Ilustración del Camino de Santiago en la Edad Media. Chema Román
Curiosities of the Camino de Santiago in the Middle Ages
The Camino de Santiago is already a worldwide symbol, which has evolved greatly since it originated in the Middle Ages. Nowadays we can find many facilities both to follow the route and to obtain information about it, but hundreds of years ago it was much more complicated. It is for this reason that comparing how much the Camino de Santiago has changed until today allows us to know much better this famous pilgrimage route and allows us to discover several curiosities that took place during the Middle Ages.
Discovery of the tomb of St. James the Apostle
In the ninth century the Bishop of Iria Flavia was warned by a villager named Pelayo about some strange lights coming from the forest of Libredón. The bishop named Teodomiro, approached the place and discovered that it was the tomb of Santiago, so he quickly informed Alfonso II.
The Compostela in the Middle Ages
Since the Camino de Santiago was born, pilgrims who arrived at the tomb of the apostle received a scallop shell as accreditation. Since it was so easy to plagiarize, the ecclesiastics decided to change this recognition with the letters of proof, which we know today as the Compostela.
Alfonso II, the first pilgrim
Known as El Casto, at that time the king of Asturias became the first pilgrim to undertake a journey to the tomb of the apostle St. James. He traveled in the 11th century from Oviedo to the Galician capital, thus originating the well-known Camino Primitivo.
Códice Calixtino - Manuel
Creation of the Codex Calixtinus
Also known as the Codex Calixtinus, this manuscript was created in the mid-12th century. This document is currently housed in the Cathedral of Santiago and contains everything from musical pieces to sermons related to the Apostle St. James, among much other information.
Dress in the Middle Ages
It was in the Middle Ages that the classical dress of the pilgrim was born. Some of the classic elements were the staff, the bag or the scallop shell, elements that are still linked to the Camino de Santiago and the pilgrims but not as part of the clothing, but as souvenirs.
Improving the Jacobean routes
Due to the influx of pilgrims in those years, improvements were made to the road by nobles and ecclesiastics, among others. This improvement in infrastructure took place in the 11th century, a period in which bridges were also built and hospitals were founded.
Catedral de Santiago
Construction of the Cathedral of Santiago
Although there were already many people making pilgrimages to Santiago to see the tomb of the apostle, it was not until years later that the construction of the Cathedral of Santiago was completed. The construction was officially completed in April 1211, but even before that there were several churches that guarded the remains of the apostle Santiago.
Although nowadays it is common for pilgrims to walk hundreds of kilometers to the Cathedral of Santiago, in the Middle Ages they had to walk there and back. One of the elements used to know that a pilgrim was on his way home was that he carried the characteristic scallop shell.
Legends of the Camino de Santiago
One of the most striking features of the Camino de Santiago in the Middle Ages is that by this time numerous legends were created that are still present today. The legends of the Camino de Santiago are many and varied, but they have in common that they end with a moral.
Thieves and thieves along the Jacobean routes
Taking on such a long journey as the Camino de Santiago in the Middle Ages meant a great risk. The influx of pilgrims caused criminal activity to increase and many merchants raised the price of their products to outsiders.