Skip to content
IUScholarWorks Journals
19.08.17 Shagrir and Gaposchkin, Liturgy and Devotion in the Crusader States

19.08.17 Shagrir and Gaposchkin, Liturgy and Devotion in the Crusader States

In recent years, the field of crusade studies has witnessed a significant upswell in academic interest in the role played by liturgy in shaping and transmitting medieval responses to the crusading movement. Liturgy and Devotion in the Crusader States, which is edited by two of the main proponents of this scholarly shift, Iris Shagrir and Cecilia Gaposchkin, and first appeared in 2017 as a special edition of the Journal of Medieval History, brings together several strands of this interest in liturgical sources, with a particular focus on how they can enrich modern understanding of the Crusader States. As the volume's editors state in their introduction--which includes useful, if short, overviews of the scholarship surrounding liturgy, in both a crusading and non-crusading context, as well as brief descriptions of the different contributions--the value of this approach comes from the "ingenuity and innovation" of the use of liturgy in Outremer, the sources for which act as crucial windows onto "the religious and devotional history of the Latin East" (2), as well as onto important political and inter-cultural trends.

Though the volume itself is not organized into overt sections, there is an underlying thematic structure. The first of these, which examines the liturgical life of the kingdom of Jerusalem, as witnessed through the surviving manuscript evidence, begins with Wolf Zöller's contribution on the role played by the Augustinian canons regular who oversaw many of Outremer's holy sites in influencing how the Jerusalem liturgy was commissioned and performed. In this, Zöller examines the canons' monastic life and the influence this had on their liturgical observances, after which he focuses on specific components of their liturgy and how these expressed certain religious preoccupations and ideals. Through an examination of several liturgical manuscripts relating to crusader Jerusalem, it is therefore argued that the canons of the Latin East, particularly--but not limited to--those who lived in the patriarchal chapter of the Holy Sepulchre, were influenced in their devotional practices by several sources of Augustinian monasticism, including those emanating from the mid-twelfth century Premonstratensian reforms and the abbey of Saint-Jean-en-Vallée in Chartres, albeit with a flexibility of practice which also allowed them to deliver their specific liturgical obligations. For the canons of Jerusalem, a focus on the return to apostolic life was made all the more pertinent by their living in the same geographical space as their biblical forebears, meaning their innovative liturgical performances took on a greater dramatic and spiritual edge, especially during Holy Week. Following this is Cara Aspesi's discussion of the "libelli of Lucca," a series of liturgical texts contained in Biblioteca Arcivescovile MS 5, which appear to reflect devotional responses to Saladin's conquest of the kingdom of Jerusalem, particularly during the siege of Acre (1189-1191). In doing so, Aspesi argues that this offers a rare insight into the "pastoral needs, devotional concerns and processes of self-identification" (25) of the Latins of Outremer at the end of the twelfth century. To prove this, Aspesi embarks on a careful examination of each of the libelli, demonstrating, through an examination of their contents as well as their palaeographical and codicological characteristics, that their miscellaneous form prove both their connection to the Latin East--in particular the liturgical practices of the Holy Sepulchre and the diocese of Sidon--and their creation in a diversely populated, non-settled ecclesiastical context, one pre-occupied with penitential lamentation following a significant loss. The most likely setting for this, it is argued, is the siege of Acre, which brought together combatants and churchmen from across Europe and Outremer and created the need for the practice of religious offices in challenging circumstances. That the manuscript includes a series of prayers which promoted opposition to "Saracens," and a version of the early liturgical commemoration of Jerusalem's capture during the First Crusade, also supports this and also offers an important insight into how Jerusalem's loss heralded a new moment in the expression of collective Frankish identity in Outremer centred on hopes for the Holy City's recovery. In the final part of this first thematic strand, Sebastián Salvadó considers the reform of Jerusalem's liturgy under the Jerusalemite Patriarch, Fulcher of Angoulême (1146-1157); in particular, the refocusing of the celebration of Easter as its central theological theme--a move made, it is argued, as part of wider commemorations surrounding the the fiftieth anniversary of the city's reconquest, which included the re-dedication of the Holy Sepulchre on 15 July 1149. In doing so, Fulcher's reforms "promoted the Holy Sepulchre as the centre of Jerusalem's new devotional identity and spiritual life" (43). Through an examination of the four manuscripts which transmit the versions or elements of the Jerusalem liturgy relevant to this study, Salvadó traces evidence for the "quite profound changes to the structure of Jerusalem's Latin rite" (52) made by Fulcher, in particular his alignment with the Augustinian reforms of the Western Church, as well as the greater emphasis he placed on processions and the solemnization of feasts. More importantly, so Salvadó argues, Fulcher ensured that the commemoration of the Resurrection became central to Jerusalem's devotional identity--which, in turn, increased the Holy Sepulchre's significance to the devotional life of Outremer--through his innovative use of elements of the Easter liturgy during the summer months and as part of the celebration of Advent.

