Visiting the Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster Abbey

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The wooden ceiling of the Jerusalem Chamber. Photo: Leigh Mullins, courtesy of the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.

Not many people have the opportunity to visit the Jerusalem Chamber in Westminster Abbey. It’s usually off-limits to the public.

Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) librarian Adam John Fraser was lucky enough to be allowed to see inside, and you can read about it in his blog post. The post also includes images of the room’s tapestries and architectural detailing, and a video on the PEF’s links with the Chamber. The PEF held its first meeting in the Chamber, in May 1865. If you’re a mathematical sort, you’ll notice this means the PEF is currently celebrating its 150th birthday.

The Jerusalem Chamber is part of the former Abbot’s house at Westminster, and was added in the fourteenth century. The origin of its name is unknown, but there are a number of rooms at the Abbey named after locations in the Holy Land, including Jericho and Samaria. In the medieval Palace of Westminster, the biblically-inspired room names became even more vivid, with rooms called ‘Heaven’, ‘Hell’ and ‘Purgatory’ (some might say that the moral character of Westminster’s current political inhabitants means that the latter two names remain appropriate – ho ho, etc).

The room is most well-known as the location of the death of King Henry IV, later dramatised in Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV Part II (Act IV, Scene 5). As the King was preparing to go to the Holy Land, he fell ill, and was brought to the Chamber in the Abbot’s house to recover. When he came to, he asked where he was and was told Jerusalem. It was reportedly at this point that Henry IV realised he was going to die, because of a prophecy that he would die in Jerusalem.

A number of kings sought to die at Jerusalem, or at least, some version of it. This meant, as our network member Anthony Bale puts it in a post about the Jerusalem Chamber on his blog, Remembered Places, that: ‘to die well is to die at Jerusalem. But not, necessarily, the actual Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem of the heart, and of the mind.’

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Memories of the Holy Land

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The Tower of David, Jerusalem. Photograph by Michele Campopiano, April 2013.

A post from Imagining Jerusalem network member Michele Campopiano (University of York), on some of the upcoming activities of his project with the Universiteit van Amsterdam, ‘Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages: the Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land (1333-1516)’.

Call for Papers: An interdisciplinary conference: ‘Memory and Identity in the Middle Ages: The Construction of a Cultural Memory of the Holy Land (4th-16th centuries)’ (Amsterdam, 26 & 27 May 2016)

Session at the International Medieval Congress: ‘Memory, Identity, and Renewal in the Late Middle Ages: The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 14th-16th Centuries’ (Leeds, 6 July 2015)

The Holy Land has played an important role in the definition of the identities of the so-called Abrahamic religions. Constitutive narratives about the past of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were largely bound to this shared and contested space. As put forward both by Maurice Halbwachs and Jan Assmann, memory adheres to what is ‘solid’: it is stored away in outward symbols. The Holy Land is a focal point around which the shared memories of these different groups formed, and has been crucial for defining their identities. Our project: ‘Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages: the Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land (1333-1516)’ is trying to analyze the role of the Franciscans in the construction of a cultural memory of the Holy Land. In the Late Middle Ages, when pilgrimage to the Holy Land experienced an extraordinary blossom, the Franciscans welcomed, helped and guided pilgrims in the Levant. We also aim to place our research in a broader cultural and religious context. We have therefore organised two different meetings in order to stimulate further exchange of ideas among different scholars of the Holy Land. In chronological order, the first will be our session at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds: ‘Memory, Identity, and Renewal in the Late Middle Ages: The Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land, 14th-16th Centuries’ (Monday 6 July 2015).

We are however also organizing an interdisciplinary conference in Amsterdam (26 & 27 May 2016). With this conference, we are hoping to work with an even broader range of specialists in different disciplines and periods about the connection between the Holy Land as site of memory and the formation of religious and political identities from Constantine to the Ottomans. The contribution of specialists in Jewish and Islamic studies, as well as that of students of Eastern Christian Churches, is particularly welcome. The period between the age of Constantine and the late Renaissance was formative for constructing this memory. It saw the valorisation of Christian holy places under Constantine, the birth of Islam, the construction of an important Jewish scholarly community in the Holy Land, the Crusades, the massive growth of late medieval pilgrimage involving Jewish, Christian and Islamic groups, as well as other crucial events. The conference aims to bring together scholars who study the memories of the holy places within these religious galaxies from various disciplinary perspectives, in order to achieve a constructive exchange of ideas. Scholars of all so-called Abrahamic religions are invited to submit proposals, including scholars of Western and Eastern Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The call is open for historians, art historians, literary scholars, theologians, philosophers working on topics ranging from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance.

