In the later Middle Ages, thousands of European pilgrims travelled to Jerusalem and Rome, part of a highly organised industry. This two-year project (2016-18) seeks to interrogate the surviving books that the pilgrims read and wrote before, during, and after their pilgrimages to reveal what can they tell us about premodern trans-national culture.

At the heart of this project is the development of an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars of medieval bibliography, history, literature and religion. The Network will make a dynamic and lasting contribution to our understanding of the mobility of people and ideas of medieval Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly along the pilgrim routes between Venice, Dubrovnik, Cyprus and Jerusalem, as well as to Rome (which rivalled the Jerusalem pilgrimage in popularity).

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, November 2016. Photo: Anthony Bale

By marrying archival bibliography with literary criticism and cultural history the Network will bring questions about the survival of medieval texts into a scholarly conversation about reading them beyond their immediate locality in trans-national contexts.

The project will embrace contemporary concerns of religious hostility, devotional memory, migration, multiculturalism, and nationhood, the curatorship of the past and contemporary legacies of medieval pilgrimage.

The project will be underpinned by two research-intensive workshops, to be held at Birkbeck, University of London (2016) and the Royal Dutch Institute, Rome (2017).

We are grateful for funding from the Leverhulme International Network Grant Scheme.