François-René de Chateaubriand

Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem et de Jérusalem à Paris

(Record of a Journey from Paris to Jerusalem and Back)

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved

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Part Four: Jerusalem

I occupied myself for several hours scribbling notes on the places I had seen; a manner of proceeding which I pursued during my entire stay in Jerusalem, exploring by day and writing by night. The Father Procurator visited me, early in the morning of the 7th of October; he told me the outcome of the disagreement between his Father Superior and the Pasha. We agreed what we must do. My firmans were sent to Abdallah. He lost his temper, shouted, threatened, but finished however by demanding a slightly lower amount from the monks. I regret being unable to give here a copy of a letter written by Father Bonaventura da Nola to General Sébastiani; I received the copy from Father Bonaventura himself. It contains, along with the tale of the Pasha, comments which are as much to the credit of France as they are to General Sébastiani. But I could not publish the letter without the permission of the person to whom it is written, and unfortunately the general’s absence robs me of all means of obtaining that permission.

It took all my desire to be as helpful as possible to the Fathers of the Holy Land to occupy myself with anything other than visiting the Holy Sepulchre. I left the monastery that very day, at nine in the morning, accompanied by two monks, a dragoman, my servant and a Janissary. I went on foot to the church that contains the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Every traveller has described this church, which is the most venerable on earth whether one considers the matter as philosopher or simply as a Christian. Here I encounter a real embarrassment. Should I give an exact description of the holy places? But then I will merely be repeating what others have said before me: never was a subject perhaps less well known to modern readers, and yet never was a subject more utterly exhausted. Should I omit a portrait of those sacred places? But would that not remove the most essential part of my journey, and defeat its end and purpose? After considering the matter for a long time, I am determined to describe the principal Stations of Jerusalem, for the following reasons:

l. No one reads about former pilgrimages to Jerusalem nowadays; and what was once very familiar is likely to appear quite new to most readers;

2. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is no more; it was burned to the ground (in 1808) since my return from Judea: I am, so to speak, the last traveller to have seen it; and can act, for that very reason, as its last historian.

But as I have no ambition to retouch a picture that has already been very well painted, I will profit from the works of my predecessors, taking care only to clarify them by means of my own observations.

Among these works, I would have preferred to choose those of Protestant travellers, because of the spirit of the age: we are always ready to reject these days what we believe as originating from an overly religious source. Unfortunately I have not found anything satisfactory on the Holy Sepulchre in Pococke, Shaw, Maundrell, Hasselquist and others.

Quoting scholars and travellers who have written in Latin concerning the antiquities of Jerusalem, such as Adamannus, Bede, Brocard (Burchard of Mount Sion: Descriptio Terræ Sanctæ, 1284), Willibaldus (Saint Willibald, Bishop of Eichstatt), Breydenbach (Bernhard von Breydenbach: Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam, 1486), Sanut (Marinus Sanutus Torcellus: Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis super Terrae Sanctae), Ludolph (Ludolph of Saxony), Reland (His book, Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, is a miracle of erudition), Andrichomius, Quaresmius, Baumgarten, Fureri (Christoph Furer von Haimendorff: Itinerarium), Bochart (Samuel Bochart), Arias Montanus (Benito Arias Montano), Reuwich (Erhard Reuwich), Hese (Johannes Witte de Hese: Itinerarius), or Cotovicus (Johann van Kootwyck: his description of the Holy Sepulchre gives almost all the hymns sung by the pilgrims at each station) would oblige me to translate passages, which, in the last result, would teach the reader nothing new (there is also a description of Jerusalem in Armenian, and one in Modern Greek: I have seen the latter. Ancient descriptions, like those of Sanutus, Ludolph, Brocard, Breydenbach, and Willibaldus; or those of Adamannus, or rather Arculf, and the Venerable Bede, are interesting, because in reading them one can judge of the alterations since made to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; but they would be useless as regards the building as I saw it). I am therefore obliged to French travellers (Juan Cerverio de Vera, in Spanish, is very concise, yet very clear; Giovanni Zuallardo, in his Il Devotissimo Viaggio di Gerusalemme, 1586, writing in Italian, is confused and vague; Pierre de La Vallée is charming, due to the unusual grace of his style, and his singular adventures, but is not authoritative) and, among these latter, I prefer the description of the Holy Sepulchre by Deshayes (Louis Deshayes, Baron de Courmenin), and this is why:

Belon (Pierre Belon du Mans: 1546-49), celebrated enough otherwise as a naturalist, says hardly a word concerning the Holy Sepulchre: his style also is extremely antiquated. Other writers, even older than he, or his contemporaries, such as Cachermois (Jean de Cachermois, 1490), Regnault (François Regnault, 1522), Salignac (Barthélemey de Salignac, 1522), Le Huen (Nicolas Le Huen, 1525), Gassot (Jacques Gassot,1536), Renaud (Antoine Renaud, 1548), Postel (Guillaume Postel, 1553), and Giraudet (Gabriel Giraudet, 1575), also use a language too remote from that which we now speak (some of these authors wrote in Latin, but there are old French versions of their works). Villamont (Henri de Villamont, 1588) drowns in detail, and has neither method nor judgement. Père Boucher (1610) is so exaggeratedly pious, it is impossible to cite him. Bénard (Nicolas Bénard, 1616) writes with wisdom enough, although he was only twenty years old at the time of his journey, but he is diffuse, flat and obscure. Père Pacifique (Père Pacifique de Provins, 1622) is vulgar, and his narrative is too concise. Monconys (Balthasar de Monconys, 1647) deals only with medical prescriptions. Doubdan (Jean Doubdan, 1651) is clear, knowledgeable, worthy of being consulted, but long, and prone to dwell on little things. Frère Roger (Eugène Roger, 1653), attached for five years to the service of the holy places, has knowledge, judgment, and a lively and animated style: his description of the Holy Sepulchre is too long, that is what led me to exclude him. Thévenot (Jean Thévenot, 1656), one of our best known travellers, has described the Church of Saint-Saveur to perfection, and I urge readers to consult his book (Voyage au Levant, XXXIX), but he is quite close to Deshayes: Père Nau, the Jesuit (1674), combines his knowledge of Eastern languages with the advantage of performing his journey to Jerusalem with the Marquis de Nointel (Charles-Marie-François Olier), our ambassador to Constantinople, the same to whom we owe the first drawings of Athens: it is a pity that the learned Jesuit is of an intolerable prolixity. The letter from Père Néret in the Lettres édifiantes, is excellent in many ways, but omits too much. I would say the same of Du Loiret de La Roque (Jean de la Roque). As for the modern travellers, Müller (Angelo Maria Müller: Reise nach Jerusalem, 1735), Venzow (Heinrich Venzow: Reise nach Jerusalem 1740), Korte (Jonas Korte, or Kortens: Travels, 1751), Bscheider (Fr. Gratus Bscheider: Das Heilige Land, 1792), Mariti (Giovanni Mariti: Travels, 1792), De Volney (Constantin François de Chassebœuf, Comte de Volney: Travels,1787), Niebuhr (Carsten Niebuhr: Travels, 1792), and Browne (William George Browne: Travels, 1799), are almost entirely silent on the holy places.

Deshayes (Baron Louis Deshayes de Courmenin: Voyage du Levant, 1621), sent by Louis XIII into Palestine, seems to me deserving of his narrative being adhered to:

1. Because the Turks were themselves eager to show the ambassador around Jerusalem, and he could have entered the mosque on the Temple mount if he had so wished;

2. Because his secretary’s slightly antiquated style is so clear and precise, which Paul Lucas (Voyage du Sieur Paul Lucas au Levant, 1704) has copied word for word, without risk of plagiarism, according to his usual practice;

3. Because D’Anville (and this is the most compelling reason), used Deshayes’ map as the subject of an essay that is perhaps our famous geographer’s masterpiece (such was the opinion of the learned Monsieur de Sainte-Croix, Guillaume, Baron de Sainte-Croix. D’Anville’s dissertation is entitled Dissertation sur l’étendue de l’ancienne Jérusalem). Deshayes will thus provide us with material regarding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to which I will add my comments.

‘The Holy Sepulchre, with the majority of the holy places, are cared for by the Franciscan monks (Cordeliers), who are sent there for three year periods; and though all nations are represented among them, they nevertheless all pass for Frenchmen, or Venetians, and only survive because they are under the protection of our king. For nigh on sixty years they dwelt outside the city, on Mount Sion, at the very place where our Lord partook of the Last Supper with his apostles, but their church having been converted into a mosque, they have dwelt ever since within the city on Mount Gihon, the site of their monastery, known as Saint-Sauveur. That is where the Custodian lives, with the bulk of the order, providing monks to all the sites in the Holy Land as they are needed.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not two hundred paces from the monastery. It includes the Holy Sepulchre, Mount Calvary, and several other holy places. It was Saint Helena who built a portion of it to cover the Holy Sepulchre; but the Christian princes who followed augmented it to include Mount Calvary which is only fifty paces from the Holy Sepulchre.

In ancient times, Mount Calvary was outside the city, as I have mentioned; it was the place of execution for condemned criminals; and in order that all the people might be present there was a large open space between the mountain and the city wall. The rest of the mountain was surrounded by gardens, of which one belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, a covert disciple of Jesus Christ, and in which he had made a tomb for him, in which was placed the body of Our Lord. It was not the custom among the Jews to bury a corpse as we Christians do. Each person, according to their means, carved, in some rock or other, a small room in which the body was placed, laid out on a platform of the same rock, and then they closed the cave, with a stone placed before the door, which was usually no more than four feet tall.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is of very irregular shape, dictated by the sites it was desired to enclose within it. The Church is roughly in the form of a cross, being one hundred and twenty paces long, not including the descent to the Chapel of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (Cave of the Cross), and seventy paces in width. There are three domes of which that which covers the Holy Sepulchre is the nave of the church. It is thirty feet in diameter, and is open at the top like the rotunda of Rome (the Pantheon). It is true that there is no vaulting; the dome is supported only by large rafters of cedar, which were brought from the Mountains of Lebanon. The church was once entered by any of three doors; but today there is only one, the keys of which the Turks guard jealously, lest the pilgrims enter without paying the nine zecchinos, or thirty-six livres, entrance fee which is owed, I mean those who come from Christendom, since Christian subjects of the Grand Seigneur pay less than half that amount. The door is always closed, and has only a small window divided by an iron bar, through which those outside supply food to those inside, who are of eight different nations.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Exterior View

‘Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Exterior View’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The first nation is that of the Romans or Latins, the Cordeliers of the Franciscan Order. They maintain the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Calvary where our Lord was nailed to the cross, the cave where the Holy Cross was found, the Stone of Anointing (Stone of Unction), and the chapel where Our Lord appeared to the Virgin after his resurrection (Chapel of Mary Magdalene).

The second nation is that of the Greeks, who maintain the choir of the church, where they officiate, in the middle of which is a small circle of marble (the compas), which they believe marks the centre of the earth.

The third nation is that of the Abyssinians; they maintain the chapel (of the Blessed Sacrament) which contains the Impropere pillar (the Pillar of the Flagellation).

The fourth nation is that of the Copts, who are the Egyptian Christians, they have a small chapel (the Coptic Chapel) near the Holy Sepulchre.

The fifth is that of the Armenians, they maintain the Chapel of Saint Helena, and one where the clothes of our Lord were shared out, and they cast lots for them.

Chapel of St. Helena - Crypt of the Holy Sepulchre

‘Chapel of St. Helena - Crypt of the Holy Sepulchre’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The sixth nation is that of the Nestorians or Jacobites, who come from Chaldea and Syria; they have a small chapel near the place where Our Lord appeared to the Magdalene, whom she took for a gardener, and it is therefore called the Chapel of the Magdalene.

The seventh nation is that the Georgians who live between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; they maintain the site of Calvary, where the cross was erected, and the prison where Our Lord remained, while the hole was dug in which to set it.

The eighth nation is that of the Maronites, who live in the Mountains of Lebanon; they recognize the Pope as we do.

Each nation, in addition to those places that all within can visit, has another special place in the vaults, and corners of the church to serve them as a retreat, and where they perform their offices according to their custom: for the priests and monks who visit usually remain for two months or so, without leaving the building, until the monastery in the city sends others to serve in their place. It would be impossible to remain there long without becoming ill, because there is very little fresh air, and because the arches and walls produce a quite unhealthy coolness, however we found a good hermit there, who had taken the habit of Saint Francis, and lived twenty years in the place without leaving, though he had so much work to do maintaining the two hundred lamps, and cleaning and adorning all the holy places, he was unable to rest for more than four hours per day.

On entering the church, we see the Stone of Unction, on which the body of Our Lord was anointed with myrrh and aloes, before being placed in the tomb. Some say it is of the very rock of Mount Calvary, while others hold that it was brought to that place by Joseph and Nicodemus, secret disciples of Jesus Christ, who rendered him that pious office, and that it is of a green hue. Be that as it may, because of the indiscretion of some pilgrims who damaged it, they were forced to cover it with white marble, and surround it with a small iron rail, to prevent anyone walking on it. It is seven feet nine inches long, and one foot eleven inches wide, and above it are eight lamps which burn continuously.

Stone of the Unction - Church of the Holy Sepulchre

‘Stone of the Unction - Church of the Holy Sepulchre’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The Holy Sepulchre is thirty feet from the stone, exactly beneath the middle of the great dome of which I have spoken: it is like a small cave that has been excavated and shaped in solid rock with a chisel. The door facing east is only four feet high and two and a quarter wide, so that one must bow very low to gain entry. The interior of the sepulchre is almost square. It is six feet one inch long, five feet ten inches wide, and from floor to roof, is eight feet one inch high. There is a solid platform of the same stone, which remained after excavating the rest. It is two feet four and a half inches high, and occupies half the tomb, being five feet eleven inches long, and two feet eight and a half inches wide. It was on this table that the body of Our Lord was laid, with the head towards the west and the feet towards the east, but because of the superstitious devotion of the Orientals, who believe that having laid His head on the stone, God would never abandon them, and also because the pilgrims broke off pieces of it, it became necessary to cover it with the white marble on which the Mass is now celebrated. Forty-four lamps continually burn in this holy place, and to allow egress to the smoke, three holes have been made in the ceiling. The outside of the sepulchre is covered with marble tablets, and several columns, with a dome above.

The Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre

‘The Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

At the entrance door of the tomb, there is a stone which is a foot and a half square, and is raised a foot, which is of the same rock, and which served to support the large stone that closed off the entrance; it was from this rock that the angel spoke to the two Marys (Matthew:28); and on account of this mystery, and lest one entered prematurely into the Holy Sepulchre, the early Christians created a small chapel in front, which is called the Chapel of the Angel.

Twelve paces from the Holy Sepulchre, in turning towards the north, one encounters a large stone of grey marble, which is about four feet in diameter, set there to mark the place where Our Lord appeared to the Magdalene, she supposing him to be the gardener (John:20:15).

Further on is the Chapel of the Apparition (the Franciscan Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament), where tradition holds that Our Lord first appeared to Mary after his resurrection. This is the place where the Franciscan monks perform their offices and to which they repair: since from there they enter rooms that have no other access except by way of the chapel.

Continuing our tour of the church, one encounters a small vaulted chapel, which is seven feet long and six feet wide, otherwise known as the Prison of Our Lord, because he was confined in this place until they had dug the hole in which to set up the cross. This chapel is opposite Calvary, so that the two locations are aligned to the crucifix-form of the church, since Calvary is to the south and the chapel to the north.

Quite close to this is another chapel, five paces long and three wide, which is the very place where Our Lord was stripped of his clothes by the soldiers before being nailed to the cross, and where his clothes were shared out and they cast lots for them (John:19:24).

Interior of the Greek Church of the Holy Sepulchre

‘Interior of the Greek Church of the Holy Sepulchre’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Leaving the chapel, we find a grand staircase to our left, which pierces the wall of the church and goes down to a kind of cave carved in the rock. After descending thirty steps, there is a chapel on the left which is commonly called the Chapel of Saint Helena, because she prayed there while seeking the Holy Cross. We descend a further eleven steps to the place where it was found along with the nails, the crown of thorns and the blade of the spear, which had been hidden in this place more than three hundred years.

Near the top of this level, turning towards Calvary, is a chapel four paces long and two and a half wide, under the altar of which is visible a column of grey marble, inlaid with black markings, which is two feet high and one foot in diameter. It is called the Pillar of the Impropere (the Pillar of the Flagellation), because there Our Lord was made to sit to be crowned with thorns.

At ten paces from the chapel, we encounter a little narrow stair, the steps of which are of wood at the beginning and stone at the end. There are twenty in all, by which one mounts to Calvary. That place, once so heinous, being sanctified by the blood of Our Lord, was given great attention by the early Christians; and, after removing all the dirt and earth covering it, they enclosed it with walls; so that it is now like a tall chapel, enclosed within the greater church. It is clad in marble inside, and split in two by an archway. To the north is the place where our Lord was nailed to the cross. There are always thirty-two lamps burning there, maintained by the Franciscans, who also celebrate Mass daily in this sacred place.

Calvary - Holy Sepulchre

‘Calvary - Holy Sepulchre’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

In another part, to the south, the Holy Cross was erected. One can still see the hole which was dug about a foot and a half into the rock, beneath the earth that covered it. The place where the thieves’ crosses stood are close by. That of the good thief was to the north, and the other to the south, so that the former was on the right hand of Our Lord, who had his face turned to the west, and his back to Jerusalem, on the east. Fifty lamps burn continually to honour this sacred place.

Below the chapel are the tombs of Godfrey of Bouillon and his brother Baldwin I, where these inscriptions may be read:










Here lies the famous Duke Godfrey

Of Bouillon, who won all this land

For the Christian faith, may his soul

Reign with Christ, Amen.

King Baldwin, a second Judas Maccabeus,

The hope of his country, the strength of the Church, the pride of both,

Feared by all, to whom gifts were brought

By the tribes of Kedar and Egypt, Dan and man-slaying Damascus,

Is enclosed, alas, in this narrow tomb!

(Besides these tombs are four others half-destroyed. On one of these tombs can be read, though with much difficulty, an epitaph reported by Cotovicus.)

Calvary is the last station of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; for twenty paces from it we again find the Stone of Unction, at the entrance to the church.’

Deshayes having thus described the holy stations of so much of the site in order, it only remains for me to reveal those places to the reader in their entirety.

We see, firstly, that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is composed of three churches: that of the Holy Sepulchre, that of Calvary, and that of the Discovery of the Holy Cross.

Properly speaking, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built in the valley of Mount Calvary, and on the terrain where we know that Jesus Christ was buried. The Church forms a cross: the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre itself is in fact the great nave of the building: it is circular like the Pantheon in Rome; and is lighted only by the dome, beneath which is found the Holy Sepulchre. Sixteen marble columns adorn the perimeter of the rotunda; they support, on seventeen arches, an upper gallery, also composed of sixteen columns and seventeen arches, smaller than the former columns and arches that bear them. Niches, corresponding to the arches, rise above the frieze of the upper gallery, and the dome rises from the circle of niches. These were once decorated with mosaics depicting the twelve apostles, Saint Helena, the Emperor Constantine and three other unidentified portraits.

