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De verhuur van de Safaritenten hebben wij uitbesteed aan www.GreenCamp.nl

via de site kunt u direct boeken en uw boekingsbevestiging wordt verstuurd per mail.

De verhuur van de Vakantiewoningen hebben wij uitbesteed aan Belvilla.nl

via de site kunt u direct boeken en uw boekingsbevestiging wordt verstuurd per mail.

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We have outsourced the rental of the Safari tents to www.GreenCamp.nl

You can book directly via the site and your booking confirmation will be sent by email.

We have outsourced the rental of the Holiday Homes to Belvilla.nl

You can book directly via the site and your booking confirmation will be sent by email.

Naam / name*
Email*
Telefoon / phone*
Maak uw keuze
Gewenste datum / date*In het hoogseizoen allen van zaterdag tot zaterdag
Verzenden - sent

Pilgrims in the Dark Ages

In France, many pilgrimage routes can be found, which eventually lead to Santiago de Compostela. Especially in the Middle Ages, these routes were heavily used. 


Medieval man was not stupid, but in general knowledge was of course much less than ours. Far fewer people in the Middle Ages were illiterate than we are often led to believe, but the number of illiterate and illiterate people combined was considerable. 


The church was an important part of daily life in these times. Because of the lesser knowledge, things that could be explained to us were soon elevated to miracles. A cured illness, a coincidence, a happy ending, in everything the work of the saints or the hand of God was seen. Medieval man could hardly imagine a world outside the framework of his thinking.


In these ancient times, paintings, windows, sculptures and carpets were an important means of conveying something to illiterate and illiterate people. Relics were tangible evidence of the things that used to happen, and the people who used to live came very close. The Middle Ages were not as dark as we think, but the symbolism was important then.

A major part of medieval life became the cathedrals. The distance between the housing of the ordinary citizen and the cathedral was enormous. The cathedrals were paragons of technical ability and science. There was an absurdly explosive construction of cathedrals and churches in France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, some even more beautiful and richer than others. You must have seen such splendor.


As a pilgrim, people often travelled many hundreds of kilometres to reach their final destination. The final destination, Jerusalem, was reserved for few, but Rome and Santiago de Compostela were within reach. Rich pilgrims traveled on horseback and the poor citizen went on foot. The routes are well known, especially the most important ones. It was much busier on the road than we can imagine now. They traveled along narrow dusty roads strewn with cow and horse poop. Partly they travelled on old Roman roads and even on steep mountain paths. Food and drink often left a lot to be desired and dangers abounded. Not only the pilgrims were on these roads, but also peddlers, fairground guests, traders, princes and shepherds with their flocks.

Then Europe was much smaller than we think. The pilgrims, who returned, told stories and brought with them things from afar, unknown. Thus Rome and Santiago de Compostela came closer and closer. For the pilgrims, not only the final destination was important. The long routes had famous stops, such as Vézelay and St. Denis.

In Vézelay (Burgundy) the pilgrims stayed to see the art in the cathedral. However, they did not see art as art, but as a kind of 'comic strip', for teaching. The images and texts told them the stories of their God and their saints.

Church windows also tell a story. The images were called the Bible of the poor. Not only for them, but also for the literate upper layer of the population they were a godsend, they did not understand Church Latin.


In St. Denis, where the splendor of the church with its enchanting light and its brilliant riches brought them to supreme devotion. All the splendor and brilliance had to give an impression as if one were in the heavenly afterlife.

Relics brought the saints very close. Along the way, prayers were offered to the saints and sacrifices. It was hoped for a new miracle or for healing by the power of a statue, a relic, or the water from a spring.

The pilgrim's final goal was the greatest fulfillment, for it had actually been his life's purpose.


Much of this supreme glory has disappeared from the churches and cathedrals, but there is still a lot of beauty left for us, which we can still admire today. Especially when we try to look with the eyes of that pilgrim, who was overwhelmed by that splendor so long ago, these art treasures take on a different dimension for us.
The large crowds along the often narrow roads have disappeared and large parts of the old routes can no longer be found. However, a large number of old trade and pilgrim routes can still be walked. Most of these, in France, are housed as GR routes (Grande Randonnée). One walks through forests and over farmlands, over farmers inheriting and through villages, on unpaved roads and even still on parts of ancient Roman lord's lanes. Several small French GR guides are for sale with description and route maps.


One could even speak of the tourist industry in the Middle Ages. The pilgrims, who chose their route through central France, often took email work from Limoges with them at home. Not least because they had admired the beautiful enamel work on the reliquaries in the many churches along the way.



We can buy a guide when we go hiking, or we buy from the A.N.W.B. a regional guide about our holiday destination. The pilgrim could do that too!

There are travel guides known from the thirteenth century. In it they not only read which churches and cathedrals one had to visit along the way and which relics one had to see. It also stated which inn one should or should not go to and even how one could order his meal in the foreign language.


That much has not changed in all those centuries. Dark Ages, they do not exist, only the mysticism was greater for the man of that time. Because our knowledge is at a higher level, much of the mystical from that time has disappeared for us.

For hikers, there are still large parts of the old routes in an almost original state. Tempting, to find the right part from the wide range of GR routes and to go there on foot, to return in your mind to those 'dark ages'.