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After the triumphal arches of Late Roman Antiquity, large scale monumental sculpture was absent from Europe for more than six hundred years before being Beaulieu-Tymp-3dramatically revived in the final decade of the eleventh century, when the great Romanesque church portal reliefs were begun.

The representation of theophanic visions, traditionally frescoes or mosaics situated within the church, were now located outside above the main entrance and carved in stone.

In a conscious desire to recall Roman triumphalism, an arched space or tympanum placed on a lintel over the doorway, became the site for these massive relief sculptures.

Moissac-S-Tymp-21The iconography of these portal sculptures was, by and large, sourced from just three New Testament theophanic visions which were combined into a single image.

These were; the Gospel of Matthew’s description of the Second Coming, the Ascension from the Acts of the Apostles and the Apocalypse of the Book of Revelation.

A fear of idolatry, which had persisted since the end of the Roman Empire, was now banished.

For the Christian church, the Old Testament injunction against graven images had long been of serious concern, reaching a peak during the Iconoclast Controversy in the Eastern church during the eighth and ninth centuries.

In the West, in early sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great had debated the issue with Serenus, an iconoclast bishop of Marseilles.

Cahors-'15-240Gregory reasoned that images need not be idolatrous and were important because they enabled an illiterate public to learn what they would otherwise know only from books.

“For to adore a picture is one thing,” wrote Gregory, ”but to learn through the story of a picture, what is to be adored is another”.

However a persistent desire to avoid idolatry meant that images were by and large restricted to the small scale manuscript illuminations and liturgical materials.

Gregory the Great’s view continued through into the eleventh century and was expounded anew at the Council of Arras in 1025, which proclaimed, “The illiterate people who cannot understand writing, can contemplate images”.

Complex arguments were brought to bear by both the iconoclasts who sought to prohibit religious images and the iconodules who believed them to be important tools to bring man closer to God.

Arles-Facade-Initially, the West had rejected the ideas of the Byzantine iconodules.

Misunderstanding their reasoning, which came out of the tradition of Greek philosophy which was now lost to the Latin Church, the intellectuals of Charlemagne’s court rejected the propositions of the 787 Council of Nicaea which had restored the veneration of icons.

Writing to Pope Adrian in 790 they declared, “the Greeks place almost all the hope of their credulity in images but it remains firm that we venerate the saints in their bodies or better in their relics”.

In the East, the subtlety of the Byzantine debate over icons had superceded the more simplistic considerations of the Latin West.

Conques-Christ-1The Eastern defenders of religious images considered that because of the Incarnation, the representation of God’s image in art was not merely sanctioned but positively essential.

One of the most eminent apologists for the use of religious imagery was Theodore the Studite who in the early ninth century reasoned, “When the Word of God, was made flesh, the invisible became visible and that which remains without form took on a corporeal form. That is why the Christ can be represented”.

Slowly, the ideas of the iconodules began to permeate through to the Latin West, in particular via the abbey of Cluny in the eleventh century.

moissac-christ-tetramorphThe abbey’s library contained copies of their manuscripts and their ideas were explicitly taken up by Cluny’s fifth abbot, Odilon de Mercoeur, in his Sermon on the Nativity.

For Odilon, the Fall had caused man to be blinded from the true vision of the Divine.

“And it became the condition of human nature, by the persuasion of the apostate angel, that our first father lost sight of the invisible light and so blinded by internal speculation, it was scattered and deformed without.”

Carennac-87It was possible, now, continued Odilon, to find a way towards the spirit by means of physical images .

These considerations suggest that the purpose behind the iconographic programme of the great portal sculptures was not Gregory the Great’s didactic and pedagogic intention for the edification of the illiterate.

For Odilon and the Carolingian philosopher John Scotus Eriugena the purpose of art was as an aid to contemplation of the Divine.

One of the results of this new thinking concerning sacred images was to reinforce the notion of the symbolic aspect of the image and this resulted in an artistic development away from naturalism towards the greater stylisation and abstraction, which defined Romanesque sculpture.

Sources and Biblio: Christe, Yves Le portail de Beaulieu, étude iconographique et stylistique, In Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques 1970.

Dale Coulter, Pseudo-Dionysius in the Twelfth Century Latin West, The ORB, 1997.

Paul Rorem, Eriugena’s Commentary on the Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy, ‪Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies‬, ‪1 Jan 2005‬.

