100 books like Pilgrimage in Medieval England

By Diana Webb,

Here are 100 books that Pilgrimage in Medieval England fans have personally recommended if you like Pilgrimage in Medieval England. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Medieval Women

ffiona Perigrinor Author Of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe's Maidservant

From my list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d already published a scholarly book about the household of a medieval widow, who was just a decade older than Margery Kempe and lived sixty miles away, so the time, place, and mindset seemed very familiar. As a Jungian Psychoanalyst I’m interested in how individuals find the central meaning in their lives. Clearly for Margery it was the search for God, although she doesn’t appear to have been a kindly soul. When I read that she twice quarreled with her maidservant, I realised the maidservant could tell her own tale. And so she did, and sometimes it seemed she was dictating it to me! Characters really do speak for themselves... 

ffiona's book list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe

ffiona Perigrinor Why did ffiona love this book?

Eileen Power was a pioneer in Women’s History and this was the first book I read when I went back to university. It’s an inspiring collection of essays on medieval ideas of women, working women in town and country, education, and nunneries. If you’re planning to write a book about women in the Middle Ages, start your research here.

Power refers to many diverse contemporary texts such as The Goodman of Paris and works by Chaucer and Christine de Pisan, which enabled me (or, which will enable you) to portray authentic detail in my own book. The essay on nunneries, which I drew on for my novel, is a summary of her seminal work on medieval English nunneries. There are also forty-two well-chosen illustrations that complement the text.

By Eileen Power,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Medieval Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout her career as a medieval historian, Eileen Power was engaged on a book about women in the Middle Ages. She did not live to write the book but some of the material she collected found its way into her popular lectures on medieval women. These lectures were brought together and edited by M. M. Postan. They reveal the world in which women lived, were educated, worked and worshipped. Power gives a vivid account of the worlds of the lady, the peasant, the townswoman and the nun. The result is a historical yet intimate picture of a period gone by…


Book cover of Margery Kempe: A Mixed Life

ffiona Perigrinor Author Of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe's Maidservant

From my list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d already published a scholarly book about the household of a medieval widow, who was just a decade older than Margery Kempe and lived sixty miles away, so the time, place, and mindset seemed very familiar. As a Jungian Psychoanalyst I’m interested in how individuals find the central meaning in their lives. Clearly for Margery it was the search for God, although she doesn’t appear to have been a kindly soul. When I read that she twice quarreled with her maidservant, I realised the maidservant could tell her own tale. And so she did, and sometimes it seemed she was dictating it to me! Characters really do speak for themselves... 

ffiona's book list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe

ffiona Perigrinor Why did ffiona love this book?

I find it difficult to have any admiration for Margery Kempe since I don’t believe she was a mystic – she was frequently quarrelsome, meddling, vain and judgmental, and those who travelled on pilgrimage with her often wanted to get as far away from her as possible. Bale, however, has sympathy for this troubled soul and explores her life through the text of her book, focusing on the places she visited, her friends and enemies, objects she admired, and her intense feelings which were on a dramatic spectrum from despair to bliss. After reading A Mixed Life I still don’t think Margery is deserving of sainthood but, like her long-suffering maidservant, I appreciate her a little more and respect her tenacity and dedication to her religious quest.

By Anthony Bale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Margery Kempe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a new account of the late-fourteenth-century mystic and pilgrim Margery Kempe. Kempe, who had 14 children, travelled all over Europe and recorded a series of unusual events and religious visions in her work The Book of Margery Kempe, which is often called the first autobiography in the English language. Anthony Bale charts her life, and tells her story through the places, relationships, objects and experiences that influenced her. Extensive quotation from Kempe's Book, and generous illustration, gives fascinating insight into the life of a medieval woman. Margery Kempe is situated within the religious controversies of her time, and…


Book cover of The Ties That Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England

ffiona Perigrinor Author Of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe's Maidservant

From my list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d already published a scholarly book about the household of a medieval widow, who was just a decade older than Margery Kempe and lived sixty miles away, so the time, place, and mindset seemed very familiar. As a Jungian Psychoanalyst I’m interested in how individuals find the central meaning in their lives. Clearly for Margery it was the search for God, although she doesn’t appear to have been a kindly soul. When I read that she twice quarreled with her maidservant, I realised the maidservant could tell her own tale. And so she did, and sometimes it seemed she was dictating it to me! Characters really do speak for themselves... 

ffiona's book list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe

ffiona Perigrinor Why did ffiona love this book?

