Wishful thinking shapes pilgrims' accounts gathered by Ms. Chareyron in her lively new book.
Pilgrims to Jerusalem in the Middle Agesby Nicole Chareyron, Donald W. Wilson
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
"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.
Her book brings the reader into vivid, intimate contact with the pilgrims' thoughts and emotions.
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What People are Saying About This
Nicole Charyeron has produced a well-written and engaging study of a corpus of fascinating and under-studied travel accounts of pilgrims from all over Catholic Europe from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth century. She does a wonderful job of bringing these texts to life and weaving them together into a coherent narrative while respecting their individual voices.
This work is of major importance in several fields, among them literature, medieval studies, religious studies, cultural studies, ethnography, studies of travel narratives, philosophical issues of alterity, and many others. Chareyron's book should find a broad readership both among academics and the general public: it is well-written, interesting, crammed withanecdote and detail as well as scholarly analysis. The book is especially timely given its investigation of the interactionsbetween Islam and Christianity, the antecedents of present-day tensions, concerns and, perhaps, as resolutions.
Meet the Author
Nicole Chareyron is professor of medieval languages and literature at Paul Valéry 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.
Columbia University Press
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