Steven Runciman characterized intellectual life in the Frankish Levant as 'disappointing'; Joshua Prawer claimed that the Franks refused to open up to the East's intellectual achievements.
The present collection, the second by Benjamin Kedar in the Variorum series, presents facts that require a modification of these still largely prevailing views.
The earliest laws of the Kingdom of Jerusalem were influenced by Byzantine legislation; medical routine in the Jerusalem Hospital, unparalleled in Europe, had counterparts in Oriental hospitals; worshippers of different creeds repeatedly converged; multi-directional conversion recurred time after time. Several articles deal with groups that did abstain from intercultural contacts: Muslim villagers, Frankish clerics and hermits.
One article dwells on the asymmetry of Frankish and Muslim mutual perceptions.
The volume concludes with studies of specific locations: one argues that Acre was considerably larger than hitherto assumed, another compares its Venetian and Genoese quarters and attempts to locate the remains of a main street, a third reconstructs the history of Caymont.