I love this book  Hanawalt’s research is intriguing – using manorial court rolls, coroners’ reports, and wills she reveals the lives of ordinary folk and opened the doors for me to peasant homes in the later Middle Ages. I thoroughly enjoyed her description of everyday life from childhood to old age, the household economy, blood ties, wealth, homesteads, and surrogate parents and children. I discovered that family concerns were not so very different then to ours today and was reminded that the past is not a foreign country where they did things differently. It’s both scholarly and readable, a book to dip into or relish from cover to cover, another essential for writing historical fiction about the Middle Ages.

By Barbara A. Hanawalt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ties That Bound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barbara A. Hanawalt's richly detailed account offers an intimate view of everyday life in Medieval England that seems at once surprisingly familiar and yet at odds with what many experts have told us. She argues that the biological needs served by the family do not change and that the ways fourteenth- and fifteenth-century peasants coped with such problems as providing for the newborn and the aged, controlling premarital sex, and alleviating the harshness of their
material environment in many ways correspond with our twentieth-century solutions.Using a remarkable array of sources, including over 3,000 coroners' inquests into accidental
deaths, Hanawalt emphasizes…


Book cover of The Age of Pilgrimage: The Medieval Journey to God

ffiona Perigrinor Author Of Reluctant Pilgrim: The Book of Margery Kempe's Maidservant

From my list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d already published a scholarly book about the household of a medieval widow, who was just a decade older than Margery Kempe and lived sixty miles away, so the time, place, and mindset seemed very familiar. As a Jungian Psychoanalyst I’m interested in how individuals find the central meaning in their lives. Clearly for Margery it was the search for God, although she doesn’t appear to have been a kindly soul. When I read that she twice quarreled with her maidservant, I realised the maidservant could tell her own tale. And so she did, and sometimes it seemed she was dictating it to me! Characters really do speak for themselves... 

ffiona's book list on why you wouldn’t want to travel with Margery Kempe

ffiona Perigrinor Why did ffiona love this book?

There’re numerous books on medieval pilgrimage, and even though I don’t agree with all of Sumption’s conclusions, I’m recommending this for its readability and fascinating anecdotes and quotations, drawn from contemporary accounts, which were invaluable for my research. It’s informative about both the devout and more worldly travelers, kings, queens, clerics and nobles, and the common people of the day.

One major drawback is that his focus is largely on France and Rome, while Jerusalem, Santiago, and the German pilgrimage sites don’t get the attention they deserve. But this just demonstrates how popular pilgrimage was throughout the Middle Ages and how busy the highways and byways were with crowds of pilgrims. I learnt that people were much more mobile at this time than I had thought.

By Jonathan Sumption,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Pilgrimage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brings alive the history of pilgrimage in Europe

We are apt to forget how much people traveled in the Middle Ages. Not only merchants, friars, soldiers and official messengers, but crowds of pilgrims were a familiar sight on the roads of Western Europe. In this engaging work of history, Jonathan Sumption brings alive the traditions of pilgrimage prevalent in Europe from the beginning of Christianity to the end of the fifteenth century. Vividly describing such major destinations as Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury, he examines both major figures--popes, kings, queens, scholars, villains--and the common people of their day.…


Book cover of The Canterbury Tales

Eleanor Janega Author Of The Once and Future Sex: Going Medieval on Women's Roles in Society

From my list on illuminating the Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a medieval historian who specialises in social history, and more particularly on sexuality, propaganda, and apocalypticism. I fell in love with the period from my very first class during my BA, but even back then, I was struck by just how little we as a society pay attention to some thousand years of history. Even worse, we often tell lazy myths about the Middle Ages as a time of filth and ignorance that makes us feel good about ourselves. Since not everyone can get a Ph.D. like I did, I have dedicated my career to bringing the period to light. I hope this book list does just that.

Eleanor's book list on illuminating the Middle Ages

Eleanor Janega Why did Eleanor love this book?

I love this stupid, sexy mess of a book.

Oh, you think you know what the Canterbury Tales is about? No. You don’t. It’s about shagging in pear trees while your blind husband sits below you. It’s about weird non-binary people that your travelling companions don’t know what to make of. It’s about love and death and meaning and fart jokes. The Canterbury Tales is a brilliantly alive, deliciously bawdy, surprisingly disarming work that will help you understand what regular people in the Middle Ages wanted to read about.

