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travel-msg - 1/24/08


How much, fast did the medieval person travel. Period travel guides.


NOTE: See also the files: carts-msg, horses-msg, ships-msg, p-backpacks-msg, nav-inst-msg, med-ships-art, ships-bib, Images-o-East-art, travel-foods-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Date: 27 Feb 91 06:30:28 GMT

Organization: University of Chicago

David Dowd asks about carrying capacity etc. for horses and wagons. I

recommend that he look at the book "Alexander the Great and the

Logistics of the Macedonian Army." (I forget the author). It is a

fascinating attempt to analyze Alexander's compaigns in terms of the

problems of keeping a large army from dying of hunger or thirst. To

take one obvious point that had not occurred to me: If Alexander had

camped someplace where the source of water was one well (or, for that

matter, 10 wells) his army would have died--you cannot draw water

from a well fast enough to feed 100,000 people (which I think is

about what the author thinks he had, including camp followers etc.).

One thing that makes the book possible is that the relevant

technology did not change much until the nineteenth century, so

relatively recent data are available. So the book's information would

be relevant to understanding medieval as well as classical warfare.


Cariadoc/David Friedman

DDFr at Midway.UChicago.Edu




Date: 28 Feb 91 23:04:00 GMT

Organization: The Internet

Duke Sir Cariadoc writes:

> David Dowd asks about carrying capacity etc. for horses and wagons. I

> recommend that he look at the book "Alexander the Great and the

> Logistics of the Macedonian Army." (I forget the author). It is a


Its author is Donald W. Engels; its publisher: The University of California

Press,  Berkeley CA in 1978.  The Library of Congress Card Catalog number

is U168.E53,  for those whose libraries use that indexing system.

------------------------------------------------------------- Jeremy de Merstone       George J Perkins    perkins at msupa.pa.msu.edu

North Woods, MidRealm    East Lansing, MI    perkins at msupa (Bitnet)




From: james at nucleus.cuc.ab.CA (James Prescott)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Travelling speeds

Date: 13 Mar 1993 04:07:23 -0500

Organization: Nucleus BBS - Calgary, AB CANADA + 1 403 531-9353


Philippa asks a number of questions about travel speeds. Here are a

few assorted answers from various secondary references such as

Braudel.  The dates of applicability are in the 1300-1500 range, and

the region of applicability is Italy, France, Germany, and parts of

England. All refer to extended trips (weeks or months).

The distances cited account for major bends in the straight-line

route between destinations, but ignore all the little wiggles that

could add 30% or more to the actual distance covered.


A courier on horseback on an extended trip (such as Venice to Bruges)

would be expected to cover 55 km every 24 hours in mixed weather.

Another source suggests 100 km every 24 hours.


A pack train (horse or mule) on an extended trip seems to have

averaged 18 km every 24 hours. It seems that in this era assorted

delays (poor tracks, tolls, brigands, tolls, bribes, tolls, detours,

tolls, and weather, to name but a few) accounted for a significant

proportion of the slow pace.  England was said to be comparatively

free of such delays.  Long-distance trade did not often use carts

or wagons at this date, due to the shortage of any extended road



A cargo ship (either sail, or a sail-equipped galley) on an extended

trip seems to have averaged 35 km every 24 hours.  For comparison,

'standard' voyage times to and from Iceland by the Norse indicate

expected speeds in favourable weather of from 160 to 260 km every

24 hours.  The furthest distance sailed in 24 hours by a replica of

the Gokstad ship (1893) was about 415 km.


River barge traffic on extended trips seems to have averaged 12 km

every 24 hours.


James Prescott, Systems and Software Consultant, (403) 282-0541

Thorvald Grimsson, OP, OL, OGGS, Baron of Montengarde, Yeoman

Royal Archer for the Crown Principality of Avacal, Kingdom of An Tir

... and in Iceland 'tis the year of the White Christ 973 ...



From: Daniel.Schnick at f4229.n124.z1.fidonet.org (Daniel Schnick)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Sailing speed record

Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1993 00:42:42


I'm not certain but I think that the Cutty Sark had the Knots per day record, While the Cloud held the NY-San Francisco record.  I know that this doesn't matter to the actual subject.


As to the hull speed formula, while it does give the maximum posible speed through the water (not accounting for currents) it doesn't--and of course can't-- consider the efficience of the sail plan or the practices of the captains.  Up until early in the

clipper era it was customary for ships at sea to heave to at night.  Also, the clippers got at least part of their speed through sheer guts: they didn't take in as much sail in a storm and had more of it to hang in lighter breezes.  

