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Burchard of Mount Sion's Descriptio Terrae Sanctae : A Newly Discovered Extended Version

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With over a hundred surviving manuscripts and around twenty printed editions dating to before 1746, Burchard of Mount Sion's Descriptio Terrae Sanctae is a text of extraordinary importance. And yet, many questions concerning the author and the text remain unresolved to this day. This article explores for the first time a hitherto unknown extended version of Burchard's Descriptio, shedding much light on this important figure and his activities and travels. This version, provided by MS London, British Library, Add. 18929, includes: (A) a text roughly parallel to that which appears in the modern critical edition by Laurent, albeit with numerous phrases lacking in the latter and providing significant information about Burchard; (B) a version of the description of Burchard's journey from Armenia to Egypt which is much more elaborate than its parallel in Laurent's edition; (C) a description of Burchard's visit to Egypt which has been printed several times but whose authorship remained hitherto questionable; (D) a completely unknown continuation. Exploring this version, this article shows, inter alia, that Burchard was a person of high standing rather than a simple pilgrim, that he was sent, more than once, on diplomatic missions and that he travelled – and described experiences he had – not only in the eastern Mediterranean but also in places like Sicily and Rome. It has also been possible to provide exact dating for his travels, using evidence from this version. Two appendices provide editions of sections (B) and (D).
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2014

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