Between centuries 12nd and 16th, thousands of Scandinavians went on pilgrimage to worship Saint James the Apostle. Most of them were going to Rome and the Holy Land. There was a maritime route, the “West Path”, Vestvegr in Norwegian, which started in the Danish port of Ripe. There was another route on land, through the Jutland peninsula and across an old communication way known as the “Troupe Path”, Haervejen in Danish. This route received people from Skania, beyond the Øresund Narrows, which came through the islands of Zealand and Funen. There was another mixed route used by the Swedish, which started with the maritime stage from Stockholm to Lübeck (Germany). After that, the pilgrims would join the German paths in Hamburg towards France or the Netherlands, or they would embark on the west coast of Jutland to Galicia. The people who chose the maritime routes used to stop over on the coasts of the Netherlands, Great Britain and Brittany. If all went well, they would arrive to A Coruña or Ferrol’s ports, and continue through the English Path until Santiago de Compostela.
This centuries-long relationship between peoples so far apart and so different enriched the Jacobean phenomenon and left many marks on both, especially concerning Galicia and the worship of Saint James in Scandinavian territory. This is what we want to show in this exhibition: that Scandinavian Gallaecia which the medievalist Vicente Almazán (1924-2006) spoke about. This proposal is dedicated to him and to the researchers who dealt with the Jacobean phenomenon.
1. THE VIKINGS.
The Scandinavian coast’s weather is especially harsh during the winter. The prolonged bad weather and lack of sunlight hindered agriculture and trade. Due to this, since the 8th century, more and more riverside dwellers took up looting, robbing and extortion to add to their sustenance. They organized seasonal campaigns and made their way to neighbouring coasts attacking defenceless villages, taking with them animals, food and other valuable objects that they could sell.
Despite not being that different from other Scandinavian folk, Vikings managed to develop their own cultural risks regarding boat making, weaponry and even art pieces. Their lifestyle was so profitable that after hitting European coasts, they got into the Mediterranean Sea and established long-lasting bases. Historians talk about a “Viking Age” that lasted from 800 to 1050, characterized by constant invasions and colonisations that had influence on the political system of those kingdoms invaded.
1.1. THE SAGAS.
The Sagas are, therefore, collections of literary writings about the adventures of Nordic kings and commanders. Despite not being historical texts, they include real characters and discuss events that happened. Many times, they have historical veracity. One of these is the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, on which they based a famous TV show. Ragnar “shaggy breeches” Lodbrok was a Viking king, son of a Swedish commander who has been linked to the positioning of Paris in the 9th century.
Heimskringla. It is a collection made up of 16 sagas about the Swedish and Norwegian kings, also known as “Old Norse Kings’ saga”. It was written by the skalda (the Court’s poet) Snorri Sturluson in 1225. The pages pictured are from “The Legendary Saga of St Olaf”, king of Norway from 1015 to 1028. They are the remainder of a 1260 manuscript lost in a fire in 1728, and they are kept in the National [and University] Library of Iceland.
1.2. THE BOATS.
The skaldas (the Court’s poets) called it “sea horse”, “boar of the waves” or “float of the waves”. The drakkar, the most popular name, comes from the Icelandic word for dragon. It is a narrow, light and low draught rowing boat made out of wood. It is steered with a rudder to starboard (right-hand side of the boat) and has a mast for a sail. The average size would be of around 25 m (82 ft.) of length, 5 m (16.40 ft.) of beam and 1.5 m (5 ft.) of draft, with 32 oars and room for 75 people. Of course, these boats varied in size depending on their use; e.g., for transportation, fishing or war. Romans already knew about them in the 1st century AD, since the historian Cornelius Tacitus called them “swedes”. They were not built using chains, instead the wood planks were put on top of each other and later. the joints were covered with tar-soaked moss. For maximum resistance, they tried to achieve this with one piece, so they looked for trees that allowed that.