This conference is organised by me and the other members of the team of the research project ‘Cultural Memory and Identity in the Late Middle Ages: the Franciscans of Mount Zion in Jerusalem and the Representation of the Holy Land (1333-1516)’: Valentina Covaci, Guy Geltner and Marianne Ritsema van Eck. The project is funded by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO).

We are looking for papers about 30 minutes long, and will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion. Participants are asked to send an abstract of 300 words to memory.and.identity.conference@gmail.com before 1 December 2015, together with information concerning their academic affiliation. Travel costs and two nights of accommodation will be financed by the project.

For further information, please download the call for papers here.

If you have other question about our session at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds or our Conference in Amsterdam, feel also free to contact me (michele.campopiano[at]york[dot]ac[dot]uk). All comments on this website are welcome: we are looking forward to engaging the broader public in our multidisciplinary research!

Michele Campopiano

University of York

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Sharing the Holy Land: Perceptions of Shared Sacred Space in the Medieval and Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean

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Registration is now open for ‘Sharing the Holy Land: Perceptions of Shared Sacred Space in the Medieval and Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean’, at the Warburg Institute, University of London, 12-13 June.

The symposium includes keynote addresses from Professor Osama Hamdan (Al-Quds University, Jerusalem), Professor Bernard Hamilton (Nottingham) and Professor Benjamin Kedar (Hebrew University Jerusalem).

Our network members Anthony Bale and Michele Campopiano are also presenting.

From the event website:

This symposium seeks to address how both Western pilgrims and the indigenous Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Levantine population perceived the sharing of religious shrines with other faiths. In particular, scholars will look at how this sharing is described and explained in contemporary accounts and how this influenced the knowledge of other faiths among the Semitic religions. The symposium will focus on the period from c.1100 to c.1600, addressing the changing political context in the Levant and its influence on the sharing of sacred space.

The programme can be viewed here.

Please send any questions to Jan Vandeburie: sharingtheholyland2015(at)gmail.com

Public Lecture: Prof Anthony Bale, ‘Jerusalem and the Medieval Meme’

The Garden of Eden at the Holy Land Experience, Florida, taken by Professor Anthony Bale.

All are welcome to attend our opening keynote lecture by Professor Anthony Bale of Birkbeck, University of London, entitled ‘Jerusalem and the Medieval Meme’.

The lecture will take place from 9.30 to 10.30am on Thursday 6th November in Tutu’s, on the fourth floor of the Macadam Building, King’s College London (campus map). It will be chaired by Dr Michele Campopiano, of the University of York.

Professor Bale’s abstract is below:

‘Jerusalem has consistently been reproduced, replayed, restaged, in formulaic ways, from pilgrims’ souvenirs to theme parks. In this paper I seek to go beyond thinking of Jerusalem only in terms of its ‘iconography’ and instead use the term ‘meme’ to explore Jerusalem’s reproduction and reproducibility. I will cover a range of medieval sources – starting with fifteenth-century Jerusalem pilgrims’ accounts of the 1458 voyage from Venice to Jaffa – and will also talk about a contemporary Jerusalem, the Holy Land Experience in Florida.’

Bianca Kühnel: Jerusalem’s Imprint on the European Visual Memory, University of York, 11-12 November 2014

Eichstätt_IMG_1643You are invited to a public lecture and graduate seminar at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, as part of the York Medieval Centre Series:

Jerusalem’s Imprint on the European Visual Memory

Bianca Kühnel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The lecture is an attempt to classify the manifold representations of Jerusalem in Christian medieval art and architecture, aiming to emphasize the turning points in their history. The dependence on one model, on one hand, and the broad geographical and historical distribution, on the other, have produced a unique artistic phenomenon that has yet to be deciphered in its complexity. The lecture will map some of the most representative Jerusalem sites in Europe in connection with the respective historical and political conditions of their foundation. The seminar will concentrate on a few test cases, asking if and how the local, particularistic features fit (or not) into the European network of Jerusalem representations.

Public Lecture, Tuesday 11 November 2014, 5.30pm, King’s Manor, K/133.

