Milieus of Mobility: Itineraries, Route Maps, and Road Maps

Catherine Delano-smith

in Cartographies of Travel and Navigation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226010748
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226010786 | DOI:
Milieus of Mobility: Itineraries, Route Maps, and Road Maps

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This chapter presents a comprehensive survey of European overland travel, travel guides, and mapping in medieval Europe and early modern times. It begins with a profile of the medieval European traveler, dashing the commonly held assumption that medieval Europeans were not mobile. Geographical mobility was neither restricted by class, nor prohibited by the poor quality of roads, nor confined to pilgrimages. The demand for information about routes, therefore, was considerable, but was almost always supplied in the form of written itineraries. The most celebrated early “graphic itineraries,” by Matthew Paris and John Ogilby, were not only separated by several centuries, but appear to have had more to do with vicarious travel than practical guidance. The most celebrated early maps of route networks—the Peutinger Map and the Gough map of Britain—are similarly isolated examples of uncertain utility to travelers. Despite the increasing circulation of maps in Europe after the invention of map printing, specialized maps for travelers were slow to develop. Maps were not attached to practical travel guides with any frequency until the end of the seventeenth century, a change that had more to do with the increase in commercial traffic brought about by industrialization than with the needs of private travelers.

Keywords: European travelers; travel guides; mapping; medieval Europeans; Matthew Paris; John Ogilby; Peutinger Map; Gough map; route networks

Chapter.  18696 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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