What is the impact of chapter 10 on the whole book in Sir John Mandeville's Travels?
The authenticity of Sir John Mandeville's Travels has often been questioned. There are no contemporary records of the author's existence, and parts of the book appear to have been copied from other travel narratives, such as that of the Friar Odoric of Pordenone.
However, although Sir John Mandeville may not have existed, and although, if he did exist, he probably did not travel to many of the places he claims to have visited, it is clear that someone who either wrote the Travels themselves or an account on which they were based had visited Jerusalem and toured the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the subject matter of chapter 10. The church and the tabernacle inside it are described very precisely, with inscriptions, dimensions, and surrounding geography and topography.
Chapter 10 is not only important because it includes a great deal of detail and appears more authentic than much of the book. It also provides a focal point and a destination. There were few tourists in the Holy Land during the fourteenth century, but there were many pilgrims. Many of them followed a route similar to the one described in the Travels, through Constantinople and on to Galilee and Nazareth. The more devout element of Mandeville's readership would see the chapters on the Holy Land as the most important section of the book and the description of Jerusalem in chapter 10 as its crowning glory.
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