Getting back to our period, though,(and I wish I still had my references), the distances logged for a sixteen hour sailing day came to about 50 knots ( 60 miles ) with a favorable wind, significantly less with a less than favorable wind.  With long layove

rs waiting for the favorable wind.  The main advantage of going by sea was not so much speed of straight line travel but that horses have some difficulty with the straights of gibralter.  Also the tonnage per man hour was much improved.  


* Origin: Herald's Point * Steppes/Ansteorra * 214-699-0057 (1:124/4229)



From: salley at niktow.canisius.edu (David Salley)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Traveling

Date: 14 Mar 93 16:15:49 GMT

Organization: Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 14208


Philippa d'Ecosse of Lyondemere in Caid writes:

> Greetings, Good Gentles!

> While spending entirely too much time this very morn traveling to

> my place of employment, I began to wonder how long it actually took

> to travel from place to place before we were all blessed with the

> black gold of the Saracens.


> For horses (and donkeys):  How fast and far can a horse that is well

> exercised, in good health, and accustomed to much travel be expected

> to go in a day?  How many days could it keep up such a pace?  What

> about rest periods (aside from overnight)?  How well do they do when

> foraging for food?  What about when they are pulling carts or wagons?

> What about bullocks and the like?  What are the effects of weather?


> What about ships and boats of various kinds, both sail and oar driven?

> And again, what about weather?


> What about such alternative modes as skis, snowshoes, sleds (both the

> slide-down-the-hill or tug-behind-you kind and the horse-pulled kind)?

> How much did winter slow you down anyway, and how much would these

> little toys help?  (OK, I know, "Stay at home, fool!")


> Many thanks in advance,


I can't speak from personal knowledge, however I saved the following article

when it was first posted on the Rialto and I refer to it frequently when

I'm designing a rpg campaign.  -- Dagonell


*** quoted posting begins here ***

Oh goody! Somebody actually asked about one of my favorite trivia subjects:



Ordinary person on foot: 10-20 miles per day, more with a decent road.


Highly trained person on foot: 70 miles in a twenty four hour period.  The

Apache Indians trained this thoroughly, but I don't think any European culture



Horseback: Forty miles easily, fifty miles normally, sixty miles if you pushed

it.  Pushing it will cause the horse to founder sooner or later--The

grandfather of a friend of mine used to walk from Michigan to Boston to see his

girlfriend because it was faster than taking a horse-the horse would founder

long before the man.


Horsedrawn wagon: About twenty miles a day.


Oxen drawn wagon: 10-12 miles a day.


Mule drawn wagon: 20 miles a day.


Roman chariot: with good roads and relays of horses, 100 miles a day.  This is

called Caesar speed because Julius Caesar demanded such service in his domain.


17 century English Flying Coaches: 100 miles a day, often on bad roads, with

relays of horses.  Had a higher accident rate than other forms of travel too.

"Posting" the technique used to ride in English saddles, was invented by the

postilions of these coaches to save their derrieres.


Pony Express: Relays of horses and riders, two hundred miles a day.


Viking longboats: roughly 100 miles a day.  Cargo ships were slower, and the

later medeival ships were slower also.


Yours in service, Awilda Halfdane


*** quoted posting ends here ***

                                                       - Dagonell


SCA Persona : Lord Dagonell Collingwood of Emerald Lake, CSC, CK, CTr

Habitat          : East Kingdom, AEthelmearc Principality, Rhydderich Hael Barony

Disclaimer  : A society that needs disclaimers has too many lawyers.

Internet    : salley at niktow.cs.canisius.edu

USnail-net  : David P. Salley, 136 Shepard Street, Buffalo, New York 14212-2029



From: Suze.Hammond at f56.n105.z1.fidonet.org (Suze Hammond)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval Traveling

Date: 20 Mar 93 14:03:00 GMT


Ctc> To all upon the Rialto doth Charles the clerk send his greetings!


Ctc> Philippa d'Ecosse writeth:

> While spending entirely too much time this very morn traveling to

> my place of employment, I began to wonder how long it actually took

> to travel from place to place before we were all blessed with the


Ctc> Now I believe that most townsfolk in period lived directly above or

Ctc> beside their shops.  Similarly, in villages, the millers, blacksmiths,

Ctc> and priests.  The farmers very likely did need to walk half an hour or

Ctc> more to reach their fields.  The same for shepherds, although those

Ctc> probably considered their jobs to involve taking the sheep to their

Ctc> pastures and back, rather than thinking of that as time spent

Ctc> travelling to their jobs.  The lord of a manor may have spent a day

Ctc> at home, planning and discussing business, or he may have travelled

Ctc> from his keep to various of his villages and fields to check on his

Ctc> properties.


