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Sunday, September 6, 2015

USEFUL TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE MEDIEVAL TIMES FOR TODAY


Travel has always involved vexations. 

Especially in the Middle Ages --

If not enormous insects in Spain, then quicksand;

 if not quicksand, then 

“evil toll collectors” who “stand in the way of the pilgrims with two or three big sticks.” 


Consider the following advice:


 “Guard your face carefully from the enormous insects,” 

instructs the guide for 12th-century pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, 

“and if you do not watch your feet carefully, you will slip rapidly up to your knees in the quicksand.”


Also sounds like good advice to surviving listening to a debate with Trump, doesn't it?


Europeans of the med­ieval and early modern period ventured abroad for a variety of reasons

 — trade, crusade, exploration — 

but the bulk of the practical travel advice pertains to pilgrimage.

With many people following the same routes and, evidently, slipping rapidly into the same quicksand along the way, 

a genre of guidebooks emerged to help foundering pilgrims.


 When asked for travel advise in 1480, Eberhard, Count of Wurttemberg:

“There are three things that no one can advise another person for or against. 

One is marriage, another is waging war and the third is visiting the Holy Sepulchre."

He ended with: “These things often end badly.”

That summation stays true for two of those things even today, right?


16th century French pilgrim Jean Zuallart could be talking of our travels in life today when he says:

 “A traveler must be willing to adapt himself to the times, places and people with whom he finds himself 

and will have to converse, either rich or poor, noble or base, Christian, Jew, Turk, or Arab.” 

But here’s the real test for those both in past and present: 

“It is also required of the pilgrim to patiently and discreetly 

put up with the stupidities and imperfections of his fellow pilgrims and companions.”


What do you think?

Does this apply to today?

{Many thanks to Elizabeth Archibald, medieval historian.}

13 comments:

  1. Nothing has changed after all these centuries! Except that now we have bug spray. I especially like the Count of W's advice and the final sentences. Maybe you could write a modern day version of the Canterbury Tales, Roland? You'd do a great version.

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    1. That's very nice of you to say. :-)

      Fashions may change but human nature remains constant it seems.

      A modern day version of the Canterbury Tales? Intriguing. I am currently working on a short story set during the time of the Great Gatsby with vastly different personalities thrown together in a Christmas party thrown for revenge. Fun stuff. :-)

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  2. Good article, I am off to google quicksand. I have heard of it all my life. We used to get our legs and feet stuck in clay as a child and pretend we were in quicksand. Imagine kids today getting that dirty in a normal day of play.
    The warning about three matters and getting along with your fellow pilgrims holds true today, eh.

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    1. If you struggle in quicksand, it will pull you down all the faster. You need Indiana Jones' whip and a close tree branch to get you out! Yes, that last bit of advice is still relevant, isn't it? :-)

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    1. The ghost of Mark Twain added that last bit. :-)

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  4. Hi Roland - if we did this:

    “A traveler must be willing to adapt himself to the times, places and people with whom he finds himself

    and will have to converse, either rich or poor, noble or base, Christian, Jew, Turk, or Arab.”

    We'd all be in a better place ... it's interesting how much has changed, yet how much hasn't ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Isn't it though? Yes, tolerance is something that many have lacked all through recorded history. :-(

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  5. “It is also required of the pilgrim to patiently and discreetly put up with the stupidities and imperfections of his fellow pilgrims and companions.” Pilgrims or travellers - it still applies. Say the wrong thing in the wrong company and the consequences could be dire or you could just look the fool and discredit your country of origin. Diplomacy is a skill, being aware is essential.

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    1. Yes, give the Thumb's Up gesture or show the bottom of your shoe sole in the wrong country, and you will be in a world of hurt!

      "Mind Your Surroundings" is always good advice no matter where you roam!! :-)

      When I finish my Insecure Anthology Contest entry, EDISON'S MANSION, would you have enough time and willingness to go over it for me?

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    2. Yes, I will certainly give it a go, Roland. I enjoy reading your work and that title is intriguing. . .

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    3. Did you know that there is a school of thought that postulates Thomas Edison,impoverished and poorly educated, might have stolen and murdered his way to riches?

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    4. I don't know if I believe that, but many a famous person got where they are by trodding on the backs of others. Theft, I would believe, but murder, not so sure.

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