Name of Object:

Frankish Letter

Location:

Jerusalem

Holding Museum:

Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif

About Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem

Date of Object:

Hegira 575–79 / AD 1180–8

Museum Inventory Number:

م/ أ /24

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ink on paper.

Dimensions:

Length 4 cm, width 17 cm

Period / Dynasty

Crusader

Provenance:

Sur, Lebanon.

Description:

A letter written on Arabic paper (more acidic than European paper) and which is small in size. Although yellowing, its condition is excellent. The letter consists of six lines written in Latin, and was sent from the city of Sur by the Knights Templar (Templar/ Fursan al-Haykal) Brotherhood to the Templar Brotherhood in Jerusalem. The subject of the letter revolves around the Temple personnel in Jerusalem who received the pilgrim, Robier du Sur du Fal. The decision was taken in the city of Fula in Palestine to strip him of his apparel in Sur and to imprison him in Acre until he could be taken to Europe on the first available ship sailing from the port. The letter does not explain the reason for this decision, or the nature of the crime that Robir du Sur du Fal allegedly committed, but it seems that the matter must have been of some importance to require the attendance of more than 100 knights from the Templar at a meeting.
The letter translates as follows:
“To Brother, 'Udun De Wandum, the representative for the Jerusalem Brotherhood, Brother Jarar De Ridfor, commander of the soldiers of the Templar Brotherhood to Brother U'dun Di Wandum, the representative of the Brotherhood in Jerusalem:
Greetings! You should know that Du Sur du Fal has landed on the shores of the city of Sur. And our agent received him in that region. After that, we held a gathering in al-Fula and a hundred Knights or more assembled at the site. We requested their opinions about what to do on this matter. They agreed on the general advice and were completely unanimous on sending five of their brother knights to the city of Sur in order to divest him of his clothing and take him to Acre. There, they would sojourn with him in a designated room until the first ship of the season.”
The document reveals the traditions and customs of the Latin brotherhoods as they appear in the Knights Templar in the Crusader state of Jerusalem. The strong bonds that held together the various branches of the brotherhood in Palestine and Lebanon are also apparent.

View Short Description

This letter was written on small-sized paper and contains six lines of Latin script. Its subject deals with the imprisoning of one of the members of the Templar Brotherhood and his forcible divestment of official apparel. He was then to be taken on the first available ship to Europe. The letter reveals the traditions and ways of this brotherhood.

How date and origin were established:

The letter is dated.

How Object was obtained:

The letter was found amongst a collection of papers and documents in a room close to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

How provenance was established:

Sur is likely to be the place where this letter was composed; this is supported by the text.

Citation of this web page:

Khader Salameh "Frankish Letter" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;14;en

Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh

Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.

Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: PA 14

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