Ctc> These suspicions of mine may very well be absolute nonsense.  Does

Ctc> anybody know of any estimates on how long the average travel times

Ctc> to and from places of work might be in period?

Ctc> --

Ctc> -- Charles, student, in Glaedenfeld, Meridies


I'm not an expert, but a little extrapolation to modern more primitive

cultures and the experiences of the 18th and 19th centuries make it a pretty

good guess that most people, farming and husbandry being the most common

concern of the populace, spent different amounts of times "getting to work"

depending upon the seasons. In winter, there were few crops to be tended

beyond digging root crops that could safely be left in the ground until

needed, and tending the animals in the farmyard, including slaughtering them,

as the winter feed dwindled, and curing the meat. Herdsmen' flocks would be

in the low pastures. In spring, as soon as the ground could be broken, the

fields for plowing would begin to be worked, and the time needed would

depend upon the walking time of the *animals*, horses and mules being a good

deal faster afoot than oxen, (but less strong before the invention of the

horse collar and the release of "war horse" breeds to field work)... Once the

fields were tilled nearby, the plowman would start travelling further and

further out, to the fields of those who were lower in the local order of

things, and couldn't have fields near the village. Sewing season it would

merely depend on how far out your family field was. Same for harvest. Herds

would be now grazing in the higher elevations, and herdsmen would probably

not go home at all for long stretches, the family perhaps visiting the

shepherds among them them for the shearing, or in some cultures, relocating

in temporary camps for the summer.


Some of this sounds fairly strenuous, and one of the main reasons we now

have so many fat people is that the race spent thousands of years aclimating

to this, and the fuel it took. Suddenly (only less than 2 centuries) we have

a great deal less of this to do, and the same old appetite!


As you can see, the seasons were a great deal more important then. Winter,

for all its possible hardship, gave time to sit by the fire and spin tales,

and do sewing and carving and such as was needed. In winter almost no one

had *any* travel time. Townsfolk usually has less all year 'round. The

gentry had varying needs, depending upon what type of lands they held, how

much, and populated by whom. Some summered in one and wintered in another.

Some (men and widows at least) spent a lot of time on horseback, tending to

property and the needs of their tenants (much more important than some of us

believe... noblese oblige...) and some very little. Summer, between planting

and harvest, also sometimes left a lot of free time. Much depended on the

locale and climate as well.


(My personal opinion is that a lot of our modern problems with "bums" is

related to the fact that people today may not work as hard physically, but

they have far less *mental* time to themselves, and some have stress illness

and others either can't cope, or refuse to... and I'm not so sure those will

turn out to be wrong in the eon-long run... To me, our current lives may not

be as "nasty" or short, but psychologically they are more brutal.)


In Christian times, there were also many, many feast days, and no work on

Sunday. (There are tracts by upper classes calling the peasants lazy for

this... Oddly, there are also records of the peasants complaining there was

no time left to get any work done! It may have been caused bored clerics,

cooped up in musty scriptoriums, all along...   :-)


As to travel time to work... your mileage may have varied! ;->


... Moreach NicMhaolain



From: corliss at hal.PHysics.wayne.EDU (David J. Corliss)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Rate of travel

Date: 6 Oct 1994 10:32:21 -0400

Organization: the internet


Greetings from Beorthwine-


Fiacha writes:


> I claimed that the average daily travel distance was around 30 miles. Others

> argued that it should be around 20 miles.


In such considerations, consulting the available sources would be appropriate:

instead of conjecture based on modern abilities, it is possible to simply read

in period accounts how fast people traveled. For example, immediately before

the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harold of Englanad marched a force of some 7000

men from London to York so quickly that it was the wonder of the age: it is

still known as "Harold's Lightning March". The army moved even faster than the

rumor of its approach, as reflected by the total ignorance on the part of their

enemies of it's very existence. The rate of march is found to be about 30 miles

a day.


Harold travelled over the old Roman Road that had been made for swift travel

between Londinium (London) and Eboracium (York) and had been well maintained.

Even given the quality of the road (straight, no steep inclines, and, with the

exception of Huntingdonshire, without marshes), this rate of march was amazing

to all (especially to the Norwiegian invaders, who arrived to collect ransom

from the local Earls, not to fight the King, and so did not wear their armor).


