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Pilgrim libraries: books and reading on the medieval routes to Jerusalem & Rome

A Leverhulme International Network Grant awarded to Professor Anthony Bale.

In the later Middle Ages, thousands of European pilgrims travelled to Jerusalem and Rome, part of a highly organised industry. This two-year project (2016-18) seeks to interrogate the surviving books that the pilgrims read and wrote before, during, and after their pilgrimages to reveal what can they tell us about premodern trans-national culture.

At the heart of this project is the development of an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars of medieval bibliography, history, literature and religion. The network will make a dynamic and lasting contribution to our understanding of the mobility of people and ideas of medieval Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly along the pilgrim routes between Venice, Dubrovnik, Cyprus and Jerusalem, as well as to Rome (which rivalled the Jerusalem pilgrimage in popularity).

In marrying archival bibliography with literary criticism and cultural history the network will bring questions about the survival of medieval texts into a scholarly conversation about reading them beyond their immediate locality in trans-national contexts.

The project will embrace contemporary concerns of religious hostility, devotional memory, migration, multiculturalism, and nationhood, the curatorship of the past and contemporary legacies of medieval pilgrimage.

You can keep up-to-date with the project by following the blog here.

The project will be underpinned by two research-intensive workshops, to be held at Birkbeck, University of London (2016) and the Royal Dutch Institute, Rome (2017).

Network Partners

  • Hebrew University of Jersusalem, Israel
  • Centre for Pilgrimage Studies, University of York, UK
  • Rijksuniversiteit, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Institute of Pilgrimage Studies, The College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA
  • Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome, Italy


Dr Andrew Pink
Pilgrim Libraries Network Administrator