A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Non Fiction Camino appearance in Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Land

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
Nov 2018: Kumano Kodo (part)
2021 (?): Via Francigena, Aosta to Rome
I always enjoy when Compostela makes an appearance in a non-Camino related book. This time it was in Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Land by Dan Jones (2019).

The chapter in question was following the life and journeys of Ibn Hamdis, a poet from Sicily who fled the island when it was conquered by the Normans. Ibn Hamdis joined the court at Seville under the al-Andalus "party king" Al-Mu'tamid. This would be sometime after 1060. At this time the author writes that there were three popular trends that were leading the rest of Europe to take more interest in Iberia: 1) the increasing number of Frankish knights who were joining the Christian King Alfonso VI's forces as mercenaries, 2) a push by Cluny monks to setup shop in Spain and bring the Mozarabs into the Latin rite, and 3) the increasing number of pilgrims on the road to Santiago.

Because the book focuses on knights, poets, and kings - and not so much on pilgrims - it offered a different perspective than other Camino-specific books I've read. Here's the passage:

"Pious laymen who wished to cleanse their souls of sin followed the penitential road to Galicia known as the Way of Saint James, which led to the shrine of the apostle, known as Santiago de Compostela: one of the holiest sites in the Christian world. This could be a dangerous journey: one French guidebook of the early twelfth century issued grave warnings of the deadly impurity of the river water beside the road, and the loose morals of the people who dwelled there, such as Navarrese farmers who "practice unclean fornication" with their mules and mares. But the journey was worth the discomfort. Miracles were frequently reported along the Way: soldiers' lances planted in Sahagún had grown leaves; Saint James had revived a traveler wrongly hanged for theft; he had healed a young man who had cut off his own penis in atonement for the sin of fornication. And in the distant past - it was rumored to have been in the year 834 or 844 - Saint James had supposedly appeared in armor at a battle against Spanish Muslims, helping Christian forces to victory - which earned him the nickname Santiago Matamoros - Saint James the Moor-slayer. "
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Because the book focuses on knights, poets, and kings - and not so much on pilgrims - it offered a different perspective than other Camino-specific books I've read. Here's the passage:
It's all taken from the Codex Calixtinus, have you not read it yet ;)?

The information about the rivers and the customs and the morality of the peoples living along the road is shared in Book V (A Guide for Travellers); the lances growing leaves and flowers during the night before battle are described in Book IV (History of Charlemagne and Roland) - not a good omen for the lance owner, btw; the 22 miracles of Saint James can be found in Book II. Apparently, miracle #17 of the self-castrated pilgrim and miracle #5 of the hanged innocent pilgrim were particularly popular in the Middle Ages while today we hear mainly about #5 which involves the grilled chicken that come back to life.

I share your excitement when Compostela or Saint James make an appearance in a book that is not mainly about them. And as so often, even in well researched books written by authors with a background in history, one can find small flaws but I never bother to write to the authors. Really, the Codex Calixtinus is NOT a "French guidebook", and it's not even certain that Book V was written by a Frenchman although this is often stated as a fact. 😇
 
Last edited:

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
the lances growing leaves and flowers during the night before battle are described in Book IV (History of Charlemagne and Roland) - not a good omen for the lance owner, btw
Here's a nice summary of the miracle of the lances at Sahagún. The same happened at Saintes in the South West of France. Note, however, that this is the narrative of the legend. Historically, Charlemagne and his army never went as far as Sahagún. So the Frankish soldiers put their lances upright into the ground in the evening and the next morning some of them had sprouted leaves and blossoms. Dead wood becoming alive again means rebirth and in this case it meant that these soldiers would die in the upcoming battle and go immediately to life in heaven. One of the rose windows at Chartres Cathedral visualises this narrative and has a row of seven flowering lances. Note the elongated shield (in red) which is often associated with the Christians, while round shields are associated with the Muslims, something you can also see outside of Roncesvalles where there is a bronze replica of a battle scene from the royal palace in Estella.

miracle des lances fleuries.jpg
 
Last edited:

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Why did Santiago feature in Roger's Book (Al Kitab a Rujari)? Abdallah al Idris was writing for Roger II of Sicily in the middle of the 12th Century (1155). Roger was a Norman and a Catholic Christian. A number of mentions are made in this geographical work of distances in Spain including some between Santiago and places the other side of the country suggesting it was already an important destination.
 

Get on our Mailing list for new products on the Camino Store and news from the Camino Forum








Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 56 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 197 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 326 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 379 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock