"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
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.
Subjects: History, Religion
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