Historically, the 9th century was important to Spain because it was in the midst of the Reconquista, a bitter long-standing war between Moors and Christians. With the marriage of Fernando of Aragón and Isabela of Castilla y León in the late 15th century, Spain rose to be a super power both in religion and politics. England, seeking to increase its own world power, proposed marriage between Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Fernando and Isabela. The marriage between Arthur and Catherine (and then Catherine and Henry) deepened connections to Spain and reinforced the importance of the Camino. In addition, pilgrim badges from Santiago de Compostela have been found along the Thames River and throughout the British Isles. This paper will discuss the routes in the British Isles as well as the material culture of the Camino found in the UK and Ireland.
The connection between body and spirit materializes in Portugal in the remarkable transformation of Lisbon’s cathedral in the royal pantheon of King Afonso IV, associated with the cult of relics, the triumph in the Battle of Salado and royal worship. The presence in the Cathedral of St Vincent’s relics, the martyr protector of the city, enhance the spiritual connection between the crown and the cult of a saint, visible in the tumulation ad sanctos. Likewise, the placing over the king’s sarcophagus, of the remains of the battle, underline the image of mythical spirituality that the king intended for himself.
The 12th century was marked by the creation of military orders of international scope and national context, absolute innovations in the monastic spirituality of medieval Christianity. In the Portuguese case, the Temple and Hospital militias, through an anthropological exegesis of their architecture, defensive systems, territorial organization, and toponymy, underline in different ways the memory of the Holy Land and its tumultuous history, distant but always present. Such issues, little discussed by historiography, pose nowadays several problems of interpretation, opening new readings in the understanding of the Peninsular West.