Be the Historian!

What Kinds of Interests Motivated the Author?

The Problem: When historians analyze a travel account, they must consider its author carefully. The author’s gender, religious preference, age, and ethnic origin all shape how he or she writes an account. As historians, we may know only one or two of these characteristics. Often, the answer to such a question as “was the author a Muslim or a Christian?” or “was the author male or female?” is essential for understanding the text. Not every travel account provides clear answers to such questions, so historians are forced to puzzle out the answers from clues in the text itself.

The Task: As you work through the exercise, you'll read three travel accounts of visits to Jerusalem during the late medieval period, all by male authors. All three describe essentially the same things, but in different ways. Read these selections carefully and then answer the questions.

Go to the first account