The Itineraries of William Wey
Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
In 1456 and again in 1458, William Wey (1405/6–76) set out on journeys across a Europe in turmoil from local conflicts and cross-border expansions. Wey, a Devon priest and bursar of Eton College, had been granted special dispensation by Henry VI to undertake pilgrimages, and he was prompted by his friends to write an account of his itinerant adventures. He collected his stories from his travels to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and later Jerusalem in the fifteen chapters that comprise The Itineraries.
The Itineraries contains practical travel advice for the period on conduct and currency, alongside comparative English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew vocabularies, in addition to a remarkable scrapbook compendium of places, roads, and distances. Originally written in English and Latin, Wey’s fascinating observations of a changing Europe are for for first time available in a modern English edition. The pilgrimage was an idea essential to medieval and early modern Christianity, and Wey’s work adds a new dimension to our understanding of its importance and practice. Wey is at once adventurous and highly observant, and The Itineraries will be of interest to scholars of early modern history and armchair pilgrims alike.