After the German priest Ludolf of Sudheim returned from the Holy Land in 1341, he wrote an account of his travels that is far more complex than scholars have assumed. Ludolf expanded the genre of pilgrimage narrative in the way he draws on written sources, such as Hethum’s Flos historiarum Terre Orientis and William of Boldensele’s Liber de quibusdam ultramarinis partibus, while blending into his narrative oral sources of knowledge picked up from his personal contacts while traveling. Pilgrimage literature has often been denigrated by scholars for being repetitive, impersonal, and lacking originality. Yet if scholars were to adopt a less historiographically presentist approach to pilgrimage writing that is more open to the values and strategies of narratives like De itinere Terre Sancte, research could meaningfully focus on what might be called the “mental library” of pilgrim-authors — the full range of written and oral resources at their disposal in the complex processes of knowledge production in pilgrimage narrative.

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