Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and the Supporting Travel Network

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and the Supporting Travel Network

By Tetsuyuki Seki

The Communications and Networks of Medieval Cities in the West: The Sixth Japanese-Korean Symposium on Medieval History of Europe (2007)

Introduction: Santiago de Compostela in Galician region of Spain was one of three major holy places in medieval Europe along Jerusalem and Rome. Of these holy places the newest was Santiago de Compostela devoted to Santo Yacob (Saint James the Great), one of the Apostles as well as the patron saint of Christians. Santiago de Compostela has attracted many pilgrims from all over Europe from the second half of the eleventh century, when the crusade and the developments of medieval cities began.

I would like to consider here how a Roman hamlet such as Santiago de Compostela turned into one of three major holy places in Middle Ages, what historical significance the legends of Santo Jacob had, what motives moved many pilgrims to travel to Santiago de Compostela, what were ages, sexes, jobs and classes of pilgrims, and what communicative means and what travel network were used by medieval pilgrims. I also would like to mention what rituals the pilgrims practiced, when they entered into Cathedral Compostela, what sorts of dangers of travel they were confronted with, what confraternities they organized, and what charities they enjoyed during the pilgrimage.

Compared with pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem, many more common people, particularly the poor and the sick persons participated in pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, organizing confraternities and enjoying hospitality in hospitals. I think that it was one representative of popular religions in medieval Europe. Moreover it has had intimate relations with travel network, because pilgrimage as religious travel could not hane been realized without travel network such as roads, hospitals and travel information, confraternity, charities. We must also pay attention to the fact that travel network was inseparable from the developments of medieval cities.

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