Ever since the conversion of the Roman Empire, the Holy Land has held a special place in the minds and hearts of Latin Christians. This was expressed in, among others things, the writing of geographical accounts of this territory. During the period of Frankish rule of the Holy Land (1099-1291), a particularly large number of Latin descriptions of this region were composed. This textual corpus is generally well-known to scholars, and is often used by them, mainly in order to gain knowledge concerning both various historical sites and religious beliefs and practices associated with them. And yet, a major set of questions related to this corpus remains almost completely neglected: Who read these texts? Where and when were such texts most successful and why? What do their manuscript witnesses reveal with regard to the ways in which their readers reacted to them and used them? With which genres and fields of knowledge were such texts associated in the views of their late medieval and early modern readers? What can be said about the contribution of these texts to, or their impact on, western thought and learning? The proposed project aims to explore this wide field of questions for the first time.
But before we approach such questions, a more fundamental task must be fulfilled. Given that the last comprehensive survey of the manuscripts with which this project is concerned was published by Reinhold Röhricht in his Bibliotheca Geographica Palaestinae (1890), one has to, first of all, reexamine this corpus. We will therefore start by building a complete and updated list of twelfth- and thirteenth-centuries Latin accounts of the Holy Land and of the manuscripts which provide them. These will stand at the basis of a database which will include details such as the date and geographical provenance of each witness, and their colophons and glosses. Particular attention will also be given to the textual context in which such texts were copied. The information thus collected will provide us with the necessary data for our project but will also be made publicly available in order to allow other scholars to study this corpus in a much more systematic way than has hitherto been possible.
The aim of this webpage is to share with you news from our project, and to present you with exciting finds we make on our way.