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Anonymous: How the City of Jerusalem is situated...

Description of the Holy Places


We do not know the name of this monastic pilgrim, the year of his visit to Holy Land or the original title of his story.
T. Tobler and A. Molinier think that it must have taken place in 975, since the author identifies several Judaic relics hidden in the Rock of Omar, which were brought to Constantinoples by Emperor John Zemisce (969-976), when he occupied Siria and Palestine. But they are not sure of the date, since the same relics are mentioned by Albert of Aix-la-Chapelle (1095-1121) and Fulcher of Chartres (1095-1125), historiographers of the First Crusade, who were not able to personally verify the existence of those relics and introduced them with the standard formula of "it is said, it is believed...", just like this Anonymous writer.
There is however a significant piece of evidence: the Anonymous visits the church of Santa Maria Latina which was located to the East of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and was rebuilt under this name by the Amalfitans in the second half of the eleventh century. Moreover, the entrance to the Holy Sepulcher of Our Lord is rather unique. With the restoration work of the round Edicula of the Holy Sepulcher executed by Emperor Constantine Monomach (1042-1048), a square cell-vestibule with three doors was added: one opening to the East, the second one to the South and the third one between the two cells. This facts place the Anonymous' visit close to the Crusades; in fact some authors place it at the beginning of the twelfth century. Between these divergent opinions, it is preferable to follow Rohericht who places it in 1095.
It seems that the Anonymous did not use material previously published in his "brevissima nota", but, as he claims himself, described what he had personally seen. In fact one can say that travel accounts published later on had points of contacts with this one.
In publishing the manuscript for the first time Tobler-Molinier used as title the words found in the twelfth century codex comprising the "Historia Hierosolymitana" by Baldwin of Bordeaux (1095-1099).
The Latin text of this edition is taken from the T.Tobler- A. Molinier's volume entitled "Itinera Hierosolymitana", Geneva, 1879, volume I, pages 347-349. The codex-manuscript belongs to Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal de Paris", no.1161 (102), sec. XII.

Sabino De Sandoli, ofm