Ken Wolf

title.none: Dunn and Davidson, eds., The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages (Ken Wolf)

identifier.other: baj9928.0110.001 01.10.01

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Ken Wolf, Pomona College,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Dunn, Maryjane and Linda Davidson, eds. The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages: A book of Essays. New York: Routledge, 2000. Pp. v, 183. 21.95. ISBN: 0-815-92895-0.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.10.01

Dunn, Maryjane and Linda Davidson, eds. The Pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages: A book of Essays. New York: Routledge, 2000. Pp. v, 183. 21.95. ISBN: 0-815-92895-0.

Reviewed by:

Ken Wolf
Pomona College

The editors of this volume have assembled an unusual mix of papers pertaining to the Camino de Santiago. The first, "The Cult of Saints and Divine Patronage in Gallaecia before Santiago", by Alberto Ferreiro, is a study of the spread of the cult of St. Martin of Tours in northwest Spain and its ultimate displacement by the cult of St. James (Santiago). The author carefully culls what little has survived in the way of textual evidence to illustrate not only the establishment of Martin's cult in sixth-century Galicia, but its rapid demise as a result of the Visigothic conquest of Galicia as well as continued Visigothic concerns about the Franks, who were themselves closely associated with the cult of St. Martin. Colin Smith's "The Geography and History of Iberia in the Liber Sancti Jacobi", highlights the inaccuracy of the geographical and historical information contained in the twelfth-century "Book of St. James". Focusing primarily on the Historia Turpini (the fourth part of the Liber Sancti Jacobi), which recounts apocryphal legends about Charlemagne's conquests in Spain and his defense of St. James' shrine in Compostela, Smith deduces that any pilgrim relying on its sense of Iberian geography and history would have been hopelessly misled. Vincent Corrigan's "Music and the Pilgrimage" is also focused on the Liber Sancti Jacobi, whose first book describes the liturgy performed in the cathedral at Compostela. Corrigan's essay reconstructs the liturgical elements and evaluates their musical significance. Jeanne E. Krochalis' contribution, "1494: Hieronymus Munzer, Compostela, and the Codex Calixtinus", considers an account of a visit to Santiago de Compostela by a late-fifteenth physician from Nurenberg. Krochalis briefly recreates the context for Munzer's journey and uses it as a preface for her translation of those portions of his account that either recount Munzer's experiences in Compostela or summarize the information that he gleaned from the cathedral's own copy of the Liber Sancti Jacobi. "The Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Cantigas de Santa Maria", by Connie L. Scarborough, considers the five (out of 427) cantigas in Alfonso X's thirteenth- century compilation of Marian miracles that have some connection with the pilgrimage. David M. Gitlitz provides an art historical take on the pilgrimage with his study, "The Iconography of St. James in the Indianapolis Museum's Fifteenth-Century Altarpiece". Gitlitz's chapter (with plates) identifies each of the twelve panels in terms the medieval legends about St. James. "The Pilgrim-Shell in Denmark" is the focus of Vicente Almazon's essay. By noting the distribution of ibskal (Danish for "James shell") images throughout Denmark, Almazon provides a sense of the wide distribution of the cult outside of the traditional Jacobean radius. The final contribution to the volume, John Dagenais' "A Medieval Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela on the Information Highway", is not an academic essay, but a brief, autobiographical piece about the author's efforts to create a virtual pilgrimage on the web in the context of an experimental medieval Spanish literature course. Aside from these eight chapters, the editors have added their own bibliographical essay intended to introduce the reader to the legends of St. James and to the pilgrimage to his shrine by surveying the principal pilgrimage accounts from the twelfth century to the present. Dunn and Davidson have also included three appendices which identify medieval pilgrims and list extant guidebooks and narratives up through the sixteenth century.

As distinct as each of the chapters of this volume are in terms of content and academic discipline, there is at least as much variation in how the individual authors interpreted their tasks. The first essay (Ferreiro) is a solid piece of historical research, using primary data as the basis for evaluating a well-defined and useful hypothesis. Two others (Smith and Scarborough) fall short of this goal by setting out to prove points that are problematic in their conception. In the case of Smith's study of the imagined geography of the Iberian peninsula, one would have expected less in the way of criticism of the naivete of the authors and more of an attempt to explain what factors (aside from sheer ignorance) might have accounted for the gross distortions of geography and history contained in works like the Historia Turpini and the Song of Roland. It seems to me that Scarborough's consideration of the pilgrim-related cantigas is also deficient in the area of argument, relying too much on summarizing the anecdotes and comparing them to alternative versions in other sources. The other contributors to the volume--Corrigan, Krochalis, Gitlitz, and Almazon--provide useful summaries (or translations) of important information drawn from textual and visual sources, but without really applying the data to address any historical problems. A reader interested in any of the particular fields represented in this volume will, it seems to me, learn more from the book than someone approaching it out of general interest in the Camino de Santiago.