keynon Institute  in Jerusalem; and at The Levantine Foundation,  The British Museum in London.

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