William Wey, fifteenth-century Devon priest, Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, and Bursar of Eton College, made three pilgrimages between 1456 and 1462 - to Compostella, Rome and the Holy Land. Prompted by his friends to write an account of these pilgrimages, he describes in vivid detail his travels through seas patrolled by Turkish galleys across Europe which at that time was embroiled in turmoil from local conflicts. The complete text of his narrative has never before been translated into modern English.
For students of this period, which bridges the medieval and early modern worlds, Wey's account adds a new dimension to the phenomenon of pilgrimage. He himself is an attractive and intriguing person of many talents, practical, adventurous and highly observant, and eminently resourceful. While waiting for the pilgrim galley to sail to Jaffa, for example, Wey spent over a month in Venice and gives a colourful account of that city in its heyday. His biblical knowledge is formidable and his use of sources exact and apposite. He provides practical and homely advice on kit, conduct and currency. He also includes comparative English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew vocabularies, gazetteers of places, roads and distances, and two poems.
Medieval pilgrim accounts are relatively rare and The Itineraries provides a fascinating insight into travel, religious faith and the topography of fifteenth-century Europe and beyond.
Francis Davey attended New College, Oxford, and taught Classics for many years before his appointment as Headmaster of Merchant Taylors' School.