How did they orientate? How did they sail? It is hard to explain how Viking ships managed to sail successfully across the Atlantic Ocean before 1300, when compasses started being used in vessels. A possible explanation is that they used Iceland spar, the “sun stone”, a transparent calcite that can only be found in that island. Since it has refraction, it would help position the Sun even in cloudy skies. Some go further and say that the round wooden fragments that have been found in Viking settlings, the “Unnatoq disks”, make up, along with the “sun stone”, a device that locates the sun through the shadow lines.
The embroidery board is a simple system of navigation through estimation that allows you to register the speed and route of the ship for a sentry. There is no need to write anything down, it is merely a memory assistant. It is so simple that it can be used by any sailor, whether they are literate or not.
Viking raids in Galicia during the Early Middle Ages (Gallaecia) took place between 844 and 1038 approximately, according to Vicente Almazán. Other researchers claim it was up until 1066, with some specific episodes until the end of 12th century. Everyone agrees there were four particularly outstanding invasions because of the forces brought into play on both sides, the damage caused in the territories, and the written references that reached our time. Among these invasions, the existence of minor seasonally raids is not ruled out.
Viking invasions in Gallaecia show some characteristics that differ from the invasions in other areas of the North Atlantic. One of them is that campaigns in Galicia had the exclusive purpose of plundering the territory — taking the biggest amount possible of valuable objects and making prisoners to sell them as slaves. They did not seek land to establish and create permanent colonies, such as they did in Frank grounds and in the British Isles. Another particular characteristic of these raids, both in Christian Galician and Muslim Portuguese coasts, was that they immediately encountered a strong resistance.
After every campaign, during which they would enter the territory deeply even for months, Viking gangs returned to the coast, where they set up a market and charged a ransom for the slaves. This had its own protocol; e.g. the market used to take place in the presence of Christian authorities.
The Viking people were cruel and ruthless. They used horror as a strategy to obtain advantages over the enemy. They didn’t respect churches, or monasteries, or the ecclesiastics’ lives, because they were devoted unbelievers. Maybe that is where their diabolic fame comes from. At the end of the day, the ecclesiastics were the ones who wrote the chronicles that would reach us. History teaches us that the Vikings’ brutal and merciless behaviour would not differ much from the usual behaviour of Christians or Muslims, except from the way they treated sacred spaces.
The first invasion we know of took place in the Spring of 844. They came from the Bay of Biscay, where they had been taken by a strong northwest wind when they were going down after sacking river Loire and Seine’s basins and Toulouse city. They arrived in Farum Brigantium, near Clunia (A Coruña). There, an army commanded by Ramiro I was waiting for them. That would be the first contact between the men of the North and the Galician. The Vikings were defeated, and the defenders burnt a few dozen ships, thus taking away part of the loot they carried with them.
The rest of the fleet withdrew to the South and entered Chantada through the river Ulla, annihilating the village and attacking Castro Andrade’s fort, which resisted. In contrast, Merlán and Castro de San Sebastián’s forts were destroyed. When they were withdrawing, Ramiro I’s army, along with those which belonged to the local nobles, attacked them at the outskirts of Chantada, in a place known as Camporramiro ever since. The Viking fleet, defeated once again, leaves river Ulla and marches South, to Lisboa.
The second invasion happened in 858 and it was leaded by Hastein and Björn Ragnarsson, son of Ragnar Lodbrok, who came from the French coast. It was a long-range campaign, and its final target was the Mediterranean coast and the sacking of Rome. But they also had the immediate target of getting their hands in the wealth of Santiago de Compostela, as they were attracted by the reputation it already had as new place of Christian pilgrimage.
They entered through the ria of Arousa and went up the river Ulla until they arrived to Iria Flavia, which they sacked. After that, they besieged Compostela, which had to pay a ransom in order to avoid the plundering. Count Pedro came to help with a Christian army that attacked them and caused enough casualties to make them embark and leave the Ulla.
The third invasion
occurred in 968 and was the most violent and destructing invasion of all, and the one in which the Normans were sacking villages and towns in Galicia for longer. It was commanded by the Norwegian Gunrod/Gundered, whose fleet was full of Vikings who didn’t want to belong to the dukedom of Normandy. This dukedom was created by the Norse leader Rollo in 893 in the old Neustria (Kingdom of the Franks).