The volume's second thematic strand, which explores the survival of Eastern Christian liturgical practices, begins with Daniel Galadza's discussion on the use of Greek liturgy in crusader Jerusalem. The core evidential basis for this contribution is two Greek liturgical manuscripts, copied in or near to Jerusalem under Frankish rule. Following a brief overview of Greek liturgical rites in Jerusalem from the Seventh to the Eleventh centuries, in which Galadza introduces the concept of "liturgical Byzantinisation" (that is the adoption of Constantinopolitan devotional rites), the author embarks on discussions of the two aforementioned texts: the so-called "Anastasis Typikon", which was copied at the Holy Sepulchre in 1122 and contains the Greek liturgical rites for Easter, and the twelfth-century "Sabaite Typikon", which transmits the monastic liturgical practices of St Sabas Lavra, just to the south east of Jerusalem. Galadza thus argues that these manuscripts serve as testament to the continuity of Greek religious practices (with a move towards increasing ritual ties with Constantinopole), even in spite of the reality that non-Latins were afforded subordinate status under crusader rule. Furthermore, that although other source types reveal a level of multi-denominational religious practice in the Crusader States, the liturgical sources examined here point instead to a desire to resist this, and for the Greek Orthodox to achieve "some peace from the Latins" (77). Following this is Andrew Jotischky's thematically similar--if methodologically different--contribution on the liturgical practices of Greek monasteries in the Holy Land. Taking a much broader approach to tracing liturgical practice by exploring all aspects of monastic religious observance, Jotischky shows that, while Greek ecclesiastical structures in the Near East were, at best, fragmentary at the time of the First Crusade, monasticism had witnessed a revival in fortune and continued to thrive even under Frankish rule. To demonstrate this, he offers a detailed overview of the liturgical practices of Greek monastic communities from their earliest foundations, which again interacts with the notion of "Byzantinization". From here, Jotischky examines liturgical and non-liturgical book production in the scriptoria of these monastic foundations, including (but by no means limited to) the manuscripts discussed by Galadza. These reveal crucial insights into the liturgical year and the use of the Constantinopolitan calendar; liturgical language (including the reality that some foundations, like St Catherine's, Sinai, housed multi-lingual communities using Greek, Syriac, and Aramaic); and the ideals underpinning monastic doctrine. Next, Jotischky considers the practical roles played by Greek Orthodox monks in the liturgical life of the Holy Land--particularly Jerusalem--under crusader rule. Although the author acknowledges that this can only be partially reconstructed (due, at least in part, to the shifting architectural composition of the Holy Sepulchre) and is largely reliant on context drawn from earlier sources, it is nevertheless clear that, despite some disruption, Greek monks were incorporated into the liturgical landscape of Latin-held Jerusalem. In the final part of this section, Christopher MacEvitt builds upon the theme of multi-confessional rituals. Noting the aural transformation of the Near East under crusader rule, with the muezzin replaced by the sights and sounds of Christian liturgical practices, MacEvitt emphasizes the role of processions in demonstrating the nature of cross-confessional interaction in this period. Drawing on Latin and Eastern Christian chronicles, it is argued that accounts of multi-confessional religious processions, though rare, often acted as a means of demonstrating power. For Latin sources, this power came either through creating a sense unity--with all Christians brought together under the banner of Latin dominance--or the validation of Frankish authority over the Holy Land; though these narrative impulses soon fell into abeyance once crusader rule was more secure. In contrast, the processions detailed by Eastern Christian authors (in particular the Armenian Matthew of Edessa and the Jacobite Michael the Syrian) projected a different sort of power, that is the control over relics and, with this, their own religious practices and identities. Rather than unity, therefore, such descriptions were designed to demonstrate difference and to express pride in denominational separateness from, and even, at times, devotional superiority over, other confessions, be they Latin or Greek.

