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Death in Jerusalem: nurturing the dead, latingering the Holy Earth

Book

French

ID: <10670/1.b279y7>

Abstract

During the period of the Frankish Kingdom Jerusalem and the Holy Land remained in the Western imagination basically as they were in the time of Jesus and the Latins were unaware of the vicissitudes of the Islamic conquest, with the destruction of buildings, leaving them in a ruined state or used for a different purpose. When they took possession of the Holy Land, it was not enough for them to restore a number of ruined edifices, they were responsible for the creation of a number of new locales and in the course of this activity they self-defined themselves as new “Palestinians.” In this way they legitimized their project of Latinization. Among these places what could be more emblematic than the places of burial? My aim is not to envisage the imbedding of the Frankish population with the Muslim, Jewish and Eastern Christian population, which would flow from the comparative study of the burial places on the scale of the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem, or on the scale of the entire group of Frankish states; rather I wish to understand the interconnection of practices and of representations in that city of tombs and city of the Resurrection, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is at the heart of all eschatology and the scene where the drama of the Passion was played out. This drama was commemorated by the Holy Sepulcher and renewed by the blood spilled by the Crusaders. What does it mean to die and be buried in the Holy Land? I will answer this question with reference to the representations of pilgrims and crusaders, to the construction of tombs taking into account their embedding in ground that is both urban and sacred as well as the burial rites and the memory enshrined in each place.

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