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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.
|2||The Cult of Relics||21|
|3||The Saints and Their Relics||50|
|4||The Pursuit of the Miraculous||69|
|5||The Medicine of the Sick||98|
|6||Origins and Ideals||122|
|7||The Penitential Pilgrimage||136|
|8||The Great Age of Pilgrimage||160|
|9||The Legacy of the Crusades||194|
|10||The Growth of a Cult||207|
|14||The Later Middle Ages I||369|
|15||The Later Middle Ages II||385|
|16||Medieval Christianity: Religion to Ritual||418|
Posted May 24, 2013
I have thoroughly enjoyed this volume. I read history, including church history, for pleasure and I've derived a lot of pleasure from this volume from Jonathan Sumption. This is history made easy to read and yet packed with details and anecdotes. Footnotes are appended at the back of the book, which is a kindly way to do it.
The book covers the entire range of pilgrimage days, from the very earliest travelers and into early modern times. Journeys to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela and numerous other, smaller western European sites are brought to life.
Sumption covers the charms, the clothing, and other items every pilgrim needed. He recounts the various permissions that were granted through the centuries to allow both upper and lower classes to be allowed to make their visitations. He clarifies the dangers and protections travelers could anticipate.
Many pilgrims never returned from their journeys, some by choice and others through death or captivity. When you see in detail what those pilgrims had to endure, or often chose to endure, you gain a respect for what we used to refer to as the Dark Age. It was anything but Dark.
If you are interested in this aspect of Christianity's past, I think you'd enjoy this read immensely. I do recommend it most highly. I believe the book will appeal to both the general reader and the specialist.
Sumption's strength is the detail he brings to his book. He spent years in researching medieval archives and documents, and he uses these to make a very old time come to life.