By Dana Vasiliu
British and American Studies, Vol.15 (2009)
Abstract: This paper looks into the way in which Matthew Paris’s itinerary maps served as prompts for cloistered monastics to conduct imagined pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the centre of Christianity. Moreover, this paper aims at discussing the relationship between different potential types of users: viewers/readers/travelers and the itineraries at hand.
Introduction: Matthew Paris was a thirteenth century Benedictine monk who lived at the abbey of Saint Albans and became the abbey’s official recorder of events upon the death of Roger of Wendover, the abbey’s former chronicler. His work as a historian and hagiographer consists of a history of the English people (Historia Anglorum), two Lives (one of the King Offa, the legendary founder of St. Albans and the other of Saint Edward the Confessor) and the more widely known Chronica majora, a massive account of events starting with the Creation and reaching up to year 1259 when Matthew died. The first seven pages prefacing Matthew Paris’s Chronica majora make up a kind of medieval road map linking London to the most important centres of medieval pilgrimage in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Rome and Jerusalem.