The last of the volume's thematic strands considers the role of liturgy in expressing and legitimising royal authority in Frankish Jerusalem and begins with Jay Rubenstein's discussion on sacral kingship and the narratives relating to events surrounding the 1101 Holy Fire miracle in Jerusalem. Rubenstein's contribution thus hones-in on a well-known case study in early inter-Christian contact in the Crusader States: when, following the failure of the Holy Fire miracle at Easter 1101, the recently crowned King Baldwin I of Jerusalem reintegrated the Eastern Christian communities into the Holy Sepulchre--from which they had been expelled following the crusader conquest--through a liturgical procession designed to demonstrate his penitence to God and the restoration of Christian unity in the Holy City, which in turn led to the successful curation of the miracle. In examining this, Rubenstein argues that, when the narrative descriptions of Baldwin's actions--especially the earliest recension of Fulcher of Chartres, as found in the work formerly attributed to "Bartolf of Nangis"--are placed against liturgical sources, they help to reveal a king well aware of the performative political value of even a fraudulent "miracle." Thus, by making deft use of showmanship and display, Baldwin diverted attention away from a potential crisis, stifled the political aspirations of the patriarch, Daibert of Pisa, and, in doing so, put to bed any lingering doubts over the sacral legitimacy of a secular monarchy in Jerusalem. The final contribution of this volume, by Simon John, builds upon Rubenstein's chapter to offer a wider picture of liturgy and kingship in Jerusalem for the period 1099-1187. In this, John carefully examines the various aspects surrounding the liturgical rituals which underpinned the inaugurations of Jerusalem's rulers--including location, date, ritual form, as well as the prelates and other figures involved--seeing in these both the continuation of Western practices and Jerusalem-specific innovations. Drawing on narrative, legal, and liturgical sources, John argues that, while we are unable to exactly reconstruct the royal inaugurations of the Latin Kingdoms, the evidence we have for these performances helps to demonstrate that they acted as a crucial means of establishing unity and projecting the legitimacy of the fledgling polity, especially amidst early doubts over the validity of a secular ruler in Christ's patrimony. For example, the inauguration of Baldwin I, who showed an astute understanding of the ritualised value of crown-wearings throughout his reign, at Bethlehem not only deflected concerns over crowning a king in Jerusalem (where Jesus wore a crown of thorns)--a problem forgotten by the time of Fulk of Anjou's inauguration in 1131--it also drew on important biblical significance as the birth place of Jesus and King David. Likewise, the dating of his inauguration (Christmas Day 1100) echoed certain royal traditions in the West and was equally imbued with Christological significance--an impulse for religious symbolism mirrored by several of his successors: Baldwin II's inauguration coincided with Easter celebrations in 1118; Fulk's with the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross; Baldwin III's (and Melisende's) with Christmas Day; Baldwin IV with the feast celebrating the capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade; and Baldwin V with the Jerusalem-specific Advent celebration which utilized the Easter liturgy. As John notes, "the kings of Jerusalem projected an image of a royal dynasty which did indeed rule mindful of King David and the other Israelite kings, and with the King of Kings reigning in their hearts" (142).

Overall, this is an interesting volume, one which provides an important entry point into several key aspects of the value of liturgical studies to examining the religious, social, and political world of Outremer. It is particularly pleasing to see efforts to incorporate the experiences of Christian communities outside of the Latin ruling elites, though it is a pity that more room could not be afforded to Eastern Christian communities other than the Greek Orthodox. One also has to wonder whether the title of this volume might have better reflected the Jerusalem focus of all but a couple of its contributions—though it is no fault of the scholars that liturgical materials for the other polities of Outremer are relatively lacking, it can be questioned how much the source material for the kingdom of Jerusalem necessarily reflects the Crusader States more widely (especially given the variant religious demographics of the principality of Antioch, the counties of Edessa and Tripoli, and the kingdom of Cyprus). It is also jarring for this particular reviewer to see the use of the term "crusader kingdoms." Finally, it is worth noting the price, which seems to be prohibitively expensive, especially given the size and production values of the volume (for instance the small font used for the footnotes). It is to be hoped that Routledge might re-consider their approach to pricing, as their books are becoming increasingly unaffordable, and as a consequence, inaccessible.