Despite an enduring tradition that considers the Middle Ages as a static era, they featured quite a lot of travel. People undertook journeys for politics or in order to work, worship or study. Medieval roads were populated by kings, merchants, pilgrims, outlaws, clergy, jesters, social outcasts and errant knights. And they also travelled along rivers, lakes, canals, seas and the ocean. Using a wide set of examples drawn from contemporary sources, the author attempts to describe medieval people in movement across countries and continents and depict their itineraries, struggles, fears and feelings. What did it mean, at that time, to leave one’s home behind and take to the road? What was travelling actually like? What kind of geographical knowledge and imagery did wayfarers possess? And what kind of relationships did they enjoy with foreign people?
Maria Serena Mazzi teaches Medieval History at the University of Ferrara.