First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Damascus is the first city and a principal one of Assyria. Of all the cities of Asia it is about the oldest. According to the Holy Scriptures, it is supposed to have been founded by the servants of Abraham. It has fields. By nature its soil is dry and unproductive. It is supplied with water by means of aqueducts. By this means the soil is irrigated and made very productive, and where shaded by foliage, it is most excellent. A lone small river flows by the walls and battlements. A small tongue of land, extending behind the battlements, is covered with a growth of most luxuriant vegetation. This estimable city is removed from Jerusalem by a six days journey. In it the apostle St. Paul received baptism. Near by is the place where he saw a strong light from heaven, and heard a voice, ‘Saul (Paul), why do you persecute me?’ After his baptism he preached the Lord Christ in the Jewish synagogues. Because of the secret animosity of the Jews he escaped over the walls in the night by means of a basket.[The journey to Damascus was the turning point in Saul’s life. Until then he had been a zealous Jew, determined with all the ardor of youth to uphold the traditions of his fathers. As a young man he acquiesced in the stoning of Stephen, holding the clothes of those who murdered him. He persecuted the Christians in Jerusalem, and thereafter secured authority from the high priest to go to Damascus to arrest all the disciples, and to bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he approached the city he was struck by a blinding light, and he heard the voice of Christ as stated by the chronicler. He was led into Damascus and there instructed and baptized by Ananias. Immediately he confessed Christ in the synagogues of Damascus and retired into Arabia for spiritual preparation. He returned to Damascus while the deputy or ethnarch of the Nabataean king Aretas held the city, and Paul was persecuted there, making his escape over the walls of the city as the Nuremberg chronicler has already stated. ] And there is still to be seen to this day the house of Ananias from whom St. Paul received baptism. This city suffered much by opposition and attack. At last King Conrad undertook a crusade into Asia, and he brought three Christian princes, a cardinal who was also a legate, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and many bishops, before Damascus. Our princes, pursuant to wise counsel, laid siege to the city; but it was fortified by high and stout battlements so that it could not be taken by force. Yet, in a short time it might have been captured; for had the water required by the inhabitants been cut off, they would not have been able to sustain the cattle and horses which they may have taken into the city for defense and sustenance; and the city wells would have proven inadequate for so large a population. Now as the inhabitants feared that the secret ducts and hidden drains that supplied them would be cut off, and the wells become polluted, there came among them an Assyrian of arch cunning. He received money from the Damascans, and he advised the Christian kings to remove their forces to another place, and to besiege it if the inhabitants resisted. And as this change took place, the Damascans were again able to use their water supply; and they so fortified themselves that the river was again in their power and its use denied our people. In consequence it was no longer available for bringing up supplies, resulting in a shortage of scarcity of food and sustenance. Thereby the siege was broken up and the kings, Conrad and Ludwig, led their forces into Europe and came home in the year of our Lord one thousand and fifty-two.[Damascus is an exceedingly ancient city, being first mentioned in the history of Abraham’s pursuit of the defeated kings (Genesis 14:15), for which reason, no doubt, the chronicler had introduced it in his Third Age of the World, which begins with Abraham. It was also the birthplace of Eliezer, the old patriarch’s steward (Genesis 15:2). Josephus ascribes its foundation to Uz, a grandson of Shem. It was the capital of Syria during the Hebrew monarchy, and the Syrian king is called the king of Damascus. In the annals of Christianity it is noted for the conversion and first preaching of Paul. It is situated about 60 miles from the Mediterranean and at the extremity of the great desert of El-Hauran. It is surrounded by a wall, which is, however, in a ruinous state of decay, and scarcely defines the limits between the city and its suburbs. The Crusaders never succeeded in firmly establishing themselves at Damascus. The bulk of the city is set along the main stream of the Barada River. On its approach to the city walls the river has much of its water drawn off through channels, by which it is conveyed to every corner of the city. Despite various drawbacks, her rich streams, bursting, as they do, on the very edge of the desert, and creating a delicious verdure, have won for Damascus the name of the earthly Paradise of the Arab world. It is an indispensable harbor of refuge in the desert; the market of the nomads, the outpost of the Mediterranean world. She has survived wars and changes of empire that have overthrown or reduced to poverty every other great city of that part of the world. This is due to the combination of a rich fertility with a position so forward on the desert.]

The City of Damascus

5-5/8" x 8-7/8"

Another medieval city, located on a promontory, and surrounded by a wall. There is nothing about it that shouts ‘Middle-Eastern’. It might pass for Nuremberg, but never for Damascus. The salvation of this little town is well provided for in the two large churches. The first is provided with a single tower and two crosses; the second, with two towers, but no denominational symbols. In spite of its frowning walls, it seems a more cheerful place than the landscapes that have gone before. The artist was here surer of his architecture. There is no confusion of building styles. There is considerable vegetation.