Pilgrims to Jerusalem in the Middle Ages

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Columbia University Press, Aug 13, 2013 - History - 312 pages
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"Every man who undertakes the journey to the Our Lord's Sepulcher needs three sacks: a sack of patience, a sack of silver, and a sack of faith."—Symon Semeonis, an Irish medieval pilgrim

As medieval pilgrims made their way to the places where Jesus Christ lived and suffered, they experienced, among other things: holy sites, the majesty of the Egyptian pyramids (often referred to as the "Pharaoh's granaries"), dips in the Dead Sea, unfamiliar desert landscapes, the perils of traveling along the Nile, the customs of their Muslim hosts, Barbary pirates, lice, inconsiderate traveling companions, and a variety of difficulties, both great and small. In this richly detailed study, Nicole Chareyron draws on more than one hundred firsthand accounts to consider the journeys and worldviews of medieval pilgrims. Her work brings the reader into vivid, intimate contact with the pilgrims' thoughts and emotions as they made the frequently difficult pilgrimage to the Holy Land and back home again.

Unlike the knights, princes, and soldiers of the Crusades, who traveled to the Holy Land for the purpose of reclaiming it for Christendom, these subsequent pilgrims of various nationalities, professions, and social classes were motivated by both religious piety and personal curiosity. The travelers not only wrote journals and memoirs for themselves but also to convey to others the majesty and strangeness of distant lands. In their accounts, the pilgrims relate their sense of astonishment, pity, admiration, and disappointment with humor and a touching sincerity and honesty.

These writings also reveal the complex interactions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Holy Land. Throughout their journey, pilgrims confronted occasionally hostile Muslim administrators (who controlled access to many holy sites), Bedouin tribes, Jews, and Turks. Chareyron considers the pilgrims' conflicted, frequently simplistic, views of their Muslim hosts and their social and religious practices.

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1 Evagari et Discurrere per Mundum
2 All Roads Lead to Venice
3Venice in Splendid Dress
4 Five Weeks in a Galley
5 The Holy Lond of Promyssion
6 Jerusalem and the Holy Places
The Christian World in Miniature
8 Pilgrimages and Excursions Round and About Jerusalem
12 Cairo City of Lights
13 Diamonds of the Sands or Pharaohs Granaries
14 The Virgins Garden the Hermits Desert and Egyptian Dreams
15 Alexandria Sentry of the East
16 Happy He Who Like Ulysses
The Smell of Thyme and the Taste of Honey
Pilgrims Profiles

9 Saracens in the Towns Arabs in the Desert and Jews Here and There
10 Desert Time Desert Space
11 Sinai and Its Speaking Stones

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About the author (2013)

Nicole Chareyron is professor of medieval languages and literature at Paul Val ry University in Montpellier, France. She is the author of Globe Trotters au Moyen Age and Jean le Bel, le maitre de Froissart and the editor of Les Errances de Frere Felix Fabri, pelerin de Terre sainte.

W. Donald Wilson is professor emeritus of French Studies at the University of Waterloo.

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