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Sunday, June 20, 2021

William Blake’s English Jerusalem

The dream of liberating the Holy Land of Jerusalem was the zeitgeist of the medieval period in Western Europe. But in practice, the liberation of Jerusalem, and the imposition of Latin Christian rule on it, was an incredibly complicated, expensive, and perilous exercise. 

Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, a large number of men from Western Europe made the long journey to Outremer to participate in the holy war for liberating Jerusalem. They promised their families that they would be back in six months. Most of them never returned. 

In the nineteenth century, poet William Blake suggested that it would be preferable to build a Jerusalem in a safe and convenient location, such as England’s countryside. In his poem, “Jerusalem,” he wrote:

“I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”

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