Image and Chant: The Church of the Nativity and Crusader Kingship in the Twelfth Century (by Ana Núñez)
In this paper, Ana Núñez argues that a visual and sonic appreciation of the now lost Tree of Abraham inside the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem reveals the mosaic image’s function as a declaration of Frankish power in the twelfth-century Kingdom of Jerusalem. More specifically, she traces the liturgical context behind this image, beginning in early eleventh-century Chartres where Bishop Fulbert (1006–28) wrote his popular liturgical chant, Stirps iesse, which not only shaped monumental visual corollaries in twelfth-century Chartres (the more familiar visual motif, the Tree of Jesse), but also influenced the wider liturgy of Europe. Fulbert’s liturgical legacy would then arrive across the Mediterranean in the Latin East, as European clerics, such as Fulcher of Chartres, established the western church in the region after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099. It is the liturgy of the Latin East, infused with the thought of Bishop Fulbert, which informs the Tree of Abraham inside the Church of the Nativity. Relying on pilgrim accounts to re-capture the mosaic’s visual details, as well as liturgical texts from the Kingdom of Jerusalem to illuminate the image’s unique meaning, Ana Núñez argues that the Tree of Abraham echoed crusader emphasis on the figure of Abraham as the paradigmatic pilgrim; lineage as the guarantor of royal power; and the inauguration of Christian eschatology after 1099. At a time of both personal conflicts and numerous failed ventures into Egypt, the Tree of Abraham bespeaks Jerusalem King Amalric’s (r.1163–74) aspirational claim to firm power through the medium of triumphant, glittering gold.
Register in advance to receive Zoom details.