The choir of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the Choir of the Crusaders) is to the east of the nave of the tomb: it is double, as in other ancient basilicas, that is to say, there is first an area with stalls for the priests then a secluded sanctuary, raised above the former by two steps. Around this double sanctuary, run the twin wings of the choir, and in these wings are placed the chapels described by Deshayes.

From the right wing, behind the choir, two staircases also run, one to the Chapel of Calvary, the other to the Chapel of the Discovery of the Holy Cross: the first ascends to the summit of Calvary, the second descends beneath Calvary itself; indeed, the cross was erected on the summit of Golgotha, ​​and found beneath that mount. Thus, to summarize, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built at the foot of Calvary: it touches that summit on its eastern side, beneath which, and above which, two other churches were built, which are attached by walls and vaulted staircases to the main building.

The architecture of the church is obviously of the age of Constantine; the Corinthian order prevails everywhere. The pillars are heavy or slender, their diameter almost always being out of proportion to their height. Various linked columns which support the frieze to the choir, however, are of a fine style. The church is tall and expansive, its cornices strike the eye with sufficient grandeur; but in the past sixty years they have lowered the arch separating the chancel from the nave, the horizontal line is broken, and one can no longer enjoy a view of the whole vault.

The Church has no porch; it is entered by two side doors; and there is never more than one of them open. Thus, the building appears to have no external decoration. It is also masked by the huts, and the Greek monastery, attached to the walls.

The small marble monument that covers the Holy Sepulchre takes the form of a catafalque, decorated with connected semi-gothic arches on the blank sides of this catafalque; it rises elegantly below the dome which illuminates it: but is spoilt by a bulky chapel that the Armenians were granted permission to build at one of its extremities. The interior of the catafalque reveals a plain tomb of white marble, attached on one side to the wall of the building, and serves as an altar for the Catholic faith: it is the Tomb of Jesus Christ.

The origins of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are of some antiquity. The author of the Epitome of the holy wars (Epitome Bellorum Sacrorum) claims that, forty-six years after the destruction of Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus, the Christians obtained permission from Hadrian to build or rebuild a temple over the tomb of their God, and to enclose in the new city other places revered by Christians. He adds that the temple was enlarged, and repaired, by Helena, mother of Constantine. Quaresmius contests this account, ‘because’, he says, ‘until the reign of Constantine the faithful were denied permission to erect such temples.’ This scholar of religion forgets that before Diocletian’s persecution, the Christians owned to many churches, and celebrated their mysteries publicly. Lactantius and Eusebius attest to the wealth and happiness of believers at that time.

Among other trustworthy authors, Sozomen, in the second book of his History (Historia Ecclesiastica), Saint Jerome in his Epistles to Paulinus and Rufinus; Severus (Sulpicius Severus: Chronica) in Book II, Nicephorus (Nicephorus of Constantinople: Historia Ecclesiastica) in Book XVIII, and Eusebius in his Life of Constantine; tell us that the pagans surrounded the holy places with a wall; that they erected a statue of Jupiter over the tomb of Jesus Christ, and another statue of Venus on Calvary; and that they dedicated a grove to Adonis over the birthplace of the Saviour. These testimonies also demonstrate the antiquity of the true faith in Jerusalem by the very profanation of previously sacred places, and show that Christians had sanctuaries in those same places.

Regardless of that, the foundation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre dates back to at least the reign of Constantine; we still have a letter from that emperor, commanding Saint Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem (312-335AD), to erect a church on the site where the great mystery of the salvation was accomplished. Eusebius preserved this letter. The Bishop of Caesarea then describes the new church, the dedication of which lasted eight days. If Eusebius’s narrative needs to be supported by the testimonies of others, we possess those of Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem (c350AD: Catecheses: 1,10,13), Theodoret (of Cyrus), and even the Itinéraire de Bordeaux à Jérusalem, of 333: ibidem, jussu Constantini imperatoris, basilica facta est mirae pulchritudinis: in that very place, by order of the Emperor Constantine, a basilica was built ​​of wondrous beauty.

That church was destroyed (614AD) by Chosroes II, King of Persia, nearly three centuries after it was built by Constantine. The Emperor Heraclius restored the true cross (629AD), and Modestus, Bishop of Jerusalem, rebuilt the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Not long afterwards, the Caliph Omar took Jerusalem (c638AD), but left the Christians free to exercise Christian worship. In 1009, the Caliph Hequem or Hakem (Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah), who ruled Egypt, brought desolation on the tomb of Jesus Christ. Some say the mother of this prince, who was a Christian, had the walls of the ruined church rebuilt; others, that the son (Ali az-Zahir) of this Caliph of Egypt, at the solicitation of the Emperor Argyros (Romanos III Argyros), allowed the faithful to enclose the holy places in a new building. But since, in the reign of Hakem, the Christians of Jerusalem were neither rich enough nor skilful enough to erect the building that now covers Calvary (it is said that Mary, wife of Hakem, and mother of the new Caliph, built it anew, and she was assisted in this pious enterprise by Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos); and since, despite a very dubious passage in William of Tyre’s Historia, there is no indication that the Crusaders built a church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, it is likely that the church founded by Constantine has always existed much as it is, at least as regards the walls of the building. Inspection of the architecture alone of this edifice would suffice to demonstrate the truth of what I say.

The Crusaders having captured Jerusalem, on the 15th of July 1099, snatched the Tomb of Jesus Christ from the hands of the infidels. For eighty-eight years it remained under the control of the successors of Godfrey of Bouillon. When Jerusalem fell once more under the Muslim yoke, the Syrians ransomed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for gold, and the monks came, to defend with their prayers the sites entrusted in vain to the weapons of kings: it is thus, that despite a thousand vicissitudes, the faith of the early Christians preserved to us a temple that it was given to our century to see destroyed.

The first travellers were extremely fortunate; they were not obliged to enter into all these details: firstly, because they found in their readers a religion that never disputes the truth; and secondly, because all were convinced that the only way to see a country as it truly exists is to view it with all its customs and memories. It is, indeed, with the Bible and the Gospel in our hands that we must travel to the Holy Land. If one wishes to bring to it a spirit of contention and argument, it is not worth the trouble of making the long journey to Judea. What would we say of a man who, in travelling through Greece and Italy, spent his time merely contradicting Homer and Virgil? Yet that is how we travel nowadays: the real result of our own self-esteem, which encourages us to appear clever by expressing our disdain.

Christian readers may well be wondering what feelings I experienced on entering this redoubtable place; I can not really say. So much presented itself simultaneously to my mind that I failed to hold on to any specific thought. I remained for about half an hour on my knees in the little chamber of the Holy Sepulchre, my gaze fixed on the stone, unable to look elsewhere. One of the two monks who was guiding me, remained prostrate beside me, his forehead against the marble; the other, Gospel in hand, read to me, by lamplight, the passages relating to the holy tomb. Between each verse he recited a prayer: Domine Jesu Christe, qui in hora diei vespertina de cruce depositus, in brachiis dulcissimae Matris tuae reclinatus fuisti, horaque ultima in hoc sanctissimo monumento corpus tuum exanime contulisti, etc: O Lord Jesus Christ, who in the evening hour of the day, brought down from the cross, lay in the arms of your most sweet Mother, and whose lifeless body at the last hour was bestowed in this sacred place, etc. All I can state, is that in sight of that victorious tomb I felt only my own feebleness; and when my guide exclaimed with Saint Paul: Ubi est, Moria, victoria tua? Ubi est, Moria, stimulus tuus? Death, where is thy victory? Death where is thy sting? (Vulgate: 1 Corinthians 15:55), I listened as if Death might respond that he had been conquered, and was enchained in that monument.

We walked round the stations as far as the summit of Calvary. Where might one find anything as moving in all antiquity, anything as wonderful as the last scenes of the Gospel? Here are not the bizarre adventures of some deity alien to mankind: here is a story filled with pathos, a story that not only causes one to shed tears at its beauty, but of which the consequences, applied to the universe, have changed the face of the earth. I had just visited the monuments of Greece, and was still filled with their greatness; but they were far from inspiring in me what I felt at the sight of the holy places!

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, composed of several churches, built on uneven ground, lit by a multitude of lamps, is singularly mysterious; darkness reigns there favourable to piety and soulful meditation. Christian priests of various sects live in different parts of the building. From the heights of the arches, where they nestle like doves to the depths of the chapels and underground vaults, the emit their chants at all hours of day and night; the organ-music of the Latin priest, the cymbals of the Abyssinian, the voice of the Greek, the prayer of the Armenian solitary, the plaint-like chant of the Coptic monk, strike alternately or simultaneously on your ear; you do not know from whence these sounds arise; you breathe the smell of incense without seeing the hand that ignites it: you only see the pontiff passing by, vanishing behind the pillars, losing himself amongst the shadows of the temple; the pontiff, who will celebrate the most redoubtable mysteries in the very places where they were enacted.

I could not leave those sacred precincts without pausing at the monuments to Godfrey and Baldwin: they face the door of the church and are attached to the wall of the choir. I saluted the ashes of those royal knights, who deserve to rest near to the great sepulchre they had delivered. Those ashes are French, the only ones buried in the shadow of the tomb of Jesus Christ. What a badge of honour for my homeland!

I returned to the monastery at eleven o’clock, and went out again at noon, to follow the Via Dolorosa: so the route is called that the Saviour of the World traversed from the house of Pilate to Calvary.

Pilate’s house (the governor of Jerusalem once lived in this house, but now only his horses lodge among the remains) is a ruin from which one can see the vast foundations of Solomon’s temple, and the mosque built on those foundations.

Jesus Christ having been scourged, crowned with thorns, and clothed in a purple tunic, was presented to the Jews by Pilate: Ecce Homo: Behold the Man’ (Vulgate: John: 19:5) cried the judge, and we may still see the window from which he uttered those memorable words.

According to the Latin tradition in Jerusalem, the crown of Jesus Christ was made from the thorny shrub lycium spinosum. But Hasselquist, knowledgeable botanist that he is, believes that the nabka of the Arabs was employed for this purpose. The reason he gives is worth mentioning:

‘There is every indication,’ the author says ‘that nabka (Paliurus spina-christi) provided the crown placed on the head of Our Lord: it is common in the East. One could not choose a plant more suited to this purpose, because it is armed with prickles; its branches are flexible and pliant, and its leaf is dark green, like ivy. Perhaps the enemies of Jesus Christ chose it, to add insult to his injuries, a plant similar to that used to crown emperors and military generals.’

Another tradition, found in Jerusalem, preserves the sentence pronounced by Pilate on the Saviour of the world:

Jesum Nazarenum, subversorem gentis, contemptorem Caesaris, et falsum Messiam, ut majorum suae gentis testimonio probatum est, ducite ad communis supplicii locum, et eum in ludibriis regiae majestatis, in medio duorum latronum, cruci affigite. I, lictor, expedi cruces: conduct to the common place of execution, Jesus of Nazareth, seducer of the people, scorner of Caesar, and, according to the testimony of the elders of his people, false Messiah; crucify him between two thieves, with the derisive title of King. Go, lictor, prepare the crosses.

A hundred and twenty paces from the Ecce Homo, I was shown the ruins, on the left, of an old church dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. It was in this place that Mary, driven away at first by the guards, met her son burdened by the cross. This fact is not reported in the Gospels, but is generally believed on the authority of Saint Boniface and Saint Anselm. Saint Boniface says that the Virgin fell like one half-dead, and could not utter a single word: Nec verbum dicere potuit. Saint Anselm assures us that Christ greeted her with these words: Salve, Mater! As we find Mary at the foot of the cross (John:19:25) this account by the Fathers is more than probable, faith is not contrary to these traditions: they show how the marvellous story of the Passion was etched in the memory of mankind. Eighteen centuries rolling by, persecutions without end, revolutions eternal, ruins ever falling, could not efface or hide the traces of a mother come to mourn her son.

Fifty paces farther we came to the place where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry the cross.

‘And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.’ (Luke:23:26)

Here the path, which was heading east-west reached a bend and turned north, and I saw, on the right hand, the place where Lazarus the beggar lay, and opposite, on the other side of the street, the house of the rich sinner.

‘There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.’ (Luke 16:19-23)

Saint Chrysostom, Saint Ambrose and Saint Cyril believed that the story of Lazarus and the rich sinner was not simply a parable, but a true and established fact. The Jews themselves have preserved the name of the rich sinner, whom they call Nabal (see 1 Samuel:25).

After passing the rich sinner’s house, one turns right, and takes a westerly direction. At the entrance to the street that ascends towards Calvary, Christ met the holy women, weeping.

And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.

But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.’ (Luke:23:27-28)

A hundred and ten paces from there is the site of the house of Veronica, and the place where that pious woman wiped the face of the Saviour. The woman’s original name was Berenice; it was subsequently changed to Vera-Icon, a true image, by the transposition of two letters; moreover, the transmutation of B to V is quite common in ancient languages.

After a further hundred paces one reaches the Judicial Gate: this was the gate through which criminals emerged who were executed on Golgotha. Golgotha, now contained within the new city, was outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem.

From the Judicial Gate to the summit of Calvary one takes about two hundred paces: there the Via Dolorosa ends, being about a mile in length. We have seen that Calvary is now included within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. If those who read the Passion in the Gospel are struck with holy sadness and profound admiration, imagine what it is like to recall those scenes, at the foot of Mount Sion itself, in sight of the Temple, and the very walls of Jerusalem!

After the description of the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I will say only a few words regarding the other places of worship found within the precincts of the city. I will simply name them in the order that I visited them during my stay in Jerusalem.

1. The house of Annas the High Priest, near to the Gate of David (Jaffa Gate), at the foot of Mount Sion, inside the city wall: the Armenians maintain the church built on the ruins of this house;

2. The site of the Saviour’s appearance to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Mary Salome (Mark:16:1), between the castle and the gate of Mount Sion;

3. The house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke:7:36); the Magdalene there confessed her sins; it is a church, wholly in ruins, on the east of the city;

4. The monastery of Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin; and the Grotto of the Immaculate Conception, beneath the monastery church; the monastery has been converted into a mosque; but you can enter by paying a few coins (medins). Under the Christian kings, it was inhabited by nuns. It is not far from the house of Simon.

5. The Prison of St. Peter, near the Calvary; it consists of old walls, where they show iron clamps;

6. The house of Zebedee, not far from the Prison of Saint Peter, is a large church that belongs to the Greek Patriarch;

7. The house of Mary, mother of John Mark, where Saint Peter stayed when he had been delivered by the angel (Acts:12:12), is a church maintained by the Syrians;

Jerusalem - the Church of the Purification

‘Jerusalem - the Church of the Purification’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

8. The site of the martyrdom of Saint James the Greater (Acts:12:1-2). It is the Armenian monastery; the church within is very rich and elegant. I will speak of the Armenian Patriarch a little later.

Readers now have a complete picture of the Christian monuments of Jerusalem before their eyes. We will now visit the exterior of the holy city.

I had taken two hours to traverse the Via Dolorosa on foot. I took care each day to revisit this sacred path, and the church of Calvary, so that no essential detail might escape my memory. It was two o’clock then, on the 7th of October, when I finished my first review of the holy places. I next mounted my horse, and was accompanied by Ali-Aga, Michel the dragoman, and my servants. We left via the Jaffa Gate to make a complete circuit of Jerusalem. We bristled with weapons, were dressed in the French manner, and were very determined not to suffer any insult. One can see how much times have changed, thanks to the renown of our victories, since Deshayes, Louis XIII’s ambassador, had the greatest difficulty in obtaining permission to enter Jerusalem armed with his sword.

We turned left on leaving the city gate; we rode south, and passed the pool of Beersheba, a wide deep ditch, but devoid of water; then we climbed the mount of Sion, part of which lies outside Jerusalem.

Jerusalem from the South

‘Jerusalem from the South’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

I assume that the name Sion awakens profound memories in the minds of my readers; and that they are curious to know about this mount so mysterious in Scripture, so celebrated in the songs of Solomon, this object of the prophets’ blessings and tears, and whose misfortunes Racine has lamented (see Racine’s Esther: Act I Scene I).

It is a hill of a yellowish barren aspect, opening out in a crescent-shape towards Jerusalem, about the height of Montmartre, but more rounded at the top. The sacred summit is marked by three monuments or rather by three ruins: the house of Caiaphas; the Holy Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper); and the tomb or palace of David. From the heights of the mountain you can see the Valley of Ben Hinnom (Gehenna) to the south; beyond that valley is the Field of Blood (Akeldama), bought by Judas for thirty pieces of silver, the Mount of Evil Council, the tombs of the judges and all the desert towards Hebron and Bethlehem. To the north, the walls of Jerusalem, which stretch towards the summit of Sion, prevent you from seeing the city; the latter slopes down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.

Fountain of Job - Valley of Hinnom

‘Fountain of Job - Valley of Hinnom’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Caiaphas’s house is now a church maintained by the Armenians; the tomb of David is a little vaulted room where there are three tombs of blackened stone; the site of the Holy Cenacle is now occupied by a mosque and a Turkish hospital, which were formerly a church and monastery occupied by the Fathers of the Holy Land. This latter shrine is equally famous in both the Old and New Testament: David built his palace and his tomb there, and there he watched over the ark of the covenant for three months (2 Samuel:6;11), Jesus Christ partook of the last Passover, and instituted the sacrament there of the Eucharist; he appeared to his disciples there on the day of resurrection; there too the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles. The Holy Cenacle became the first Christian church that the world had ever seen; there Saint James the Lesser was consecrated as the first bishop of Jerusalem, and Saint Peter held the first council of the Church there; finally it was from there that the apostles were ordered, poor and naked as they were, to mount the thrones of the earth, and: Docete omnes gentes: teach all the nations (Vulgate: Matthew:28:19)!

The historian Josephus has left us a magnificent account of the palace and tomb of David (Jospehus: Antiquities:VII). Benjamin of Tudela (Itinerary:Jerusalem) tells a curious tale regarding the discovery of the tomb.

Descending the mountain of Sion, on the east, one reaches, in the valley, the fountain and pool of Siloam, where Jesus Christ healed the blind man (John:9:1-7). The spring emerges from a rock, it goes softly, cum silentio, according to the testimony of Isaiah (Isaiah:8:6), which contradicts a passage of Saint Jerome (Commentary on Isaiah:III.VIII:119); it has a kind of ebb and flow, sometimes pouring forth its waters like the fountain of Vaucluse, sometimes retaining them so that they barely flow. The Levites sprinkled the water of Siloam on the altar at the Feast of the Tabernacles, singing: Haurietis aquas in gaudio de fontibus Salvatoris: with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of Salvation (Vulgate: Isaiah:12:3). Milton cites that stream, at the beginning of his poem, instead of the Castalian Fount:

Upper fountain of Siloam - Valley of Jehoshaphat

‘Upper fountain of Siloam - Valley of Jehoshaphat’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

‘………………......Or if Sion Hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa’s Brook that flow'd

Fast by the Oracle of God, etc.

