was a spontaneous, popular movement. It involved people from many
different classes and from all the nations of today's Europe. The reasons for
undertaking pilgrimage varied from person to person; but the motive
usually had something to do with sin and a desire to avoid the spiritual
consequences of having committed it. There is evidence of pilgrimages
taking place as early as the 4th century, from Bordeaux to
pilgrimage was most important from the 11th to the 14th
century. During this time, pilgrims travelled to holy sites all over Europe.
They visited the places where religious heroes had lived and died, where
miracles had been performed and where physical evidence of both heroes and
miracles (relics) remained. It was
perhaps the first truly European experience.
It may seem strange that so many people would journey such great
distances, at such great personal risk, for the sake of conviction. To
better appreciate the motivation, we must have both a clear view of the
power of the medieval church but also we must also begin to understand the
mentalité of people so willing to believe the
legends and myths of the time.
This is a project with long-term ambitions.
We have begun by constructing this skeletal website that introduces the
school student to the world of the medieval pilgrim. There are links
to other 'pilgrimage' websites and eventually there will be a range
of activities. For now, students across Europe are invited to explore the
pilgrimage traditions of their own communities and to share their research
with a wider European learning community. Students and teachers may wish
to send us their contributions, or better still, make their own website to
which we can place a link. In time, we hope that this project might become
an empathetic entry point into medieval life; a virtual journey through
the eyes of the pilgrim. But it will always be an opportunity for real
communication between schools in different parts of Europe in the 21st