Women and Medieval Travels: The Book of Margery Kempe Cover Image

Women and Medieval Travels: The Book of Margery Kempe
Women and Medieval Travels: The Book of Margery Kempe

Author(s): Iulia-Andreea Milică
Subject(s): Studies of Literature
Published by: Editura Universităţii »Alexandru Ioan Cuza« din Iaşi
Keywords: travel writing; pilgrimage; patriarchy; gender; the Middle Ages; mystical writer; Margery Kempe;

Summary/Abstract: For a long time, it was believed that the people of the Middle Ages did not travel too much due to various reasons, but the great variety of travel-connected writings seems to contradict this belief and to suggest that there were many medieval men and women who set on longer or shorter journeys for different purposes. The aim of our paper is to present such a travel writing, more precisely, an account of one of the most popular types of medieval journeys: the pilgrimage. The Book of Margery Kempe (c. 1436) describes the various pilgrimages to holy places in England and Germany, to Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostella undertaken by a medieval middle-class English woman in the first part of the 15th century. The Book may not satisfy the curiosity of a modern tourist because it provides little information about the places seen by the protagonist, but it traces the deep personal transformation of a simple woman in search of faith. This travel book/ autobiography/ treatise also greatly contributes to a more complete understanding of the life of medieval woman, of the distribution of roles in a gender-divided society, of the negotiations regarding authority and freedom and ultimately, of a woman’s difficult passage towards independence and self-assertion.

  • Issue Year: 2/2016
  • Issue No: 18
  • Page Range: 17-25
  • Page Count: 9
  • Language: English