Delille (Jacques Delille: Paradise Lost, 1805 translation) has rendered these fine verses marvellously well.

Some say this fountain emerged suddenly from the earth to quench Isaiah’s thirst when the prophet was sawn in half with a wooden saw by order of Manasseh (Talmud: Mishnah: Yevamot, fol. 49,2); others claim they saw it appear in Hezekiah’s reign, from which we have the wonderful song recorded in Isaiah (Isaiah:38:9, and see Jean-Baptiste Rousseau’s: Ode tirée du Cantique d’Ézéchias, whose first two lines Chateaubriand now quotes).

J'ai vu mes tristes journées

Décliner vers leur penchant;

According to Josephus, this miraculous spring flowed for the army of Titus, and refused its waters to the guilty Jews (Josephus: Jewish Wars: IX:4). The pool, or rather the twin pools of the same name, is quite near the source. They serve now as before for washing clothes, and we saw women there who shouted abuse at us as they fled. The water of the fountain is quite salty and unpalatable to the taste; people bathe their eyes there in memory of the healing of the blind man.

Lower Pool of Siloam - Valley of Jehoshaphat

‘Lower Pool of Siloam - Valley of Jehoshaphat’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Nearby is shown the place where the prophet Isaiah suffered the punishment of which I spoke. There is also a village there called Siloan; at the foot of this village is another fountain, that the Scriptures call Rogel (En-Rogel: the Fountain of the Fuller): facing this fountain, at the foot of Mount Sion, is a third fountain, which bears the name of Mary. It is believed that the Virgin came to fetch water, as the daughters of Laban came to the well from which Jacob rolled the stone: Ecce Rachel veniebat ovibus patris sui cum: Rachel came with her father’s sheep, etc. (Genesis 29:9). The Fountain of the Virgin mingles its waters with those of the pool of Siloam.

Here, as noted by Saint Jerome, we are at the base of Mount Moriah beneath the walls of the Temple, almost opposite the Gate of Sterquilinus (god of fertilisation, hence manure: this is the Dung Gate, Bab al-Maghariba). We proceeded towards the eastern corner of the city wall, and entered the valley of Jehoshaphat. It runs from north to south between the Mount of Olives and Mount Moriah. The Kidron River runs through it; the river is dry for part of the year; in storms, or during the spring rains, it yields a reddish coloured water.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is also called in Scripture the Valley of Shaveh, the Valley of the King, the Valley of Melchizedek (regarding all this there are different opinions. The Valley of the King may well have been nearer the mountains of Jordan, and that location is more appropriate to the story of Abraham). It was in the Valley of Melchizedek that the king of Sodom sought Abraham to congratulate him on his victory over the five kings (Genesis:14:17). Moloch and Belphegor (Baal-Peor) were worshipped in that same valley. It later took the name Jehoshaphat, because the king of that name erected his tomb there. The Valley of Jehoshaphat seems always to have served as a cemetery for Jerusalem; one meets there with monuments of the remotest ages, and of recent times: Jews come there to die from the four corners of the world; a stranger sells them, for their weight in gold, a little ground in which their corpse is to be buried, in the fields of their ancestors. The cedars which Solomon planted in this valley (Josephus relates that Solomon clothed the plains of Judea with cedars: Josephus: Antiquities: VIII.7.4), the shadow of the temple with which it was covered, the river that flowed through it (Kedron is a Hebrew word which signifies darkness and sadness; one notes that there is an error in the Greek text, and hence in the Vulgate, of verse XVIII:1 of the Gospel of Saint John, which calls it the river of cedars; the error derives from an incorrect letter, omega for omicron, χεδρων instead of χεδρον), the songs of mourning that David wrote there, the lamentations that Jeremiah gave tongue to there, rendered it fitting for sadness, and the peace of the tomb. In commencing his passion in that solitary place, Jesus Christ consecrated it again to sorrow: the innocent David there poured out, to wash away our sins, the tears that a guilty David shed to atone for his own errors. There are few names that rouse the imagination to thoughts at once more moving and more formidable than that of the valley of Jehoshaphat, a valley so full of mysteries that, according to the prophet Joel, all men will one day have to appear there before the redoubtable judge: Congregabo omnes gentes, et deducam eas in vallem Jehoshaphat, et disceptabo cum eis ibi: I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there (Joel: 3:2). ‘It is reasonable,’ says Père Nau, ‘that the honour of Jesus Christ should be publicly restored in the place where He was robbed of it with such insults and indignities, and that He shall judge men justly in the place where they so unjustly judged Him.’

The Valley of Jehoshaphat has a desolate aspect: the western side is a high chalk cliff that supports the gothic walls of the city, above which one can see Jerusalem; the eastern side is formed by the Mount of Olives and the Mountain of Offence, Mons Offensionis, so named from Solomon’s idolatry (Vulgate:2 Kings: 23:13). These two mountains, which are connected, are almost bare, and of a red and sombre colour: on their deserted flanks one sees, here and there, black scorched vines, a few clumps of wild olive-trees, wasteland covered with hyssop, chapels, oratories and ruined mosques. At the bottom of the valley is a bridge, a single arch, thrown across the ravine of the River Kidron. The stones of the Jewish cemetery seem like a mass of debris, at the foot of the Mountain of Offence (also the Mountain of Scandal), below the Arab village of Siloan: it is hard to distinguish the village hovels from the graves with which they are surrounded. Three ancient monuments, the tombs of Zechariah (ben Jehoiada), Absalom and Jehoshaphat, rise from this field of destruction. Given the sadness of Jerusalem, from which no smoke rises, from which no sound emerges; given the solitude of the mountains, where no living being can be seen; given the ruins of those broken, damaged, half-open tombs, it is as if the trumpet of Judgement had already sounded in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and that the dead were about to rise.

The Tomb of Zacchariah, Valley of Jehoshaphat

‘The Tomb of Zacchariah, Valley of Jehoshaphat’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

At its rim, and close to the source of the River Kidron, we entered the Garden of Olives; it belongs to the Latin Fathers, who bought it with their own money: there, eight large olive trees of extreme decrepitude are to be seen, The olive tree is virtually immortal, because it is reborn from its roots: on the citadel of Athens, they care for an olive tree whose origin dates back to the founding of the city. The olive trees, of the garden of that name, in Jerusalem date from at least the time of the Late Empire; here is proof: in Turkey, any olive tree found by the Muslims when they invaded Asia, is taxed at one piece of silver (medin), while half the crop from any olive tree planted since the conquest is owed to the Grand Seigneur (this law is as absurd as most others in Turkey: how bizarre to spare the vanquished from a time of conquest, when violence may bring injustice and overwhelm the subject in peace-time!): thus, the eight olive trees we are speaking of are taxed at eight medins. We dismounted at the entrance to the garden to visit the Stations of the mountain on foot. The village of Gethsemane is some distance away from the Garden of Olives. These days it is identified, in error, with the garden itself, as noted by Thévenot and Roger.

We first entered the sepulchre of the Virgin. It is a subterranean church, which you descend by fifty quite beautiful steps: it is shared among all Christian sects: the Turks themselves have a chapel in that place; the Catholics maintain the tomb of Mary. Although the Madonna did not die in Jerusalem, she was (in the opinion of several Fathers of the Church) miraculously buried at Gethsemane by the apostles. A certain Euthymius tells the story of the wonderful happenings at the funeral. Saint Thomas having opened the coffin, nothing was found but a virgin’s robe, the poor and simple clothing of that Queen of glory whom the angels had lifted to heaven (See Saint John Damascene: Homily on the Dormition).

The tombs of Saint Joseph, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne are also to be seen in this underground church.

Emerging from the tomb of the Virgin, we went to see the cave, in the garden of Olives, where the Saviour sweated blood, saying: Pater mi, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste: O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me (Vulgate: Matthew: 26:39).

The cavern is irregular; altars have been erected there. Outside, some few paces distant, one may see the place where Judas betrayed his master with a kiss. To what kind of humiliation did Jesus Christ not consent to descend! He experienced those terrible degradations in life that virtue itself finds difficulty in overcoming. And the moment an angel is obliged to descend from heaven to support Divinity, faltering under the burden of human misery, that merciful Divinity is betrayed by Mankind!

Leaving this cave of the cup of bitterness, and climbing a winding path strewn with pebbles, the dragoman halted us near a rock where it is claimed Jesus Christ looked upon the guilty city, weeping over the impending desolation of Sion. Baronius (Cardinal Cesare Baronio: Ecclesiastical Annals) observes that Titus erected his tents in the place where the Saviour had foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. Doubdan, who disagrees with this suggestion, without citing Baronius, believes that the Sixth Roman Legion camped on the summit of the Mount of Olives, and not on the slopes of the mountain. His opinion is excessively critical, while Baronius’s remark is no less beautiful or just.

From the Rock of Prediction we climbed to the caves which are to the right of the path. They are called the Tombs of the Prophets; they are unremarkable, and little is known as to which prophets were supposedly buried there.

A short distance above the caves we found a kind of cistern, composed of twelve arches; it was there that the apostles created the first embodiment of our belief. While the world worshipped a thousand false deities under the sun, twelve fishermen, concealed in the bowels of the earth, uttered their profession of faith on behalf of the human race, and recognized the unity of God, the creator of those stars beneath which they dared not, as yet, proclaim his existence. If some Roman of Augustus’s court, passing that subterranean place, had seen the twelve Jews who composed that sublime work, what contempt he would have shown for that superstitious band! With what contempt he would have spoken of those first believers! And yet they would overthrow that Roman’s temples, destroy the religion of his fathers, alter the laws, politics, morality, reasoning, and even the thoughts of mankind. Let us never despair then of the salvation of nations. Christians today mourn the waning of faith; who knows if God has not planted in some neglected place that grain of wild-mustard seed that multiplies in the fields? Perhaps we are unable to keep that hope of salvation before our eyes, perhaps it appears to us as ridiculous and absurd. But who could ever have conceived the folly of the Cross?

Climbing a little higher, one encounters the ruins, or rather the abandoned site, of a chapel: a continuous tradition teaches that Jesus Christ in this place recited the Lord's Prayer.

‘One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, etc.’” (Luke:11:1-2)

Thus were composed, at almost the same place, that profession of faith on behalf of all mankind, and a prayer capable of being spoken by all mankind.

Thirty yards away, a little towards the north, is an olive tree at whose foot the Son of the Almighty Judge predicted the universal judgement.

Finally, about fifty yards across the mountain-side, one arrives at a small mosque, octagonal in shape, the remains of a church once built on the spot where Jesus Christ ascended into heaven after his resurrection. One can distinguish in the rock a man’s left footprint; traces of that of the right foot were once visible too: the majority of pilgrims claim that the Turks removed the second imprint, to adorn the Temple mosque, but Père Roger positively asserts that it is not present in that place. I bow silently, out of respect, while as yet remaining unconvinced, before the considerable weight of authority: Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Paulinus, Sulpicius Severus, the Venerable Bede, tradition, and all ancient and modern travellers, assure us that it is the footprint of Jesus Christ. Examination of the footprint led to the conclusion that the Saviour’s face was turned toward the north at the time of his ascension, as if to reject a southerly direction infested with errors, to summon to the faith those barbarians who were to overthrow the temples of their false gods, to create new nations, and plant the banner of the cross on the walls of Jerusalem.

Several of the Fathers of the Church believed that Jesus Christ rose to heaven amidst the souls of the patriarchs and prophets, delivered by him from the chains of death: his mother, and one hundred and twenty disciples, bore witness to his ascension. He stretched out his arms like Moses, says Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, and presented his disciples to the Father; then he crossed his powerful hands while lowering them over the heads of his beloved friends (Tertullian), and it was in this way that Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph; then, leaving the earth with wondrous majesty, he ascended slowly to the eternal realms, and vanished in a glowing cloud (Ludolph).

Saint Helen ordered a church built where the octagonal mosque now stands. Saint Jerome tells us that the vault of the church where Jesus Christ ascended through the air could never be roofed over. The venerable Bede assures that in his day, on the eve of the Ascension, the Mount of Olives appeared covered with lights, throughout the night. Nothing requires us to believe these traditions, which I record solely to illuminate history and tradition; but if Descartes and Newton had maintained philosophical doubts regarding these wonders, Racine and Milton would not have repeated them in poetry.

In this way, evangelical history is illustrated by means of its monuments. We have seen it begin in Bethlehem, progress to its denouement before Pilate, arrive at the catastrophe of Calvary, and end on the Mount of Olives. The actual scene of the Ascension is not quite at the top of the mountain, but two or three hundred feet below its highest summit.

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

‘Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives’
Syria, the Holy Land, Asia Minor - John Carne, Thomas Allom, William Henry Bartlett, William C. Stafford (p490, 1861)
The British Library

We descended the Mount of Olives, and, remounting our horses, continued our journey. We left behind us the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and rode by steep tracks to the northern corner of the city; from there turning west and along the wall that faces north, we arrived at the cave where Jeremiah wrote his Lamentations. We were not far from the tombs of the kings, but we renounced seeing them, because it was too late in the day. We returned to the Jaffa Gate, through which we had left Jerusalem. It was precisely seven o’clock when we reached the monastery.

Our outing had taken five hours. On foot, and following the walls of the city, it only takes an hour to make the circuit of Jerusalem.

On the 8th of October, at five in the morning, I set out with Ali-Aga and the dragoman Michel to view the interior of the city. It is necessary to digress here to glance at the history of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was founded in the year 2023, by the high priest Melchizedek: he named it Salem, that is to say Peace; it then occupied only the two mountains of Moria and Acra.

Fifty years after its founding, it was taken by the Jebusites, descendants of Jebus, son of Canaan. They built a citadel on Mount Sion, to which they gave the name of Jebus, their father; the city then took the name of Jerusalem, which means Vision of Peace. All Scripture praises it magnificently: Jerusalem, civitas Dei…Luce splendida fulgebis:et omnes fines terrae adorabunt te: Jerusalem, City of God…Thou shalt shine with a glorious light: and all the ends of the earth shall worship thee. (Vulgate: Tobias: 13:11,13) etc.

Joshua took the lower city of Jerusalem, on the first year of his entry into the Promised Land: he killed the king Adonizedek, and the four kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon (Joshuah: 10:1-3). The Jebusites remained masters of the city, or the high citadel, of Jebus. They were not driven out until the time of David, eight hundred and twenty-four years after their entry into the city of Melchizedek.

David added to the fortress of Jebus, and gave it his own name. He also built, on Mount Sion, a palace and a tabernacle, in which to place the Ark of the Covenant.

Solomon added to the holy city: he built that first temple whose wonders Scripture and the historian Josephus describe for us, and for which Solomon himself wrote songs of great beauty.

Five years after the death of Solomon, Shishak, king of Egypt, attacked Rehoboam, and took and plundered Jerusalem (1 Kings:14:25).

It was sacked again, one hundred and fifty years, later by Joash king of Israel (2 Chronicles:25:23).

Again invaded by the Assyrians, Manasseh, king of Judah, was taken captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles:33:11). Finally, during the reign of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar razed Jerusalem to the ground, burned the temple, and transported the Jews to Babylon (2 Kings:25). Sion quasi ager arabitur,’ said Jeremiah, ‘et Hierusalem in acervum lapidum erit: Sion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps (Jeremiah 26:18). Saint Jerome, in order to paint the loneliness of this desolate city, said one could not see a single bird flying there.

The first temple was destroyed, four hundred and seventy years, six months and ten days after its foundation by Solomon, in the year 3513 about four hundred years before Christ: four hundred and seventy seven years had elapsed from David to Zedekiah, and the city had been ruled by seventeen kings.

After seventy years of captivity, Zerubbabel began to rebuild the temple and the city. This work, interrupted for several years, was completed by Ezra and Nehemiah.

Alexander passed through Jerusalem in the year 3583 (c332BC), and offered sacrifices in the temple.

Ptolemy I Soter (Lagides) became master of Jerusalem (320BC); and the city was treated well under Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who endowed the Temple with magnificent gifts.

Antiochus III, the Great, recaptured Judea from the kings of Egypt (c201BC), and then handed it over to Ptolemy VIII Euergetes. Antiochus IV Epiphanes sacked Jerusalem again, and set up the image of Olympian Zeus in the temple (167BC).

The Maccabees freed their country, and defended it against the kings of Asia.

Unfortunately Aristobulus and Hyrcanus disputed the crown; they had recourse to the Romans, who at the death of Mithridates had become the masters of the East. Pompey advanced to Jerusalem; entering the city, he besieged and took the temple (63BC). Crassus lost no time in pillaging that august monument, which Pompey had treated with respect.

Hyrcanus II, protected by Caesar, was maintained in the high priesthood. Antigonus II, the son of Aristobulus II, embittered by the Pompeians, made war on his uncle Hyrcanus, and summoned the Parthians to his aid. The latter, descending on Judea, entered Jerusalem, and took Hyrcanus prisoner (40BC).

Herod the Great, son of Antipater, a distinguished officer at the court of Hyrcanus, seized the Kingdom of Judea with the support of the Romans. Antigonus, whom the fortunes of war had allowed to fall into Herod’s hands, was sent to Mark Antony. The last descendant of the Maccabees, the rightful king of Jerusalem, was bound to a stake, beaten with rods, and put to death, by order of a Roman citizen.

Herod, remaining sole master of Jerusalem, filled it with beautiful monuments, of which I will speak later. It was during his reign that Jesus Christ was born.

Archelaus, the son of Herod and Mariamne, succeeded his father (4BC), while Herod Antipas, also a son of Herod the Great, held the tetrarchy of Galilee and Peraea. It was he who beheaded John the Baptist, and sent Jesus Christ to Pilate. This Herod the Tetrarch was banished to Lyon by Caligula (39AD).

Herod Agrippa, the grand-son of Herod the Great, obtained the kingdom of Judea, but his brother Herod V, King of Chalcis, had power over the temple, the sacred treasure and the high priesthood.