The city of Cahors is located on the river Lot as it makes a dramatic loop, creating a site of important strategic value which had been exploited as an urban centre since pre-Roman times.

cahors-15-235-copyIt was the major station between Conques and Moissac on the Puy route to Compostela, notably benefitting from relics of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The subject of the tympanum relief of the great north portal is the Ascension.

This was the favoured theme of the first portal sculptures which emerged from the sphere of influence emanating from the Burgundian abbey of Cluny at the end of the eleventh century.

In 1085 bishop Gerard II of Cahors had appealed to abbot of Hugh of Cluny to submit the cathedral chapter of canons to the Cluniac reform.

Cahors-'15-240The design of these Ascension portal reliefs was derived from Byzantine models which appeared in the sixth century and featured Christ standing upright within a mandorla being borne aloft by four angels.

Both arms are raised, in the left hand is the Book of Life and the right is raised in benediction.

The Eastern Ascensions had evolved to acquire a secondary tier which featured the Apostles and the Virgin in a register below, representing the terrestrial Church.

There are three accounts of the Ascension in the New Testament: as the culmination of the Gospels of Mark and Luke and at the opening of the Acts of the Apostles.

Jesus is described rising up to Heaven and disappearing from the view of the Apostles. “A cloud received him out of their sight”, according to Acts.

Cahors-'15-263At the top of the Cahors tympanum, four angels are descending from the clouds ready to assume Christ into heaven, to be veiled henceforth from the view of man, as represented by the Apostles below, until the day of his return.

The disturbed Apostles are interrupted by two angels who declare, “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven”.

Cahors-'15-182Accordingly, the Ascension, which was the theophanic vision adopted by Cluny as the chosen image for portal reliefs, was considered a prefiguration of the Second Coming.

At Cahors this is strikingly rendered by the prominent and dramatic poses of the two angels of Acts poised in both reverence and celebration.

Significantly, the Gospel of Saint Mark does not limit its account to Jesus passing from view but states, “He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God”.

cahors-15-201-copyIn addition to the principal theme, on each side of the Ascension there are episodic representations of the life and death of Saint Stephen.

A series of scenes depict, first Stephen’s profession of faith before the angry Sanhedrin priests, then his expulsion from the city.

This association of the Ascension with the martyrdom of Stephen was not simply a way of commemorating the cathedral’s patron.

It was a juxtaposition intentionally derived from a longstanding exegetical tradition emanating from the writings of Gregory the Great in the sixth century and further expanded upon by Rabanus Maurus in the ninth.

cahors-15-16-copyThey drew an important link between the martyrdom of Stephen and the principal subject of the tympanum relief, the Ascension.

The very literal treatment of the episodes of the martyrdom arises directly from this exegetical tradition.

In the lapidation scene, Stephen’s gaze is fixed directly above. This is his vision prior to the moment of martyrdom. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen was possessed by the Holy Ghost and, “Said, behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God”.

cahors-15-135-copyThe account of the protomartyr’s vision of Jesus in heaven, together with Saint Mark’s narrative of the Ascension, were taken as the only texts which corroborated the appearance of the Son at the right hand of the Father after the Ascension.

The image which is depicted above the lapidation is of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost is represented by the hand which reaches down towards Stephen.

The Father is shown seated and the Son standing, both wear the cruciform halo. The iconological inference of the composition is drawn from the exegesis of Gregory and Rabanus Maurus.

cahors-15-113-bBoth writers had pondered the question posed by the differing accounts in Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. Whereas the Gospel of Saint Mark states that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, Stephen’s vision is of Christ standing.

As Rabanus asks, “How is it that Mark says seated and Stephen testifieth to seeing standing?” For Gregory the Great and Rabanus Maur, this apparent contradition is evidence of the duality of God’s nature, both Judge and Redeemer.

It serves to explain why for Stephen, who is redeemed by both his ministry and martyrdom, the vision he sees is of Christ standing in his role as Redeemer.

The attributes of Judgment and Redemption are present with both the Father and Son holding the Book of Life and right hand held up in benediction.

The presence also of the sun and moon confirm an Apocalyptic context. Stephen’s vision is of the moment after the Ascension, in other words, the celestial reality now veiled from man but available to Stephen in the moment of martyrdom and a reminder of the words of the angels of the Acts of the Apostles, that the Ascension was a prefiguration of the Apocalypse.

