Oliver von Paderborn

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Oliver von Paderborn


German author and bishop.

Historia Damiatini.


[35.] Ante captionem Damiate liber nobis apparuit Arabice scriptus, cuius autor se Judeum vel Christianum vel Sarracenum fuisse negat in illo. Quisquis autem ille fuerit, predixit mala, que Saladinus populo Christiano crudeliter intulit in destructione Tiberiadis, in victoria, quam de Christianis habuit, quando regem Jerusalem et principes eius captivos duxit, civitatem sanctam possedit, Ascalonem destruxit et quomodo conabatur Tyrum comprehendere, sed non profecit, et alia multa, que peccata temporis illius meruerunt. Predixit etiam destructionem hortorum palmeti Damiate civitatis, quam factam vidimus, quando librum hunc per interpretem inspeximus. Addit etiam, Damiatam a Christianis fore capiendam; Saladini nomen non ponit, sed per nigros oculos et crocea vexilla ipsum designat. Insuper predixit, quendam regem Christianorum Nubianorum Mecham civitatem debere destruere et ossa Machometi pseudoprophete dispersa proicere et quedam alia, que nondum evenerunt, sed si completa fuerint, ad exaltationem Christianitatis et depressionem Agarenorum evenient.

Before the capture of Damietta there came to our attention a book written in Arabic, in which the author says that he was neither Jew nor Christian nor Saracen. But whoever he was, he predicted the evils which Saladin cruelly brought upon the Christian people in the destruction of Tiberias, and in the victory in which he had over the Christians when he took captive the King of Jerusalem and its princes, occupied the Holy City, and destroyed Ascalon; it also predicted how he tried to seize Tyre but did not succeed, and many other things which the sins of that time deserved. He also foretold the destruction of the gardens of the palm grove of the city of Damietta, which we saw had been accomplished when we examined this book through an interpreter. He also added that Damietta would be captured by the Christians; he does not use the name of Saladin, but points him out by means of his black eyes and saffron banners. Besides, he predicted that a certain king of the Christian Nubianorum was to destroy the city of Mecca and cast out the scattered bones of Mohammed, the false prophet, and certin other things which have not yet come to pass. If they are brought about, however, they will lead to the exaltation of Christianity and the suppression of the Agarenes

[62.] Ultra Leemanniam Ethiopia regiones habet latissimas, populum Christianum innumerabilem partim sub regibus Christianis, partim sub dominio Sarracenorum constitutum. Hic sunt Nubiani, qui in sacramento altaris et aliis divinis officiis Jacobinsis sociantur eo excepto, quod Nubiani soli parvulis suis karacterem crucis ignito ferro trifariam in fronte altrinsecus iuxta oculos imprimunt, nichilominus baptizant. Hii et illi litteram habent Caldeam, in fermentato conficiunt, uno digito signaculum crucis faciunt; duas naturas unitas dicunt in una natura Christi, forsitan nomen nature equivocantes, ut secundo loco naturam pro persona accipiant.

Beyond Leemannia, Ethiopia holds very broad lands, and has an innumerable Christian population partly under Christian kings and partly under the rule of the Saracens. Here are the Nubians who are joined in the Sacrament of t the Altar, and in other Jacobite divine offices, with this exception: The Nubians are the only ones who imprint upon their little ones with heated iron a threefold character of the Cross on the forehead near the eyes on both sides. Nevertheless they do baptise. The former and the latter have the Chaldean writing; they use leavened bread for the Holy Eucharist; they make the sign of the Cross with one finger; they say that two natures are united in the one nature of Christ, perhaps using equivocally the name of nature, so that in the second place they take “nature” for “person”.

Selected edition

H. Hoogeweg (ed.), Die Schriften des Kölner Domscholasters, späteren Bischofs von Paderborn und Kardinal Bischofs von S. Sabina Oliverus (Tübingen, 1894).

Oliver of Paderborn, ‘The Capture of Damietta’, trans. J. J. Gavigan., in Christian Society and the Crusades, 1198-1229, ed. E. Peters (Philadelphia, 1971)