‘I was with him on the day I saw them killed in terrible fashion’

The invasion of the Holy Land by the Seljuk Turks in the later 11th century was extremely violent and created large numbers of refugees, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. This letter is from a Jewish woman who had to flee Jerusalem, ending up in Tripoli in Lebanon. There she writes: ‘I am an ill woman on the brink of insanity, on top of the hunger of my family and the little girl who are all with me, and the horrible news I heard about my son.’ She suggests it would be better to be captured since those in captivity ‘find someone to give them food and drink’. As refugees, she and her children are starving.

Tripoli, Lebanon, 1070s CE

Judaeo-Arabic, parchment

Lewis-Gibson Misc.35