The Art, Science, and Technology of Medieval Travel: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Art, Science, and Technology of Medieval Travel

1st Edition

Edited by Robert Bork, Andrea Kann


240 pages

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This sixth volume in the AVISTA series considers "The Art, Science, and Technology of Medieval Travel". In recent years, scholarship has increasingly emphasized the importance of travel and intercultural exchange in the Middle Ages. The notable medieval phenomena of pilgrimage and crusade obviously involved travel, while the growth of international commerce contributed decisively to the emergence of Europe as a major force in the world. Medievalists in all fields thus have good reason to consider this issue. The contributors here explore medieval travel from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, placing the physical practice of transportation into the larger context of medieval thought about the world and its meaning. The four sections move in focus from the practical to the theoretical, and back. The first section deals with medieval vehicles and logistics, considering Carolingian military planning, Venetian ship design, the origin of the coach, and trade-offs between land and water transport. In the second section, the authors look at ways in which medieval artists responded to travel in creating city gates, representations of earthly travel, and devotional images based on the idea of spiritual pilgrimage. The next papers deal with maps and their meanings, opening with an argument for the importance of Platonic symbolism for medieval mapmakers, followed by studies on the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the Gough Map, and Petrarch's travel guide to the Holy Land. The final section discusses the history of navigational instruments in the Middle Ages. Together, these papers constitute important explorations of how the practical and theoretical concerns of medieval travellers intersected, from the early Middle Ages to the dawn of the Renaissance.


’… readers interested in travel will find a good deal of value and see that much can be gleaned about the subject from the examination of art and literature.’ English Historical Review ’… the book makes clear how fruitful interdisciplinary, international collaboration can be and could be in helping scholars understand the importance of travel and its manifold legacies in the pre-modern world.’ Aestimatio

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: the art, science, and technology of medieval travel, Robert Bork and Andrea Kann; Part I Medieval Vehicles and Logistics: Carolingian military operations: an introduction to technological perspectives, Bernard S. Bachrach; Everything is a compromise: Mediterranean ship design, 13th to 16th centuries, John E. Dotson; From carriage to coach: what happened?, Julian Munby; Caister castle, Norfolk, and the transport of brick and other building materials in the Middle Ages, David H. Kennett. Part II Medieval Travel and the Arts: Pilgrims and portals in late medieval Siena, Michelle Duran-McLure; The strange lands of Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Anne McClanan; Spiritual pilgrimage in the Psalter of Bonne of Luxembourg, Annette Lermack. Part III Medieval Maps and their Uses: Mapping the macrocosm: Christian Platonist thought behind medieval maps and plans, Nigel Hiscock; Informal catechesis and the Hereford Mappa Mundi, Dan Terkla; The Gough Map: Britain's oldest road map, or a statement of empire?, Nick Millea; Petrarch's journey between 2 maps, Evelyn Edson. Part IV Medieval Navigational Instruments: Medieval tools of navigation: an overview, Richard A. Paselk; Astrolabes and medieval travel, Sara Schechner. Index.

About the Editors

Robert Bork is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Iowa; Andrea Kann is a visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Iowa, USA

About the Series

AVISTA Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art

AVISTA Studies in History of Medieval Technology, Science and Art is a series organised by AVISTA (The Association Villard de Honnecourt for Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science and Art). The aim of the series is to promote the cross-disciplinary objectives of AVISTA by publishing in the areas of the history of science, technology, architecture, and art. The society takes its name from Villard (Wilars) de Honnecourt, an elusive persona of the 13th century whose autograph portfolio contains a variety of fascinating drawings and descriptions of both the fine and mechanical arts.

For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General