From this, we must consider a rate of 30 miles per day to be, in most

cicumstances, impossible and 20 miles per day extraordinarily swift. For common

travel, we must ask ourselves how long Chaucer's folk took to go from London to

Canterbury and how much time pilgrimages to Rome, Compostella, and the Holy

Land required. We find that given the often poor roads, bad weather, ocaasional

illness, and other cicumstances of travel that 20 miles per day would be the

very highest achieved by almost anyone (whose life did not depend on dramatic

speed). This would be balanced by more frequent days when little or no progress

would be made. In the end, we find the _average_ rate for _extended_ travel to

be about five miles per day.


              .........this has been a public service message from the Middle

Kingdom College of Sciences.........



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: nostrand at bayes.math.yorku.ca (Barbara Nostrand)

Subject: Re: Rate of travel

Organization: York University

Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 20:32:40 GMT


Noble Cousins!


The Middle Kingdom College of Sciences posted a pretty good article about

medieval travel.  I wish to make one minor quible.  The article states:


> Land required. We find that given the often poor roads, bad weather,

> ocaasional illness, and other cicumstances of travel that 20 miles per day

> would be the


Depending on the amount of baggage carried, 20 miles per day is not at

all difficult and much greater speed is quite possible. If you are engaged

in significant climbing, 14 miles can be quite an accomplishment.  If

you are marching along a Roman road with little elevation change, you should

be able to go quite a bit faster.


Modern people consistently underestimate the speed with which humans can

travel by foot from one place to another.  I have read that the Sioux

dog soldiers (please don't shoot me if the dog soldiers were Cheyene

instead of Sioux it was a long time ago) were able to outdistance the

U.S. cavalry on foot.  Basically, they needed to have enough of a head

start so that they could tire the hourses before they were caught.  

People can and do walk at a rate of about 4 or 5 mph for extended periods

of time.


The real problem for Harald's army was not just moving individuals 30 miles

in a day (thousands of people do that <or close to it> every year at the

Boston Marathon), but also moving baggage and maintaining order over the

distance travelled.  Basically Harald's marche mas not a physical marvel,

it was a logistical marvel.


                                    Your Humble Servant

                                    Solveig Throndardottir

                                    Totally Ignorant




From: habura at rebecca.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Rate of travel

Date: 8 Oct 1994 00:00:31 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


All of this also assumes that the roads were, in fact, passable. This wasn't

always the case. The Paston letters (15th c. English, which usually deal

with conditions in Norfolk) frequently mention persons being delayed by

bad road conditions. (One case, in the annotated version of the Paston

Letters I was skimming recently, was apparently due to the fact that a ditch

that ran alongside a major road sat on Church property, and the Abbot would

not clean out the ditch...so the road was washed out, and the local secular

authorities couldn't make the clerical authority fix the problem.) There

were even cases of folk dying on the roads, often by falling into pits

while traveling hastily at night.

(I will go look up the exact references if anyone wants; all this is from



Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*





Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: keegan at netcom.com (Tim Bray/C. Keegan)

Subject: Re: Rate of travel

Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

Date: Tue, 11 Oct 1994 02:04:06 GMT


David J. Corliss (corliss at hal.PHysics.wayne.EDU) wrote:

: Greetings from Beorthwine-

: In such considerations, consulting the available sources would be appropriate:

: instead of conjecture based on modern abilities, it is possible to simply read

: in period accounts how fast people traveled. For example, immediately before

: the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Harold of Englanad marched a force of some 7000

: men from London to York so quickly that it was the wonder of the age: it is

: still known as "Harold's Lightning March". The army moved even faster than the

: rumor of its approach, as reflected by the total ignorance on the part of their

: enemies of it's very existence. The rate of march is found to be about 30 miles

: a day.


(much good stuff snipped)


Amen and thank you for providing the period viewpoint!  To add another

example at the extreme upper end of the spectrum - a feat of travel that

was a wonder of its day - we read in Froissart of an extraordinary

challenge between the King of France and his brother the Duke of

Touraine.  Frossart's account of this episode (Book Four, "A Royal

Visitation" in the Penguin edition, 1389) is absolutely delightful and

really brings history to life; it also serves to illustrate how little

different modern young men really are from 14th century young men...


The King and the Duke are in Montpellier, which Froissart says is a good

450 miles from Paris.  They get to talking (most likeley while drinking)

about how good it would be to be in Paris with their wives, etc.  They

bet 5,000 francs on which of them would reach Paris first, both starting

the same time in the morning and taking only one servant or knight with

them.  "Those four keen young men continued riding night and day or, when

they felt like it, had themselves taken on in carriages to give

themselves a rest.  Of course they made several changes of horses."