For bonus points, get a hold of the Riverside Chaucer translation because medieval historians like to be thingy about that. I’ll take any version as long as you read it, though. 

Book cover of The Book of Margery Kempe

Nicola Rose O'Hara Author Of Girl With Two Fingers

From my list on taking you where you can’t go.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve chosen these books because they take me to times and places I can’t go (although I did serendipitously get to Kerala, and am hoping to go to the West Coast of America one day). Girl with Two Fingers takes you into the studio, hopefully as if you could have been there yourself. I want readers to be able to share something of the experience I was so lucky to have. And to be able to see perhaps more questioningly when they look at art.

Nicola's book list on taking you where you can’t go

Nicola Rose O'Hara Why did Nicola love this book?

You can’t go to the past, but the past can come to you, through a written voice. 

This is a strong and extraordinary woman’s autobiography from the late 1400s and early 1500s. It’s like taking a phone call from the 15th century.

This directness is what I wanted in my own book.

Kempe could neither read nor write, so she dictated her story. She did things women often weren’t able to do back then. She ran a business, travelled to France, Germany, Spain, and even to Jerusalem. And she spoke out against many received medieval opinions.

How brave Kempe was to challenge the patriarchy.

By Margery Kempe, Lynn Staley (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Margery Kempe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kempe's work is accompanied by an introduction, a map of medieval England, a Kempe lexicon, and explanatory annotations.

"Contexts" collects primary readings that illuminate The Book of Margery Kempe. Included are excerpts from The Constitutions of Thomas Arundel, Meditations on the Life of Christ, The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, The Book of Saint Bride, and The Life of Marie d'Oignies by Jacques de Vitry.

"Criticism" includes nine varied interpretations of the autobiography, written by Clarissa W. Atkinson, Lynn Staley, Karma Lochrie, David Aers, Kathleen Ashley, Gail McMurray Gibson, Sarah Beckwith, Caroline Walker Bynum, and Nicholas Watson.

A Selected Bibliography…


Book cover of The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook

Beebe Bahrami Author Of The Way of the Wild Goose: Three Pilgrimages Following Geese, Stars, and Hunches on the Camino de Santiago

From my list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning writer, anthropologist, and trekker. Much of my writing is centered on France, Spain, and Portugal and the trails of the Camino de Santiago. My passion for the Camino and its rich legacy arose over three decades ago as a study abroad student in southern Spain when I first heard about the Camino and journeyed across Spain, France, and Portugal. I knew then that my life would forever be bound up with going deeper into the rich histories, cultures, and places of these many-layered geographies. I'm best known for my travel memoirs (Café Oc, Café Neandertal), guidebooks (Moon Camino de Santiago, The Spiritual Traveler Spain), and widely published travel essays. 

Beebe's book list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago

Beebe Bahrami Why did Beebe love this book?

This is the definitive guide to the historical details of the Camino de Santiago, answering any question, however large or small—from the Roman stones on the path to the meaning of engravings, paintings, and stained glass windows—in the many churches and monuments along the way.

By David M. Gitlitz, Linda Kay Davidson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers tour the most popular pilgrimage route in the world, covering the ground traversed by Medieval pilgrims as they trek accross the Pyranees from France to Spain headed for the tomb of the Apostle James. Original. 12,500 first printing.


Book cover of Pilgrim Stories: On and Off the Road to Santiago: Journeys Along an Ancient Way in Modern Spain

Beebe Bahrami Author Of The Way of the Wild Goose: Three Pilgrimages Following Geese, Stars, and Hunches on the Camino de Santiago

From my list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning writer, anthropologist, and trekker. Much of my writing is centered on France, Spain, and Portugal and the trails of the Camino de Santiago. My passion for the Camino and its rich legacy arose over three decades ago as a study abroad student in southern Spain when I first heard about the Camino and journeyed across Spain, France, and Portugal. I knew then that my life would forever be bound up with going deeper into the rich histories, cultures, and places of these many-layered geographies. I'm best known for my travel memoirs (Café Oc, Café Neandertal), guidebooks (Moon Camino de Santiago, The Spiritual Traveler Spain), and widely published travel essays. 

Beebe's book list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago

Beebe Bahrami Why did Beebe love this book?

