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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 7, Number 2 (June 2009) : 169--87
Eyewitness vs. Mediated Narratives of Lost Cities at the End of the Middle Ages
Acre, Constantinople, Granada
Cyril Aslanov
Rubric A: Eyewitness Narratives


The end of the Middle Ages is characterized by significant changes in Mediterranean geopolitics: in Eastern Mediterranean, the Christian powers were driven out by the progression of the Mameluks and the Ottoman Turks. In the Western Mediterranean, however, the Christian powers of the Iberian Peninsula completed the Reconquista. The fall of Acre in 1291, the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and the capture of Granada in 1492 inspired a whole range of narratives from eyewitness reports to indirect and sometimes exagerated accounts. I would like to investigate the process of amplification that provoked the crystallization of some stereotypes related to the lost of the aforementioned cities: the massive massacre of the Christians in Acre reported in the anonymous Chronicle of the Templar of Tyre, the legend of the miraculous transformation of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI Paleologos into marble transmitted by Greek folklore, the story of Boabdil gazing for the last time at the Alhambra from a rocky eminence south of Granada. These stories show an interesting interplay between eyewitnesses, amplification nurtured by a high dose of nostalgia, and reminiscences of older narratives related to the topos of the capture of such antique cities as Troy or Carthago. My approach will analyze the process by virtue of which the intertextual processes obliterated the taste of authenticity contained in the genuine eyewitness report.

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