After Herod Agrippa’s death, Judea was reduced to a Roman province. The Jews having rebelled against their masters, Titus besieged and took Jerusalem. Two hundred thousand Jews died of starvation during the siege. From the 14th of April until the 1st of July of the year 70AD, one hundred and fifteen thousand, eight hundred and eighty corpses were carried through just a single gate of Jerusalem (is it not strange that a critic has reproached me regarding all these calculations, as if they were mine, as if I were doing anything else than following the historians of antiquity, including Josephus? The Abbé Antoine Guenée and several other scholars have shown, moreover, that these calculations are not exaggerated). The people ate the leather of their shoes and shields, they were reduced to feeding on hay, and ordure found in the sewers of the city: a mother ate her dead child. The besieged swallowed their gold; the Roman soldiers, witnessing this, slaughtered their prisoners, and then sought the treasure hidden in the entrails of those unfortunates. Eleven hundred thousand Jews perished in the city of Jerusalem and two hundred and thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and sixty in the rest of Judea. I exclude from this number women and children, and the elderly who died from hunger and the flames of sedition. Finally there were ninety-nine thousand, two hundred prisoners of war; some were sentenced to labour at public works; the rest were reserved for Titus’s triumphs: they appeared in the amphitheatres of Europe and Asia, where they killed each other to amuse the populace, throughout the Roman Empire. Those males who had not attained the age of seventeen years were auctioned along with the women; they sold for thirty to the penny. The blood of the Righteous had been sold for thirty pieces of silver in Jerusalem, and the people cried: Sanguis eius super nos et super filios nostros: His blood be on us and on our children (Matthew:27:25). God heard that desire of the Jews, and for the last time he granted their prayer, after which he averted his eyes from the Promised Land and chose a new people.

The temple was burned thirty-seven years after the death of Jesus Christ; so that many who heard the Saviour’s prophecy could witness its accomplishment.

The remnant of the Jewish nation rose again. Hadrian finished the destruction of what Titus had left standing of ancient Jerusalem. He raised on the ruins of the city of David another city, to which he gave the name Aelia Capitolina; he forbade entry to Jews on pain of death, and had a hog sculpted over the gate leading to Bethlehem. Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, however, assures us that the Jews were allowed to enter Aelia once a year to wail there; Jerome adds that for their weight in gold they were granted the right to shed tears over the ashes of their homeland.

Five hundred and eighty-five thousand Jews died, according to Cassius Dio (Cassius Dio: Roman history: 69.13.2-3), at the hands of the soldiers in Hadrian’s wars. A multitude of slaves of both sexes were marketed at the fairs in Gaza and Mamre; fifty castles were razed and nine hundred and eighty-five towns.

Hadrian built his new city, in exactly the same place that it now occupies; and by a special providence, as Doubdan observed, he enclosed Mount Calvary within the city walls. At the time of the persecution of Diocletian, the very name of Jerusalem was so completely forgotten, that a martyr having replied to a Roman governor that he was from Jerusalem, the Governor imagined that the martyr was talking about some factious town, built secretly by the Christians. Towards the end of the seventh century, Jerusalem still bore the name Aelia, as seen in Arculf’s Travels in Adamannus’s version, or in that of the Venerable Bede.

Various changes seem to have taken place in Judea, under the emperors Antoninus, Severus, and Caracalla. Jerusalem, having become pagan in her old age, at last recognized the God she had rejected. Constantine and his mother threw down the idols erected over the Tomb of the Saviour, and re-dedicated the holy places with buildings that are still visible.

It was in vain that Julian, thirty-seven years later, gathered the Jews again in Jerusalem to rebuild the temple: the men laboured at this work with baskets, spades and shovels of silver; the women carried earth in the folds of their finest dresses, but globes of fire emerging from the half-dug foundations scattered the workers, and prevented the completion of the project.

There was a Jewish revolt under Justinian, in the year 501AD. It was also under that emperor that the Church in Jerusalem was elevated to patriarchal dignity.

Destined to struggle continually against idolatry, and to vanquish false religions, Jerusalem was taken by Chosroes, king of Persia, in the year 614AD. The Jews, spreading throughout Judea, bought ninety thousand Christian prisoners from that prince, and slaughtered them.

Heraclius defeated Chosroes in 627AD, recaptured the True Cross which the Persian king had removed, and returned it to Jerusalem.

Nine years later, the Caliph Umar, the third successor of the prophet Mohammed, took Jerusalem, after besieging it for four months: Palestine and Egypt fell under the yoke of the conqueror.

Umar was assassinated in Jerusalem in 644AD. The establishment of several caliphates in Arabia and Syria, the fall of the Ummayad dynasty and the rise of that of the Abbasid, filled Judea with disorder and misery for more than two hundred years.

The Turk, Ahmad Ibn Tulun, who from governor of Egypt rose to become its ruler, conquered Jerusalem in 868AD; but his son being defeated by the caliphs of Baghdad, the holy city was subject once more to the rule of the caliphs, in 905AD.

Another Turk, named Muhammad bin Tughj Al-Ikhshid, having in turn taken possession of Egypt, extended his domains, and subdued Jerusalem in 936AD.

The Fatimids, emerging from the sands of Cyrenaica in 968AD, drove the Ikhshidids from Egypt, and conquered several cities in Palestine.

Another Turk, by the name of Ortok, favoured by the Seljuks of Aleppo, became master of Jerusalem in 984AD, and his children reigned after him.

Al-Aziz Billah, Caliph of Egypt, forced the Ortokids to leave Jerusalem.

Hakem or Hekem (Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah), successor to Al-Aziz and the sixth Fatimid caliph, persecuted the Christians of Jerusalem from the year 996, as I have already recounted, when speaking of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This caliph died in 1021.

Malik Shah (Jalal al-Dawlah Malik-shah I), a Seljuk Turk, took the holy city in 1077AD, and ravaged the whole country. The Ortokids, who had been driven from Jerusalem by the Caliph Al-Aziz, returned, and held it against Redouan (Fakhr al-Mulk Radwan), prince of Aleppo. But they were expelled again by the Fatimids in 1077AD: they still reigned when the Crusaders appeared on the borders of Palestine.

The writers of the eighteenth century were content to represent the Crusades in an odious light. I was one of the first to speak out against this ignorance or injustice (See Le Génie du Christianisme). The Crusades were not follies, as some affect to call them, neither in principle, nor in their result. The Christians were not the aggressors. If the subjects of Umar, leaving Jerusalem, eventually descended, after ranging through Africa, on Sicily, Spain, and even France itself, where Charles Martel destroyed them (Battle of Tours, 732AD), why should the subjects of Philip I, emerging from France, not range through Asia Minor, as far as Jerusalem, to take vengeance on the descendants of Umar? Doubtless it was a great spectacle to see those two armies, of Europe and Asia, advancing in opposite directions around the Mediterranean and, under the banner of their respective religions, attacking the legacy of Mohammed and Jesus Christ in the midst of their worshippers. But to see the Crusaders as simply armed pilgrims seeking to deliver a tomb in Palestine is to reveal a very limited view of history. It was not only a question of the holy tomb, but also about which should prevail on earth, a religion which was an enemy of civilization, systematically maintaining ignorance, despotism, and slavery, or a religion that revived the spirit of ancient knowledge in the modern world, and abolished slavery. It suffices to read the speech of Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont (1095AD) to become convinced that the leaders of those warlike enterprises were not as narrow-minded as one might suppose, and that they thought to save the world from a further flood of barbarians. The spirit of Islam is persecution and conquest; the Gospel, however, only preaches tolerance and peace. Hence the Christians endured, for seven hundred and sixty-four years, all the evils that Saracen fanaticism obliged them to endure; they merely attempted to interest Charlemagne in their favour: and neither Spain’s submission, nor the invasion of France, nor the ravaging of Greece and the two Sicilies, nor the whole of Africa enchained, could persuade the Christians to take up arms throughout almost eight centuries. If, ultimately, the cries of so many slaughtered victims in the East, and the barbarian advance to the very gates of Constantinople, awakened Christendom and roused it to its own defence, who would dare claim that the Crusaders cause was unjust? Where would we be if our fathers had not met force with force? Contemplate Greece, and one sees what happens to a nation beneath the Muslim yoke. Those who applaud the progress of enlightenment today, would they then wish to see a religion prevail among us that burned the library of Alexandria (642AD), considers it a merit to trample mankind underfoot, and wholly despises literature and the arts?

The Crusades, by weakening the Mohammedan hordes at the very heart of Asia Minor, prevented us from becoming prey to the Turks and Arabs. They did more: they saved us from our own revolutions; they suspended, through the peace of God, our civil wars; they provided a means of expansion for the excess population that sooner or later causes the ruin of States; a remark which Père Maimbourg (Louis Maimbourg) made, and that Monsieur de Bonald (Louis Gabriel Ambroise de Bonald) has developed.

As for the other results of the Crusades, one begins to see that those warlike enterprises were favourable to the advancement of literature and civilization. Robertson fully treated this subject in his Historical Disquisition Concerning the Knowledge which the Ancients had of India (William Robertson, 1791). I would add that we should not in these calculations omit the renown that European armies gained in their overseas expeditions. The era of these expeditions represents the heroic age of our history; it is the age that gave birth to our epic poetry. All that cloaks a nation with wonder ought not to be despised by that nation itself. It is in vain that one might seek to hide it; there is something in our hearts that makes us love glory; human beings are not simply composed of precise calculations regarding their own good and ill, that would be to demean them far too excessively; it was the Romans championing of the eternal nature of their city that led them to conquer the known world, and leave an eternal name to history.

Godfrey appeared then, on the borders of Palestine, in the year 1099AD; he was accompanied by Baldwin, Eustace, Tancred, and Raymond IV of Toulouse; by the Counts of Flanders and Normandy; by Lethalde (of Tournai), who was the first to surmount the walls of Jerusalem; by Guicher, already famous for having cut a lion in two; by Gaston de Foix, by Gerard de Roussillon, by Raimbaud d’Orange, by Saint-Pol, and by Lambert: Peter the Hermit marched with his pilgrim’s staff at the head of these knights. First they took Ramla (1099AD); they then entered Emmaus, while Tancred and Baldwin de Bourg penetrated to Bethlehem. Jerusalem was soon besieged, and the banner of the cross floated above its walls on Friday the 15th of July, or some say on the 12th of July, 1099, at three in the afternoon.

I will speak of the siege of this city when I turn to the scenes of Jerusalem Delivered (Tasso: La Gerusalemme liberata). Godfrey was elected king of the vanquished city by his brothers in arms. It was an age when simple knights leaped from the breach in a wall to a throne: the helmet learned to wear the tiara, and the wounded hand that grasped a pike was nobly wrapped in purple. Godfrey refused to set the glittering crown offered to him on his head, ‘not wishing,’ he said, ‘to wear a crown of gold where Christ wore a crown of thorns.’

Nablus opened its gates; the Army of the Sultan of Egypt was beaten at Ascalon (on the 12th of August, 1099). Robert, a monk, who described the defeat of that army, used precisely the comparison used by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, a comparison borrowed from the Bible:

La Palestine, enfin, après tant de ravages,

Vit fuir ses ennemis, comme on voit les nuages

Dans le vague des airs fuir devant l’aquilon;

At last, Palestine, after such great devastation,

Saw its foes flee, as clouds are seen to run,

Through wastes of air, some northerly drives on;

(J-B Rousseau: Odes III:5, Aux Princes Chrétiens)

It is likely that Godfrey died at Jaffa (in July 1100), whose walls he had rebuilt. He was succeeded by his brother Baldwin I, count of Edessa. He expired in the midst of his victories and, in 1118AD, left the kingdom to his nephew Baldwin de Bourg.

Melisende, the eldest daughter of this Baldwin II, married Fulk of Anjou, and brought her husband the kingdom of Jerusalem, about the year 1130AD. Fulk died after a fall from his horse in 1140AD, and their son Baldwin III succeeded him. The Second Crusade (1145-1149AD), preached by Saint Bernard, led by Louis VII and the Emperor Conrad, took place during the reign of Baldwin III. After having occupied the throne for twenty years, Baldwin left the crown to his brother Amaury (Almaric I), who wore it for eleven years. Amaury was succeeded (in 1174AD) by his son Baldwin, the fourth of that name.

Then Saladin appears, who first defeated but then victorious, finally wrested the holy places to their new masters.

Baldwin IV had given his sister Sibylla, widow of William Longsword (of Montferrat), in marriage to Guy of Lusignan. The nobles of the kingdom were divided in their jealousy at his choice. Baldwin IV, dying in 1185, was succeeded by his nephew Baldwin V, the son of Sibylla and William Longsword. The young king, who was only eight years old, succumbed, in 1186, to severe illness. His mother Sibylla had the crown bestowed on Guy of Lusignan, her second husband. The Count of Tripoli (Raymond III) betrayed the new monarch, who fell into the hands of Saladin at the Battle of Tiberias (The Horns of Hattin, July 4th 1187AD).

After completing his conquest of the maritime towns of Palestine, the Sultan besieged Jerusalem; he captured it in 1188AD. Each man was obliged to pay ten gold bezants in ransom: fourteen thousand people remained slaves being unable to pay the sum demanded. Saladin would not enter the mosque of the Temple, converted into a church by the Christians, without having the walls washed with rosewater. Five hundred camels, Sanutus says, were barely sufficient to carry all the rosewater used on that occasion: a tale worthy of the East. Saladin's soldiers pulled down a cross of gold that rose above the Temple, and dragged it through the streets to the summit of Mount Sion, where they broke it to pieces. One church alone was spared, and that was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: the Syrians ransomed it for a large sum of money.

The crown of the lost kingdom went to Isabella, the daughter of Amaury I, sister of the deceased Sibylla, and wife of Humphrey IV of Toron. Philip II Augustus, and Richard the Lionheart, arrived too late to save the holy city, but they captured Ptolemais, or Saint Jean d’Acre. Richard’s valour was so renowned that, long after the death of that prince, when a horse trembled without cause, the Saracens said it had glimpsed Richard’s shadow. Saladin died shortly after taking Ptolemais (March, 1193AD): he ordered that a shroud be carried on the point of a spear, on the day of his funeral, and that a herald cry aloud:





Richard, Saladin’s rival in glory, having left Palestine, was confined to a tower in Germany. His imprisonment gave rise to the tales of adventure history rejects, but the troubadours recalled in their ballads.

In the year 1240AD, the Emir of Damascus, As-Salih Ismail, who made war on Najm al-Din (As-Salih Ayyub), Sultan of Egypt, and who had entered Jerusalem, gave the city into the hands of the Latin princes. The Sultan sent the Khwarezmians to besiege the capital of Judea. They recaptured it, and massacred all the inhabitants (in 1244AD); they pillaged it again the following year before handing it over to the Sultan.

During the course of these events, the crown of Jerusalem had passed from Isabella to Henry II Count of Champagne, her new husband; and from the latter to Amaury I of Cyprus, brother of Guy of Lusignan, who wedded the same Isabella; her fourth marriage. He had a son who died in infancy. Maria, daughter of Isabella and her second husband, Conrad, Marquis of Montferrat, became heir to a non-existent kingdom. John, Count of Brienne, married Maria (1210AD). They had a daughter, Isabella II, or Yolande, who married the Emperor Frederick II. He had arrived in Tyre, and made peace with the Sultan of Egypt. The conditions of the treaty (1229AD) were that Jerusalem would be divided between Christians and Muslims. Frederick II, in consequence, had assumed the crown of Godfrey at the altar of the Holy Sepulchre, placed it on his head, and swiftly returned to Europe. It is probable that the Saracens did not keep the commitments they had made to Frederick, since fifteen years later, in 1244AD, Najm al-Din (As-Salih Ayyub) caused Jerusalem to be sacked, as I mentioned above. Saint Louis arrived in the East five years after this latter disaster. It is remarkable that this prince, as a prisoner in Egypt (1250AD), saw the last of the family of Saladin’s heirs (the Ayyubids) massacred before his eyes.

It is known that the Mameluke Bahris, after dipping their hands in the blood of their master, thought, for a moment, of ​​striking off Saint Louis’ fetters, and making him their Sultan, so struck were they by his virtues! Saint Louis told the Sire de Joinville he would have accepted the crown if the infidels had bestowed it upon him. Nothing is more revealing of that prince, who had no less greatness in his soul than piety, but in whom religion did not exclude the concept of royalty.

Saint Louis in the Hands of the Saracens

‘Saint Louis in the Hands of the Saracens’
The Story of the Greatest Nations, from the Dawn of History to the Twentieth Century - Edward Sylvester Ellis, Charles Francis Horne (p116, 1900)
Internet Archive Book Images

The Mamelukes decided otherwise: Al-Mu’izz (Izz ad-Din Aybak), Al-Mansur Nour ad-Din Ali, and Al-Muzaffar Saif ad-Din Qutuz, in turn succeeded to the throne of Egypt, and the famous Baibars al-Bunduqdari became Sultan in 1260. He ravaged that part of Palestine which had not yielded to his army, but had Jerusalem re-built. Al Mansur Qalawun, inherited the Sultanate from Al-Said Barakah, and in 1281 harried the Christians, Al-Ashraf Khalil, his son, winning Tyre and Ptolemais; finally, in 1291, the Christians were driven from the Holy Land, utterly, having been in power there for a hundred and ninety-two years, and having reigned in Jerusalem for eighty-eight of those years.

The empty title of King of Jerusalem was bestowed on the House of Sicily by the brother of Saint Louis, Charles, Count of Provence and Anjou (Charles I of Naples), who united to his crown the entitlements of the King of Cyprus and of Princess Mary, daughter of Frederick, Prince of Antioch. The Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who became the Knights of Rhodes and Malta, and the Teutonic Knights, conquerors of northern Europe and founders of the Kingdom of Prussia, are now the only remnants of those crusaders who made Africa and Asia tremble and held the thrones of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Constantinople.

There are still some people who are persuaded on the authority of a few stale pleasantries that the Kingdom of Jerusalem was a wretched little valley, unworthy of the pompous name with which it was adorned: it was in fact a large and substantial territory. The entire Scriptures; pagan authors such as Hecataeus of Abdera, Theophrastus, Strabo himself, Pausanias, Galen, Dioscorides, Pliny, Tacitus, Solinus, and Ammianus Marcellinus; Jewish writers, such as Josephus, and the compilers of the Mishnah, and Talmud; Arab historians and geographers, such as Masudi (Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Masudi, ‘the Arab Herodotus’), Ibn Haukal, Ibn al-Quadi (Ahmad Ibn al-Qadi), Hamdullah, (Hamdullah al-Mustaufi al-Qazwini), Abulfeda (Abu’l-Fida), Idrisi (Muhammad al-Idrisi) etc; and travellers in Palestine, from the earliest times until ours, testify unanimously to the wealth of Judea. The Abbe Guénée (Antoine, Canon of Amiens) has discussed these authorities with admirable clarity and judgement (in the four Memoirs of which I shall speak). Is it any surprise that a fertile country was turned to a wasteland after such devastation? Jerusalem was taken and sacked seventeen times; millions of men were slaughtered within its confines, and the results of that massacre still endure, in a manner of speaking; no other city has experienced a similar fate. That punishment, so lengthy and almost supernatural, proclaimed a crime without rival, and one which no punishment could expiate. In that land, a the prey to flame and the sword, uncultivated fields lost the fertility they owed to human labour; springs were buried under landslides; mountain slopes, no longer buttressed by the vine-growers’ efforts, slid into the depths of the valleys; and hills, once covered with sycamore-trees, offered merely barren summits.