Sources and Biblio. La Cathédrale de Saint-Etienne de Cahors, Architecture et Sculpture. Bulletin Monumental, 137 1979.

Yves Christe. Les grands portails romans. Études sur l’iconologie des théophanies romanes, Genève, Librairie Droz, 1969

Quercy Roman. M. Vidal, J. Maury, J. Porcher. La Nuit des Temps, ed Zodiaque, 1959



One of the principal monasteries of the Cluniac Order, the abbey of Beaulieu was situated on the banks of the Dordogne river. Strategically positioned on the Compostela road, it was a key point of passage between the two regions of the Limousin and the Quercy.

beaulieu-71The southern porch features a tympanum relief sculpture whose style emanates from the same Languedocian tradition as the great sculptures at Moissac and Cahors.

Its dating is still disputed, however it can be fairly ascribed to the first half of the twelfth century.

The subject is the Second Coming of Matthew’s Gospel and the iconography is firmly influenced by the Late Antique Roman triumphal arches. These monuments were celebrations of imperial military victories.

beaulieu-184They depicted the victorious leader surrounded by his retinue of dignitaries being offered the trophies of the vanquished enemy who lay prostrate at his feet.

At Beaulieu, an enthroned Christ returns at the End of Time in the manner of an imperial victor. Surrounded by his Apostles, his trophies are borne aloft by an assembly of angels.

One bears the Instruments of The Passion symbolised by the nails of the Crucifixion.

Another bears the Crown of Heaven. Two more angels carry the bejewelled Cross, Matthews’ sign of the Son of Man.

Like the Roman emperor, Christ stands over the vanquished enemy, Death, represented on the lintel by the devouring beasts.

beaulieu-167A manuscript of the first decade of the twelfth century makes explicit the connection between the iconography of Imperial Rome and the Apocalyptic theophany.

“In what form shall Christ appear on the Day of Judgment?”, asked Honorius of Autun, rhetorically answering, ”In the manner of an emperor who enters a city, his crown and other insignia carried before him so that his advent might be recognised, the angels carrying his crown will lead the way”.

beaulieu-108“On his arrival they will resuscitate the Dead by their voices and their trumpets”. The Beaulieu theophany is an image of the Redeemer.

In the exegetical works of Cluny’s tenth century abbot, Odon, the four arms of the Cross symbolised the diffusion of Redemption to the four corners of the Earth. Similarly, the outstretched arms of the Beaulieu Christ reach out to encompass the whole world.

Immediately beneath the register of Christ and his Apostles are smaller figures who are pointing towards the theophanic spectacle to which they are witness.

beaulieu-145The seven figures are Jews, holding up their tunics to expose their circumcision and pagans wearing tricorn hats.

They represent those peoples of the earth who will, at the last day, be converted and redeemed along with the rest of humanity.

This notion derives from Gregory the Great’s treatment on the Book of Job, the Moralia, a work widely circulated in Cluniac libraries. Two copies of abbot Odon’s commentary were kept at the great abbey of Saint Martial of Limoges.

In this work, Gregory argued that the Jews would be the last to convert and that their initial opposition had been part of the divine plan, having obliged the Gospel to be spread abroad.

beaulieu-156Above the Jews and Pagans is the seated figure of Paul, notable for his own late conversion after initially persecuting the early Christians.

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans specifically had addressed the question of the redemption of the Jews.

The very presence of the unconverted on the tympanum of Beaulieu signifies that the Apocalyptic moment has arrived.

The Word has now come to the furthest reaches of the world and the Mission of the Apostles has been fulfilled.

Sources and Biblio: Art et réforme clunisienne : le porche sculpté de Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, Barbara Franzé. Bulletin du centre d’études médiévales. Auxerre 18.2. 2014

Yves Christe. Les grands portails romans. Études sur l’iconologie des théophanies romanes, Genève, Librairie Droz, 1969

Programmes Eschatologiques: Fonction et Réception Historiques des Portails du XIIe: Moissac – Beaulieu – Saint Denis, P Klein Cahiers de Civilisation Medieval 33 317-49

Limousin Roman J. Maury, M-M Gauthier, J. Porcher, La Nuit des Temps. Ed. Zodiaque 1960

In 1115 the sculpted relief of the central portal of the largest church in medieval Christendom, Cluny abbey, was completed. The image it depicted was a simple one. Christ in a mandorla supported by a pair of angels.

