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FRANCESCINUS OF PONTREMOLI: A PILGRIM'S PATH TO PARDON* The itineraries of pilgrims have for many years been regarded as an important source for the study of the history of the Holy Land.1 It seems, however, that the alleged reality as described in the medieval itineraries is often a "holy geography"—a geography of the spiritual realm of the sacred traditions—while the description of the realia was of marginal importance only.2 It has recently been suggested that, beginning in the 13th century, the pilgrims' accounts underwent a change, as a result of the broadening of horizons and of scientific knowledge. The pilgrimage literature, it has been suggested , was no longer "a guide to pilgrims, nor an account based on the experiences of the author in the Holy Land. For them, the Holy Land was also a real country, expressed in its physical description , the description of its flora and fauna, and particularly the description of its human society."3 If this contention is tenable, then, along with the dissemination of geographic knowledge and the growing literary preoccupation with the exotic, the alien, and the * The research for this paper was done during the winter of 1983 when 1 had the privilege of working as an associate researcher at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Canada. I would like to thank the Institute for that period. 1 J. Richard, Les récits de voyages et de pèlerinages. Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental, fase. 38 (Turnhout, 1981) an annotated bibliography of itineraries. R. Röhricht, Bibliotheca Geographica Palaestinae (Berlin, 1890). A. S. Atiya, The Crusade in the Later Middle Ages (London, 1938), Appendix II. 2 J. Prawer, The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem - European Colonialism in the Middle Ages (London, 1972), pp. 192-213. On medieval cartography see C. R. Beazley, The Dawn of Modern Geography (N.Y., 1949), II, pp. 549-642, III, pp. 501-509; J. K. Wright, The Geographical Lore of the Time of the Crusades (N.Y., 1925, London, 1965), pp. 259-261. • A. Graboïs, "From 'Holy Geography' to 'Palestinography,' Changes in the Descriptions of Thirteenth Century Pilgrims" (Hebrew) Cathedra 31 (1983), P- 58. 28oYVONNE FRIEDMAN new, we should find in these pilgrimages a cultural crossroads—the encounter of European man with the eastern reality of Palestine, and the recording of his reactions to this encounter. Was there in fact such a development in the accounts of the pilgrims? There is no doubt that the literary genre of the itineraries did undergo an evolution, but the 14th century pilgrim, like the Crusader and the pilgrim of the Crusader period, was not conscious of a meeting of cultures. Even if the pilgrim did in fact encounter things that were strange and curious, he returned home, just as he had set out on his journey, as a European with a specific world-view, and only rarely did he allow the eastern reality to leave any imprint on him. In this connection, the approach of the anthropologists and the sociologists seems more useful. For thean, the pilgrimage is a subject for the study of a social group sharing common terms of reference—a group motivated by a common religious communitas.1 According to this approach, the pilgrim literature is "the definition of what is alien and different, but as such the travelogs serve as guides not only to their pilgrimage to Palestine, but also the topography of popular medieval ideology."5 The pilgrim expects to find certain things in the Holy Land, and he therefore finds them, and them alone. Even in a period of geographic discoveries, when people had acquired a broader view of the world, the pilgrim's objective remained explicitly religious. While inquisitiveness, curiositas, became a widespread and common vice, perhaps tacitly approved of in the Christian world,6 it was not manifested in the descriptions of Jerusalem. Hence, the accounts of those who visited the Holy Sepulchre often prove disappointing to the historian who turns to them as a primary source of information. The accounts of the Holy Land are sometimes dry and lacking in vitality compared with the accounts of Compostela or other pilgrimage sites in Europe of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 279-320
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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