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Pilgrimage was an integral part of both medieval religion and medieval life and, from its origins in the fourth century Mediterranean world, it spread rapidly to Northern Europe as a pan-European devotional phenomenon. Pilgrims and Pilgrimage in the Medieval West draws extensively on original source materials - accounts of pilgrimage, guidebooks, chronicles and wills, covert memos and state documents. It seeks to uncover the motives of the pilgrims themselves. Pilgrimage could be a penance inflicted by a higher authority or an expression of spontaneous devotion; it could be a quest for a cure, or for an indulgence to shorten the pains of Purgatory; it could be an excuse to get away from the stifling domestic routine or from the suspicion of crime; it could even be undertaken for pay. Law courts accepted a bona fide pilgrimage as justification for absence from legal proceedings, and rulers, often pilgrims themselves, usually accepted their obligations to extend safe conduct and freedom from toll to the genuine pilgrim. All these aspects of pilgrimage and others are treated in this study. Special attention has been paid to English pilgrimage at home and abroad, but the reader will also find here a variety of texts from many parts of Europe, including, from Tuscany, previously unpublished archival material.
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