The Vikings entered again through the ria of Arousa, attacking Ulla’s brooks before going up the river to Iria with their eyes set on Compostela. Bishop Sisnando was warned, and he prepared his army to fight in Fornelos, in what today is the municipality of Teo, a few kilometres away from Santiago. Sisnando, who was a bishop of báculo e besta (crosier and crossbow), commanded the chivalry and died in the fight, wounded by an arrow. With the battle won and their army scattered, the Normans couldn’t cross Compostela’s walls, but they stayed all over Galicia for three years, devoting themselves to sacking and destroying. They arrived to Cebreiro, and plundered and devastated the cities of Ourense, Tui, and Braga.
Rosendo, the new bishop of Compostela, managed to regroup the army, which under Count Gonzalo Sánchez’s command went after the Normans and attacked them in Ferrol when they were about to embark. That caused them considerable losses, including the death of their leader, Gunrod. The rest of the Norman fleet went back South and entered through the Douro, attacking the river’s brooks.
The forth invasion. The first wave occured in 1014 and was commanded by Olaf Haraldsson, whose nickname was “the Great” and who came from English coasts, where he served King Æthelred II of England. According to the saga of Snorri Sturlson, he is supposed to have come from the Bay of Biscay, devastating Castropol and Betanzos to enter the Miño by surprise and take Tui. He obtained substancial gains from the sacking and the ransoms before going back to Denmark and preparing to claim the throne of Norway.
The second wave is related to Count Ulf, a Danish man with Swedish origins who sacked Arousa’s ria and it surroundings, staying in Galicia for a while some time from 1028. He was probably taking advantage of the unstable political situation. He was immortalized in a saga and nicknamed “the Galician”, Ulf Galiciefarer, The Galician Wolf. It is not clear whether he came to participate in the campaign in order to kick Muslims out of Compostela, or whether he came as a mercenary in the name of Rodrigo de Romariz to solve a problem involving Vascone mercenaries out of control. An excavation leaded since 2009 by Bjarne Henning Nielsen, curator of Vesthimmerland Museum, near Aars (Jutland), may have found the tomb of Ulf the Galician, whose great-grandson was Valdemar the Great, King of Denmark between 1157 and 1182.
Third wave. Cresconio II of Iria, bishop of Iria and Santiago between 1037 and 1066, was also a prelate de báculo e besta. He had noble origins, and from what we know about him he was ambitious and determined. He called himself a Bishop in Apostolic See, which caused León XIV to excommunicate him in 1048. He fought the last Viking attacks with a standing army that was well trained; he also strengthened Compostela’s walls and commanded the construction of the Towers of Catoira. He never saw them finished. Some authors relate him to the campaign against Ulf the Galician’s Vikings, but with no evidence to prove it.
The death of Cresconio happens at the same time that the battle of Hastings, in which Duke William of Normandy won the Anglo-Saxon King Harold of England, which marks the end of the Viking Period in Europe, according to scholars. The clashes with Norsemen that happened after that time in Galicia were intermittent and in a context that was different from the previous invasions.
Before the 5th century, the word peregrinus was used towards a foreigner, a person that lives and wanders in exile, outside their country. During the High Middle Ages, it started getting related to a foreigner that also visited holy places. It started appearing with this meaning in written sources from the 11th century – when these people stop being anecdotal and instead become a recurring presence. From 1050 to 1150, Europe is very prosperous thanks to the territorial progress of the Christian kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula and economic growth, which help improve communications. “Saint” means “loyal”, and naming someone as such depended on the community of believers, the closest witnesses, who started to worship this person as a saint; that is why the first saints were martyrs who removed pagan gods from converted countries. From 1170 on, during the pontificate of Adrian VI, naming saints became prerogative of the Supreme Pontiff.