The Christians, having lost the kingdom thus, in 1291, the Bahri Sultans remained in possession of their conquest until 1382. At that time the Circassian Mamelukes usurped power in Egypt, and brought a new form of government to Palestine. If it was the Circassian Sultans who established a system of carrier-pigeons, and founded relay-stations to bring snow from the Mountains of Lebanon to Cairo, we are obliged to admit that, for barbarians, they were fully acquainted with the amenities of life. Selim I put an end to various rebellions by seizing Egypt and Syria, in 1516.

It is this Jerusalem of the Turks, this seventeenth shadow of the original Jerusalem, which we shall now examine.

On leaving the monastery, we proceeded to the citadel. Previously no one was allowed to visit it: now it is in ruins, you can enter for a few piastres. D’Anville proves that this castle, called by Christians the Castle or the Tower of the Pisans (the Tower of David) is built on the ruins of the ancient fortress of David, and occupies the site of the Psephina tower. It is unremarkable: it is a gothic fortress, such as exists everywhere, with interior courtyards, ditches, covered ways, etc. I was shown an abandoned room, filled with old helmets. Some of these helmets were shaped like Egyptian caps; I also noticed various iron tubes, the length and size of a gun barrel, whose use I am ignorant of. I tried to buy two or three of these antiquities secretly; I am unsure what caused the negotiation to fail.

The Entrance to the Citadel of Jerusalem

‘The Entrance to the Citadel of Jerusalem’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The castle keep commands a view of Jerusalem from west to east, as the Mount of Olives does from east to west. The landscape that surrounds the city is hostile: there are barren hills everywhere, rounded at the top, or terminating in a plateau; several of them, some distance away, bear the crumbling ruins of towers or mosques. The mountains are not so closely packed as to preclude openings through which the eye may seek other scenery, but these openings merely reveal rocks beyond as arid as those in the foreground.

It was from the heights of the Tower of David that the prophet-king caught sight of Bathsheba bathing in the gardens of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel:11). The passion he conceived for this woman later inspired in him the beautiful Psalms of Penitence:

‘O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure (Psalm 38:1)…Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness (Psalm 51:1)...For my days are consumed like smoke...I am like a pelican of the wilderness (Psalm 102:3,6)...Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord (Psalm 130:1) etc.’

It is unclear why the castle of Jerusalem is known as the Castle of the Pisans. D’Anville, who formed various conjectures regarding it, quotes a rather curious passage of Belon’s:

‘Everyone who wants to enter the Sepulchre has to disgorge nine ducats, and no one rich or poor is exempt. Also he who farms the levy for entry to the Sepulchre has to pay eight thousand ducats to the Seigneur; which is the reason why the tenants fleece the pilgrims, on entry. The Franciscans, the Greek monks, and the other Christian orders, pay nothing to enter. The Turks hold it in high reverence, and enter with great shows of devotion. It is said that the Pisans imposed this levy of nine ducats when they were lords of Jerusalem, and that it has been maintained so since their day.’

The Tower of the Pisans (it also bore the name Neblosa in the late thirteenth century, as noted in a passage of Brocard) was guarded, when I saw it, by a sort of semi-Negroid agha: he kept his wives in seclusion there, and was doing well, judging by the warmth they showed for that sad ruin. Apart from that, no cannon were visible, and I am not sure if the discharge of a single gun would not topple all those ancient crenellations.

We left the castle after viewing it for an hour; we took a street that runs from west to east, called the Street of the Bazaar; it is the main street and the finest quarter in Jerusalem. But what desolation and wretchedness! It failed to match the usual description. We met not a soul, since most of the inhabitants had retreated to the mountains on the Pasha’s arrival. The doors to a few deserted shops were open; through the doors you could see a few small rooms, seven or eight feet square, where the owners, who had currently fled, ate, lay down, and slept on their mats, which composed the only furnishings.

To the right of the Bazaar, between the Temple and the foot of Mount Sion, we entered the Jewish quarter. The Jewish population, fortified by their poverty, had braved the Pasha’s assault: they were clothed in rags, seated amongst the dust of Sion, looking for insects which they devour, their eyes fixed on the Temple. The dragoman took me into a kind of school; I wanted to buy the Hebrew Pentateuch with which a rabbi was teaching a child to read; but the rabbi would not, on any account, sell it to me. One notes that foreign Jews who settle in Jerusalem do not live long. As for those of Palestine, they are so poor that they send each year for alms from their brothers in Egypt and Barbary.

I had begun extensive research on the status of the Jews in Jerusalem since the destruction of that city by Titus until our day; I had entered on an important discussion regarding the fertility of Judea: on the publication of the recent volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions, I ceased work. In those volumes are to be found four Memoirs by the Abbé Guénée, which leave nothing to be desired regarding the two subjects I had intended to cover. The Memoirs are true masterpieces of clarity, judgement and scholarship. The author of the Lettres de quelques Juifs Portugais is one of those men whose fame, during his lifetime, literary cabals stifled, but whose reputation has subsequently increased. I refer the interested reader to these excellent Memoirs; they are easy to come by, being only recently published, in a series that is not unknown. I have no ambition to outdo the experts; I know enough to burn the fruit of my studies and recognize the fact, when someone else has wrought better than I. (I could have pillaged the Abbé Guénée’s Memoirs, without saying anything, following the example of so many authors who seem to have drawn water from the source, when they have merely despoiled the experts whose names they have been silent about. Such frauds are very easy to perpetrate these days; since there is much ignorance in this age of enlightenment. People start writing without having read anything, and continue thus for a lifetime. Real men of letters groan at the sight of a host of young authors who would show talent perhaps if they studied a little. It should be remembered that Boileau read Longinus in the original and that Racine knew the Greek of Sophocles and Euripides by heart. May the Lord return us to the age of pedants! Thirty Vadius’s could never do as much evil to literature as a schoolboy in a teacher’s mortar-board. (For the scholar Vadius, see Molière’s play Les Femmes Savantes.)

From the Jewish quarter we went to the House of Pilate, in order to view the mosque of the Temple through a window; it is forbidden to all Christians, under pain of death, to enter the square that surrounds the mosque: I will describe it later when I talk about the monuments of Jerusalem. At some distance from Pilate’s praetorium, we found the Probatic Pool and Herod’s Palace: the latter is a ruin whose foundations belong to antiquity.

A former Christian hospital, today dedicated to the relief of the Turks, attracted our attention. We were shown a huge cauldron called the cauldron of Saint Helena. Every Muslim who formerly presented themselves at this hospital received two small pieces of bread with vegetables cooked in oil; on Fridays a distribution of rice was added dressed with honey or preserves: all this no longer takes place; there is scarcely any trace left of such evangelical charity, whose emanations, as it were, remain attached to the walls of this hospital.

We traversed the city again, and returning to the Sion Gate, Ali-Aga had me climb the walls with him: the dragoman did not dare to follow us. I found some old twenty-four pound cannons, fitted to wheel-less carriages, set at the embrasures of a gothic bastion. A guard who was smoking his pipe in a corner threatened to call out; Ali threatened to throw him into the ditch if he did so, and he kept silent: I gave him a piastre.

The walls of Jerusalem, which I circled three times on foot, present their four faces to the four winds; they form a rectangle of which the long sides run roughly east to west, at two compass points to the south. D’Anville showed, from local measurements and alignments, that ancient Jerusalem was not much larger than the modern city: it occupies almost the same site, except that it encloses the whole of Mount Sion, and that Calvary is now outside the walls. Josephus’s text should not be taken literally, where that historian assures us that the city walls stretched northwards as far as the tombs of the kings: the distance in stadia is in conflict with that; though one might say that the walls still reach those sepulchres, because they are no more than five hundred paces distant from them.

The walls that encircle the city today are the work of Suleiman I, the son of Selim I (they were restored between 1536 and 1541) as evidenced by Turkish inscriptions set in the walls. It is claimed that Suleiman’s intention was to include Mount Sion within the circuit walls of Jerusalem, and that he had the architect executed for not following his orders. These walls, flanked by square towers, are about thirty feet wide at the base and a hundred and twenty feet high; there is no moat other than the valleys that surround the city. Six twelve pound cannon, mounted on a defensive platform, by employing only a few gabions and without digging a trench, would force a practicable breach in a single night; but the Turks, lodged behind walls, defend themselves effectively, as we know, by means of breastworks. Jerusalem is overlooked on all sides; to make it defensible against a regular army, large advance works would be required to the west and north, and the construction of a fortress on the Mount of Olives.

In this pile of rubble, called a city, it pleases the locals to give street names to abandoned thoroughfares. These streets are quite curious, and merit description, especially since no traveller speaks of them; however Père Roger, Père Nau, etc., give the Arab names of some of the gates. I will start with these:

Bab-el-Kzalil, the Gate of the Beloved; it leads westward. One leaves by this gate to travel to Bethlehem, Hebron and the Monastery of Saint John in the Desert. Nau writes it as Bab-el-Khalil (the Gate of the Friend), and translates it as the Gate of Abraham: it is Deshayes’ Jaffa Gate, the Pilgrims’ Gate and is sometimes called by other travellers the Damascus Gate.

Bab-el-Nabi-Dahoud (Bab an-Nabi Dawud), the Gate of the Prophet David: this is on the south, at the summit of Mount Sion, almost opposite the tomb of David and the Holy Cenacle. Nau writes it as Bab-Sidi-Daod. It is called the Sion Gate by Deshayes, Doubdan, Roger, Cotovicus, Bénard, etc.

Bab-el-Maugrarbhe (Bab el Mogharibeh, or the Mograbi Gate) the Gate of the Maugrabis, the people of Barbary: this lies between the east and south, above the valley of Hinnom, near the corner of the Temple, opposite the village of Siloam. Nau writes it as Bab-el-Megarebe. It is the Gate of Sterquilinus, or the Dung Gate, through which the Jews led Jesus Christ to Pilate, after having taken him captive in the Garden of Olives.

Bab-el-Darahie, the Golden Gate; this is on the east and gives on to the forecourt of the Temple. The Turks have walled it up: a prophecy told them that Christians would one day take the city via this gate; it is believed that Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem through this same gate on Palm Sunday.

Golden Gate of the Temple, Shewing the Ancient Walls

‘Golden Gate of the Temple, Shewing the Ancient Walls’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Bab-el-Sidi-Mariam (Bab Sitti Mariam, the Gate of Saint Mary); this is the Gate of the Holy Virgin, to the east, opposite the Mount of Olives. Nau calls it, in Arabic, Heutta. All the descriptions of the Holy Land call it the gate of Saint Stephen, or of Mary, because it witnessed the martyrdom of Saint Stephen and leads to the Tomb of the Virgin. From the time of the Jews, it was called the Sheep Gate.

Bab-el-Zahara (Bab a-Zahara), the Gate of Dawn, or Gate of the Hoop, Cerchiolino: this faces north, and led to the cave of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The better maps of Jerusalem concur in calling it the Gate of Ephraim or Herod’s Gate. Cotovicus identifies it instead with the Damascus Gate, he writes it as: Porta Damascena, sive Effraim but his map, excessively tiny and defective, cannot compare with that of Deshayes, still less that of Shaw. The Spaniard Vera’s map of his travels is very beautiful, but over-full and inaccurate. Nau does not give the Arabic name of the Gate of Ephraim; he is perhaps the only traveller who calls it the Gate of the Turkomen. The Gate of Ephraim and the Gate of Sterquilinus, or the Dung Gate, are the smallest gates of Jerusalem.

Gate of Damascus

‘Gate of Damascus’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Bab-el-Hamoud (Bab al-Amud) or Bab-el-Cham, the Gate of the Column or of Damascus: it faces north-west, and leads to the tombs of the kings, Nablus or Shechem, Saint-Jean-d’Acre, and Damascus. Nau writes it Bab-el-Amoud. When Simon of Cyrene met Jesus Christ carrying the cross, he came from the Damascus Gate. Pilgrims formerly entered by this gate, now they enter by that of Jaffa or Bethlehem, which has occasioned the transfer of the name of the Damascus Gate to the Jaffa or Pilgrims’ Gate. This observation has not yet been reported, and I record it here in order to explain a confusion of place names which sometimes muddles visitors’ descriptions.

Now we come to details of the streets. The three principal ones are called:

Harat-Bab-el-Hamoud, the Street of the Gate of the Column: it crosses the city from north to south.

Souk-el-Kebiz, the Street of the Grand Bazaar: it runs from west to east.

Harat-el-Allam, the Via Dolorosa: it starts at the Gate of the Virgin, passes Pilate’s praetorium, and ends at Calvary.

There are several other small streets to be found:

Harat el Mulsmin, the Street of the Turks.

Harat al-Nassara, the Street of the Christians: it runs from the Holy Sepulchre to the Latin monastery.

Harat-el-Asman, the Street of the Armenians, east of the castle.

Harat-el-Youd, the Street of the Jews: the city’s butchers occupy this street.

Harat-bab-Hotta, the Street of the Temple.

Harat-el-Zahara. My dragoman translated this for me by these words strada Comparita. I have no idea what they mean. He assured me repeatedly that wicked and rebellious people lived in this street.

Harat-el-Maugrarbey, the Street of the Maugrabins. These Maugrabins, as I said, are Occidentals or people of Barbary. Among them are to be found descendants of the Moors expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. These exiles were welcomed to the holy city as a major act of charity: a mosque was built for them: and they still receive a distribution of bread, fruit and a little money. The heirs of the proud Abencerages, the elegant architects of the Alhambra, have become concierges in Jerusalem, sought out for their intelligence, or couriers valued for their fleetness of foot. What would Saladin and Richard the Lion Heart say if, suddenly returning to earth, they found those Moorish knights transformed into gate-keepers of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Christian knights represented by the monks of some charitable order?

At the time of Benjamin of Tudela’s journey that is to say, under the French kings of Jerusalem, the city had three circles of walls and four gates, which Benjamin calls Porta Somnus Abrahae (the Gate of Abraham’s Sleep), Porta David, Porta Sion, and Porta Jehosaphat. As for the triple walls, that description fails to agree with what we know about the site of Jerusalem, at the capture of the city by Saladin. Benjamin found a number of Jews living in the neighbourhood of the Tower of David; they had exclusive rights to the dyeing of linen and wool, in return for a levy paid annually to the king.

Readers who wish to compare modern and ancient Jerusalem may have recourse to D’Anville, in his Dissertation sur l’ancienne Jérusalem; to Reland, and to Père Lami’s De Sancta Civitate (Bernard Lami: De Tabernaculo foederis, de Sancta Civitate Jerusalem, et de Templo ejus).

We returned to the monastery at nine o’clock. After lunch I went to visit the Greek and Armenian Patriarchs, who had sent me greetings via their dragoman.

The Greek monastery adjoins the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From the terrace of the monastery a fairly large enclosure is to be seen, where two or three olive-trees and a few palm-trees and cypress trees grow: the house of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem once occupied this abandoned ground. The Greek Patriarch seemed a very good man. At that time he was being oppressed by the Pasha, in the same manner as the Father Superior of Saint-Sauveur. We spoke of Greece: I asked him if they possessed any manuscripts; they offered me a sight of the Rituals and Treatises of the Church Fathers. After drinking coffee and receiving three or four rosaries, I went on to the house of the Armenian Patriarch.

The latter is named Arsenios, and is from the city of Caesarea in Cappadocia; he was the Metropolitan of Scythopolis, and Patriarchal Procurator of Jerusalem; he wrote his own name and titles in Syriac characters for me on a slip of paper that I still possess. I did not find that air of suffering and oppression about him, which I had noted among the unfortunate Greeks, everywhere slaves. The Armenian monastery is pleasant; the charming church was of a rare cleanliness. The Patriarch, who resembled a wealthy Turk, was wrapped in silk robes, and seated on cushions. I drank excellent Mocha coffee. They brought me preserves, fresh water, and white napkins; aloe wood was burning, and I was assailed by the scent of essence of roses to the point of discomfort. Arsenios spoke contemptuously of the Turks. He assured me that the whole of Asia awaited the arrival of the French; that if a single soldier of my nation were to arrive in his country, there would be a general uprising. One cannot conceive what ferment afflicts the Oriental spirit (Monsieur Seetzen, who spent several months in Jerusalem a little before me, and who later travelled in Arabia, said in his letter to Monsieur de Zach (François Xavier, Baron de Zach), that the locals spoke to him of nothing but our French armies (Annales des Voyages, by Monsieur Malte-Brun). I witnessed Ali-Aga, in Jericho, lose his temper with an Arab who mocked him, and who told him that if the Emperor had wanted to capture Jerusalem, he would have entered it as easily as a camel a field of sorghum. The people of the East are much more familiar than we with the ideas of invasion. They have witnessed the passage of all those men who have changed the face of the earth: Sesostris, Cyrus, Alexander, Mohammed, and the recent conqueror of Europe (Napoleon). Accustomed to follow the destiny of some master or other, they have no code binding them to concepts of order and moderation; to kill when you are the stronger seems to them a legitimate proceeding; they submit to it, or exercise it, with a like indifference. They belong, essentially, to the sword; they admire all the prodigies of action it brings about: the blade is to them the wand of a genie that elevates and destroys empires. Freedom, they do not know; rights, they have none: force is their god. When they exist for any length of time without seeing some conqueror appear, some executor of the lofty justice of heaven, they are like soldiers without a leader, citizens without a law-maker, or a family without a father.

My two visits lasted about an hour. From the last, I went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the Turk who opens the door had been warned to be ready to receive me: I paid my levy to Mohammed again for the right to worship Jesus Christ. I studied a second time, and in a more leisurely manner, the monuments of that venerable church. I ascended to the gallery, where I met the Coptic monk and the Abyssinian bishop: they were very poor, and their simplicity recalled the blessed age of the Gospels. Those semi-wild priests, their skin burnt by the fires of the tropics, wearing as sole sign of their dignity a robe of blue cloth, and having no other shelter than the Holy Sepulchre, moved me more than the Head of the Greek monks, and the Armenian Patriarch. I defy the imagination of the least religious not to be moved at the meeting of so many nations at the tomb of Jesus Christ, at the prayers uttered in a hundred different languages, in the very place where the apostles received from the Holy Spirit the gift of speaking every tongue on earth.

