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The Siege of Jerusalem


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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • The Siege of Jerusalem
  • Appendix A: The Middle English Siege of Jerusalem
  • Prologue, lines 1-35
  • Passus 3, lines 573-608
  • Passus 5, lines 1069-1100
  • Appendix B: The Siege of Jerusalem and the Bible: Key Passages
  • 1 Maccabees 6
  • The Gospel According to Matthew 10.1-15
  • The Gospel According to Matthew 24.14-15 and 27.1-9
  • The Gospel According to Luke 19.37-48 and 21.5-28
  • The Gospel According to Luke 22.63-23.38
  • The Gospel According to John 11.47-56 and 18.3-19.21
  • Revelation 21
  • Appendix C: The Siege of Jerusalem and Medieval Christian Legend
  • From The Golden Legend, c. 1260
  • a. From "The Passion of the Lord" (Pontius Pilate, St. Veronica)
  • b. From "Saint James, Apostle" (St. James, the destruction of Jerusalem)
  • c. From "Saint Peter, Apostle" (St. Peter, St. Paul, Nero)
  • Appendix D: Other Medieval Anti-Semitisms and the Crusader Conquest of Jerusalem
  • Crusade Violence in Historical Writings
  • 1. From Albert of Aachen, History of the Journey to Jerusalem (c. 1125-50)
  • 2. From Eliezar bar Nathan, Gezerot Tatnu [Persecutions of 1096] (c. 1150)
  • 3. From Raymond d'Aguilers, History of the Frankish Conquerors of Jerusalem (c. 1100)
  • 4. From William of Newburgh, The History of English Affairs (c. 1198)
  • 5. Ephraim of Bonn, "Tatkan-tatkana b'Angleterre" ["In England, 1189"] (c. 1196)
  • Ritual Murder Libel: The Case of William of Norwich (c. 1173)
  • Ecclesiastical and Secular Legal Documents
  • 1. Pope Innocent III, Canons and Decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215)
  • 2. A Bull of Pope Gregory X (1272)
  • 3. Statute of the Jewry, England (1275)
  • Popular Literature: Miracles of the Virgin and Mandeville's Travels
  • 1. From The South English Legendary, "The Jewish Boy" and "The Jews of Toledo" (c. 1280)
  • 2. From the Vernon Manuscript, "The Child Slain by Jews" (c. 1390)
  • 3. From John Mirk’s Festial, "How a Monk Painted a Miraculous Image" (c. 1390)
  • 4. From The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (c. 1360)
  • Christian Dates in relation to the Destruction of the Second Temple: A Jewish Response, from Abraham Zacuto, Sefer Yuhasin [Book of Lineage] (c. 1500)
  • Works Cited and Recommended Reading

About the Author

Contributing Editor & Translator Adrienne Williams-Boyarin is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria. She is also the author of Miracles of the Virgin in Medieval England: Law and Jewishness in Marian Legends (Boydell & Brewer, 2010).


“This translation of the alliterative Siege of Jerusalem—and the volume to which it belongs—will provide a much-needed pedagogical resource.” — Timothy Stinson, North Carolina State University“The appearance of Williams Boyarin’s translation of The Siege of Jerusalem will be a welcome step in the recent reconsideration of that fourteenth-century poem, which was famously characterized by Ralph Hanna as “the chocolate-covered tarantula” of alliterative poetry. After decades of relative neglect, in the past ten years The Siege of Jerusalem has come to seem quite timely in its frank parading of East-West violence, religious war, and cultural bigotry. This translation will allow the poem to move into undergraduate classrooms, where it will sit uneasily but productively alongside such texts as Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale.” — Heather Blurton, University of California Santa Barbara“It can be a daunting task to grapple with a text that enjoys the memorable critical reputation of being a ‘chocolate-covered tarantula.’ Yet, Adrienne Williams Boyarin’s translation and contextualization of The Siege of Jerusalem has accomplished precisely that—she has pinned down that candied arachnid on a velvet block and, in so doing, has reframed the discussions around this poem’s wider participation in ‘intellectual and literary histories.’ The main translation distinguishes itself as both sensitive to the alliterative cadences of fourteenth-century Middle English poetry and also to the sense of the sweep of this complex, historically-based alliterative poem, paying close attention to what the editor and translator identifies as the specific ‘vocabulary, ambiguities, and repetitions.’ For general readers and students, it will be an invaluable entrance into this fascinating and quite popular text. … Adrienne Williams Boyarin’s framework—the introduction and selection of contextual documents—will reopen critical discussions; it will shape future scholarship on the Siege of Jerusalem.” — Dorothy Kim, Vassar College“Boyarin’s modernization evokes all the alliterative spit of the original. Her book fills itself out, too, with selections from the Middle English text and from others that bear on the poem’s setting, its possible sources and analogues, and its shared cultural contexts. More than merely updating an old poem, Boyarin presents a veritable anthology of medieval anti-Judaism.” — Seth Lerer, Times Literary Supplement“Boyarin’s Modern English translation of The Siege of Jerusalem is the first of its kind, and a valuable undergraduate classroom resource. … In addition to a skillfully produced translation, Boyarin offers an introduction, brief summary, and a final section to her edition; this latter section, entitled, ‘In Context,’ features primary source excerpts useful to audiences [and] … contextualizes the poem’s anti-Semitisms through the lenses of crusade violence and ritual murder … , opening and supporting intelligent conversation about the poem’s attitudes toward non-Christians, and its place in premodern culture.” — Suzanne M. Yeager, Arthurianna

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