Book Review: Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven

Jerusalem 1000-1400

Jerusalem, 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven accompanies the Met's exhibition exploring art from medieval Jerusalem. Featuring nearly 200 artworks, it is the first publication to focus on the 11th to 14th century, a moment of unparalleled creativity in Jerusalem's complex history.

Attributed to Master of the Barbo Missal (Italian) and Nehemiah (active northern Italy, mid 15th century). The Book of Divine Service from the Mishneh Torah, ca. 1457

Medieval Jerusalem was a vibrant international centre and home to multiple cultures, faiths, and languages. Art from the city shows influences from Persian, Turkish, Greek, Syrian, Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Indian, and European traditions. 

'The multiethnic, multireligious, multilinguistic stew that was medieval Jerusalem yielded an environment of perpetual instability. Who was foreign? Who was native? Who was culturally dominant? Who was marginal?'

This beautifully illustrated book deals with the historical fact of the four centuries, but also with the collected impressions that Jerusalem made on its visitors and inhabitants: the sights, sounds, food and clothes. 

The 400 centuries covered was a 'singularly creative moment in a singularly complex city' and this is illustrated by the 200 or so artworks within the book. Throughout Jerusalem 1000-14000 are beautiful reproductions of illuminated manuscripts, as well as souvenirs purchased by tourists, domestic objects that blurred the lines between eastern and western design, literal and imaginative maps, weapons, recipe books and textiles illustrating different aspects of medieval Jerusalem.

Map of the Holy Land, from Chronica Majora vol. I, ca. 1240–53. Written and illustrated by Matthew Paris (British, ca. 1200–1259)

Insightful and vivid essays bring to life all facets of life in Jerusalem from 1000 to 1400, and show how the various communities added to and influenced the art and life of Jerusalem, and from there the rest of the European, North African and Middle Eastern world.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in medieval art and the history of Jerusalem.