I left the Holy Sepulchre at one o’clock, and we returned to the monastery. The Pasha’s soldiers had invaded the hospital, as I have already said, and lived there as they wished. On returning to my cell, traversing the corridor with the dragoman Michel, I met two young spahis armed head to toe, making a strange noise: it is true that they were hardly formidable; since, to Mohammed’s shame, they were roaring drunk. As soon as they saw me, they blocked the way, laughing raucously. I stopped to await the result of their jest. Up to this point they had done me no harm, but soon one of these Tartars, getting behind me, took my head, and bent it forward with force, while his comrade, dragging down the collar of my coat, struck my neck with the back of his naked sword. The dragoman began to bellow. I struggled free of the spahis’ grasp; I leapt at the throat of the one who had seized my head and, gripping his beard with one hand and choking him against the wall with the other, turned his face as black as my hat; after which I let him go, having returned him jest for jest, and insult for insult. The other spahi, loaded with wine and stunned by my actions, did not seek to revenge the greatest affront that can be offered a Turk, that of taking him by the beard. I retired to my room and prepared for every eventuality. The Father Superior was not troubled by my having chastised his persecutors; though he feared some catastrophe, a Turk once humiliated is never dangerous, and we heard nothing more of it.

I dined at two o’clock, and left at three with my little band as usual. I visited the tombs of the kings; from there, making a circuit of the city on foot, I stopped at the tombs of Absalom, Zechariah, and Jehoshaphat, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I have said that the tombs of the kings are outside the Gate of Ephraim, to the north, three or four stone’s-throws from the Cave of Jeremiah. Now let me speak of the monuments of Jerusalem.

Entrance to the Tomb of the Kings

‘Entrance to the Tomb of the Kings’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

I distinguish six types: firstly, purely Hebrew monuments; secondly, Greek and Roman monuments from pagan times; thirdly, Greek and Roman monuments from the Christian period; fourthly, Arab or Moorish monuments; fifthly, Gothic monuments from the age of the French kings; and sixthly, Turkish monuments.

Turning to the first of these:

One finds scant trace of them at Jerusalem, except for the Probatic Pool, since I attribute the tombs of the kings, and the tombs of Absalom, Jehoshaphat, and Zechariah, to the list of Greek and Roman monuments constructed by the Jews.

It is difficult to obtain a clear idea of ​​the first, or even the second Temple, as described by Scripture and the writings of Josephus; but one discerns two things: the Jews had a taste for the grand and sombre in their buildings, like the Egyptians; they loved fine detail and recherché ornamentation, in both their carving in stone and their wooden decoration, of bronze or gold.

Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Assyrians; the second Temple, rebuilt by Herod I, the Ascalonite, was of the order of those half-Jewish, half-Greek works which I will soon speak of.

Nothing is left to us then, in Jerusalem, of the primitive architecture of the Jews, except the Probatic Pool (the Pool of Bethesda). One can see it still near Saint Stephen’s Gate, and it bordered the Temple to the north. It is a cistern, one hundred and fifty feet long and forty wide. The excavated pool of the reservoir is supported by walls, and these walls are composed as follows: a bed of large stones joined by iron clamps; a coating of masonry applied to these large stones; a layer of pebbles cemented to the masonry; and a final layer covering these pebbles. The four layers are perpendicular to the ground, not horizontal: the final covering was on the water’s side; and the large stones leaned and still lean against the earth.

The Pool of Bethesda

‘The Pool of Bethesda’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The pool is now dry, and half-filled; a few pomegranate-trees and a species of wild tamarind, with bluish-green foliage, grow there; the eastern corner is filled with prickly pears. On the western side there are two arches which give birth to two vaults: perhaps there was an aqueduct there that carried water to the interior of the temple.

Josephus calls this pool Stagnum Salomonis (Josephus: The Jewish Wars: 5.4.2), the Gospels call it the Probatic Pool (John 5:2), because they purified the sheep there before sacrifice. It was beside this pool that Jesus Christ said to the paralysed man:

‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk’ (John 5:8).

This is all that remains today of the Jerusalem of David and Solomon.

The monuments of Greek and Roman Jerusalem are more numerous, and form a new and quite singular mode of art. I begin with the tombs in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and the Valley of Siloam.

After crossing the bridge over the Kidron River, the tomb of Absalom is to be found at the foot of Mons Offensionis (the Mount of Offence). It is a square mass, measuring eight paces on each side; it is formed from a single rock, which was carved from the nearby mountain, which it is separated from by only fifteen feet. The decoration of the tomb consists of twenty-four columns of the Doric order, without fluting, six on each side of the monument. These columns are half-embedded and form an integral part of the block, having been cut from the original thickness of its mass. Above the capitals stands a frieze with a triglyph. Above the frieze is a plinth bearing a triangular pyramid, too tall for the total height of the tomb. This pyramid is of another piece to the body of the monument.

Absalom's Pillar - Valley of Jehoshaphat

‘Absalom's Pillar - Valley of Jehoshaphat’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

The tomb of Zachariah is very similar: it is carved into the rock in the same way, and ends in a slightly curved point, like a Phrygian cap, or a Chinese monument, the tomb of Jehoshaphat is a cave of which its door, in fairly good taste, is the chief ornament. Finally the tomb that received the apostle Saint James presents its satisfying portico to the valley of Siloam. The four columns that comprise this portico do not rest on the ground, but are placed at a certain height on the rock, like the colonnade of the Louvre above the first floor of that palace.

Tomb of St. James, Valley of Jehoshaphat

‘Tomb of St. James, Valley of Jehoshaphat’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Tradition, as we may read, assigns names to these graves. Arculf, in Adamannus (De Locis Sanctis, lib. I, cap. X); Vilalpandus (Juan Bautista Villalpando: Antiquae Jerusalem Descriptio); Andrichomius (Christiaan Kruik van Adrichem: Sententia de Loco Sepulchri Absalon); Quaresmius (Historica: Vol. II, cap. IV and V), and several others, have either spoken of these names, or exhausted their historical learning on them. But if tradition were not refuted by the facts here, the architecture of these monuments alone would prove that their origin does not date as far back as the primary Jewish antiquity.

Were it absolutely necessary to fix the epoch when these mausoleums were built, I would place them at about the time of the alliance of the Jews and Spartans, under the first of the Maccabees. The Doric order was still predominant in Greece: the Corinthian order did not invade architecture until a half-century later, when the Romans began to expand their territory in the Peloponnese and Asia (also we find, in this later period, a Corinthian portico in the Temple rebuilt by Herod, columns with Greek and Latin inscriptions, doors of Corinthian bronze, etc. (Josephus, The Jewish Wars, VI, cap. XIV).

But in naturalizing the architecture of Corinth and Athens within Jerusalem, the Jews mingled with it forms derived from their own style. The tombs of the Valley of Jehoshaphat and especially the tombs of which I am about to speak offer a visible alliance between the taste of Egypt and the taste of Greece. From this alliance, a class of indecisive monuments results, which forms, so to speak, the transition between the Pyramids and the Parthenon; monuments in which one distinguishes a genius, sombre, bold, gigantesque, and an imagination, happy, wise and moderate (it is thus that, under Francis I, Greek architecture and the Gothic style intermingled, to produce delightful works). One may see a fine example of this truth in the royal sepulchres.

Leaving Jerusalem by the gate of Ephraim, one walks for half a mile on a bed of reddish rock, where a few olive trees grow. One then comes upon an excavation, in the middle of a field, closely resembling the abandoned workings of an ancient quarry. A wide gently sloping path leads you to the bottom of this excavation, which is entered by an archway. One finds oneself in the middle of a bare room carved from the rock. This room is thirty feet long by thirty feet wide, and the walls of rock are between twelve and fifteen feet in height.

At the centre of the south wall, a large square door is visible, of the Doric order, dug several feet deep into the rock. A somewhat fanciful frieze, but of an exquisite delicacy, is carved above the door; there is first of all a triglyph, followed by a metope adorned with a simple circle; next comes a bunch of grapes between two crowns, and two palms. The triglyph appears again, and indeed the series is reproduced in the same manner for the length of the rock; but is now virtually effaced. Eighteen inches from the frieze, there is a carving of foliage, interspersed with pine cones and a fruit that I could not recognize, but which resembles a small Egyptian lemon. This latter decoration runs parallel to the frieze, and then descends perpendicularly on both sides of the door.

In the recess, and in the left corner of this main door, a passage opens through which one once might have walked in an upright position, but through which you glide today, in a crouching position. It ends, via a steep slope, as in the Great Pyramid, in a square room, carved from the rock with hammer and chisel. Various holes, six feet long and three feet wide, are cut in the walls, or rather the rock faces of this room, to receive coffins. Three arched doorways lead from the first room to seven other chamber tombs of unequal size, all carved in the rock, whose design is difficult to understand, especially by torchlight. One of these caves at a greater depth than the others, and which one descends to by six steps, seems to have contained the main burials. These were usually arranged in the following manner: the most significant was at the end of the cave, opposite the entry, in a niche or in a receptacle prepared for it; on either side of the door two small vaults were reserved for the less illustrious dead, and as guardians for the kings, who no longer needed their help. The coffins, of which only fragments remain, were of stone and were decorated with elegant arabesques.

What are most admirable in these tombs are the doors of the burial chambers; they are of the same stone as the caves themselves, as are the hinges and pivots on which they turn. Almost all travellers believed they had been carved from the rock itself, but that is obviously impossible, as Père Nau clearly proved. Thévenot ensures us that ‘that by scraping away a little of the dirt, one can see the joints in the stones which were set there after the doors had been set on their pivots in the cavities.’ However, I brushed away the dust, and failed to find any such marks at the base of the one door still standing: all the others were broken, and the fragments had been thrown into the caves.

Entering those palaces of the dead, I was tempted to liken them to those baths designed by Roman architects, such as those of the Sibyl’s cave beside Lake Avernus. I speak here only of the general effect, you understand; I was perfectly well aware that I was in a tomb. Arculf (according to Adamann), who described them with great accuracy (Sepulcra sunt in naturali collis rupe: the hill-tombs are of natural rock), found bones in the tombs. Similarly, several centuries later, Villamont found ashes which one looks for in vain today. This subterranean monument was marked on the outside by three pyramids, of which one was still standing at the time of Vilalpandus. I am not sure what to believe as regards Zuellard (Jean Zuallart: Giovanni Zuallardo) or Appart, who describe external buildings and peristyles.

A question arises concerning these graves named the Tombs of the Kings. Which kings might they have been? According to a passage from Chronicles and a few other places in Scripture, it is apparent that the tombs of the kings of Judah were within the city of Jerusalem: Dormivitque Achaz cum patribus suis, et sepelierunt eum in civitate Jerusalem: and Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem. (Vulgate: 2 Chronicles:28:27). David had his tomb on Mount Sion; moreover Greek chisel-work is evident in the ornamentation of the tombs of the kings.

Josephus, to whom we must make recourse, cites three famous mausoleums.

The first was the tomb of the Maccabees, raised by their brother Simon: ‘It was’, says Josephus, ‘of white polished marble, so tall that it could be seen from afar. All around it were arches, forming porticos; each of the columns supporting them being fashioned from a single block, a sight wonderful to see. And to commemorate each of his parents and brothers, he added seven pyramids of great height and wondrous beauty’ (Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews: 13.6.6).

The first book of Maccabees gives almost the same details regarding this tomb. It adds that he built it at Modin (Modi’in: see I Maccabees 13:27-30), and that it could be seen by all who sailed on the sea: ab omnibus navigantibus mare. Modin was a city built near Diospolis (Lod), on a mountain belonging to the tribe of Judah. In the days of Eusebius, and even those of Saint Jerome, this monument to the Maccabees still existed. The tombs of the kings, at the gate of Jerusalem, despite their seven funeral chambers and the pyramids which crowned them, cannot therefore have belonged to the Hasmonean princes.

Josephus tells us further that Helena, Queen of Adiabene, had erected, at two stadia from Jerusalem, three funeral pyramids, and that her bones and those of her son Izates were buried there, thanks to Monobazus (Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews: 20:4:3) The same historian, in another work (Josephus: The Jewish Wars 5:4:2) in tracing the boundaries of the Holy City, said that the walls reached to the north over against the tomb of Helena. All this fits the tombs of the kings perfectly, which were adorned, according to Vilalpandus, with three pyramids, and which are to be found to the north of Jerusalem, at the distance stated by Josephus. Saint Jerome also speaks of the tomb. The scholars, who occupy themselves with this monument I speak of, neglect to mention a curious passage in Pausanias (I have since seen that the Abbé Guénee notes it, in his excellent Memoirs which I have spoken of. He says that he intends to examine the passage in another Memoir: so he indicates, but unfortunately fails to return to it.) True, one scarcely thinks of Pausanias in regard to Jerusalem. However, here is the passage; the text and Latin version published by Gédoyn (Nicolas Gédoyn: 1731) are accurate:

‘The second tomb is in is the grave of a Jewish woman named Helen. The door of the tomb, which is of marble like all the rest, opens by itself on a certain day of the year, and at a certain hour, by means of a mechanism, and closes again shortly afterwards. At any other time if you wanted to open it, you would have to break the door down first.’ (Pausanias VIII:16:4-5)

This door that opened and closed itself by means of a mechanism would seem to recall, exceptionally closely, the extraordinary doors of the tombs of the kings. Suidas and Stephen of Byzantium, speak of the records of a journey to Phoenicia and Syria written by Pausanias. If we possessed that work, we would no doubt be greatly enlightened regarding the subject we are considering.

These passages from the Jewish historian and the Greek traveller when taken together would seem, therefore, to provide sufficient proof that the tombs of the kings are simply the tomb of Helena; but that conjecture is affected by knowledge of a third monument.

Josephus speaks of various caves which he calls the Caverns of the Kings (Josephus: The Jewish Wars 5:4:2), according to Robert Arnaud d’Andilly’s literal translation; unfortunately he fails to give their description: he places them to the north of the Holy City, quite close to the tomb of Helena.

It remains to be seen who the prince was that had these caves of the dead excavated from the rock, how they were ornamented, and which king’s ashes they contained. Josephus, who documents, with such care, those works attempted and completed by Herod the Great, does not number the tombs of the kings among them; he even tells us that Herod, who died in Jericho, was buried with great magnificence at Herodium (Josephus: The Jewish Wars: 1:33:9). Thus, the royal caverns are not the place of burial of that prince, but a further word that escaped the historian may shed some light on this discussion.

In speaking of the wall that Titus erected to encircle Jerusalem more effectively, Josephus says that this wall, stretching to the north, encompassed the tomb of Herod (The Jewish Wars 5:12:2). Such is the location of the ‘caverns of the kings’.

These would therefore have borne the names, equally, of the Caverns of the Kings and the Tomb of Herod. In that case the Herod referred to would not have been Herod I, the Ascalonite, but Herod the Tetrarch (Herod Antipas). This latter prince was almost as magnificent as his father: he built two cities, Sepphoris (Tzippori) and Tiberias; and though he was banished to Lyon by Caligula (Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews: 18.7.2), he may well have had a tomb built for himself in his homeland; his brother Philip provided him with a model for these mortuary edifices.

Tiberias, Looking Towards Hermon

‘Tiberias, Looking Towards Hermon’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

We know nothing of the monuments with which Agrippa embellished Jerusalem.

This then, is the most satisfactory account I can give of the matter; I felt obliged to treat it fully, because it has hitherto been confused by the critics rather than illuminated. The pilgrims of ancient times who viewed the tomb of Helena confused it with the Caverns of the Kings. Modern travellers, who have not found the tomb of that Queen of Adiabene, have bestowed the name of her tomb on the sepulchres of the princes of the House of Herod. The result of all these reports has been to produce an unusual degree of confusion: a confusion augmented by the erudition of pious writers, who wished the kings of Judah interred in the Caverns of the Kings, and did not lack for authorities.

Art criticism as well as historical fact obliges us to include the tombs of the kings among the Greek monuments of Jerusalem. These tombs were very numerous, and Herod’s posterity endured only a brief while; so that many tombs awaited their masters in vain: nothing more is needed, for us to perceive the utter vanity of the human predicament, than to view tombs reserved for those not yet born. Nothing, moreover, provides a more singular contrast than the sight of a charming frieze carved by a Greek chisel on the door of those chambers where the ashes of the Herods reposed. The most tragic of thoughts are attached to the memory of those princes; they are well known to us on account of the murder of Mariamne, the massacre of the Innocents, the death of John the Baptist, and the condemnation of Jesus Christ. One cannot expect their tombs, therefore, to be adorned with frivolous garlands, at the awe-inspiring site of Jerusalem, not far from the Temple where Jehovah issued his dread oracles, and near the cave where Jeremiah composed his Lamentations.

Monsieur Cassas (Louis-François Cassas) has represented these monuments most effectively in his Voyage Pittoresque de la Syrie: I am not familiar with the more recent work of Monsieur Mayer (Luigi Mayer). Most editions of voyages to the Holy Land are accompanied by engravings and vignettes. Those of Père Roger’s narrative are to be singled out, which may well be by Claude Mellan.

The rest of the buildings from Roman times, in Jerusalem, such as the theatre, the amphitheatre, and the towers of Antonia, Hippicos, Phazael and Psephinus, no longer exist, or at least we only know their shapeless ruins.

We now turn to the third class of monuments in Jerusalem, the monuments of Christianity before the invasion of the Saracens. I have nothing more to say about them, having described them in my account of the holy places. I will only make this one remark: since these monuments owe their origin to Christians who were not Jews, they retain nothing of that character, half-Egyptian, half-Greek, which I observed in the works of the Hasmonean princes and the Herods; they are simply Greek churches from an age of artistic decadence.

The fourth group of monuments in Jerusalem is that of the monuments that belong to the period when the city was taken by the successor to Abu Bakr, the Caliph Omar (Umar), whose heir Uthman founded the Ummayad dynasty. The Arabs who followed the banners of the Caliphs seized Egypt; thence, advancing along the coast of Africa, they crossed to Spain, and filled Granada and Cordoba with enchanted palaces. It is then to the reign of Omar that one must trace the origin of this Arabic architecture of which the Alhambra is the masterpiece, as the Parthenon is the greatest miracle of the Greek spirit. The Mosque of the Temple, begun in Jerusalem by Omar, enlarged by Abd-el-Malek (Abd al-Malik) and rebuilt on a new plan by El-Oulid (Al-Walid I) is a monument of great interest in the history of art among the Arabs. No one knows yet upon what model those houses of the genies were erected, of which Spain offers us the ruins. The reader may perhaps be grateful for my saying a few words on a subject so new, and so little studied till now.

The first Temple, that of Solomon, was overthrown in the sixth century (587BC) before the birth of Jesus Christ, it was rebuilt after seventy years of the Captivity, by Jeshua, son of Jozadak, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel (Ezra:3:8). Herod the Ascalonite rebuilt the whole of this second Temple. Eleven thousand workers were employed on it for nine years. The labour involved was prodigious, and it was not completed until long after the death of Herod. The Jews, having filled in the ravines and sliced the top from a mountain, finally created that vast space, in which the Temple stood, on the eastern side of Jerusalem, above the valleys of Siloam and Jehoshaphat.

