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This chapter explores the Custody of the Holy Land as a legal, spiritual and cultural product of the Holy Land. It explores its roots in Catholic spirituality and pilgrimage, the Holy Land as a shared religious landscape, and the influence of Islamic law/Ottoman governance.
The year 1700, which marks the end of this investigation, did usher in some notable changes in the life of the Custody. The death of the last Spanish Habsburg monarch in November saw the throne transfer to the Bourbon line, signaling the coming end to an imperial rivalry that had raged in the Custody as well as other global arenas for over a century. While France would remain an important ally of the Custody at the Ottoman Porte for several decades more, its influence in the Mediterranean was declining by the end of the century, especially once the forces of Revolution began tearing at the foundations of the monarchy. The Franciscan brothers arguably faced a more serious challenge to their administration of the pilgrimage from the new enlightenment culture emerging in Europe at this time, which embraced among other things a certain skepticism about the Catholic Church and its doctrine including belief in divine immanence. Still, while perhaps much more muted in tone than in the previous century, pilgrimage treatises produced after 1700 make it clear that Reformation debates over the efficacy of the pilgrimage continued to haunt the Custody. And there were other signs as well that many of the conflicts that beset the venerable pilgrimage institution by 1517 were still testing the administration of the friars. Internal sources show, in particular, that differences over nation and reformed identity remained sources of tension within the Holy Land family. The competition with the Greek Orthodox over altars also reignited in 1701, leading to several more decades of episodic conflict. Indeed, by the end of the eighteenth century, the Greek Orthodox would succeed in asserting their claims to precedence in the Holy Places. And yet, for the brothers of the Holy Land, there were some welcome signs of continuity as well. As in times past, Catholic pilgrims arrived each year in the Holy Land to visit its many sacred sites. Alms continued to flow into Jerusalem from all corners of an increasingly global Catholic tradition in support of the ministry of the Custody and Franciscan jurisdiction persisted. Despite the many challenges the friars faced to their jurisdiction after 1517 from other Christians – including other Catholics and even fellow Franciscans –they continued to exercise control over the Custody after 1700, and the Order of Friars Minor remains in charge to this day.
Chatper 5 examines the growing influence of the papal Congregation of the Propaganda Fide in the administration of the Custody after 1622. It argues that its intervention reflects the importance given to the Holy Land as both a frontier, and spiritual center, of an increasingly global Catholic tradition.
This final chapter explores competition between Franciscan reform traditions over jurisdiction in the Custody to understand the Holy Land's importance as a Franciscan sacred landscape, and custodial administration as a manifestation of Franciscan authority and legitimacy.
Chapter 2 investigates growing competition between the Franciscan (Latin) and Greek Orthodox community over the legal and material possession of altars to understand these as vessels of political and spiritual legitimacy.
Chatper 3 studies a unique pilgrimage society known as the Order of the Holy Sepulcher as a window into the the Holy Land as a source of spiritual and political legitimacy for Catholics in the wake of the Reformation.
A shared biblical past has long imbued the Holy Land with special authority as well as a mythic character that has made the region not only a revered spiritual home for Muslims, Christians, and Jews but also a source of a living sacred history that continues to inform present-day realities and religious identities. This book explores the Early Modern Holy Land (1517–1700) as a critical place in which many early modern Catholics sought spiritual and political legitimacy during a period of profound and disruptive change. The Ottoman conquest of the region, the division of the Western Church, Catholic reform, the integration of the Mediterranean into global trading networks, and the emergence of new imperial rivalries transformed the Custody of the Holy Land (Custodia Terrae Sanctae), the venerable Catholic institution that had overseen Western pilgrimage since 1342, into a site of intense intra-Christian conflict by 1517. This contestation thrusts into relief the Holy Land’s importance both a frontier and sacred center of an embattled Catholic tradition, and in consequence, as a critical site of Catholic renewal and reinvention.
A shared biblical past has long imbued the Holy Land with special authority as well as a mythic character that has made the region not only the spiritual home for Muslims, Christians, and Jews, but also a source of a living sacred history that informs contemporary realities and religious identities. This book explores the Holy Land as a critical site in which early modern Catholics sought spiritual and political legitimacy during a period of profound and disruptive change. The Ottoman conquest of the region, the division of the Western Church, Catholic reform, the integration of the Mediterranean into global trading networks, and the emergence of new imperial rivalries transformed the Custody of the Holy Land, the venerable Catholic institution that had overseen Western pilgrimage since 1342, into a site of intense intra-Christian conflict by 1517. This contestation underscored the Holy Land's importance as a frontier and center of an embattled Catholic tradition.
Reflecting back on the period of the Catholic League, the magistrate and historian Jacques-Auguste de Thou expressed mixed feelings about friar Robert Chessé. Chessé had protected De Thou during the Day of the Barricades, the week-long revolt against royal authority in Paris that began on May 12, 1588. During these violent days, the Catholic League took control of the major municipal institutions, and its supporters hunted down well-known royalists, including De Thou. Many were imprisoned if not beaten and killed, including those royalist magistrates of the Parlement and members of the municipal government who failed to escape Paris in time. De Thou fled to the Paris friary for protection sometime after May 12, and he remained hidden there for several days until it was safe for him to depart. De Thou expressed his gratitude to Chessé in his Histoire universelle for saving him from the League, but he could not hide his disappointment in the friar's subsequent political radicalism. Chessé was vain, he said, and he let his religious fanaticism replace his loyalty to the king. De Thou was well aware that only eighteen months after the Day of the Barricades, Chessé was caught by the forces of Navarre in the city of Vendôme and executed for treason. The charge against Chessé was conspiracy on behalf of the League to overthrow the royalist government of Tours.