Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)


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The Franks owned the main cross relic — the True Cross itself — which they used in their liturgical processions and, according to many sources, they carried it into battle with them.

However, we gain some glimpses of the Georgian Monastery in early Crusader-era accounts. Saewulf visiting in — 03 wrote:. The Church of the Holy Cross is about one mile from Jerusalem to the west, in the place where the Holy Cross was cut from its tree. This too had a very noble and lovely church, but it is in ruins because of the pagans. Nevertheless the church is not too much destroyed, but only the buildings and cells around it.

Over the place of the stump an altar has been set up. It stands in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ and of his beloved Mother, and there in a hollow altar, the place is reverenced in which the trunk stood from which was cut the Cross. On it the Saviour hung for our Salvation.


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The Syrians are in charge of this church, and it is strongly defended against Gentile attacks by towers, walls, and bulwarks…King Solomon is said to have cut this tree down, and to have placed it in a suitable position until the coming of the Saviour. He is said to have had a cross carved in it, for he saw in spirit that the salvation of the world would be assured by the death of Christ. He wrote:.


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As one goes on, closer to Jerusalem, in a valley on the left, is the monastery of the Holy Cross where Georgians minister. Behind and beneath the high altar is a hole where the wood of the holy cross grew.

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To get to Mount Zion, the pilgrims passed through what is now the Armenian Quarter, which, during the Crusader period had been the site of considerable contact and cross-fertilization with the Frankish community. Next to the southern edge of the altar is a cell where Christ was tied to the column the whole night.

This church used to be the house of the priest Caiaphas, and is where Christ was scorned, examined, spat upon, robed, struck on the head, denied by Peter three times and shut up in the cell…until he could be sent to Pilate. Like the Monastery of the Cross, the Armenian sites frequently appeared in Latin itineraries of the fifteenth century, and these places had become venerable sites for the Catholic pilgrims to visit.

From the earliest years of the twelfth century, Crusader pilgrims had visited this altar, in the north-eastern corner of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the site was generally said to be where Christ was held as the Cross was prepared and it became an integral part of the Jerusalem pilgrimage and remains a holy site today. The point here is that, as with the Monastery of the Cross, western pilgrims did more than simply acknowledge the existence of local and eastern Christian traditions: they engaged with them.

Just as medieval Christian reading practices were based around glossing texts, discerning cryptic meanings, and the co-existence of different versions of the same stories, moving through the landscape of the Holy Land was an exercise in interpretation and imagination. If they include mentions of Jews and Muslims, they are mostly disparaging. However, almost all pilgrims do include an account of non-Latin sites, usually dealing extensively with the Greeks and often with the Armenians, the Georgians, and others.

Does the lack of antipathy to these latter groups, and the sharing of their sacred spaces, constitute a kind of cosmopolitanism? In a cosmopolitan setting, groups come together to form a shared community of mutual respect or benefit, based perhaps on ritual, identity, faith, customs, or economy. Pilgrimage was one arena in which cross-cultural contact was inherent, and, remarkably, a complementary process can be seen from the twelfth century onwards in the form of, for instance, Armenian pilgrims to the shrine of St James at Santiago in Galicia.

It was a place where Latin Christians and some eastern Christian communities could engage in relationships of religious respect and touristic hospitality. Western pilgrims accounts show an increased interest in non-biblical sacred events in the Holy Land […] the source of this interest in local saints was the increased contact between resident Franks and local Christians.

However, we must acknowledge the peaceable, respectful, and cooperative elements of pilgrimage culture, as well as the more obvious relationships of prejudice, exploitation, misunderstanding, and financial interdependence. The Mamluks are known for their relative acceptance of and respect for other religions, and in particular their accommodation of a spectrum of religious worship in medieval Jerusalem, and Jerusalem offers a trans-national example of a place which sits outside the borders of the nation state and exists as an imaginative and devotional space for different groups.

Furthermore, pilgrimage culture in late medieval Jerusalem offers something different from the dhimmi groups of medieval Islamic cities — according to this model, religious groups were rather rigid, space was often quite strictly circumscribed, and there was a firm hierarchy, with Islam at the top.

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The situation in post-crusader Jerusalem, at least as the Latin pilgrims saw it, was more complex. What we do find from western pilgrims is an abiding engagement with Eastern Christian sites. To conclude, one might suggest that pilgrims were being neither cosmopolitan nor competitive, but rather they were doing what medieval pilgrims did — that is, moving through a world of stories and narratives made material, a world experienced personally.

The fact of a degree of religious pluralism should not suggest either conflict or harmony. Time and again we see how medieval pilgrims behaved like readers, engaging in a kind of comparative literature, placing narrative and stories side by side. In this way, more than one thing could be true at the same time — that is, there could be more than one original site of the tree of the Cross, and more than one holy prison. But, more hopefully, we can read this as evidence of a worldview open to other traditions. Armenian and Georgian sites were able to take part in the financial rewards of pilgrimage and were recognised by a very considerable number of pilgrims from the west; the Latin pilgrims adopted, and to some extent adapted, eastern Christian sites, finding there a larger Christian community of which they made themselves a part.

Noble, Medium Aevum, Stroumsa eds. Kedar , Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, , p. Tilbury Gervase of, Otia Imperialia , ed. Shelagh E. Banks and James W. Binns, Oxford: Oxford University Press , Wey William, The Itineraries , ed. Francis Davey, Oxford: Bodleian Library, Mayer, , and C. MacEvitt, Kedar, , and M.

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Campopiano, , who considers three fifteenth-century Latin guide-books and their deprecating attitudes towards Greeks, Muslims, and Nestorians. Sumption, , and N.

The Third Crusade: The battle for Jerusalem

Chareyron, Weber, and N. Schein, , p. Hamilton, Halbwachs, His influential work describes places in the Holy Land as mnemonic cues, in a process which itself could be exploited for political ends.

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Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187–1291 (Crusade Texts in Translation)

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