Forty days after he was born, Jesus Christ was presented in the second Temple; and the Virgin Mary was purified (Luke:2:22). At twelve years old, the Son of Man taught the learned there (Luke:2:46); he drove out the merchants (Matthew: 21:12-13); he was tempted by the devil there, to no avail (Matthew:4:5-7); he forgave the adulteress her sins, there; and there, he offered the parable of the Good Shepherd (John:10:6), that of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), that of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Matthew: 20:1-16) and that of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14). It was this same temple which he entered amidst palms and olive branches on Palm Sunday (John:12:12-19); and finally, he pronounced the Reddite ergo quae sunt Caesaris Caesar; et quae sunt Dei Deo: render therefore unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s (Matthew 22:21); and, there he praised the widow’s mite (Mark:12: 41-44).

Titus having taken Jerusalem in the second year of Vespasian’s reign (70AD), not one stone of the Temple was left standing, in which Jesus Christ had enacted so many glorious things, and whose ruin he had predicted. When Omar took Jerusalem, it seems that the area of the Temple, with the exception of one very small part, had been abandoned by the Christians. Sa’id ibn Batriq (that is, Eutychius, Patriarch of Alexandria: we have his Annales, printed at Oxford, with a Latin translation, by Pococke in 1659), historian of the Arabs, says that the Caliph turned to the patriarch Sophronius, and asked him what would be the most proper site in Jerusalem on which to build a mosque. Sophronius led him to the ruins of Solomon’s Temple.

The Mosque of Omar, or the Ancient Site of the Temple

‘The Mosque of Omar, or the Ancient Site of the Temple’
Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia - David Roberts, George Croly, Louis Haghe (1842 - 1849)
The New York Public Library: Digital Collections

Omar, happy to establish his mosque in so famous a place, cleared the ground, and revealed a large rock where God is supposed to have spoken to Jacob. The new mosque was named after this rock, Gameat-el-Sakhra, (The Dome of the Rock, Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah) and became almost as sacred to Muslims as the mosques of Mecca and Medina. Caliph Abd-el-Malek (Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan) added to the buildings, and enclosed the rock with walls. His successor, the Caliph El-Oulid (Al-Walid I), further embellished El-Sakhra, and covered it with a dome of gilded copper, stripped from a church in Baalbek. Later, the Crusaders converted the temple of Mohammed to a shrine of Jesus Christ; when Saladin took Jerusalem, he returned this shrine to its former use.

But what is the architectural composition of this mosque, the primitive type or model of that elegant architecture of the Moors? That is quite difficult to know. The Arabs, according to their despotic and jealous ways, reserved their decoration for the interior of their monuments; and any Christian who merely set foot in the area surrounding Gameat-el-Sakhra, much less entered it, would do so on penalty of death. What a pity that Ambassador Deshayes, through a vain diplomatic scruple, refused to view the mosque when the Turks offered to allow him to do so! I will describe the exterior:

One can see the great platform of the mosque, formerly the site of the Temple, through a window of the House of Pilate.

This platform forms a courtyard perhaps five hundred paces long by four hundred and sixty wide. The walls of the city enclose the platform to the east and south. It is bounded on the west by Turkish houses and on the north by the ruins of Pilate’s praetorium and the palace of Herod.

Twelve porticos, set at unequal distances from each other, and fairly irregular in nature, like the cloisters of the Alhambra, give entry to this courtyard. They are composed of three or four arches, and sometimes these arches support a second series; which almost gives the effect of a double aqueduct. The largest of these porticos corresponds to the ancient Porta Speciosa (the Gate ‘called Beautiful’), known to Christians by a miracle of Saint Peter’s (Acts:3:2). There are lamps beneath the porticos.

In the middle of this enclosure there is a smaller courtyard, about six to seven feet high, like a terrace without balustrades, above the first. This second courtyard is, according to the general opinion, two hundred paces long by one hundred and fifty wide; it is approached on all four sides by a marble staircase; each staircase is composed of eight steps.

At the centre of this courtyard stands the famous Dome of the Rock. Quite close to the mosque is a cistern, which receives water from the ancient Sealed Fountain (Fons Signatus), and is where the Turks make their ablutions before prayer. Several old olive-trees and cypresses are scattered here and there over the two courtyards.

The mosque is octagonal: a lantern, equally eight-sided, pierced by a window on each face, crowns the monument. This lantern is covered with a dome. The dome was once of gilded copper, today it is of lead; a tasteful arrow, terminated by a crescent, surmounts the edifice, which looks like an Arab tent raised in the midst of the desert. Père Roger estimates each side of the octagon at thirty two paces, and the exterior circuit of the mosque at two hundred and fifty-two paces; while he gives the height of the whole monument as a hundred and twenty to a hundred and thirty feet.

The walls are covered externally with small tiles or bricks painted in various colours; these bricks are covered with arabesques and verses from the Koran written in gold lettering. The eight windows of the lantern are decorated with stained glass in coloured circles. Here we already find some of the original features of the buildings of Moorish Spain: the slender porticos of the courtyard and the painted bricks of the mosque recall various parts of the Generalife, the Alhambra, and the Cathedral of Cordoba.

As for the interior of the mosque, I was unable to see it. I was tempted to risk all to satisfy my love of the arts, but a fear of causing harm to the situation of Christians in Jerusalem stopped me. William of Tyre and Deshayes say a little regarding the Dome of the Rock, Père Roger gives a highly detailed description and probably a very accurate one.

However it is insufficient to prove that the interior of the mosque in Jerusalem has similarities with the interior of Moorish monuments in Spain. That depends entirely on how the columns within the monument are arranged; and that is what Père Roger fails to tell us. Do they bear small arches? Are they linked, grouped, isolated, as at Cordoba and Granada? Yet if the outside of the mosque bears so much resemblance to parts of the Alhambra, is it not to be assumed that the interiors witness the same taste in architecture? I would have thought it the more likely, in that the marble and columns of this building have been stripped from Christian churches, and that they must surely present the combination of order and proportion that one remarks in the cathedral of Cordoba.

Let us add an observation to these conjectures. An abandoned mosque to be seen near Cairo seems to be in the same style as the mosque at Jerusalem: now, the mosque at Cairo is obviously the model for the mosque at Cordoba. This latter was built by the last princely descendants of the Ummayad dynasty; and Omar, a caliph of that family, had founded the mosque in Jerusalem.

These genuine monuments of the Arabs really belong therefore to the first dynasty of caliphs, and the genius of that people in general; they are not, as was previously believed, the fruit of the particular talents of the Moors of Andalusia, since I find the models for these monuments in the Orient.

This proven, I would go further. I think I see in Egyptian architecture, so weighty, so majestic, so vast, so durable, the germ of this Saracen architecture, so light, so smiling, so minute, and so fragile; the minaret is an imitation of the obelisk; the Moorish arabesques are hieroglyphic designs rather than hieroglyphic carvings. As for those forests of columns that compose the interior of Arab mosques, and which carry a flat roof, the temples of Memphis, Dendera, Thebes, and Meroe, still offer examples of this type of construction. Placed on the borders of Mizraim (ancient Egypt), the imaginations of the descendants of Ishmael were necessarily struck by the wonders of the Pharaohs: they borrowed nothing from the Greeks, whom they did not know; but sought to copy the arts of a famous nation constantly before their eyes. A wandering tribe of conquerors and travellers, they imitated enduring Egypt, as they went: they made obelisks of gilded wood and plaster hieroglyphs, which they could carry with their tents on the backs of their camels.

I know that this theory, if it amounts to one, is subject to various objections, and even some of a historical nature. I know that the palace of Zehra (Madinat al-Zahra, the Brilliant City), built by Abdoulraham (Abd al–Rahman III), near Cordova, was built to the design of an architect from Constantinople, and that the columns of the palace were cut in Greece; I know there is an architecture born from a corruption of that art, which might be called Justinian architecture, and that this architecture has some connection with the works of the Moors; I know, moreover, that men of excellent taste and great learning, such as the venerable Monsieur d’Agincourt and the author of those wonderful Travels in Spain, Monsieur de Laborde (Comte Louis-Joseph-Alexandre de Laborde), believe that all architecture is the daughter of Greece; but regardless of these difficulties and such powerful authorities, I confess they do not alter my opinion. A plan submitted by an architect from Constantinople, columns carved on the shores of the Bosphorus, Greek workers labouring on a mosque, prove nothing: we can not draw a general consequence from a specific fact. I saw Justinian architecture in Constantinople. It has, I admit, some resemblance to the architecture of the Saracen monuments, such as the narrowing of the vault in the arcades, etc. However, it preserves a reason, coolness, solidity which appears absent from the Arabic imagination. Moreover, this Justinian architecture seems to me itself a re-emergence of Egyptian architecture within the Greek. That new invasion of the art of Memphis was the result of the establishment of Christianity: the solitaries who populated the deserts of the Thebaid, whose opinions would govern the world, introduced to churches, monasteries, and eventually palaces, those degenerate porticos termed cloisters, through which breathes the spirit of the East. Let us note, in support of this, that the true deterioration of Greek art begins precisely at the moment when the seat of Roman Imperial power was transferred to Constantinople; which proves that Greek architecture did not give rise to oriental architecture, but that oriental architecture merged with Greek architecture through proximity of location.

Thus I am inclined to believe that all architecture came out of Egypt, even Gothic architecture; since nothing came from the North but warfare and devastation. But this Egyptian architecture was modified according to the spirit of each nation: it hardly changed at all among the early Hebrews, where it merely eschews the monsters and gods of idolatry. In Greece, to which it was introduced by Cecrops and Inachus, it was purified, and became the model for every type of beauty. It reached Rome via the Tuscans, Egyptian colonists. It retained its grandeur there, but never reached perfection, as in Athens. Apostles, arriving from the East, carried it to the barbarians of the north: without losing, among those nations, its religious and sombre character, it rose among the forests of Gaul and Germany; it presented a singular union of strength and majesty, of melancholy in the whole, and the most extraordinary lightness in its details. Finally, among the Arabs, it revealed the traits we have spoken of, the architecture of the desert, enchanted like the oases, magical as the stories told among the tents, but which the winds can blow away with the sand that first served as its foundation.

I could support my opinion with a thousand historical facts; I could show that the first temples of Greece, such as that of Jupiter at Onga (now accepted to be an invention of the Abbé Michel Fourmont’s), near Amyclae, were genuine Egyptian temples, that sculpture itself was Egyptian at Argos, Sparta, Athens, at the time of Daedalus and in the heroic period. But I fear I have taken this digression too far, and it is time to move on to the Gothic monuments of Jerusalem.

These latter are reduced to four tombs. The monuments of Godfrey and Baldwin are two stone coffins, borne on four small pillars. The epitaphs we read in Deshayes description are inscribed on these coffins in Gothic lettering. All this in itself is of little note, but I was quite struck by the appearance of these tombs, on entering the Holy Sepulchre: their foreign form, on foreign soil, proclaimed other men, other customs, other lands; I thought myself transported to one of our ancient monasteries: I was struck like the Tahitian (in 1770) when he recognised, in France, a tree from his own country. I gazed with reverence at these Gothic mausoleums, enclosing the remains of French knights, pilgrims who became kings, the heroes of Gerusalemme Liberata; I recalled the words that Tasso placed in Godfrey’s mouth:

Chi fia di noi ch’esser sepulto schivi

Ove i membri di Dio fur già sepulti?

Was it for us to shirk our tombs,

Where the body of God was entombed?

(Tasso: Gerusalemme Liberata: II:86)

As for the monuments of the Turks, the last witnesses testifying, in Jerusalem, to the rise and fall of empires, they are not worth the trouble of a visit: I only mention them in order to issue a warning that one should not confuse the works of Tartars with the works of the Moors. Basically, it is truer to say that the Turks ignore architecture completely: they have only served to burden Greek and Arab buildings, in crowning them with massive domes and Chinese pavilions. A few bazaars and oratories of the saints are all that the new tyrants of Jerusalem have added to that unfortunate city.

The reader now knows something of the various monuments of the Holy City.

Returning to visit the tombs of the kings, which gave place to the preceding descriptions, I passed through the valley of Jehoshaphat. The sun was setting behind Jerusalem; it was gilding with its last rays that mass of ruins and the mountains of Judea. I sent my companions back via Saint Stephen’s Gate, and retained only the Janissary. I sat at the foot of the tomb of Jehoshaphat, my face turned toward the Temple. I took from my pocket a volume of Racine, and re-read Athalie.

At its opening lines:

Oui, je viens dans son temple adorer l’Eternel, etc

Yes, I come to his temple to worship the Lord, etc.

it is impossible for me to say what I felt. I thought I heard the Song of Solomon and the voice of the prophets; ancient Jerusalem stood before me; the shadows of Jehoiada, Athaliah, and Jehosheba rose from the tomb; it seemed to me that it was only at that moment that I understood Racine’s genius. What poetry! Since I found it worthy of the place where I then was! One may be unable to conceive what Athalie read on the tomb of the saintly king Jehoshaphat, beside the River Kidron, and before the ruins of the Temple. Yet what has become of that Temple itself, adorned with lovely festoons everywhere?

Joad Into what vile lead is pure gold altered?

Who killed the pontiff in this holy place?

Weep, Jerusalem, weep, perfidious city,

At the foul murder of a divine prophet:

Your God’s despoiled of his love for you;

Your incense in his eyes is incense tainted…

Where do you lead these women and these children?

The Lord has destroyed the Queen of Cities:

Its priests are captive, and its kings rejected;

God wishes us not at his solemnities:

Temple, fall now; cedars throw out bright flame.

Jerusalem, the object of my sorrow,

Whose hand despoiled your charms, in a day?

O, who will change my eyes to founts of tears,

To weep your wretchedness?

Azarias O, Holy Temple!

Josabet O, David!

The Choir God of Sion, recall,

Recall your favours, your ancient kindnesses.

(Racine: Athalie: Act III:Scene VII)

The pen falls from my hand: one is ashamed to be scribbling at the paper still, when a man has written such verses.

I spent part of the 9th of October at the monastery, to acquaint myself with the details of private life in Jerusalem; I had nothing essential left to see, either inside or outside the city, except the well of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:13), where they hid the sacred fire at the time of the Captivity; the graves of the judges, and a few other places; I visited them on the evening of the 9th. As there is nothing remarkable about them, except the names they bear, they hardly merit detaining the reader further.

I come then to those little details that pique the curiosity, because of the grandeur of the places we speak of. One cannot but imagine life in Athens and Sparta as unlike our own. Jerusalem, especially, whose name recalls so many mysteries, daunts the imagination; it seems that all must be extraordinary in this extraordinary city. Let us see it as it is, and let us begin with a description of the monastery of the Latin Fathers (Saint-Sauveur).

One enters through a vaulted passage which leads to another vaulted passage, quite long and very dark. After this one encounters a courtyard formed by the wood-store, the wine-press, and the wine-cellar of the monastery. One perceives, in this courtyard, on the right, a staircase of twelve to fifteen steps; the staircase ascends to a cloister that runs above the cellar, the wood-store and the wine-press, and therefore overlooks the entry-yard. To the east of this cloister a vestibule opens which communicates with the church: which is quite attractive, and has a choir adorned with stalls, a nave, lighted by a dome, a Roman-style altar, and a small set of organ-pipes: it is all enclosed in a space twenty feet long by twelve wide.

Another door, on the west side of the cloister of which I have spoken, leads to the interior of the monastery. ‘This monastery,’ said one pilgrim (Doubdan: Le Voyage de la Terra-Sainte: LXIV) in his description, which is as accurate as it is simple, ‘this monastery is very irregularly built, in the ancient style, consisting of several sections, high and low, the offices small and concealed from view, the rooms poor and obscure, a few small courtyards, two small gardens, the largest being about eighty or ninety paces, and adjoining the ramparts of the city. On the west side, there is another courtyard and a few small apartments for pilgrims. The only recreation to be had in this place is to ascend to the terrace of the church, where one enjoys a view of the whole city, which descends continuously to the valley of Jehoshaphat; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre can be seen, the forecourt of the Temple of Solomon, and also further to the East, the Mount of Olives; to the south the city fortress, and the road to Bethlehem, and to the north the Cave of Jeremiah. That, in a few words, is the plan and description of the monastery, which reflects, in the extreme, the simplicity and poverty of One who, in that very place, propter vos egenus factus esset, cum esset dives; though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor (Vulgate: 2 Corinthians:8:9)’

The room I occupied was called the Grand Chamber of the Pilgrims. It gave onto a solitary courtyard, surrounded by walls on all sides. The furniture consisted of a hospital bed with curtains of green serge, a table and a chest; my servants occupied two cells some distance from me. A jug full of water, and a lamp in the Italian style, completed my furniture. The room, which was quite large, was dark, and only received daylight through a window opening onto the court I mentioned. Thirteen pilgrims had written their names on the door, inside the chamber: the first was called Charles Lombard, who was in Jerusalem in 1669, the last was John Gordon, and the date of his visit was 1804 (apparently this was the same Lieutenant Gordon, of Cluny, who had a bottle of water from the Dead Sea analyzed in London). I only noted three French names among the thirteen travellers.

The pilgrims do not eat with the Fathers as in Jaffa. They are served separately, and spend as they wish. If they are poor, they are fed; if they are rich, they pay for what is bought for them: the monastery does not retain a penny. Accommodation, a bed, linen, light, and a fire, are always free, and regarded as simple hospitality.

A cook was assigned to fulfil my requests. I hardly ever dined before nightfall, on my return from my wanderings. I was served soup first with lentils in oil, then veal with cucumbers or onions, roasted goat’s meat, or lamb on rice. They do not eat beef, while water-buffalo meat has a savage taste. For roasting, I had pigeons, and sometimes partridges, of the pale species, called the Sand Partridge (ammoperdix heyi). Wild game is very common on the plains of Ramla and in the mountains of Judea: it consists of partridge, woodcock, hares, wild boars and gazelles. The Arabian quail (coturnix delegorguei Arabica) that nourished the Israelites is almost unknown in Jerusalem; however a few birds are found in the Jordan Valley. For vegetables, I was continually supplied with lentils, beans, cucumbers and onions.

The wine of Jerusalem is excellent: it has the colour and taste of our wines from Roussillon. The hillside vineyards that provide it are still those of Engaddi (Ein-gedi), near Bethlehem. As for fruit, I ate, as in Jaffa, large grapes, dates, pomegranates, watermelons, apples, and figs from the second harvest: that of the sycamore or Pharaoh figs (ficus sycomorus) was over. The bread, made at the monastery, was good and tasty.

Let us arrive at the cost of these various foodstuffs.

The quintal weight, in Jerusalem, is composed of a hundred rolts (or rotls), the rolt is nine hundred drachms (dirhams).

The rolt equals two and a quarter oques (okas), which amounts to about eight French pounds (livres) in weight (Ottoman weights and measures varied widely but the standardised late-Ottoman oka, of 400 dirhams, was about 2.6 French livres or about 1.28 kilograms, making a rolt, or rotl, on this basis about 6 livres rather than 8).