Graduate Seminar, Wednesday 12 November, 11.15am, King’s Manor, K/159.

The lecture is free and open to all. For the graduate seminar students should register their interest in attending by e-mailing Brittany Scowcroft (brittany.scowcroft@york.ac.uk).

Download the poster here.

CFP: ‘Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City’, London, 6-7 Nov. 2014

Remembering Jerusalem: Imagination, Memory, and the City
6th-7th November
King’s College London

Organised by the AHRC-Funded Research Network ‘Imagining Jerusalem, 1099 to the Present Day’

Keynote speakers: Professor Anthony Bale (Birkbeck), Professor Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths).

Further keynotes TBA.

Perhaps the world’s most iconic city, Jerusalem exists both as a physical space and as a site of memory, ideas, and re-memberings. In art, literature, film, and history writing; in acts of public and private worship; and in communities across the globe, memories of Jerusalem have, for centuries, been created, invoked, and relived. This cross-period, interdisciplinary conference invites paper and panel submissions on the theme of Jerusalem and Memory, c. 1099 to the Present Day. Topics may include, but need not be limited to:

– techniques of memorialisation / techniques of memory
– place, space, and memory
– souvenirs, mementoes, and memory aids
– the materiality (or immateriality) of memory
– memory and sensation
– memory, land and environment
– memory and warfare
– memory and governance
– forgetting, false memory, and fictional remembering
– narrative and memory
– memory and the archive
– national, local, and transnational memories
– memory and community
– ethnography as remembering
– ritual, repetition, and performance
– sacred and secular memory

The organisers are particularly keen to receive panel submissions which address a shared theme across more than one discipline and/or historical period.

Abstracts of c. 300 words for single papers and c. 1000 words for panels consisting of three papers should be sent to imagining-jerusalem@york.ac.uk by 1st July 2014. For more details or inquiries, please contact the same address or visit the Network website: https://jerusalems.wordpress.com/

This conference is organised by the lead members of the Network: Dr Anna Bernard (KCL), Dr Michele Campopiano (York), Dr Helen Smith (York), Dr Jim Watt (York), and the Network Coordinator, Hannah Boast (York).

Download the Call for Papers.

The Franciscan Library and bookshop in Jerusalem

The Biblioteca Generale della Custodia di Terra Santa (General Library of the Custody of the Holy Land), taken by Michele CampopianoBy Dr Michele Campopiano, University of York.

Between the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, among the narrow and busy streets of the Holy City, there is a place which is remarkable for its peacefulness: the Franciscan Convent of San Salvatore. It is one of the convents of the Franciscan Custodia Terrae Sanctae. Following the example of the founder of the order Saint Francis, who visited the Holy Places, the Friars Minor have had a continuous presence in Jerusalem since the 14th century. They have welcomed and helped pilgrims since the Late Middle Ages, and they continue their function as ‘guardians’ of the Holy Places for the Catholic Church.

One of the first things a traveller will notice by entering the walls of the convent is the fascinating encounter of languages and forms of writing: Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian (the official language of the Custodia) and many other languages all resound among these ancient walls.

The Custodia is also an important centre of learning. It hosts the library Biblioteca Generale della Custodia di Terra Santa (the General Library of the Custody of the Holy Land), with its important patrimony of manuscripts and modern and ancient printed books.

The library is in a crucial phase of reorganisation and modernisation in order to improve the availability of the patrimony for scholars. Thanks to the kind hospitality of Father Lionel Goh, the director of the Library, and of the helpful employees of the Custodia, I have been able to spend a month in Jerusalem working on the medieval manuscripts of the Custodia. My research will be presented in full in a book I am writing about the history of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land between the 14th and 16th centuries. Some of the first results of my research will be presented in an article to be published in a collective volume edited in Italy by Franco Cardini.

The scholarly activity of the Franciscans themselves is expressed in particular by the work of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum which publishes extensively on biblical archaeology and exegesis, as well as on the history of the Holy Land. Many of the publications of the scholars of the institute can be found in the lovely Franciscan Corner- the Franciscan International Bookshop, near Jaffa Gate, in front of the Tower of David. In this bookshop the publications of the Franciscan Printing Press of Jerusalem and of the Edizioni Terrasanta of Milan, and other books on Biblical studies and the Holy Land and its history can be found. When you enter Jaffa look on your left side, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!