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  • Published: 13 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241530849
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $45.00

A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages

The World Through Medieval Eyes




A delightfully captivating journey across the medieval world, from Europe to the Antipodes, seen through the eyes of those who travelled across it

From the medieval bazaars of Tabriz, to the mysterious island of Caldihe, where sheep were said to grow on trees, Anthony Bale brings history alive in A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages, inviting the reader to travel across a medieval world punctuated with miraculous wonders and long-lost landmarks. Journeying alongside scholars, spies and saints, from western Europe to the Far East, the Antipodes, and the ends of the world, this is no ordinary travel guide, containing everything from profane pilgrim badges, Venetian laxatives and flying coffins to encounters with bandits and trysts with princesses.

Using previously untranslated contemporary accounts from as far and wide as Turkey, Iceland, Armenia, north Africa, and Russia, A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages is a living atlas that blurs the distinction between real and imagined places, offering the reader a vivid and unforgettable insight into how medieval people understood their world.

  • Published: 13 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241530849
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $45.00

Praise for A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages

Rich and wonderful. This is the world as you have never seen it before - and as it will never be seen again. And it's more surprising, extraordinary and bizarre than anything you can possibly imagine

Ian Mortimer, author of The Time-Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England

A fascinating read . . . a new fact to be discovered on every page, written with enthusiasm and wisdom

Reverend Kate Bottley

Masterful, panoramic, beautifully written and vividly imagined, A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages is a book to be savoured

Dr Helen Castor, author of Blood and Roses and She-Wolves

A joyful, erudite book, and a global Middle Ages for our times. Journeying from a monastery in Wiltshire to Ethiopia, India and China, Anthony Bale reinvents the period through its intrepid travellers, and in the process redefines the period

Jerry Brotton, author of A History of the World in 12 Maps

Anthony Bale's fascinating book immerses us in all the experiences of medieval travel . . . An enthralling journey into the past and across the world, packed with incidents that any reader will find deliciously exotic, yet wryly familiar. Like the most memorable journeys, this book takes us to barely imaginable places - but the most remarkable thing we find may be ourselves

Seb Falk, author of The Light Ages

This is a gorgeous and fascinating storybook and a richly satisfying journey into the medieval mind . . . All this rests on his prodigious knowledge of the least expected sources. Bale opens a whole scholarly library of smells, tastes and terrors and makes a living parade of them

Michael Pye, author of The Edge of the World

Intrepid, entertaining, and unfailingly curious, he has now travelled far and wide in their company; balancing sympathy with scepticism, he marvellously reconfigures the contours of our forebears' knowledge

Marina Warner

Vivid, exciting and astonishing, Anthony Bale's medieval world is one populated by marvels and fantasies. Bale's exploration, told through the many travellers' texts produced in the later Middle Ages, is beautiful, gripping and fascinating, and informed always by gentle and empathetic reflection upon what it means to be a fragile human being in motion through strange lands, both then and now

John Arnold, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cambridge

This endlessly delightful book replicates the promises and pleasures of real travel, as we bump into and then lose sight of familiar faces in unfamiliar places. Anthony Bale is an adroit, companionable, and non-judgmental host on the road; he wears his deep knowledge lightly

James Simpson, Professor of English at Harvard University

A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages is an exhilarating and erudite combination of historical learning and imagination, which guides the reader on a wondrous journey through the real and fantastical worlds of the late Middle Ages . . . Bale reveals the humanity, mundanity, and marvels of travel, from brothels and latrines to statues and spectacular sites

Elizabeth Boyle, author of Fierce Appetites

A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages ingeniously offers the reader two experiences at once. We travel with Europeans of those centuries as they travelled across the Eurasian landmass, and sometimes beyond; but we also travel to them, to their workshops, homes, libraries, towns squares, where they imagined and prepared for travel, and where they told their tales upon return . . . This travel guide is arranged not by time or places, but by encounters and experiences, just as travel is and should be. Anthony Bale seems transformed by his prodigious scholarship and travel, and this edifying and entertaining book is the proof

Professor Miri Rubin, author of Cities of Strangers

A Lonely Planet book for the medieval traveller . . . In this deeply researched but witty and readable guide, Anthony Bale brings us face-to-face with medieval travel – the sights and smells, the thrill and the homesickness – in a way that feels instantly recognisable even at so many centuries’ distance

Dennis Duncan, author of Index

A stunning book . . . weird and wonderful and quietly hilarious, but the enormous fun of this book would not be possible without solid graft — Bale’s dogged research and his diligent crafting of perfect prose

Gerard deGroot, The Times

Superb . . . In his remarkable and expertly executed prose, Bale demonstrates his skill as a historian in his handling of the expansive source material available . . . The micro personal experiences told against the backdrop of macro topography is a Herculean task and one that is undertaken with immense passion and knowledge. A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages is a stunning example of the point where true scholarship meets popular history

Helen Carr, Engelsberg Ideas

An enthralling account of medieval travellers . . . [Bale's] enthusiasm is infectious . . . this is a work of serious scholarship

Rosemary Goring, Scottish Herald

Ambitious, sweeping across continents with a keen eye for detail . . . moves fluidly between travelogue and scholarly text, imaginative literature and nonfiction . . . In a way that imaginative fiction arguably cannot, A Travel Guide to the Middle Ages brings us close to the past it experiences and allows us to be transformed in the process

Imogen Marchant, TLS

Wisdom fills the pages of this immensely entertaining history

The New Yorker

Serious scholarship and a sightseer’s unbridled enthusiasm make for fascinating armchair time travel

Observer