The organization of space and hierarchy of cities in the royal latin of Jerusalem

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During the 12th century the majority of the Frankish population of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem lived near the Mediterranean shore and was concentrated in three giant cities: Acre, Tyre and Jerusalem. These views are agreed by the majority of the scholars that dealt with the geographic history of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, in spite of their popularity, these views were never seriously investigated, and the fact that they are based on speculations did not undermine their credibility. This essay offers an alternative pattern based on a new reading of the list of military obligations included in John of Ibelin's book (13th century). The permanent population of the kingdom was concentrated in about twelve cities, among them Jerusalem and Acre housed more than ten thousand people, whereas other amounted no more than five thousand each. Most of the Franks preferred to live in pilgrimage cities or near the principal pilgrimage road. Hence, during the 12th century, Nablus and probably Tyberias were larger and more important than Tyre. The distinction between the military obligations of the cities and of the ecclesiastical institutions reflects, according to this reading, a difference in the origin of the sergeants. The cities sent to the army a certain percent of their permanent population, whereas ecclesiastical institutions relied mostly on pilgrims.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCahiers de Civilisation Medievale
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2008


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