The Revised Regesti Regni database, no. 1737 cites Huygens, R.B.C., ed. Lettres de Jacques de Vitry (Leiden: Brill, 1960), 71-78 for an edited version of James of Vitry’s letter to his friends. Huygens relied on three manuscripts for his edition: manuscript G in the Bibliothèque Universitaire de Gand (Ghent University Library), no. 554, folios 1-3, manuscript 10 in the catalog of Saint-Genois , and manuscript B* in the Bibliothèque Royale de Bruxelles . In the edition, Huygens designated this letter as letter I.
This document is a personal letter from James of Vitry, the newly appointed Bishop of Acre, to a group of his friends. The letter describes James’ journey through Italy on his way to the Holy Land throughout the summer and fall of 1216 . During his travels, James saw and participated in many events. He preached in the city of Milan, noting that its inhabitants were heretics . While in the city of Perugia, he learned that Pope Innocent III died and his body was rotting away in the city’s cathedral . After the papal election, Honorius III became pope, and James tried to secure additional powers over the secular authorities in the Holy Land, but to no avail . After a rough journey over water, he secured passage to the Holy Land on a newly built (and expensive) ship in Genoa .
James wrote this letter in Latin while he was on a Genoese ship before departing for Acre. Although he does not identify his friends, it is likely that James was writing to a fellow group of religious officials, hence why he decided to write in Latin. James wrote many letters throughout his life, mainly to his friends and religious officials like Pope Honorius; Huygens has collected these letters in his edition. Several of James’ letters are written together in Ghent University’s manuscript .
This document reveals many interesting points about the crusader states. The Latin West and East were firmly connected: James was from France, and he was traveling through Italy to assume his position as Bishop of Acre in the east. James’ letter also displays the rivalry between secular and religious officials. He expressed his disappointment to his friends when the pope refused to grant him more powers over the crusaders in the Latin East. The pope was an influential figure in the politics of the Latin East, and his mere assent could give a bishop an edge over the secular crusaders.
 R.B.C Huygens, ed., Lettres de Jacques de Vitry (Leiden: Brill, 1960), 6.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 11-12.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 52.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 72, Letter I, lines 47-54.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 73, Letter I, lines 61-65.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 74, Letter I, lines 67-90.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 76-78, Letter I, lines 138-144, 178-194.
 Huygens, ed., Lettres, 5-6.
By Ryan Sheehan, History MA Student at Fordham University.