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Camino Francés in the 1980s

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis, Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#1
I would like to know more about how it was on the Camino in the early years of the modern times. Does anyone know of books or other information about that time? I am wondering if it was comparable with some routes in Northern France or other less known caminos nowadays. I am also curious about how life was in the villages then (and how the Camino changed life there).
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
#2
Here is the best book from that period that I have read:

DENNETT, Laurie. A hug for the apostle. - Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1987.- 228 pp. [Very readable account of the author's pilgrimage from Chartres to Santiago to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research]

Quite an extensive bibliography on the Camino is here:

http://www.csj.org.uk/bibliog.htm

I hope that helps.
Those must have been wonderful days! Truly a solitary experience, without the infrastructure that we depend on today.

David, Victoria, Canada.
 

CaminoJohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006,2008,2011; VDLP, Sanabrias (2018)
#3
The book "The pilgrimage road to Santiago: The complete cultural handbook" by Gitlitz and Davidson, partially recounts their experiences in the 70's,80's and 90's.
 
#4
Going back farther, I've got a book I bought at a U of Toronto book sale published in 1957, The Road to Santiago by Walter Starkie, published by John Murray, London. It is a rambling history of early pilgrims and modern stories of its time, along the route. Lots of details of the route in the 50's, point to point. Quite detailed. Not a bedtime read. It really is not an easy read because it jumps from the present 50's time period of the author to the middle ages and back... He weaves in all the saints and myths etc. But if you like historical facts and details... b&w pictures. It has a good index. The style of writing is very formal and stilted like old history texts.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#5
Laurie Dennett, cited by Skilsaw above, was for many years Chairman of the Confraternity of St James. At an international Gathering of Pilgrims held in Toronto on 14 May 2005 she presented
2000 Years of the Camino de Santiago, a detailed and fascinating overview of the early years of of the camino. >> http://www.csj.org.uk/2000-years.htm

For this query re: Camino Francés in the 1980s her sections beginning with The 20th Century are particularly relevant.

For those interested in "how it once looked" check out the images in this 1963 Spanish newsreel showing three male pilgrims in capes walking from Burgos to Fromista along a barren windy meseta path. >> http://www.elcaminosantiago.com/Camino- ... n-1963.htm. Perhaps these atmospheric black and white images helped influence Luis Bunuel's famous 1969 fantastic film The Milky Way/La Via Lactee which depicts two pilgrims walking back through time along the camino.


Margaret Meredith
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis, Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#6
Thanks a lot for your suggestions!
 

StuartM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
#7
The guy who owns the bar and albergue in San Xulian has loads of pictures of him and his wife on the Camino in the 80's. Could try an email to him.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
#8
mspath said:
For those interested in "how it once looked" check out the images in this 1963 Spanish newsreel showing three male pilgrims in capes walking from Burgos to Fromista along a barren windy meseta path. >> http://www.elcaminosantiago.com/Camino- ... n-1963.htm. Perhaps these atmospheric black and white images helped influence Luis Bunuel's famous 1969 fantastic film The Milky Way/La Via Lactee which depicts two pilgrims walking back through time along the camino.
Margaret Meredith
This is fantastic Margaret I love the leather capes though they must have been very hot and heavy.
I have two questions:-
What on earth are they carrying in that huge cart? (if I'd been them I'd have been in it for sure) And why, when the trio make their way up to the altar in St Martin, does pilgrim on the viewer's right bless himself with his left hand! Perhaps he was nervous at being filmed? If so he has my sympathies as performance anxiety at my first Communion led to me making the same mistake :oops: -and thanks to my sisters I was never allowed to forget it.
 
#9
There is also Jack Hitt's "Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain." He did his camino in 1991. If you have seen the film "The Way" a lot of the dialog is from Hitt and he is acknowledged in the opening credits.
 
#11
mspath said:
For those interested in "how it once looked" check out the images in this 1963 Spanish newsreel showing three male pilgrims in capes walking from Burgos to Fromista along a barren windy meseta path. >> http://www.elcaminosantiago.com/Camino- ... n-1963.htm
see http://www.sasua.net/estella/articulo.asp?f=santiago2 for Javier Hermoso de Mendoza's detailed account of this pilgrimage and how it fitted in with the development of the modern camino (also a photo of Rene de la Coste-Messeliere, another pioneer, on horseback)

Also around this time was Georges Bernes' pilgrimage in 1961 on which he based his 1973 guidebook. His account of this was published on the 50th anniversary (also his 90th birthday). The publishers' page on this also includes a radio interview with him http://www.librairietequi.com/A-48651-c ... nnier.aspx

As an example of how things have changed, this book cleared up something in the guidebook which always puzzled me (I still have one of the 1000 which were printed - now a collectors item :) ): it starts in Valcarlos and doesn't mention the Route Napoleon over the mountains. The reason was the border on that path was closed and foreigners weren't allowed to cross by it, though the 'aimable policiers' in Valcarlos assured him that bona fide pilgrims could cross that way as long as they first had their papers validated and stamped in Valcarlos!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
#12
Peter,

These historic references describing how the camino once was are so evocative!

The black and white photos in Javier Hermoso de Mendoza's account are priceless. What style and panache they all possessed!! What a masculine world the camino was then with hardly a woman in sight. I will savor reading slowly the detailed account of their trip.

I too have a copy of Le Chemin de St Jacques en Espagne by Abbe Georges Bernes and Rene Brynaert, depot legal 1982, 1000 examplaires. Rene de la Coste-Messeliere wrote the preface. That first schematic map of Valcarlos is VERY sketchy, but now thanks to you I know the reason why.

Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful accounts of yesteryear.
"Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!"

Margaret Meredith
 
#13
mspath said:
What a masculine world the camino was then with hardly a woman in sight
that was true of Spain in general, one of the things that's changed substantially since Franco's death. Young women in particular were not allowed out without a duenna!

mspath said:
I too have a copy of Le Chemin de St Jacques en Espagne by Abbe Georges Bernes and Rene Brynaert, depot legal 1982, 1000 examplaires. Rene de la Coste-Messeliere wrote the preface
that was a later version. The guide was taken over by Randonnees Pyreneennes (which later became Rando Edns, now part of the SudOuest group) and Georges Veron did most of the route description. He died several years ago, but afaik Georges Bernes is still going - Wednesday will have been his 92nd birthday. The 4th edn of this guide was translated into English and published by Robertson McCarta in 1990 - there are plenty of cheap copies of this around. It too is now out-of-date; I just opened it at random and found: "Public telephones may not be seen as frequently as in some other countries, but they are usually in working order. Take plenty of 25-peseta coins."

Rene Brynaert also wrote the 1981 ' Vakantie op een pelgrimsroute: Santiago de Compostela', though this was aimed at motorists rather than walkers. I bought the French edn 'En vacances sur le chemin de Compostelle', and it was through this that I found out about the Bernes guide and how you could get a copy by sending a eurocheque for 40 francs to the abbe. This book says the Bernes guide includes 'cartes detaillees du chemin' which is rather stretching it - the sketch maps in the 1973 edn are _very_ basic; you'd be hard-pushed to follow any route using them. And in those days, detailed maps were still a military secret. Another French abbe who used Bernes for his pilgrimage to Compostelle in the 70s went astray so often he christened the paths that peter out in the middle of nowhere 'un Bernes' :)
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#14
I have a French friend who walked with a small group of other young people from Burgos to Santiago in summertime in the early 80s. Back then there was very little pilgrim infrastructure, and they slept most nights out in the open under the stars.
Margaret
 

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