"Think of the discomforts those two rich lords endured through sheer

youthful spirits, for they had left all thier household establishements

behind.  The King took four-and-a-half days to reach Paris, and the Duke

of Touraine only four-and-a-third; they were as close together as that.  

The Duke won the bet because the King rested for about eight hours one

night at Troyes, while the Duke went down the Seine by boat as far as

Melun, and from there to Paris by horseback..."


"The ladies treated the whole thing as a joke, but they did realize that

it was a great feat of endurance, such as only the young in body and

heart would have attempted.  I should add that the Duke insisted on being

paid in hard cash."



So, 450 miles in 4.5 days... 100 miles per day!!  Modern endurance riders

frequently complete 100-mile days, riding specially trained horses,

usually Arabs; but I have never heard of anyone doing it four days in a row.


I believe that I have some other contemporary references to travel

distances & times; if I come across them I'll post additional info.


Colin d.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)

Subject: Re: Regalia: Authentic or Useful?

Organization: University of Chicago

Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 03:49:41 GMT



Linda of the Lakelands asks:


"Since we are really trying to do some-thing that they didn't do in

period (move a household out camping 20 times a year), how can we

satisfy both needs?"


I think you have it backwards. They had much more need than we did

for portable regalia. Medieval monarchs travelled a lot--I think I

remember a figure of 2000 miles a year for someone, possibly a Holy

Roman Emperor. And they did it with much worse roads and much worse

forms of transportation than we do. Compare what a truck will carry

with what a horse, or even a bunch of horses, will carry.


You might look at _Medieval Travellers_ by Margaret Wade Labarge.

Chapter 3 is entitled "Itinerant Kings and Queens."


"Chests were made of iron and wood but many of the boxes exposed to

the weather were made of cuir bouilli, the leather soaked in oil

which thus became both pliable and waterproof." I have my doubts

about the author's interpretation of cuir bouilli, but either boiled

or wax hardened leather is a plausible material for containers if

they are not too big.


Linda writes:


"Example of problems: the West currently has 3 sets of cloaks. One

set is due for retirement, one set is Polyester for washability and  

long use, and one set is JUST FOR SHOW, and shouldn't be dragged  in

the dirt, so they never get used. What should we do about designing

our next set?"


Make them out of period materials, as fancy as is consistent with

being reasonably easy to wash. Presumably that is what they did. They

had cheaper labor for washing than we do, but no washing machines and

a much inferior range of soaps.


There are three basic points underlying my answer.


1: Period people had to solve most of the problems we have to solve;

they did so with period materials, and they did it without our

advantage of being able to use non-period things (trucks, detergents)

when the event is not going on.


2. It is not reasonable to expect everyone in the Society to be

authentic, even moderately authentic, in everything, or even in most

things. People vary a lot in their resources, interests, what kinds

of authenticity are important to them, etc. But the sovereigns are

highly visible, have quite a lot of (volunteer) resources, and are

supposed to be setting an example in lots of ways. Using cotton,

linen, and wool instead of rayon and dacron is not very difficult, so

they should do it.


3. By committing ourselves to try to do things in a period manner, we

give ourselves an incentive to look for period solutions to our

problems, and thus to learn more about period society, technology,

etc. If the royalty is so committed, that provides an incentive for

the rest of the kingdom to try to solve the problems for them--and

learn in the process.





From: radueche at ct.med.ge.COM (Renee Raduechel)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Rate of travel/Things my persona should know

Date: 19 Oct 1994 13:44:02 -0400

Organization: the internet

Cc: radueche at ct.med.ge.com


I remembered seeing a book about Medieval travel at a local public library,

so I logged in to the Library of Congress to see if I could find it.  A

search on "Travel, Medieval" turned up 19 items (including duplicates).

Here are the ones in English, for any who want to Read More About It:


5. 90-108738: Ohler, Norbert.  The medieval traveller / Woodbridge, Suffolk :

     Boydell, 1989.  xv, 245 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

7. 87-13434: Otsar masa'ot. English. Selections.  Jewish travellers in the

     Middle Ages : 19 firsthand accounts /  New York : Dover, 1987.  xxii, 391

     p., [2] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: G277 .O88213 1987

9. 85-219493:   Two voyagers at the court of King Alfred : the ventures of

     Ohthere and Wulfstan, together with the Description of northern Europe

     from the Old English Orosius /  York, England : Sessions, 1984.  71 p. :

     ill. ; 21 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: PR1555 .A24 1984

10. 82-196589: Labarge, Margaret Wade.  Medieval travellers : the rich and

     restless /  London : H. Hamilton, 1982.  xvi, 237 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: GT5240 .L3 1982

13. 77-6979: Jusserand, J. J. (Jean Jules), 1855-1932. English wayfaring life

     in the Middle Ages (XIVth century) /  Boston : Longwood Press, 1977.  451

     p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: DA185 .J8713 1977

16. 70-151219: Rowling, Marjorie.  Everyday life of medieval travellers.

