Via ad Cantuaria: Developments in English Pilgrimage Culminating in the Cult of St Thomas Becket
Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
From the fifth to late eleventh centuries England saw a constant stream of arriving Europeans—ranging from Christian missionaries and peaceful communities to northern warriors and raiding kingdoms. As the new arrivals settled on populated lands, those already present had to choose between integrating with unfamiliar, and at times violent, communities, or relocating themselves elsewhere. This resulted in regular and widespread migration within the Island as entire communities moved or fled from their old homes. Such periods of regular movement shaped English perceptions of physical space, impermanence in locations, and particular motivations for movement. Alongside changing spatial perceptions evolved approaches to the cult of saints and pilgrimage. For saints’ cults to flourish, cult sites needed to maintain a sense of permanency, thus building long-standing traditions tying saints to specific places. For widespread pilgrimage to succeed, pilgrims needed safe and consistent routes, enabling regular flows of movement to and from cult sites. In the end, it took centuries of changing patterns of movement and settlement to result in the level of permanency necessary for widespread pilgrimage. These changes culminated by the end of the eleventh century and set the stage for the remarkable popularity of St Thomas Becket’s shrine at Canterbury in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.
Tomlinson, Julia, "Via ad Cantuaria: Developments in English Pilgrimage Culminating in the Cult of St Thomas Becket" (2015). Honors Theses. 136.
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