Was the East Latin?

Avital Heyman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The concept that cultures are neither pure nor immutable but diverse and flexible is not a new one. Cultural hybridity reflects the effort to retain a sense of balance among traditions, beliefs, practices, institutions, rituals, and imagery within a multicultural venue. The cultural encounter that the conquering Crusaders experienced in the Latin East entailed the process of the hybridization of sociocultural constructs, resulting in a new, sophisticated identity that reflected a vital social organism, which resided both within and beyond the margins of country, race, ethnicity, class, and linguistic diversity. Strangers and conquerors in the Land of the Bible, the Latin Crusaders and pilgrims sometimes felt that “it would be long to tell” about that cultural and multi-creed blend. This paper refers to Queen Melisende (1105–1161) as the cultural agent who in herself represented hybridity, and in whose patronage the religious and public domain of Jerusalem was designed anew, demonstrating intriguing diversity and intrinsic artistic patterns of the Frankish contextualization of local Eastern and foreign occidental components within the political boundaries of the relocation. This article analyses three visual case studies that embody the new, Frankish performative imagery, and in particular that of Queen Melisende, who in all probability commissioned them. The selection of artefacts follows David Jacoby’s major research interests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-151
Number of pages57
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Deēsis fresco
  • Jehoshaphat’s Alm-house
  • Queen Melisende
  • Saint James Armenian Cathedral
  • Sinai icon
  • cultural diversity
  • silken textiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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