Travelling in time and space: early modern variations on Burchard of Mount Sion’s Descriptio Terre Sancte

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Composed in the 1280s by a Dominican friar, Burchard of Mount Sion’s Descriptio Terre Sancte remained an influential account of the Holy Land for centuries. The impact of this text is reflected not only by the large number of extant manuscripts, but also by its rich printing history. And yet, although the Descriptio attracted considerable scholarly attention in the last decades, its shift into the world of print has not yet been studied. The aim of this paper is to explore this transition for the first time, focusing on the three earliest printed editions of the work. Inter alia, we examine the contexts within which the Descriptio was printed, the prologues which were appended to the Descriptio, the study aids added to it, and how its editors intervened in the text. This analysis reveals the range of ways in which early modern editors who appreciated the medieval Descriptio attempted to fit it into a cultural world whose intellectual culture was undergoing significant changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-202
Number of pages22
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation [grant no. 1080/20]. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the special issue’s editors, as well as to the anonymous reviewers, for their numerous corrections and suggestions.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation1080/20


    • Burchard of Mount Sion
    • Venice
    • book history
    • cartography
    • early print
    • pilgrimage
    • reception history


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