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The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God Paperback – November 1, 2003


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The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God + Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages: A Reader (Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures) + Medieval European Pilgrimage, C.700 - C.1500
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587680254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587680250
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #615,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An image of medieval religion which is colourful with an admirably light touch and scholarly precision. -- The Times (London)

It draws into one coherent and eminently readable whole references scattered throughout a vast body of literature -- The Daily Telegraph

Sumption is a gifted narrator, and careful scholar and a brave man. -- Spectator

The work of a brilliant young scholar of medieval literature. A book of scholarly rigour, broad scope and vital humanity. -- Times Educational Supplement (London)

Vivid reading. He has researched widely, and the 'curious' aspect of pilgrimage finds many extraordinary examples. Fascinating and entertaining. --Economist

About the Author

Jonathan Sumption was a History Fellow at Magdalene College, Oxford, until 1975 and is now a QC practicing at the commercial bar. He has also written The Albigensian Crusade and Trial by Battle and Trial by Fire, the first two volumes of his acclaimed history of the Hundred Years War.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on November 16, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The topic of medieval Christian pilgrimage is obviously large. Sumption does the reader a service by bounding the topic in a way that still provides an excellent overall view. The Age of Pilgrimage focuses primarily on the years between 1100 and 1500. It concentrates its attention during this period on the French cultural center (England, Northern Spain and Southern Italy).

The book is intuitively structured and flows very naturally for the reader. Sumption begins with the relevant background: relics and the cult of relics, saints, traditions of pilgrimage and retreat. He then moves to the periods relevant to pilgrimage before looking specifically at the pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Rome. The chapter on the Crusades as a pilgrimage movement is particulary interesting.

I actually bought the book looking for more historical background regarding the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Unfortunately, Sumption chooses not to address Santiago in the same detail as he addresses Rome and Jerusalem. However, the Way of St. James is such an important part of the medieval pilgrimage experience that I still got quite a bit of relevant history and background.

The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and quotations. It should appeal to virtually any historian (armchair or otherwise) but will have particular value to people with interest in Saints, the history of the Catholic church, medieval history and (obviously) historical background to the pilgrimage experience. The 2003 edition is an update of the 1975 book by Sumption which was simply titled Pilgrimage.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Purity on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Catholic church has always presented a series of intriguing enigmas to anyone with the time or interest to look beneath the surface. But most interesting of all, perhaps, is the road that was taken on its journey toward ever-increasing decay. That road is illustrated no where so well as the medieval pilgrimages. Sumption has done an excellent job of bringing to life the people and places that were so prominent in the religious lives of everyone, peasant and prince, during the middle ages.

In a tone light enough to engage any reader, but which never lends itself to frivolity, Sumption expounds on the origins of the popular pilgrimages, beginning with the "cult of the relics" and the almost idolatrous adulation of the saints as encouraged by the papacy. Miracles, healing, penitential pilgrimages - all are opened up to the modern mind with astounding clarity and lucidity.

Sumption closes with a salvo of chapters on the "great age" of the pilgrimages, in which pious humility gave way to mere curiosity and even stylistic fads. His descriptions of the holy destinations - Jerusalem, Rome, Canterbury - sing with vibrancy, as he invites us to partake of the crowded streets of the Jubilees, the writhing crowds engaged in mass flagellation, and the combined adoration and skepticism exhibited in the widely varied thousands of pilgrims traversing the roads to the Holy Land.

An excellent read, not only for those interested in the defined subject matter, but also those seeking the little gems about daily life and social mores in the middle ages. In this tidy volume, originally published under the title PILGRIMAGE, Sumption has set the bar very high indeed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Adamson on November 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
buyers should be aware that this is not a new book. it is a reprint, under a new title, of sumption's classic 1970s book on pilgrimage.

it is an outstanding work - entertaining despite the seriousness of the scholarship. if you are planning a trip to santiago, this book will tell you more about those who have walked the road before you than a whole shelf full of new-age "camino as the path to enlightenment" books that have appeared in recent years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig Shoemake on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book not only proved a gold mine for my current writing project, it is also a charm of a read. Sumption's prose goes down like a fine wine; his knowledge is vast but expressed with economy and an abundance of enjoyable stories and often comic escapades. This book is truly an example not only of rigorous scholarship, but of the kind of work that can provide intellectual uplift and be enjoyed by the generalist as well as the academic specialist.

If you want to know about medieval pilgrimage, look no further. This book covers it all, from 500-1500. Want to know about saints and the cults of their relics? Here they are. Need miracles or healings? Seek and ye shall find! Sumption covers them all and more--journeys over land, sea voyages, traveling companions, hostels and way stations, politics, holy sites and the never ending gullibility of that omnipresent creature: homo faithfulus. Regardless of your own religious beliefs (or lack thereof), you should come away with a firm appreciation for how the human craving to believe, to be taken care of, to be lifted up from the mundane, to find hope and healing, distorts, deludes, corrupts and makes nonsense out of our alleged faculty of reason. Superlative!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Willis Goodlett on February 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Have just started the book and like the format and style. Very comprehensive and informative. Needs abit more on the Santiago site but otherwise quite good. I would reccomend it for anyone starting out on research topics on that great age.
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