Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When Sources Just Fall into Your Lap

Last night I was working on Flower of the Desert and writing a descriptive passage of the Crusaders first sighting Jerusalem. My sources were Benjamin of Tudela (a Jew traveling in the 12th century) and some maps of old Jerusalem that I had found on the Internet. Trouble is: the maps were all proving contradictory, and although Benjamin of Tudela had an adequate description of the city, I was having trouble visualizing it enough to make my reader visualize it.

This morning when I was perusing Facebook, I discovered that History Today has a new article up by John France titled "The Capture of Jerusalem." How could I pass that up? I clicked over to the article and about halfway through it found this:
In attacking Jerusalem the crusaders faced a formidable task. The city is set upon a steep spur dividing the Kidron valley, which falls away southwards towards the Dead Sea. To the east the Valley of Josaphat cuts an enormous gash between the city and the Mount of Olives, while to the West the Valley of Hinnon provides a similar if less dramatic protection. Apart from a level stretch of some 250-300 metres around the Zion Gate, the land before the southern wall falls sharply to the Kidron valley: it was here that the Count of Toulouse chose to mount his attack, but he faced a deep ditch between the wall and his camp. The most vulnerable aspect of the city is the northern wall, about a kilometre long, which is built well below the brow of the hill; here the rest of the army gathered. The whole city was surrounded by a wall, three stories high, studded with projecting towers; the relative vulnerability of the northern wall was protected by an outer wall and beyond it a ditch extending from the citadel, called the 'Tower of David' by Jaffa Gate on the west side, to the platform over the Valley of Josaphat at the north-east corner.
I love it when sources just fall into your lap. I guess I'll be rewriting that passage tonight, with a little help from John France and "The Capture of Jerusalem."

Siege and Capture of Jerusalem (1099)

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