3.1. PILGRIMAGE PLACES.
Pilgrimage, as a way of sanctification, is not exclusive to Christianity but common to all religions. Hebrew people go to Jerusalem three times, to the Buraq or Western Wall; Muslims go to Mecca in Arabia and Mashhad in Iran; Hinduism’s main pilgrimage is to the Ganges River, and holy towns like Benares or Rishikesh; and Buddhism leads to Lumbini or Bodh Gaia in India and Nepal, and Shikoku Henro in Japan.La peregrinación, como forma de santificación, no es exclusiva del cristianismo sino común la otras religiones. Los hebreos acuden tres veces a Jerusalén, al Muro de Budaq o de las lamentaciones; los musulmanes visitan La Meca en Arabia y Mashhad en el Irán; el hinduísmo tiene la peregrinación a las fuentes del Ganges, y ciudades santas como Benarés y Rishikesh; y el budismo las Lumbini o Bodh Gaia en la India y Nepal, y el Shikoku Henro en Japón.
The relics of the saints opened Heaven’s gates and drew donations from the devotees, both poor and rich. This profitability turned them into highly appreciated and travelling objects. According to Vicente Almazán. Adam of Bremen wrote in his Gesta Hammaburensis ecclesiae pontificum that when the beloved Archbishop of Hamburg Adalbert died on March 16th 1072, during Alexander II’s pontificate, he left among his belongings a hand of the Apostle for German emperor Henry IV’s treasury (1056-1106). The Venetian Archbishop Vitale de Torcello had given this hand to him. By twists of fate, it was found in the Catholic church of St Peter in Marlow-on-Thames, where it can be found today. Besides this relic, many others are on the records of Danish churches from the 16th century, like St Mary’s in Copenhagen, the Franciscan Friary of Roslikde and Copenhagen, and the Lund Cathedral in Sweden.
Another relic of the Apostle, a bone from his arm, is shown at the Benedictine St James’ Abbey in Liège, Belgium. According to a tale in Gesta episcoporum Leodienseum (Gilles d’Orval, 13th century), the relic was taken from Compostela on the way back of the pilgrimage of Count Herman de Grez and a party of monks from the abbey, with the permission of the Galician king. This gift switched the denomination of the abbey, from St James the Lesser to St James the Greater.
In Denmark, there are more than 40 pilgrimage centres. Most of them honour Virgin Mary; others honour historical saints like St Canute, St Anne, St Nicholas, St William or St Benedict, apart from other local saints that were not canonised.
Saint Olaf of Norway.
The Trondheim Cathedral is in the Northwest of Norway, in the fiord of the same name. It is also known as the Nidaros Cathedral. It was a focal point for pilgrimage for Norwegians in the Middle Ages and a reference for Christianisation within the country because the tomb of Olaf II of Norway, also known as St Olaf, was there. His remains were in a reliquary urn –actually three, one inside the other– that was destroyed during the Protestant Reformation in 1537.
Pilgrims did not always follow geographical criteria when choosing their paths. Instead, they tried to pass by the tombs of heroes and the places with relics or cult images. The oldest record of the Danish Kingdom is dated back to 985, when the Jelling runestone was engraved: “Harald… King that conquered Denmark and Norway and converted Norwegians to Christianism”. He died in 986, approximately.
According to Nicholas Bergsson, Benedictine Abbot at the Pverá monastery in the middle of the 12th century, Icelandic people disembarked at the Aalborg port in Denmark and walked to Vyborg for two days. It took them a week to go from there to Hedeby, and one extra day to get to the Eider River, near the current Kiel, where they joined the German paths.
We know through the handwritten notes of the bishop Adam of Bremen (1050-1085) that there was a sea route to Compostela in the middle of the 11th century from the old Ribe port, in the Western Jutland coast. It connected with the Zwijn estuary in the Netherlands; Prawle Point, in the South of England; Saint-Mathieu, near Brest in Britain; and from here to A Coruña.
4.1. HAERVEJEN, "THE OX ROAD".
Hærvejen or “The Ox Road” is an ancestral way that conjoins the North of the Jutland peninsula with German land. It ended at the old border between Denmark and Germany, the so-called Dannevirke, located between Flesburg and Kiel, current Germany. It has been known since Viking times (800-1000) as the way of communication with the rest of Europe. Vicente Almazán thinks of it as “St James Way” due to the amount of pilgrims from Denmark, Iceland and Norway that arrived at Compostela through it.
You would enter the city of Vyborg through the St James’s Gate, which no longer exists but can be located because it is marked on the ground. This gate led to St James’s Street (Sct. Ibsgade), which still exists, and halfway through it to the right the St James Church, now gone, rose.
Not far from the Ox Road, near Søvind (12 km/7.5 miles before Horsens) there is a “healing” fountain called “St James’s Fountain”. At the South of the path, there is a “pilgrim hill” (Pilgrimshøj). There are also churches in Aarhus (1306), Allerup (1407) and Gladsaxe (1322).
4.2. THE DANISH WAY. FUNEN, ZEALAND, SCANIA.
Pilgrims that came from the East, from the land that framed the Danish riverside by the Øresund strait and the land across in Scania,went through the islands of Funen and Zealand before joining the Hærvejen in Jelling through Kolding. That is why there are churches and chapels dedicated to St James in Roskilde, the old Danish capital, and Bornholm Island, among other stops along the way.
Some Danish pilgrims. The first Danish pilgrim that we know of is Axel Absalon (ca. 1128-1201), born in Zealand, he visited Compostela in 1181. He was advisor of King Valdemar I of Denmark and Canute V, bishop of Roskilde from 1158 and archbishop of Lund in 1177. There are records from 1190 of a man called Winido and his wife, parents of a boy sentenced for murdering another boy by the Eider River. This river was at the then border between Denmark and Germany.
Some Iceland pilgrims. In 1354 the Icelanders Olaf Bjarnarson and Gudmund Snorason travelled by sea to Compostela, but died in a shipwreck. In 1402 – The Icelander Björn Einarson (1350-1415) travelled to Jerusalem by boat and, on his way back, he decided to go to Compostela from Venetia as his wife went back home to Iceland. He wrote a book about his journey, but it got lost.
Some Norwegian pilgrims. The first Norwegian pilgrim to Compostela was the king Sigurd Jorsalafar “the Crusader” (1090-1130), who arrived by sea in 1108 with his Viking fleet on his way to the Holy Land. After Compostela, he went south and helped the Count of Portugal conquest land from the Muslims. In 1152, Rögnvald III (St Ronald), Earl of Orkney, arrived following King Sigurd’s route. Fleets of Norse, Irish, Rhenish and Frisian men also arrived during the Third and Fourth Crusades on their way to Jerusalem.
St Andrew of Slagelse, Danish pilgrim.
He was a priest for St Peter in Slagelse on 1205. According to legend, he went to Holy Land with a group of pilgrims. On the day they were supposed to go back home, as his companions embarked, he stayed behind saying mass. A rider on a white horse picked him up on Easter in the year 1200 and brought him back to Slagelse flying. The rider left St Andrew at the “hill of rest”, at the entrance of the town, where lays a cross to remember the miracle since 1677. The day after, Andrew left for Compostela and stopped at St Olaf’s tomb in Trondheim (Norway) on his way back. He followed the same route as his companions and made it back from the Holy Places before they did. In Slagelse, there is also a well dedicated to him, Helling Anders Kilde.
According to Vicente Almazán, the last Danish pilgrim was the Franciscan Jacobus Dacianus during the first years of the Lutheran Reformation, which ended pilgrimage. Jacobus lived in Spain from 1539 to 1542; he was born in Copenhagen in 1484 and died in Tarecuato (Michoacan, Mexico) in 1566 or 1567. He was the third son of King John (1481-1513) and Queen Christina of Saxony (dec. 1521), and therefore brother to Christian II (1513-1523).
He was the last of the Provincial Franciscans in Denmark, under the name Jacobus Gottorpius in 1537. The Danish writer Henrik Stangerup wrote about his life (Broder Jacob, Copenhagen, 1991 / Frey Jacob, Tusquets, 1993) and talked about his stay in Compostela in the pages 103 and 125 (Almazán, p. 48, Dinamarca Jacobea).
Almazán claims he could not find information on Danish pilgrimages after 1526. He also highlights that the St James Brotherhood from Odense received money from Queen Christina of Denmark, as well as the existence of a document dated September 17th 1515 that grants papal authority to Oluf Nielsen, vicar at the St Nicholas Church in Copenhagen to grant all Compostela pilgrims an indulgence.
In the 15th century, the St James brotherhoods in Visby (island of Gotland), Uppsala and Stockholm already planned pilgrimages to Compostela. Since Stockholm was part of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive federation made up of the coastal cities of the Baltic Sea and those with river access to it, pilgrims made the most out of the ships that went to Lübeck and other German ports. From Lübeck, pilgrims could continue the land routes through Germany or go to Ribe or Hamburg and keep going by boat. They also used ships to go straight to Galicia. The ship-owner Diderik Pasche asked for help to the Stockholm mayor in 1501 to take pilgrims to Compostela.
In 1511, three merchants from Nyköping (South of Stockholm) were allowed to move commodities in the Hamburg port to vessels “that go to Iceland or the Country of Santiago”.
In 1521, M. Leuhusen, from Stockholm, started his pilgrimage after getting permission to go to Compostela.
5.1. THE EASTERN ROUTE TO JUTLAND THROUGH ZEALAND AND FUNEN.
Swedes that crossed the Kategat strait through Helsingborg (Helsingør) went through the island of Zealand, by Nødebo, Hilerod, Allerød and Ballerup to Roskilde. A bit further ahead, in Ringset, they could make a choice: going down to Næstred, Rødyhavn and, by boat, to Lüdbeck. Or maybe from Ringset to Slagelse, Korsør, go to the island of Funen through Nyborg and keep going to Odense, Kolding and Vejen. They joined Hærvejen (The Ox Road) from there.
5.2. THE SWEDISH WAY. VEN ISLAND AND SAINT BRIGITTA OF VADSTENA.
Ven is a small island in the North of the Øresund Strait, near the Landskrona harbour. The Icelandic writer Snorri Sturlason (1179-1241) wrote the first known piece about the island, on the context of the island’s origin of Thiodolfur of Hvein, a poet from the Norwegian King Haralf Hærfager’s court. It was Danish territory until 1660, year in which it became Swedish. There is a St James church at the top of a hill, similar to a lighthouse since it is very visible from sea. It dates from the early 12th century, while some of its pillars might be from the 11th century. This church is somewhat linked to the anglers that worked nearby, without a doubt in mind.
A priest carried out the first pilgrimage from Sweden in the 12th century, ca. 1180. The next recorded pilgrimage took place in 1280, the journey of Ingrid of Skänninge (where she founded a nunnery) to Rome and Jerusalem. Her grandfather was King Canute and she was later worshipped as St Ingrid Elofsdotter.
In the 15th century, there is a pilgrimage route from Sweden to Galicia, organised by St James’ brotherhoods in Visby (Gotland Island), Uppsala and Stockholm.
Saint Brigitta of Vadstena (1303-1373). She is both a pilgrim and an object of pilgrimage. She was born in Finstad (Uppland) in a regal family linked with the Swedish government. He married Ulf Gudmarsson, senator and governor of Narke. She had eight kids and went on pilgrimage to Santiago in 1336 with her husband. Her father had already been in 1321, as her grandfather and great-grandfather had before. The route they followed is unknown, but it is thought that it was by land since there are records of their stays in Cologne, Aachen, Tarascon and Marseille. They also went by land from Marseille to Galicia because “they visited a lot of pilgrimage places in Spain”. They most likely followed the French Way after stopping in Zaragoza.
When her husband died in 1344, her life changed: it became a never-ending state of anxiety that resulted in visions, revelations, temptations, terrible doubt and premonitions. These made her take part, from her influential position, in solving problems that came with Christianity. In 1345, Bridget founded the Vadstena Abbey and the Order of the Most Holy Saviour. She died in Romeand her remains rest in her abbey. After some time, her relics were spread across Europe. A priest carried out the first pilgrimage from Sweden in the 12th century, ca. 1180. The next recorded pilgrimage took place in 1280, the journey of Ingrid of Skänninge (where she founded a nunnery) to Rome and Jerusalem. Her grandfather was King Canute and she was later worshipped as St Ingrid Elofsdotter.
Traditional for English, Irish, Scottish, Flemish, Scandinavian and Hanseatic German pilgrims, who reached the Galician coast by sea. Ribadeo, Viveiro, A Coruña and Ferrol were the main arrival spots, especially the latter two. Pilgrims had to walk 80 km/50 miles from A Coruña and a little bit over 120 km/75 miles from Ferrol.
Notwithstanding the wealth of the groups, they had a network of hospitals and hospices throughout both routes under the patronage of Sancti Spiritus. There were five establishments from Ferrol to Bruma: Ferrol, Neda, Miño, Paderne and Bruma. There were two Franciscan houses in Pontedeume and Betanzos since the 14th century as well. There were, at least, five hospitals in the A Coruña route: Anxos, Santa Catarina, Santo Andrés, Sigrás and Poulo.
6.1. CRUSADERS IN THE ENGLISH WAY.
In the 12th century, especially after the Christianisation of the Scandinavian countries, the routes of the English Way were witness to the travels of Norse crusaders on their way to the Holy Land, like King Sigurd “Pilgrim to Jerusalem” (1108). A mixed fleet of English, Flemish and Germans in 1147 that apparently later helped the Portuguese king to take Lisbon. Rögnvald of Orkney “the Holy Earl”, who followed King Sigurd’s steps in 1151.
These visits, so close to the Viking razzias in one’s memory, did not always reach the completion of the pilgrimage. In 1189, Danish and English crusaders that arrived to A Coruña in half a hundred ships had to turn around just before getting to Compostela due to the locals’ hostility. There are records of the pilgrimage of a Scandinavian and German crusaders’ troop in 1213 that had to wait for the right wind currents for a while so they could go on.
ANDRADE TOWER IN PONTEDEUME
Standing since the 14th century, it was commissioned by Fernán Pérez de Andrade “the Good” as part of his castle, which was knocked down in 1395. Andrade worked for three Castilian kings: Peter of Castile, Henry II and John I. He defended A Coruña in 1386 against John of Gaunt who claimed the Crown of Castile since he was married to one of Peter of Castile’s daughters. Fernán Pérez de Andrade died in 1397 and he was buried in St Francis Church in Betanzos.
Many churches and chapels dedicated to the worship of St James were built throughout the Ox Road, Haervejen, which comes down the Jutland Peninsula, and also in the western way which crosses the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen from Scania. In total, there are 24 churches along the Kingdom of Denmark. Some of them still exist, modified to a certain extent. Others exist only in memory, frequently recorded in toponymy. In the town of Skagen, in the north end, there was a medieval chapel and a street named after St Jamesl and also in Viborg (1284). The church’s portico still holds its ground in Horsens (1414); in Varde (14th century), the church is still standing, and also in Genner (1474), Flensborg, Ülsby, Süderbrarup, Svabsted, Moldenit, and Slesvig (Schleswig in German).
The nave from the church of St James of Rolkilde (1292) is still preserved. In 1808, it served as a hospital for Spanish troops that fought Napoleon, and they created a cemetery there for the fallen soldiers.
The church of St James of Ballerup is from the 13th century, and it was modified in the 19th century. It is probably one of the most beautiful churches dedicated to St James in Denmark.
THE SCALLOP SHELL
The scallop shell became a popular symbol of pilgrimage towards the mid-12th century, during the time of Xelmírez’s bishopric. One of its first iconographic representations can be found in the relief of the Pilgrims of Emmaus in the monastery of Silos. In this relief, Jesus appears with a haversack of straps decorated with metallic scallops, like the ones described in the Codex Calixtinus. They were made by Compostelan concheiros (shellers), and they could be bought at Praza do Obradoiro.
The pilgrims who arrived to Santiago would buy badges, which could be shells or scallops, either natural or made of tin, copper, lead, or silver, and they used them to decorate their hat and cape. In 1200, there were at least a hundred shops in Compostela that sold badges, and in 1228 Pope Gregory IX forbade their fabrication outside Santiago.
7.1. PILGRIM BADGES AND STAMPS.
The pilgrim badges and stamps were small souvenirs that pilgrims carried after visiting the chosen sanctuary. Their immediate purpose was to be shown to the rest as testimony of their status of pilgrims, so they mostly hooked them to their hats. But these souvenirs were not just ornaments, they had huge symbolism. The pictures, as well as evoking the idea of pilgrimage, highlighted the sanctuaries and holy places the pilgrim had been to, which granted them a series of advantages, both physical and spiritual.
The badges appeared in the 12th century during the Crusades, reaching their peak in the 13th and 14th century, and getting replaced in the 16th century by religious medals. The stamps also arose around that time yet disappeared in the 14th century alongside the decrease of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims’ stamps or branding irons are called specullum.
7.2. THE SHELLS OF ST JAMES.
The first scallop shelves of St James (Ibskallen, in Swedish) that could be found in Denmark are from the 12th and 13th centuries. Kurt Köster studied 180 of them, from which 140 appear in tombs. Lars Andersson inventoried 122 in Scandinavia. 112 are in the region of the former Kingdom of Denmark: Skania, Småland, Schleswig. The shelves already had a use and a meaning before the phenomenon related to St James started, but it was the flowering of the worship to St James what shot up its use in Christian iconography.
ANOTHER OBJECTS RELATED TO ST JAMES. Only in Denmark there are 32 wall paintings with Jacobean motives and/or the image of the apostle: in the churches of Stubbekøbing (island of Falster), from 1275; there were paintings also in the church of Ballum (South Jutland), but now only the name of Santiago is left; in the churches of Nørre Alser (Falster) and Hølby (1380), 90km from Copenhagen; in the churches of St Mary of Elsinor; in Vordingborg (South Zealand); in Lyngby (outskirts of Copenhagen), and Vedslet (East Jutland).
English major and historian, he was born in Castelló on November 17th 1924. He began studying at the Alacant and València Marist schools, following his father’s transfers due to his job as a Tabacalera official. He soon died, so the family went back to Castelló and Vicente began studying at a Piarists school. He entered the Salamanca seminary, but he was not vocational. In 1948, he moved to France and enrolled in university sometime after. He moved to Strasbourg and obtained a scholarship for the University of Cologne, Germany, where he studied Medieval Literature and Romanic Studies. He discovered the Swedish language and briefly visited the Stockholm University, but went back to Cologne to complete his doctorate.
His cravings to travel and meet people and new places took him to Canada, where he stayed for 9 years as a professor for the Sudbury and Windsor universities. From there, he moved to the United States to teach Romanic Studies for 40 years, first at Wayne State University and later at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Among his extensive publications, many of his research papers were published in different specialised magazines across Europe and America. One of his main contributions was the full release of Specullum Regale / Konungs skuggsjá, a Norwegian text from the 8th century that he translated and annotated.
Multilingual, he could speak nine languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. He enjoyed telling that he had walked the Way of St James at 12 years old and was charmed by the Galician language and culture. With time, this admiration turned into unconditional love for Galicia. A fortuitous encounter with a Galician immigrant at a German petrol station inspired him to write a peculiar book. Carlos Casares did not think twice about publishing it: Galicia. Breviario para o galego ausente (“Galicia, breviary for the absent Galician”). It was released in 1999 with a special design by Francisco Mantecón.
In 1995, he retired from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and was named a professor emeritus. In Spain, he was an office speaker for the II Congress of Jacobean Studies and was a part of the International Committee of Experts on the Way of St James until his death, which took place in Castelló on February 1st 2006. This little exhibition goes out to him and other scholars of the Jacobean phenomenon.
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