A sheep sells for two piastres ten paras the rolt (40 paras equalling 1 piastre). The value of the Turkish piastre, continually varied by the beys and pashas of Egypt, does not amount in Syria to more than thirty-three sous four deniers (12 deniers equalling 1 sou), and the para to more than ten deniers. Now, a rolt being about eight pounds, a pound of mutton, in Jerusalem, costs nine sous, four and a half deniers.

Veal costs only a piastre a rolt; a young goat, a piastre and a few paras.

A very large calf sells for thirty to thirty-five piastres; a large sheep for ten to fifteen piastres; an adult goat for six to eight.

The price of a measure of wheat varies from eight to nine piastres.

Oil costs three piastres a rolt.

The vegetables are very expensive: they transport them to Jerusalem from Jaffa and the neighbouring villages.

This year, 1806, the price of the grape harvest rose to twenty-seven piastres per quintal.

Let us pass on to a few other details.

Anyone who prefers not to stay at a caravanserai, or lodge with the Fathers of the Holy Land, might rent one or more rooms in some house in Jerusalem; though their life would hardly be secure. According to the size, or value of the house, each room would cost, per month, from two to twenty piastres. A whole house where they would find a fairly large living-room, and fifteen or so holes called chambers, would cost five thousand piastres a year.

A skilled worker, a mason, joiner, or carpenter, earns two piastres per day, and his food: a boy-labourer costs a piastre a day.

There is no fixed measure for land; usually one buys the area one wants on sight: the price is estimated based on what the patch can produce in fruit, wheat or vines.

The ploughs have no wheels, and are fitted with a small blade that barely scratches the earth: the ploughing is done with oxen.

They grow barley, wheat, sorghum, maize and cotton. They sow sesame in the same fields in which they cultivate cotton.

A mule costs between one or two hundred piastres, depending on its quality; a donkey costs from fifteen to fifty piastres. One pays eighty to a hundred dollars for an ordinary horse, less well-regarded in general than a donkey or mule, but a horse of a well-known Arab breed is beyond price. The Pasha of Damascus, Abdullah Pasha, had just purchased one for three thousand piastres. The history of a mare is often a topic of general conversation. When I was in Jerusalem, they spoke of the prowess of one of these wonderful mares. The Bedouin who rode her, pursued by the governor’s minions, precipitated himself, on her back, from the summit of the mountains overlooking Jericho. The mare descended at full gallop, almost perpendicularly, without flinching, leaving the soldiers filled with admiration, and the terror of the previous chase. But the poor gazelle broke down on entering Jericho, and the Bedouin, who would not abandon her, was captured while weeping over the body of his companion. This mare has a brother in the desert; he is so famous that the Arabs always know where he has been, where he is, what he is doing, and how he fares. Ali-Aga religiously showed me in the mountains near Jericho, the marks the dead mare’s hooves had made, while trying to save her master; a Macedonian would have gazed with no more respect on the hoof-prints of Bucephalus.

Let us now speak of pilgrims. Modern accounts somewhat exaggerate the amount that pilgrims must spend on their travels to the Holy Land. And firstly, who are these pilgrims? They are hardly Latin pilgrims; since they no longer exist, as is generally agreed. In the space of the last century, it may be that the Fathers of Saint-Sauveur have seen less than two hundred Catholic travellers, including the monks of their order, and missionaries to the Levant. That Latin pilgrims were never numerous, we can prove from a thousand extracts. Thévenot relates that in 1656 he found himself the twenty-second visitor to the Holy Sepulchre. Very often the number of pilgrims did not amount to twelve, since they were forced to include the monks to complete that number for the ceremony of the washing of feet, on Maundy Thursday (Thévenot: XLII:391) Indeed, in 1589, seventy-nine years before Thévenot, Villamont met only six French pilgrims in Jerusalem (Villamont: II:XIX:250). If, in 1589, in an era when religion was flourishing, no more than seven Latin pilgrims in total were to be seen in Palestine, judge how many there may have been in 1806! My arrival at the monastery of Saint-Saveur was a real event. Monsieur Seetzen, who found himself there at Easter of that year, that is to say, seven months before me, says he was the only Catholic (Annales des Voyages, by Monsieur Malte Brun, Volume II:343).

The wealth with which the Holy Sepulchre supposedly overflows, not being brought to Jerusalem by Catholic pilgrims, was it conveyed there by Jewish, Greek and Armenian pilgrims? Even in that case, I think the calculation very inflated.

The largest expense for pilgrims consists of the levy they have to pay the Turks and Arabs, whether for entry to the holy places, or whether for caffari, or passports. Now all these things together only amount to sixty-five piastres twenty-nine paras. If you take the piastre at its maximum value, at fifty French sous, and the para at five liards or fifteen deniers, that gives one hundred and sixty four livres, six sous, three deniers; if you take the piastre at its minimum value that is to say thirty-three French sous and four deniers, and the para at three liards and a denier, you have a hundred and eight livres, nine sous, six deniers. Here is the summary which I had from the Father Procurator of the monastery of Saint-Saveur (Saint Saviour). I reproduce it in the Italian, which everyone understands these days, with the proper names of the Turks, etc; original characteristics that attest to its authenticity (the following statements of account are somewhat erratic in their totals, since the piastre is subject to daily fluctuation in Syria, while the para remains fixed: hence it follows that the piastre is not always worth the same number of paras, though there are nominally forty paras to the piastre, as shown in the accounts. Note also: Arava for Arabo, a change of letters quite common in the language of the Franks, in modern and in ancient Greek):

Spesa solita che fa un pelerino en la sua intrata da Giaffa

sin a Gerusalemme, e nel ritorno a Giaffa.

Piast. Par.
Caffari. In Giaffa dopo il suo sbarco, caffaro 5 20
-------- In Giaffa prima del imbarco al suo ritorno 5 20
Cavalcatura sin a Rama, e portar al Aravo, che accompagna sin a Gerusalemme 1 20
Pago al Aravo che accompagna 5 » 10 30
Al vilano che accompagna da Gerasma 5 30
Cavalcatura per venire da Rama, ed altra per ritornare 10 »
Caffari nella strada 1 16 cadi medni 1 16
Intrata nel SS. Sepulcro. Al Meheah governatore. E stader del tempio 26 38
Intrata nella città Ciohadari del cadi e governatore. Sbirro. E portinaro » 15
Primo e secundo drogomano 3 30
65 29

If the pilgrim travels to Jordan, twelve piastres should be added to these costs Finally, I thought that while discussing these facts the reader might be pleased to see the details of my own expenses in Jerusalem. If you consider that I had horses, Janissaries, and escorts to order; that I lived as I do in Paris with regard to food, meal times, etc; that I constantly visited the Holy Sepulchre at unusual hours of the day; that I re-visited the same places ten times, paid the fee ten times, and the caffari, and a thousand other atrocities of the Turks, you may be surprised that I escaped so cheaply. I show here the original accounts with the orthographical errors of my dragoman, Michel: they have this curiosity, that they retain almost an air of that country. My repeated visits are evident, the proper names of several persons, the prices of various items, etc. Finally, these accounts are faithful witnesses to the sincerity of my tale. It is obvious moreover that I neglected a great deal in my description of events, and investigated Jerusalem even more thoroughly than I have said.

Expenditure at Jaffa:

Piast. Par.
Per un messo a Gerusalemme 7 20
Altro messo a Rama 3 »
Altro per avisare agli Aravi 1 20
Orso in Rama per gli cavalli 2 »
Per il cavallo del servitore di Giaffa in Rama 2 20
Gaflaro alli Aravi 2 36
Al cavaliero che adato il govre di Rama 15 »
Per il cavalle che porto sua Ecca à Gerusalemme 15 »
Regallo alli servitorj de gli cavalli 3 »
Regallo al Mucaro Menum 5 »
Tutto ps 57 16

Expenditure at Jerusalem:

Spesa fatta per il sig. dal giorno del suo

arrivo a Gierusalemme ali 4 di ottobre 1806.

Piast. Par.
Il giorno del suo arrivo per cavaleria da Rama, a Gierusalemme 15 »
Compania per li Arabi, 6 isolite per testa 13 20
Cad…. à 10 Mi 0 30
Al Muccaro 1 20
Cavalcatura per Michelle andare e ritornar da Rama 8 20
4 cavalli per andare a Betlemme e al Giordano 80 »
Al portinaro della città 1 25
Apertura del S. Sepolcro 1 25
Regallo alli portinari del S. Sepolcro 7 persone 30 »
Alli figlio che chiamano li Turchi per aprire la porta 1 25
Al Chavas del governatore per avere accompagniato il sig. dentro della città, e fuori a cavallo 8 »
Item. A un Dalati, cioe, guardia del Zambarakgi Pari 4 »
Per 5 cavalli per andare al monte Olibette, e altri luoghi, et seconda volte al Potzo di Jeremia, e la madona 16 30
Al genisero per companiare il sig. a Betlemme 3 20
Item. Al genisero per avere andato col sig. per la città 1 35
12 ottobre per la apertura del S. Sepolcro 1 »
Tutto ps 189 10

Spese fatte da Michel, per ordine del Sig.

Piast. Par.
In vari luoghi
In tabaco per li villani, et la compania nel viagio per il Giordano, e per li villani di S. Saba 6 20
In candelle per S. Saba, e servitori 6 »
Per li sacrestani greci, e altri 6 20
Regallo nella casa della Madona, e serolio, e nella casa di Simione, e nel convento dell Suriani, e nel spitale di S. Elena, e nella casa di Anas, e nella singoga delli Ebrei 9 10
Item. Regallo nel convento delli Armeni di S. Giacomo, alli servitori, sacrestino e genisari 28 »
Regallo nel Sepolcro della Madona alli sacrestani, e nel monte Olibette 5 10
Al servitore del governatore il negro, e nel castello 5 20
Per lavare la robba del sig. e suoi servitori 3 »
Alli poveri in tutto il giro 5 15
Regallo nel convento delli Greci in chiesa al sacrestano, e alli servitori, et alli geniseri 18 »
4 cavalcature per il sig., suo dragomano, suo servitore, e Michelle da Gierusalemme fino a Giaffa, e quella di Michelle per andare, e ritornare la seconda volta 46 »
Compania a 6 isolote, ogni persona delli sig. 13 20
Villano 3 »
Cafarro 4 24
Regallo alli geniseri 20 »
Regallo a Goch di S. Geremia 50 »
Regallo alli dragomani 30 »
Regallo al communiere 10 »
Al portinaro Malia 5 »
Al spenditare 5 »
In Bellemme una cavalcatura per la provisione del Giordano, orzo 4 Arabi, due villani : regallo alli capi e servitori 172 »
Ali-Agha figlio d’Abugiahfar 150 »
Item. Zbirri, poveri e guardie nel calare al S. Sepolcro l'ultimo giorno 10 »
Item. Zbirri, poveri e guardie nel calare al S. Sepolcro l'ultimo giorno 612 19
A Mechele Casar 80 : Alcuesnaro 20 100 »
712 19

We are obliged then to limit the grand total of pilgrims, as far at least as Catholic pilgrims are concerned, to little or nothing at all; since seven, twelve, twenty, thirty, even a hundred pilgrims, scarcely count. But if the dozen pilgrims or so, who appeared at the Holy Sepulchre annually, over a century or two, were impoverished travellers, the Fathers of the Holy Land could hardly have grown rich on their leavings. Let us listen to that honest writer, Doubdan:

‘The monks who live there (at the monastery of Saint Saviour), the rank and file under the rule of Saint Francis, maintain strict poverty, and live only on alms and charity sent to them from Christendom, or donated to them by pilgrims, each according to his means; but as the pilgrims are far from their countries, and know what great expense they will yet incur to pay for their return, so they do not leave much in the way of alms, which does not prevent them being welcomed and treated with great charity’ (Chapter XLVII:p376)

Thus the pilgrims to the Holy Land who leave treasure behind in Jerusalem are not Catholic pilgrims; and thus the portion of that treasure which has become the property of the monasteries does not pass into the hands of the Latin monks. If the monks do receive alms from Europe, those alms, far from enriching them, are insufficient to preserve the holy places, which are everywhere in decay, and will soon be abandoned due to lack of maintenance. The poverty of these monks is shown by the unanimous testimony of travellers. I have already spoken of their suffering; if further proof is needed, here it is:

‘Thus,’ said Père Roger, ‘it was a French priest who had possession of the holy places of Jerusalem, also the first priest who suffered martyrdom was a Frenchman named Brother Limin, from the province of Touraine, who was beheaded in Cairo. Shortly afterwards, Brother Jacques and Brother Jérémie were killed outside the gates of Jerusalem. Brother Conrad d’Alis Bartholémy, of Mont-Politian, in the province of Tuscany, was severed lengthways, in Cairo. Brother John d’Éther, a Spaniard from the province of Castile, was cut to pieces by the Pasha of Casa. Seven monks were beheaded by the Sultan of Egypt. Two monks were skinned alive in Syria.

In the year 1637, the Arabs martyred a whole community of brothers who lived on sacred Mount Sion, twelve in number. Later, sixteen religious clerics and laymen, were taken from Jerusalem to prison in Damascus (this was at the time when Cyprus was taken by the king of Alexandria), and remained there five years, one after another dying of starvation. Brother Cosme de Saint Francis was killed by the Turks at the door of the Holy Sepulchre, where he was preaching the Christian faith. Two other brothers, in Damascus, were beaten so savagely with sticks that they died on the spot. Six monks were put to death by the Arabs one night, when they were at Matins in the monastery built at Anathot, in the house of the prophet Jeremiah, which the Arabs then burnt. It would try the patience of the reader to describe in detail the suffering and persecution that our poor monks have suffered while they have been guarding the holy places; suffering which has continued to increase since the year 1627 when our monks were first established here, as can be seen by the events that follow etc.’ (Eugène Roger: Description de la terre sainte, 1664: p436)

Ambassador Deshayes uses the same language regarding the persecutions that the Turks have visited on the Fathers of the Holy Land:

‘The poor priests, who maintain them, are also constantly reduced to such dire extremities, if not assisted by Christendom, that their condition is deplorable. Their only income is the alms sent to them, which is insufficient to support half the expenditure they are obliged to make; for, besides their food, and the large number of lamps they maintain, they must continually pay a levy to the Turks, if they wish to live in peace; and when they have not the means to satisfy the Turks’ greed, they must suffer being imprisoned.

Jerusalem is so far from Constantinople, the King’s ambassador who resides there receives no news of this oppression of them until long after. However, they suffer and endure, if they have not the money to free themselves, and often the Turks are not content simply to work against their persons, but they also convert their churches into mosques.’ (Deshayes: Voyage du Levant: p409)

I could compose entire volumes of similar evidence, reported by the various travellers in Palestine; I will only produce one more extract, and it is unanswerable.

I found this testimony, in a monument to iniquity and oppression which may be unique on this earth, a monument of even greater authority, since it was fated to rest in eternal oblivion.

The Fathers allowed me to examine the library and archives of the monastery. Unfortunately these archives and the library were dispersed almost a century ago: a pasha clapped the monks in irons, and took them as captives to Damascus. Some papers escaped the devastation, especially the firmans which the Fathers had obtained, either from the Porte or from the rulers of Egypt, to defend themselves against the oppression of the people or their governors.

This curious paper is titled:

Registro delli Capitolazioni, Cattiscerifi, Baratti, Comandamenti Ogetti, Attestazione, Sentenze, Ordini dei Bascia’, Giudici e Polizzi, che si trovano nell’ Archivio trovano di questa Procura generale di terra santa.

Under the letter H, No. 1, p. 369, we read:

Instrumento del re saraceno Muzafar contiene: che non sia dimandato del vino da religiosi franchi. Dato alli 13 di della luna di Regeb del anno 414.

Under No. 2:

Instrumento del re saraceno Matamad contiene: che li religiosi franchi non siano molestati. Dato alli 2 di Sciaval del anno 501.

Under No. 5, p. 370:

Instrumento con la sua copia del re saraceno Amed Ciakmak contiene: che li religiosi franchi non paghino a quei ministri, che non vengono per gli affari dei frati ... possino sepelire i loro morti, possino fare vino provizione ... non siano obligati a montare cavalli per forza in Rama; non diano visitare loco possessioni: che nessuno pretenda d’esser drogloromanno, se non alcuno appoggio. Dato alli 10 di Sefer 609.

Several firmans begin:

Copia autenticata d’un commendamento ottenuto ad instanza dell’ambasciadore di Francia, etc.

Thus one sees the unfortunate monks, guardians of the tomb of Jesus Christ, uniquely occupied, for several centuries, in defending themselves, day by day, against all kinds of insult and tyranny. They need to obtain permission to eat, to bury their dead, etc; sometimes, they are forced to mount a horse, to no purpose, except to make them pay for the privilege; sometimes a Turk declares himself their dragoman, and demands his salary of the community. They exercise, against these unfortunate monks, the most bizarre inventions of Oriental despotism (they once attempted to kill two monks in Jerusalem because a cat had fallen into the cistern of the monastery. Roger: p. 330.) In vain do they obtain, at a price, orders that seem to protect them from such insults; the orders are not obeyed: every year sees some new oppression, and requires some new firman. The commandant, who prevaricates, and the prince, their apparent protector, are two tyrants who concur, one in exercising injustice under a law not yet enacted; the other in selling, for gold, a judgement under a law not enacted until after the ‘crime’ has been committed. The register of the Fathers’ firmans is a very valuable asset, worthy in all respects of the library of these apostles who, in the midst of tribulations, maintain with invincible constancy the Tomb of Jesus Christ. The Fathers did not realise the value of this evangelical catalogue; they did not think it would interest me; they saw nothing unusual in it: their suffering is so natural, that they were astonished by my astonishment. My admiration for such misfortunes so bravely borne was great and sincere; but I confess also how moved I felt by finding this one phrase again and again: Copy of a firman obtained through the solicitations of the Ambassador of France etc! Honour to a European country which labours, in the depths of Asia Minor, to protect the wretched, and defend the weak from the mighty! My country never seemed to me more beautiful and more glorious than when I discovered a record of her acts of charity hidden in Jerusalem, in a register in which were inscribed the unknown sufferings, and the un-revealed inequities, of the oppressed and of the oppressor.

I hope my personal feelings never blind me to the point of ignoring truth: there is something that takes precedence over all opinion; and that is justice. If some philosopher today were to write an excellent work; if they were to achieve something finer, a virtuous action; if they displayed noble and elevated sentiments, I, a Christian, would freely applaud them. Why should a philosopher not do so, as well as a Christian? Because a man wears a robe, sports a long beard, has a cord for a belt; is that a reason not to take account of another’s sacrifice? As for me, I would seek virtue in the bowels of the earth, among worshippers of Vishnu, or the Great Lama, in order to achieve the happiness of admiring it: generous actions are all too rare today not to honour them in any guise in which one finds them, nor to regard too closely whether they appear in a priest’s robe or in the cloak of the philosopher.

End of Part Four