Pilgrims could avoid French road to Spain

29 April 2020
By Connexion journalist

Your feature on pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela (Secret history of France: Chemin du Puy) was very interesting.

However, the article says that pilgrims from Britain wishing to take the pilgrimage had to pass through France. In fact, from Medieval times there was (and still is) a Camino Ingles starting in northern Spain and completely avoiding France.

Pilgrims from England – and from Scandinavia too – would travel, on foot or horseback, to the English south coast, or to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, and travel by ship to the north coast of Spain to continue their pilgrimages on foot.

It saved a lot of time and effort, instead of walking the entire length of France.

This route boomed during the 14th and 15th centuries, and only declined during the reign of King Henry VIII when Catholicism was suppressed.

St Michael’s Way in Cornwall is part of the network of routes that lead to Santiago de Compostela.

Philip Baker, Tarn et Garonne

Julia Faiers, who wrote the article, replied: Thank you for highlighting that British pilgrims had more than one route avail-able to them on their way to Santiago, bypassing France, if they preferred the fast-track route to salvation.

As an English historian living in France, I am intrigued by your description of the Camino Inglés and would love to visit its main sites some day.

I hope you and other readers are similarly inspired to try out some of the gems along the Chemin du Puy.

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