     London, B. T. Batsford; New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons [1971]  208 p.

     illus., maps. 22 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: G369 .R68 1971

18. 68-5572: Newton, Arthur Percival, 1873-1942, ed. Travel and travellers of

     the Middle Ages.  New York, Barnes & Noble [1968] vi, 223 p. illus.,

     col. map. 25 cm.

     LC CALL NUMBER: G89 .N4 1968



If you want the complete list, telnet to        locis.loc.gov

and use the command                             b Travel, Medieval


Fiacha said:

> There was an article about the messenger networks set up by the Italian

> merchant families that described the runnerswho would work for a week

> and rest for a week but who would travel 55 miles a day while working.


If I'm thinking of the same article, it appeared in an issue of History

Today a couple of years ago.  I think I still have the issue at home.  If

anyone's interested in a complete citation, reply to me and I'll see if I

can dig it out.



radueche at ct.med.ge.com



From: Dana Tweedy <tweedyd at mail.cvn.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Horseback Travel

Date: Sat, 10 May 1997 23:27:08 -0700


Edward Waterman wrote:

> I once used to know this fact but now I seem to have fogotten... I am

> trying to calculate distances and travel time on horseback, and would

> greatly appreciate any infomation you can give me as to appromimate

> travel times and distances while riding a horse!


> I remembered speed and travel time varied between rough ground,

> mountainous, and flat ground. And I *think* I remember reading somewhere

> that the top speed of a horse is about 30 MPH (miles per hour) and that

> realistic traveling speed is about a third of that, but I'm not sure.


> -Edward


I don't know for sure, having never really studied horses, but physical

geograpahy lends a litte aid.  Here in southern Pennsylvania along US 30

(that used to be a turnpike for hosedrawn travel) there are a number of

towns laid out at approximately 25 mile intervals, with somewhat smaller

towns about every 10 miles in between.  This indicates that travel was

about 25 mile in a days time, with rest stops about every 10 miles.  

Obviously this is speed for wagons, rather than for single people on

horseback.  Actual speed would depend on type of horse (Charger, palfrey

etc), weight the horse was carrying, feed and forage for the horse, and

rest breaks for both man and horse.  A reasonable assumption would be

about 5 to 7 MPH for traveling slowly as on a pilgramage, with faster

times in cases of war or other emergencies.  If a relay system were set

up, with the rider getting fresh horses at so many miles, much faster

speeds could be expected.


            yours speculatively: Lord Karl Rasmussen of Tvede



From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Horseback Travel

Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 11:18:41 -0700


> On Sat, 10 May 1997, Edward Waterman wrote:

> I once used to know this fact but now I seem to have fogotten... I am

>  trying to calculate distances and travel time on horseback, and would

> greatly appreciate any infomation you can give me as to appromimate

> travel times and distances while riding a horse!


If one looks at a good California map, all of the California missions

were set along El Camino Real exactly one comfortable day's travel by

horse apart. They run, if memory serves, from the far south of

California (San Diego) all the way up to San Francisco, San Juan

Capistrano and Santa Barbara being the best preserved, if memory

serves.  The Missions are standard CA 4th grade fare, which for me,

alas, was a long time ago!





Subject: ANST - RE: period travel guides

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 08:42:51 -0500

From: "C. L. Ward" <gunnora at vikinganswerlady.org>

To: <Ansteorra-Laurels at ansteorra.org>

CC: <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>


Jovian asked:

>I assume that people wrote "travel guides"

>during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Have

>any survived? Where can they be found? What

>do they cover?


Medieval "travel guides" aren't generally what you'd find today if you go to

the "Travel" section of a bookstore.  The accounts are much less factual in

many cases, and as far as I've seen never are the kind of document that

lists "what sights to see".


