Riccoldo of Monte Croce (ca. 1243–1320), Dominican friar, missionary, and pilgrim, was an accomplished author, but nature of his written corpus has been disputed by scholarship. For some, he is a noted anti-Islamic polemicist. For others, he is a quasi-tolerant traveler in the East. Yet past attempts to understand Riccoldo’s corpus have taken little notice of the priory of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, where he spent most of his life. This article begins to rectify this omission and signals new ways to understand Riccoldo by drawing on the work of historians, philologists, and codicologists. It assesses Riccoldo’s relationship to Santa Maria Novella’s library and its books. It also traces some of Riccoldo’s social relationships, demonstrating how his positions as a lecturer and preacher and his social connections with individuals like Remigio de’ Girolami influenced his writings. Overall, this study reemphasizes the fact that without understanding social contexts we can never properly understand the intentions of pilgrim-authors.

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