Angouleme-Ascension-1The Romanesque world viewed reality and art as being imbued with multiple layers of meaning.

The function of the great portal relief sculptures was to combine these layers into a single richly symbolic form which would act as a conduit to guide man to the essential truth.

The first portal reliefs which emerged from the Burgundian sphere of Cluny made use of a motif which originally had its source in Roman funerary art.

This was of the funerary apotheoses carved onto antique sarcophagi, depicting the head of the deceased enclosed in a circular frame held aloft by two winged figures, signifying assumption into a paradisaical afterlife.

Cahors-'15-182The reliefs of the Burgundian monasteries depicted Christ in a mandorla representing the celestial realm, supported by a pair of angels. This was an image of the Ascension.

Early Christian commentators had seen the Ascension as a prefiguration of the Second Coming. This arose from the account in the Acts of the Apostles whereby, two men dressed in white appear to tell the disciples that Christ will return ”in like manner”.


Attributes associated with the Apocalypse were incorporated, in particular with the addition of the Four Living Beasts.

Traditionally, a second register was included showing the Virgin Mary and the Apostles.

These latter additions were necessary to symbolise the human dimension of the theophany by representing the Incarnation and the Bearing of Witness.

The sources for this depiction of the Ascension came from the Byzantine East.


This view of the Ascension had been actively refuted in the Latin West.

According to Gregory the Great, “Our Saviour, as it is written in the scriptures was not taken by a chariot like Eliah or carried by angels. He who created all rose to Heaven by his own force”.

However the Romanesque depiction of the Ascension became the dominant theophanic image during the second half of the eleventh century up until the middle of the twelfth.

It found a multitude of forms and was not intended as a simple literal depiction of the event described in the New Testament.

Cahors-'15-239Its true function was to act as an iteration of the Neoplatonic metaphysics which had reached the West from Byzantium during the course of the ninth century and which had later been taken up by Cluny.

Accordingly, it was proposed that man had acquired the capacity to grasp, at least partially, the Divine Nature in the same way as the angelic orders.

Odilon de Mercoeur, fifth abbot of Cluny had written in the early eleventh century, “the angels of the Ascension appeared in white garments because the human race which had been covered by the dark because of a mortal blindness had merited, by the Grace of God to wear the garment of eternal joy and acquire angelic dignity”.

Source: Yves Christe. Les grands portails romans. Études sur l’iconologie des théophanies romanes, Genève, Librairie Droz, 1969

A transcendental mysticism entered Latin Western Christendom from the East in the ninth century.Moissac-S-Tymp-25

At the centre was the Divine One, immobile and eternal, surrounded by a Celestial Hierarchy and Cosmos that was in a state of continuous movement.

That motion was one of ebb and flow, a progression towards the still centre and a corresponding regression away from it. The Divine was in a constant process of self-revelation.

An emanation of Its essence was in an unfolding dialectic with the rest of the Universe, which was in a corresponding process of contemplation of that essence.


Each being, containing elements of the Divine and the non-Divine, processed through an alternating recognition of their Divinity followed by its negation, ascending through the hierarchy until there was nothing left to negate and union was attained in the Godhead.

Taking the theophanic vision from chapter four to six of the Book of Revelation as a description of the highest level of the celestial hierarchy, the tympanum sculpture of the Cluniac abbey of Saint Pierre at Moissac was essentially a depiction of the Christian Neoplatonic metaphysical system.

This was derived largely from the writings of a Syrian monk of the sixth century who wrote pseudonomously under the name of Dionysius.

Moissac-S-Tymp-12-copyThe contorted figures whose gazes are all directed at the central Divine figure, were intended to represent that process of movement back and forth between the Divine and the non-Divine.

According to the system presented by Pseudo-Dionysius there were three orders of angels each consisting of three ranks. The highest order was made up of the Cherubim, the Seraphim and the Thrones.

The Tetramorph of the Moissac tympanum which surround the central figure consist of the Living Creatures of Ezekiel’s Old Testament vision who reappear at the Apocalypse. These were the Cherubim who, according to Ezekiel were angels each with the head, respectively, of a man, a calf, an eagle and a lion. On each side there is a six winged Seraphim and below are the Thrones, represented by the Twenty-Four Elders.

Moissac-SeraphimAll are joined in contemplation and adoration of the Godhead, united in one continuous song of prayer.

