Mr Dweezil Vandekerckhove
I completed both my undergraduate and master’s degree in History at the University of Ghent (Belgium), in 2008, during which I developed an interest in the history of the first Crusades, Crusader archaeology and military architecture in general. My dissertation, entitled: “Political boundaries, geography and their influence on the distribution of Frankish fortifications, case study Ascalon (1097-1153),” provided me with a broad knowledge of the Crusader period. I decided to enrich further my knowledge with an advanced MA, at the University of Antwerp, where I studied ‘Diplomacy and International Relations’, primarily focusing on Russian Foreign Policy. In October 2010 I began my doctoral research at Cardiff University, which I am concentrating once more on my passion for the Crusader period, under the supervision of Prof. Denys Pringle and Dr. Frank Trombley.
Working Title: Armenian settlements and fortifications into Cilicia during the 11th and 12th century.
It is universally acknowledged that migration forms a key issue in human history. So forms the migration of the Armenian people from the 11th century onwards a very important part of their national history, which weighed heavily upon their destiny. However, very little academic research has taken place to analyse this obscure and complicated period. Those interpretations that do exist have been based solely on the information obtained by scholars from diverse historical sources which assert that the Armenians were forced to migrate to Cappadocia and Cilicia, due to Byzantine policy.
My studies will present an interdisciplinary project that will focus on the spatial distribution of Armenian settlements in Cilicia and Northern Syria. It will address a number of research questions including: Were the rural settlements restricted to mountain areas? Did the Armenians repopulate already existing sites? What is the relation between castles and their topography? What conclusions can be drawn for the situation in Cilicia as a buffer state between the Byzantine Empire and the emerging Seljuks? In addition to a close reexamination of the historical sources in Latin, Greek and Armenian, a field trip to Cilicia and Northern Syria will be of great value to this research. The main importance of this visit will be to gain a clearer understanding of certain sites through first-hand examination of the archaeology. In particular, I hope to be able to place a number of selected Armenian castles into the wider context of their surroundings in order to establish their sphere of influence and their relationship to the immediate environment. If it proves possible to more accurately date some of these sites, it could potentially be a huge breakthrough in our knowledge of Armenian fortifications.
It is hoped that this study will form an important part of an otherwise unprecedented study of rural Armenian settlements and fortifications, which will provide the foundations for further work in this field.
Start date: October 2010
1st Supervisor: Prof. Denys Pringle
2nd Supervisor: Dr. Frank Trombley
Member of the society for the study of the crusaders and the Latin East (SSCLE)
Member of ‘De Re Militari’, the Society for Medieval Military History
Member of Byzantium: the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies