Congresso Internacional “‘VIATOR’. Viagens e viajantes medievais” (Simpósio Internacional dedicado ao estudo da viagem, circulação e mobilidade na Idade Média) / International Conference “‘VIATOR’. Medieval travels and travellers” (International Symposium dedicated to the study of travel, circulation and mobility in the Middle Ages)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference



CONFERENCE ORGANISER: Paulo Catarino Lopes (Institute for Medieval Studies -
NOVA University of Lisbon / School of Social Sciences and Humanities)

• Amélia Aguiar Andrade (IEM – NOVA FCSH)
• Yvonne Hendrich (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
• Paulo Catarino Lopes (IEM – NOVA FCSH)
• Susani Silveira Lemos França (UNESP - Campus de Franca)
• Maria João Branco (IEM – NOVA FCSH)
• Jurgen Pohle (CHAM – NOVA FCSH)
• Catarina Barreira (IEM – NOVA FCSH)
• Vânia Leite Fróes (Universidade Federal Fluminense)
• Fábio Barberini (IEM – NOVA FCSH)
• Iria Gonçalves (IEM – NOVA FCSH)

For many years, despite all the evidence resulting from the wide circulation at the end of the Roman Empire and in the early medieval centuries, from the expansion of Islam, the Nordic incursions to the East and West, the Christian missionary campaigns, the Crusades, and most of all, the pilgrimages which continuously crossed through the heterogeneous spaces of Christianity and of the Islamic world, the Middle Ages were not conceived as a period associated with movement, mobility and, finally, travel practice, especially of long-distance. This was a historiographic issue commonly addressed in the context of the study of Modern times, considering, for example, Christian medievally as a period when the predominance of Rurality and, from a long-term perspective, the weakness of urban life and of trade would not favour travel.
However, in recent years, several studies have contributed to dispel this overly a priori view, both in terms of social practices and of the imaginary. Particularly for Late Middle Ages and for Christendom, historians have been demonstrating how an intense circulation of people, objects, commercial goods, models, and ideas took place. The result is that a set of important investigations on medieval travellers is now available, showing a human group so broad and diverse that, in essence, it presents itself as transversal to all coeval society.
In addition to the large aggregates – nobles, clerics, and the many merchants of emerging cities in Europe from the 12th to the 15th centuries – there was a huge gallery of subtypes: ambassadors, students, pilgrims, missionaries, warriors, robbers, second sons of the nobility seeking fortune, monks who circulated among monasteries not infrequently carrying the medieval preciousness that books were, messengers, postmen, minstrels, professional carriers, peasants, administration officials, artisans, explorers, poor, fugitives or even vagabonds, among many others. All, individually or especially in groups, to a greater or lesser extent, contributed to nurturing and composing the broad human framework that integrated mobility and circulation as practices inherent in medieval daily life.
Many of the journeys made during the Middle Ages, especially in the last centuries, gave rise to written testimonies, the so-called medieval travel books or travel relations, which, taken as a whole, form a multifaceted, interdisciplinary and composite genre. These are texts of diverse character, which have at their base equally different purposes. However, the articulation of the documentary discourse (always predominant) with the literary one, as well as the common use of a set of narrative procedures – albeit in a variable way and without any established pattern – guarantees them a unique profile, and consequently an autonomous literary form in the panorama of medieval prose. As a result, on one hand, these records offer a clear view of coeval reality, as well as how the world was perceived at the time, and on the other, reflect the extremely diverse sociology of medieval travellers.
Accompanying the objective of doing new research, this international conference also aims to contribute to the integrated process of refocus research on the subject of Travel, Circulation and Mobility in the Middle Ages on innovative approaches, giving it autonomy and specificity as an object of study. All in the sense of showing that medieval society was not closed in on itself, nor was it stagnant and immobile, that is, unable to transform or evolve.
Period25 Nov 202126 Nov 2021
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Middle Ages
  • Travel
  • Travellers
  • Circulation
  • Mobility