{Read epub} Letters from the East: Crusaders, Pilgrims and Settlers in the 12th-13th Centuries Author Malcolm Barber – Vansonphu.com

Letters from the East: Crusaders, Pilgrims and Settlers in the 12th-13th Centuries Collected in this volume are 82 letters dating from the years 1097 to 1306 that pertain to the European experience in the Levant during the Crusades Included are somewhat personal letters between individuals e.g., Count Stephen of Blois to his wife ,official letters between ecclesiastics and monarchs e.g., King Conrad III of Germany to Abbot Wibald of Stavelot , encyclicals written by one person or a group of people and sent to another group e.g., Patriarch Daibert of Jerusalem to all Collected in this volume are 82 letters dating from the years 1097 to 1306 that pertain to the European experience in the Levant during the Crusades Included are somewhat personal letters between individuals e.g., Count Stephen of Blois to his wife ,official letters between ecclesiastics and monarchs e.g., King Conrad III of Germany to Abbot Wibald of Stavelot , encyclicals written by one person or a group of people and sent to another group e.g., Patriarch Daibert of Jerusalem to all the prelates, princes and Catholics in Germany , and even a couple of famous forgeries e.g., Prester John to Emperor Manuel Comnenus All letters are presented in English translation, some translations being older and pre existing, the remainder executed for this book by Barber and Bate.Almost any brand of medieval history buff or scholar can find something of interest here These letters contain detailed depictions of battles and military strategies They offer insight into reformist impulses of the 13th century Catholic Church and proselytization As travel literature, the letters contribute to the body of growing documentary evidence available in translation of pre colonial travel by Europeans, their strategies for negotiating difference in pluralist societies, their ethnographic interests, and nascent colonial and nationalist tendencies The letter writers almost uniformly provide rich incidental details regarding daily medieval European and Levantine life, as well as periodic insights into contemporary political and religious tensions among the period s powerful Medieval primary sources, even in translation, are often thought of as impersonal and highly formalized, riddled with biblical quotations and stodgy epistolary conventions While I can t argue for any strict inaccuracy in this summation of the form, I do take issue with the literate worldview bias it betrays The Middle Ages constitute a liminal period of literacy in the Western world where reading and especially writing belonged almost exclusively to a small minority of socially and economically elite individuals And even that minority of individuals would have lived heavily oral lives, relying on their memories to an extent most of us moderns would find astounding For a person in this type of milieu to undertake creation of a written document was necessarily for that person to engage in a formal and self conscious representation of themselves and their thought Today, the written word has largely outstripped the spoken word in terms of how people rely on it and perceive it as the originary form of language For us, the written word can represent immediacy, intimacy and authority as much, and frequently , than the spoken word does For medieval people, even literate medieval people, the spoken word came inevitably first and the written word was always a special, but slightly untrustworthy, ossification of the living spoken word Moreover, there was nothing immediate about it Simply imagine for a moment the physical challenges and demands of writing in a heavily stylized script, in an era with no electric lighting, using a quill and ink on vellum that you may or may not have had to prepare yourself , in a language that you were not born to even in the Middle Ages, when Latin was spoken as a lingua franca, it was nobody s first language There was nothing casual or immediate about medieval writing The conventions of authorial voice, audience address, content to include or exclude, were all largely determined by the arduousness of the task and by the special, simultaneously dubious and rarefied, epistemological place occupied by writing Keeping the reasons for their stilted forms in mind as one reads a medieval primary source can make the going a littleenjoyable And letters, as opposed to any sort of scholarly or theological work, are evenaccessible than many medieval pieces of writing In this particular collection, there are many letters in which one begins to see the transformation of those ponderous formalities into somethingintimate Possibly I m imagining this, but I don t think so The distance of these letter writers from their homelands, both temporally and spatially the newness of this project for Europeans overseas settlement and the attendant conflicts the terror and trauma of war, disease and natural disasters these things all appear to have influenced the tone of the letters, rendering thememotionally intelligible to a modern reader than a lot of medieval sources I found a lot of these letters disturbing certainly It s hard to sympathize overly with violent and judgmental invaders But the record definitely makes for an engrossing read No written source is entirely without literary artifice, but the letters sent from Asia Minor, Syria and Palestine in the high middle ages come closest to recording the real feelings of those who lived in and visited the crusader states They are not, of course, reflective pieces, but they do convey the immediacy of circumstances which were frequently dramatic and often life threatening Those settled in the East faced crises all the time, while crusaders and pilgrims knew they were experiencing defining moments in their lives There are accounts of all the great events from the triumph of the capture of Jerusalem into the disasters of Hattin inand the loss of Acre inThese had an impact on the lives of all Latin Christians, but at the same time individuals felt impelled to describe both their own personal achievements and disappointments and the wonders and horrors of what they had seen Moreover, the representatives of the military and monastic orders used letters as a means of maintaining contact with the western houses, providing information about the working of religious orders not found elsewhere Some of the letters translated here are famous, others hardly known, but all offer unique insight into the minds of those who took part in the crusading movement

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