Sir John Mandeville writes extensively on Jerusalem, or the Holy City. He describes it’s geographical nature in the first few paragraphs; how it is “well situated amongst the hills” (39) and how it isn’t near any kind of natural water source. He notes the city’s surroundings very briefly. The kingdom of Arabia borders Jerusalem to the east. Egypt is in the south. The Mediterranean Sea is in the west. The Kingdom of Syria and the Cypress Sea are both in the north. These are very basic geographical landmarks so that a reader will be able to know roughly where Jerusalem is; much like someone from Havertown, PA would say they are “outside of Philly.” It’s interesting how this sort of tactic is used back then just as we do now, so that people know generally where things are. All of these things are very quickly mentioned right at the beginning of this Jerusalem notation. However, I would say that his main focus throughout the narrative is the importance of Jerusalem as an iconic state, especially religiously. He talks about how the city has been in the hands of many peoples from different faiths.

Mandeville has a tendency to provide a lot of historical background to cities like Jerusalem. These little facts are interspersed throughout his telling of the cities. For Jerusalem, he talks about how it used to be called “Jebus” and then later “Salem,” until Solomon came around and combined the two names to make “Jerusalem.”  Everything has to do with Christianity when it comes to Mandeville’s accounts of most of the places he notes, but especially in Jerusalem. It is, after all, the Holy City. He constantly notes places at Jesus Christ had been to, and the legends and shrines that surround them. One particularly interesting description of one of these places is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is outside of the city walls during his time. “Our Lord entered through that gate on Palm Sunday, riding on an ass, and the gate opened for Him when He wished to go to the Temple.” (43) Just in this phrase, you can see how important these religious events are to him through his tone, such as the way he addresses Jesus Christ as “Our Lord.” He also is clearly writing for a mainly Christian audience and assumes that people will care about these religious factoids just the same as he does. This is fitting, however, since he is a French man and everybody in France during his time was Christian in some way. There is a religious significance outlined in every single place he goes to.