Andrea Colore (a cura di): La caduta di Acri 1291. Raccolta delle imprese legate allo sterminio di Acri - Taddeo di Napoli, Storia della desolazione e della distruzione della città di Acri e di tutta la Terra Santa (= Corpus Christianorum in Translation; 42), Turnhout: Brepols 2022, 168 S., ISBN 978-2-503-60264-6, EUR 45,00
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La caduta di Acri, edited by Andrea Colore is the forty-second volume in the Brepols Corpus Christianorum in Translation (CCT) series, directed by Julian Yolles. CCT offers, in the main European languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish and German), translations of patristic and medieval texts written in Latin and Greek already published in the Brepols Corpus Christianorum (CC) series, respectively in Series Latina (SL), Series Graeca (SG) and Continuatio Mediaevalis (CM). The CCT series thus aims to make these works accessible to non-specialist readers.
La caduta di Acri, which translates the two Latin texts presented in volume no. 202 of the Continuatio Mediaevalis series, edited by Robert Burchard Constantijn Huygens in 2004 (the Excidii Aconis gestorum collectio and the Ystoria de desolatione et conculcatione civitatis Acconensis et tocius Terre Sanctae by a certain Thaddeus), is an extremely handy volume of 168 pages, including indexes.
The book is structured as follows: introduction, in which is discussed the situation in the Latin Middle East at the end of the 13th century, then a presentation of the two texts in which Colore discusses, in order, contents, manuscript tradition, and sources of each. Colore then deals, within a single paragraph, with the style of the two works; he provides a brief bibliography, which is followed by an Italian translation of the two works. Two appendices complete the volume, one on military orders, and one on the medieval lexicon of weapons and siege machines mentioned in the two works.
As is well known, the narratives of crusader exploits are characterised by manuscript traditions that are often difficult to rationalise. This stems, on the one hand, from the large number of anonymous yet widely circulated texts, typical of the cultural sensibility of the time, and on the other hand, from the need to update, interpolate, retouch and even heavily modify the narrative to make it functional to the crusade teleology that varied over time. In short, these are texts of extreme complexity.
Even though the deserving professor Huygens devoted much of his research activity to editing crusade texts, there are still many that have never been critically reconstructed in an adequate manner; still in 2012, Trovato pointed out the overall unreliability of Sabino De Sandoli's albeit well-deserving collection, Itinera Hierosolymitana Crucesignatorum (IHC).
The historical disciplines have also profoundly renewed their approach to the study of the Crusader kingdoms in recent decades. Under the impetus of the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East (SSCLE), founded in 1980, historians of medieval archaeology, economic, military, ecclesiastical, institutional and legal history have multiplied their efforts to share their expertise within a framework of broad interdisciplinarity, providing increasingly in-depth and interconnected readings of the Crusader phenomenon.
Having said this, in welcoming the publication of a volume that will certainly contribute to a greater dissemination in Italy of two important texts from the late Crusader period, we would like to highlight the points that seem improvable.
Firstly, even though the series explicitly states among its directives "the translation is prepared by the original editor of the text", nowhere Colore states on which manuscript, or previous edition, he based his translation. As anticipated, we can sense that Colore used the 2004 Huygens edition; however, it is regrettable that, in offering the reader a timely, albeit quick, overview of the manuscript tradition of the two works, listing the individual manuscripts, he did not see fit to spend a single line on the Huygens edition, nor on any translation issues or controversial passages. This silence is even more disconcerting given that several other volumes in the series (citing at random CCT 26, CCT 30, CCT 32) do not fail to offer such not insignificant information.
Colore, a Ph.D. student who is currently working on other important Latin translations (Peter Abelard's Planctus), dedicated his dissertation to the translated texts in the Caduta di Acri.
Having ascertained that the focus of the publishing operation under discussion here lies in the translations, and not in the historical investigation of the proposed documents, the decision to devote an appendix to military orders remains incomprehensible, as Colour is not a specialist in the complex subject matter, and the outcome is superficial, deficient, and outdated.
The second appendix, which contains a sort of glossary of 17 Latin entries in the field of warfare, partially skirts the Vocabulary of medieval warfare prepared by Huygens in his 2004 edition, when he does not simply resort to the classic Du Cange. Disconcertingly, not even on the cultural production and writing activity of the crusader states, which have so much to do with the works he translates, is Colore informed, ignoring both the seminal Rubin 2018 and earlier works (e.g. Kedar or Minervini).
Overall, therefore, La caduta di Acri is undoubtedly appreciable for its popularising intent and for the editor's translation efforts, but it is not as recommendable with regard to the paratextual elements concerning the history of the crusades (among the major absentees, in addition to the authors already mentioned, are other indispensable names such as, for example, Burgtorf, Jacoby, Tyerman).