The route of the first crusade and the Frankish roads to Jerusalem during the 12th century

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The system of the roads from the coastal plain to Jerusalem witnessed dramatic changes during the twelfth century. The participants of the First Crusade used the southern road, which was then the main artery to Jerusalem. Apparently, the road met the needs of Muslim Jerusalem, a provincial city at that period. In view of the anticipated growth of traffic to Jerusalem, the road network was modified accordingly soon afterwards. In the first years of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem it began in Jaffa, arrived at Jerusalem via Nabi Samwil and the David (Jaffa) gate in Jerusalem. It returned to the coast through the new course of the southern road, via 'Ain Karim and was abandoned shortly after its establishment. Replacing the pilgrimage harbour of Jaffa by Acre's port was a possible reason. Consequently, almost all the estates from Haifa as far as the outskirts of Jerusalem were granted to different holders. It is not clear why the kings of Jerusalem chose to keep the estates along the upper road. However, the repetitive pattern of maintaining important estates near that route proves that they made more efforts to hold on to properties in this region than in the western section of the road. Keeping a low profile of royal presence in the western part of the road enabled other holders to take advantage of the situation. The canons of the Holy Sepulchre and the military orders took over extensive sequential territories and thus enjoyed a great amount of freedom of action. Consequently, they maintained independent pilgrimage roads to and from Jerusalem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-283
Number of pages21
JournalRevue Biblique
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


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