The Carmelites, the only contemplative religious order to have been founded in the Crusader States, first emerged as a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel, a site associated with the prophet Elijah. Soon after migrating to the West, in the mid-thirteenth century, they began to develop the geographical associations into a complex historical tradition based on the claim to have been founded by the prophet. Carmelite historical myths were first developed as a response to the threat of suppression, but increasingly came to form the basis of a distinctive ecclesiology and mission. This book, which is the first full-length study of the Carmelite historical legendary, examines the circumstances under which the traditions were constructed, describes the evolution of the traditions themselves from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, and places them within the wider context of historical writing by religious orders, and attitudes to the past more generally in the later Middle Ages.
Andrew Jotischky is a Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University.