Pilgrim Stories is an engaging anthropologist’s account of gathering and making sense of pilgrim experiences and stories from all walks of life, before, during, and after their pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. It is a wonderful work that captures the complex and transformative pilgrimage process as it plays out on individual and collective physical, psychological, and spiritual levels. 

By Nancy Louise Frey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pilgrim Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Each year thousands of men and women from more than sixty countries journey by foot and bicycle across northern Spain, following the medieval pilgrimage road known as the Camino de Santiago. Their destination is Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle James are said to be buried. These modern-day pilgrims and the role of the pilgrimage in their lives are the subject of Nancy Louise Frey's fascinating book. Unlike the religiously-oriented pilgrims who visit Marian shrines such as Lourdes, the modern Road of St. James attracts an ecumenical mix of largely well-educated, urban middle-class participants. Eschewing comfortable methods…


Book cover of The Crossway

Stefanie Wilson Author Of The Backpack Years: Two Memoirs, One Story

From my list on the healing power of travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love travelogues and wrote a dual POV travel memoir with my husband. Travel writing allows us to see the world through others’ eyes, and my favorites are by those who used travel as a way to escape or heal. I’m more invested when I know this person not just wants, but needs this journey. I understand this feeling. I empathize with them, I root for them, and I am happy for them when they reach their destination. I adore Eat, Pray, Love and Wild, and want to recommend five other memoirs that have stayed with me as examples of brave people who left home behind in search of something better.

Stefanie's book list on the healing power of travel

Stefanie Wilson Why did Stefanie love this book?

Guy left his demons in England and set out on a pilgrimage. After mental health issues and a year of being afraid to leave his home, Guy re-entered the world by trekking through 10 countries in 10 months, hoping the journey would heal him. He traveled down ancient paths through changing landscapes, and the charity of everyday strangers kept him and his hope alive.

He finally arrived in Jerusalem, and though neither his physical nor emotional journey ended in the climax he’d hoped, he’d gained understanding. I’ve experienced the clarity that can come with putting physical distance between you and your issues, and though they say not to run away from your problems, sometimes a really long walk can actually help.

By Guy Stagg,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Crossway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner - Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year 2019.
Shortlisted - Rathbones Folio Prize, Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and Somerset Maugham Award 2019.

'An extraordinary travelogue, strange and brilliant' - i

In 2013 Guy Stagg walked from Canterbury to Jerusalem. Though a non-believer, he began the pilgrimage after suffering several years of mental illness, hoping the ritual would heal him. For ten months he hiked alone on ancient paths, crossing ten countries and more than 5,500 kilometres. Travelling without support, he had to rely each night on the charity of strangers.

The Crossway is an account of…


Book cover of The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela

Beebe Bahrami Author Of The Way of the Wild Goose: Three Pilgrimages Following Geese, Stars, and Hunches on the Camino de Santiago

From my list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning writer, anthropologist, and trekker. Much of my writing is centered on France, Spain, and Portugal and the trails of the Camino de Santiago. My passion for the Camino and its rich legacy arose over three decades ago as a study abroad student in southern Spain when I first heard about the Camino and journeyed across Spain, France, and Portugal. I knew then that my life would forever be bound up with going deeper into the rich histories, cultures, and places of these many-layered geographies. I'm best known for my travel memoirs (Café Oc, Café Neandertal), guidebooks (Moon Camino de Santiago, The Spiritual Traveler Spain), and widely published travel essays. 

Beebe's book list on the culture and history of the Camino de Santiago

Beebe Bahrami Why did Beebe love this book?

This is a comprehensive and colorful translation into English of the Latin 12th century pilgrim’s guide, book five of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, purportedly written by the French monk Aimery Picaud. Melczer not only translates this practical and feisty medieval guide, but his footnotes are copious and at times even more colorful than the main text, adding more context and understanding to the experiences of the medieval pilgrim and the medieval landscapes of France and Spain.

By William Melczer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela" presents the first complete English translation of Book Five of the Liber Sancti Jacobi or Codex Calixtinus. This twelfth-century guidebook traces the route from southern France to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The medieval Christian world knew three major pilgrimage sites - Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela. Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries Santiago de Compostela was by far the most popular. Pilgrimage to Compostela was a once-in-a-lifetime human adventure. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came year after year through France and across the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela near the…


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