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December 15 , 2009

The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela


First-hand account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the twelfth century. The introduction begins: "The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela throws a flashlight upon one of the most interesting stages in the development of nations. The history of the civilized world from the downfall of the Roman Empire to the present day may be summarized as the struggle between Cross and Crescent. This struggle is characterized by a persistent ebb and flow. Mohammed in 622 A.D. transformed, as if by magic, a cluster of Bedouin tribes into a warlike people. An Arabian Empire was formed, which reached from the Ebro to the Indus. Its further advance was stemmed in the year 732, just a hundred years after Mohammed's death, by Charles Martel, in the seven days' battle of Tours. The progress of the culture of the Arabs was as rapid as had been that of their arms. Great cities such as Cairo and Bagdad were built. Commerce and manufactures flourished. The Jews, who enjoyed protection under the benign rule of the Caliphs..."

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