A Pilgrim as a Tourist

Brussels - KB - 837-45, fol. 133r: The ending of Text 69. The last two lines stand a little apart (by courtesy of the KBR Brussels)

Brussels – KB – 837-45, fol. 133r: The beginning of Text 69 (by courtesy of the KBR Brussels)

Geraardsbergen Manuscript, text 69 (fols. 133r-134r)

During the middle ages the main reason for going on a pilgrimage was that is was a positive element in bringing you salvation. There were places where you could always go (the most famous ones being Rome and Santiago de Compostella) but many other places had special religious festivities for a saint or a sanctuary too. Examples of this may be found in Maastricht and Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle). In both places there was a special religious festival every seven years during which some relics were exhibited for the pilgrims that were normally kept behind closed doors. Visiting these relics was seen as an especially good deed. In both Aachen and Maastricht, the years in which these special pilgrimages took place were the same, and in those years there was also a special religious ‘exhibition’ in the monastery of Cornelimünster, near Aachen. So when you went in the correct year to this region you could deserve many indulgences in a day or two (up to 800 years less in purgatory!). And as a bonus you could see some very interesting relics that were normally not on display.

Der gude Sente Servas

Der gude Sente Servas

As a sort of advertisement or as a precursor of the Lonely Planet Guides loose leaves were printed which described the indulgences to be had and the relics to be seen. Often woodcuts of the relics were added to the text. We have a copy of such a leaf from Mainz (probably from 1468) giving the potential pilgrim information about the religious and the touristic gain to be had when he or she went to Maastricht and Aachen.

Brussels - KB - 837-45, fol. 134r: The ending of Text 69. The last two lines stand a little apart (by courtesy of the KBR Brussels)

Brussels – KB – 837-45, fol. 134r: The ending of Text 69. The last two lines stand a little apart (by courtesy of the KBR Brussels)

This leaf has a clear link with text 69 in the Geraardsbergen manuscript. The first part of that text contains the same textual information as is found on the leaf from Mainz (although the leaf is written in German and the text in the codex is written in Flemish). However, the text in the Geraardsbergen manuscript is longer. After the information about Maastricht and Aachen the famous relics that may be visited in Cologne are mentioned, and the text ends with a description of the way home: from Maastricht (with its new beautiful bridge) you have to go to Liège (with an even newer, and more impressive bridge), Huy, Namur and Marbais. The last leg of the trip, two lines of text, stands a little apart from the rest of the it: continue to Nijvel (near Brussels) and Edingen in order to finish your travels in Geraardsbergen (Grammont), in the ‘In the French shield’, a popular inn.

See also: the complete table of contents.

Return to: Story 1, Story 2 or Story 3

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