The men and women who gathered at the Tabard Inn in Southwark in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are only the most famous of the tens of thousands of English pilgrims, from kings to peasants, who set off to the shrines of saints and the sites of miracles in the middle ages. As they traveled along well-established routes in the hope of a cure or a blessing, to fulfill a vow or to see new places, the pilgrims left records that let us see medieval people and their concerns and beliefs from a unique and intimate angle. As well as the most famous shrines, notably that of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury, Diana Webb also describes the many local pilgrimages and cults, and their rise and fall, over the English middle ages as a whole.
Continuum, 2000. Hardcover, 316 pp.