There are a number of more-or-less factual travellers' accounts, and then

you also get into medieval geography, which is often largely fictional or

based on hearsay.  And then there are the "fantastic travels" which I think

must descend from the common desire to astound and amaze those folks back

home.  At the edges of the world people always envisioned strange and often

dangerous creatures. For ancient peoples the earth's farthest perimeter was

a realm radically different from what they perceived as central and human.

The alien qualities of these "edges of the earth" became the basis of a

literary tradition that endured throughout antiquity and into the

Renaissance, despite the growing challenges of emerging scientific

perspectives. This phenomenon is so widespread that a number of books have

been written on the subject. In fact, the same phenomenon continues today,

providing us the many and varied aliens of science fiction and speculative



Some good ones to look at include:




* Palsson, Hermann and Paul Edwards.  Vikings in Russia: Yngvar's Saga and

Eymund's Saga.   Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 1989. Out-of-print,

to have Amazon.com do a book  search for it go to:





* M. Reinaud, trans. Geography of Abu al-Fida'. Paris. 1848. Describes the

Norse ca. early 14th century under the heading "Northern Regions of the



* Allen, W. E. D., trans. The Poet and the Spae-Wife: An Attempt to

Reconstruct Al-Ghazal's  Embassy to the Vikings. Dublin: Allen Figgis & Co.


[A translation of the Arabic text describing al-Ghazal's visit to Turgeis,

ruler of the  Vikings in Ireland ca. 845. This account dates to the early



* Al-Mas'udi. Meadows of Gold. trans. A. Sprenger. London. 1941.

[Describes the Rus market of Bulghur prior to 947.]


* Al-Mas'udi. The Meadows of Gold: The Abbasids. Paul Lunde and Caroline

Stone, trans and  eds. Kegan Paul International. 1989. To order from




* Ibn Battuta. The Travels of Ibn Battuta. trans. H.A.R. Gibb. Hakluyt

Society 2. Cambridge.  1962. To order from Amazon.com:



* S. Janicsek. "Ibn Battuta's Journey to Bulghar." Journal Royal Asiatic

Society. 1929. pp.  792-800.


* Smyser, H. M., trans. "Ibn-Fadlan's Account of the Rus with Some

Commentary and Some  Allusions to Beowulf." Franciplegius: Medieval and

Linguistic Studies in Honor of Francis  Peabody Magoun Jr. eds. Jess B.

Bessinger and Robert P. Creed. New York: University Press. 1965. pp.


[A translation of the Arabic text describing ibn-Fadlan's journey among the

Rus or Russian  Vikings ca. 921. This account dates to the early 1200's.]

See also the text, which I have on my webpage at:





Babcock, William Henry. Legendary Islands of the Atlantic: A Study in

Medieval Geography. New York: American Geographical Society. 1922.

Out-of-print, to have Amazon look for it:



Babcock, William Henry. "The So-Called Mythical Islands of the Atlantic in

Medieval Maps", Scottish Geographical Magazine 31/32 (1916).


Flint, Valerie I. J. The Imaginative Landscape of Christopher Columbus.

Princeton University Press. 1992. To buy from Amazon.com:



Fuson, Robert H. Legendary Islands of the Ocean Sea. Pineapple Press. 1998.

To buy from Amazon.com:



Harvey, P. D. A. Mappa Mundi: The Hereford World Map. British Library

Studies in Medieval Culture</CITE>. University of Toronto Press. 1996. To

buy from Amazon.com:


[This map is a great example of medieval mythical geography and how it

intermixes with the knowledge of the real world.]


Jakobsen, Alfred. "Geographical Literature." in: Medieval Scandinavia: An

Encyclopedia.  Phillip Pulsiano et al., eds.  Garland Reference Library of

the Humanities 934.  New York & London: Garland. 1993. pp. 224-225.

Out-of-print, to have Amazon search for it:



Romm, James S. The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought. Princeton:

Princeton University Press. 1992. To buy from Amazon.com:



Simek, Rudolph.  "Elusive Elysia or Which Way to Glśsisvellir."

Sagnaskemmtun: Studies in Honor of Hermann PŠlsson on his 65th Birthday.

Rudolph Simek et al., eds.  Vienna, Cologne & Graz: BŲhlau. 1986. pp.

