Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West

Article excerpt

Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West. By Diana Webb. [The International Library of Historical Studies, 12.] (London: I. B. Tauris, Publishers. Distributed by St. Martin's Press, NewYork. 1999. Pp. viii, 290. $59.50.)

This is a compendium of about 400 excerpts from western European medieval records illuminating various aspects of pilgrimage from c. 1000 to c. 1500. Twelve chapters, arranged in four parts, deal inter alia with penitential pilgrimage, indulgences and jubilees, problems encountered en route, pilgrim badges and souvenirs, wills, and criticisms of pilgrimage; there is one chapter on Pistoia. The excerpts, taken from a broad range of medieval documentation (private letters, charters, chronicles, royal passports, saints' lives, episcopal and papal letters, statutes, etc.) are arranged chronologically within each chapter. Part three, devoted to English pilgrimage, includes information on Englishmen abroad, foreigners in England, and pilgrimage within England and Scotland, with some excellent, lively material. Webb introduces each chapter with a helpful summary, setting the scene and referring to some of the excerpts to follow.

Chapter 4, "Help and Hazard: The Pilgrims' Experience," is particularly interesting, touching upon some often-ignored aspects of this commonplace of medieval life, including one case that resembles a modern lawsuit for false advertising (pilgrims who had unwisely relied upon Rome's "proclamation of safe-conduct" [p. …

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