Medieval Travel Writing

An extensive collection of manuscript materials for the study of medieval travel writing in fact and in fantasy.

Explore this magnificent collection of medieval manuscripts from libraries around the world, dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries, with a focus on accounts of journeys to the Holy Land, India and China.

These sources tell us much about the attitudes and preconceptions of people across Europe in the medieval period, shedding light on issues of race, economics, trade, militarism, politics, literature and science. Topics covered include: pilgrimage, the origins of global trade, travels to the Holy Land, the Silk Road, and the representation of the 'East' and the 'Other' in the Middle Ages.

The project combines multiple manuscript sources, detailing the journeys of famous travellers from Marco Polo to John Capgrave, and the stories of legendary figures such as Prester John and Sir John Mandeville, with translations, route maps and introductory essays.

Original manuscripts of travel are a priceless resource for understanding medieval attitudes to space and time, to people and places near and far from home. Medieval travel accounts in words and pictures offer a window on the knowledge, perceptions, and goals of a byegone age, yet one whose interests and concerns were not unlike our own. This online resource will serve students, teachers and scholars alike and offer rich material for the debate about where people went and what they thought important, then and now.
Professor M. Alison Stones, University of Pittsburgh

Key Data

Period Covered

  • The Middle Ages

Highlights

Featured people include ambassadors, missionaries, merchants, fantasists and literary creations, including:

  • Prester John
  • John of Plano Carpini
  • Ascelin
  • William of Rubruck
  • Marco Polo
  • Ricoldo de Montecroce
  • Jordanus of Severac
  • Haiton of Armenia
  • Oderic of Pordenone
  • Sir John Mandeville
  • Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo
  • Hans (Johann) Schiltberger
  • Johannes Witte de Hesse
  • John Capgrave

Source Archives

  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • Bibliothèques/Mediathèques de Metz
  • Bodleian Library
  • British Library
  • Cambridge University Library
  • Chetham’s Library, Manchester
  • Durham Cathedral Library
  • Durham University Library
  • Glasgow University Library
  • Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
  • Herzog August Bibliothek, WolfenbĂĽttel
  • Lambeth Palace Library
  • Monacensia, Bayerische StaatsBibliothek
  • Old Library, Jesus College, Cambridge
  • Oriel College, Oxford
  • Ă–sterreichische Nationalbibliothek
  • Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz
  • Stadtarchiv und Wissenschaftliche Stadtbibliothek, Soest
  • Stiftsbibliothek St.Gallen
  • The Herbert: Coventry History Centre
  • The Pepys Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge
  • Trinity College, Cambridge
  • Trinity College, Dublin
  • Universitätsbibliothek GieĂźen
  • Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Material Types

  • Original manuscripts from over 25 libraries around the world.
  • Hundreds of colour illustrations and maps.
  • Detailed metadata on all the original manuscripts and fully searchable transcriptions of the
    supporting literature.

Editorial Board

  • David Abulafia, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
  • Peter Jackson, Keele University
  • Andrew Jotischky, Lancaster University
  • Kim Phillips, University of Auckland
  • Alison Stones, University of Pittsburgh

Subjects

  • The Travellers and their Accounts
  • Travel and Pilgrimage
  • Medieval Travel, Mapping and Geographical Concepts
  • Medieval Travel Writing and Accounts of the Far East

Key Features

  • Multiple manuscript sources, detailing the journeys of famous travellers from Marco Polo to John Capgrave, and the stories of legendary figures such as Prester John and Sir John Mandeville
  • Translations and supporting materials (all of which are fully searchable)
  • Maps showing the routes of the travellers
  • Introductory essays by leading scholars