247-275. Out-of-print, to have Amazon look for it:



Tomasch, Sylvia and Sealy Gilles, eds. Text and Territory: Geographical

Imagination in the European Middle Ages. The Middle Ages Series. University

of Pennsylvania Press. 1997. To buy from Amazon.com:



Westrem, Scott D., ed. Discovering New Worlds: Essays on Medieval

Exploration and Imagination. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities

1436. New York: Garland Publishing. 1991. Out-of-print, to have Amazon look

for it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0815301022/thevikinganswerl





Subject: Re: ANST - RE: period travel guides

Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 14:34:12

From: "Eric Jackson" <owenapaeddan at hotmail.com>

To: ansteorra at ansteorra.org


     Gerald of Wales wrote a excelent description of his travels through

Wales recruiting for one of the crusades. He also wrote about his travels in

ireland here are a few links. You can find his books on the web if you are

interested in them








Owen ap Aeddan.......



Subject: ANST - Period Travel Guides

Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 19:40:42 -0400

From: fitzmorgan at cs.com

To: ansteorra at ansteorra.org


> I assume that people wrote "travel guides" during the Middle Ages and

> Renaissance. Have any survived? Where can they be found? What do they

> cover?


> Jovian


Look for "The Pilgrims Guide To Santiago De Compostela"   Written in , I

think, the 12th Century.  and translated by William Melczer.  Italica Press,

INC.  ISBN 0-934977-25-9 for $17.50 if it's still in print.  This is a travel

guide for pilgrims telling of dangers to avoid and sites to see on your



      It tells which rivers you can safely drink from and which are unsafe.

It says some rude things about the Basque.  And tells short stories about the

many Saints who's shrines you will see on the way.  It's well worth reading.


Robert Fitzmorgan

Barony of Northkeep



From: redjack at mindspring.com (Richard Lewis)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: dark ages travel equipment

Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 23:23:43 GMT


jan-simon at wxs.nl (Siem) wrote:

>does anybody know what a travel bag from the dark ages would have

>looked like - or even better: have pictures of an example? What I am

>looking for is something pilgrims would have used or clerics that

>travelled from city to city in the days of Charlemagne.




A rolled up blanket tied with a short rope and hung over one shoulder.

It's suitable for everything from the Roman era all the way up to the

American Civil War.





Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001 02:05:35 -0600

From: Stefan li Rous <stefan at texas.net>

To: SCA-Cooks maillist <SCA-Cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] travel foods


Steve wrote:

> My guess would be something that was portable, easy to serve and resistant

> to spoiling.  Breads, hard cheeses, dried sausages, fruits in season.  Of

> course it's all a guess on my part on what would seem logical.  They may

> have had chefs serving roast heron.


>>Sooo... for our Obligatory Food Content, what do we know about

>>travelling foods in period? They didn't nosh while doing 65+ on the

>>interstate, but what might one eat while on the road to Canterbury,

>>perhaps? Inbetween inns?


For a bunch of stuff on travel in the Middle Ages, including I think,

travel food, check this book:


"The Medieval Traveler" by Norbert Ohler. 1986. English Translation by

Caroline Hillier 1989. St. Edmundsbury Press Ltd., Bury St. Edmunds,

Suffolk. ISBN 0 85115 490 5 (hardback), ISBN 0 85115 607 X (paperback).


It was reprinted 1995, 1996, 2000. So you ought to be able to find a

copy. They also give a website: http://www.boydell.co.uk


It talks about hospices and monestaries and how travel improved

over time. Also the development of inns and taverns and class

differances in travel. The last half of the book gives some

contemporary accounts of specific travels in the Middle Ages.


I think I bought this book at the last Pennsic but I don't

remember from which merchant. For someone interested in

how folks traveled in the Middle Ages, I highly recommend this



THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

   Mark S. Harris            Austin, Texas          stefan at texas.net



Date: Tue, 02 May 2006 12:34:50 -0400

From: Sandra Kisner <sjk3 at cornell.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Fwd: BMR: O'Sullivan, Hospitality in Medieval

      Ireland (Waters)

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Here's an excerpt.  I can send the rest to anyone who's interested.  The

review is actually relatively short for BMR.




> O'Sullivan, Catherine Marie, “Hospitality in Medieval Ireland,

> 900-1500”.  Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2004.  Pp. 272. 45 GBP [$55

> USD]. ISBN 1851827455 (hb).


> This volume sets out to address hospitality from a number of angles.

> The author addresses the classes of travelers who were entitled to

> hospitality and discusses what each grade could expect in terms of

> food, lodging and treatment as well as discussing who was required to

> supply hospitality and the particular demands placed on certain groups

> such as religious institutions, professional guesthouse keepers and the

> learned classes.  She also addresses the demands hospitality placed on

> households and institutions of varying means. Additionally, she

> explores the reasons this rigid system of hospitality was in place as

> well as the advantages which the hospitable host could accrue through

> his actions.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org