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“Walk the Line: Pilgrims, Vagabonds, and Violence in Early Modern Spain”

“Walk the Line: Pilgrims, Vagabonds, and Violence in Early Modern Spain”

Amanda Scott, Assistant Professor of History

In this talk, I consider the ways in which pilgrimage, homelessness, and poverty overlapped. We often think about early modern pilgrims as holy travelers, traveling for religious and spiritual reasons, but the reality was far more complex: the pilgrim hospital network, and the social support of traveling and living with other poor, disabled, and marginalized individuals, attracted a wide range of people. Some briefly walked as pilgrims until they found work or new homes; others lived as pilgrims for the long term, moving from one pilgrim hospital to the next, with no clear destination. The stress and tensions of this difficult peripatetic life understandably provoked conflict and violence. Drawing from the archives of Navarre and Aragon, this talk gives voice to the unfortunate pilgrims—both victims and perpetrators—whose travels brought them not to holy sites but to courts and through their experiences, sheds light on how definitions pilgrim versus vagrant criminal were largely a matter of chance and circumstance.

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