The celestial hierarchy was further extended by three terrestrial orders which formed the basis and rationale for the medieval monastic system. This tripartite division of society was made up of those who labour, those who fight and those who pray.

The monastery of Moissac was the most important establishment in the Cluniac federation, after the mother abbey itself. Through the writings of the Pseudo-Dionysius and his successors, which were held at the library at Cluny, had emerged the idea that humanity partook in that celestial hierarchy and formed a tenth order of angels. Moissac-S-Tymp-18-copy

It was in the light of this transcendentalism that Cluny had refined the Rule of Saint Benedict into a constant round of liturgy.

By prayer and mystical contemplation, monks could access the same theophanic vision, which was the preserve of the angelic orders.

For the remaining two orders, those who fought might find redemption through martyrdom and those who laboured, through pilgrimage and the veneration of relics.

Moissac, on the banks of the broad river Tarn, was an important station on the pilgrim road to Compostela.


The Pilgrims Guide describes a choir of one hundred monks of the Cluniac priory of Saint Jean d’Angély, another station on the road to Compostela, who “worshipped day and night” the relic which they guarded: the head of Saint John the Baptist.

It was a description intended to echo that of the Living Creatures who, in the Book of Revelation, “rest not day and night, saying Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty”.

The Elders of the Apocalypse beckoned pilgrims from the tympanum above the entrance to the abbey church at Moissac with the vessels they held and which contained, according to the Book of Revelation, the accumulated essence of the prayers of the saints.

Biblio: Dale Coulter, Pseudo-Dionysius in the Twelfth Century Latin West, The ORB, 1997. Yves Christe. Les grands portails romans. Études sur l’iconologie des théophanies romanes, Genève, Librairie Droz, 1969. Paul Rorem, Eriugena’s Commentary on the Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy, ‪Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies‬, ‪1 Jan 2005‬

Fronsac-GV-WPThe Benedictine priory church at La Lande-de-Fronsac lies fifteen miles north east of Bordeaux on the northern banks of the Dordogne river.

Its portal relief sculpture is singular in being the only monumental representation of the first theophanic vision from the Book of Revelation in Romanesque sculpture.

A partially legible inscription surrounding the semi-circular relief reads, “Johes VII eccliis que sunt … Ter VII candelabra aurea” referencing the text which is the source of the image.

Fronsac-Tymp-2On the lintel below we can read another inscription, “Principiu sine principio sine fine” that is, beginning without beginning without end, an amplification of the Alpha and Omega of the text.

The striking image at Fronsac shows the hieratic image of the Son of Man in a full length tunic standing with arms outstretched. From the left side of the head emerges a sword.

Surrounding this dramatic figure is a circle containing seven daisy-like flowers, beneath which cowers Saint John the Divine.

Fronsac-John-WPRepresented here is John’s vision on the island of Patmos addressed to the seven churches of Asia which are depicted on the relief next to his cowering figure.

According to the text, John is hearing a voice behind him which describes itself as the Alpha and Omega standing amid seven candlesticks. To the right of the figure of Christ amid a complex entwined vegetal motif one can make out the representation of the candelabra.

The crude execution of the stone carving only serves to enhance the elemental severity and latent violence of the image.

Fronsac-Christ-1-WPThis is in keeping with the tone of the text which describes the Son of Man as having, “eyes as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”

This was an image of the deity, the sacrificial Lamb itself, as the agent of the sacrificial act.

The medieval exegesis to be found in the commentaries on the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liebana, Caesarius of Arles and Walafrid Strabo explained this passage from Revelation as a representation of Christ’s sacerdotal role as the Priest Messiah.

Fronsac-Christ-Sword-WPThe hieratic representation of the Son of Man with the sword emanating from the mouth indicated Christ’s priestly sacrificial function.

The seven stars, the seven candelabra and the seven churches were all symbolising the Church in its various forms, historical, spiritual, cosmic and Christ’s omnipresent permeation of it. This notion is represented on the Fronsac tympanum by the motif of the vine which extends into every space of the relief.

For Caesarius, Asia represented humanity and “As the Son of Man is in the midst of the candelabra, so is Christ in the midst of the Church”.

For Strabo, the attributes of the Son of Man in the vision, the tunic, the gold belt and the sword were attributes of priestly power and the son of Man was the underlying principle of the Father and the Holy Ghost.

The lintel inscription implied even more than the Alpha and Omega, that the Son of Man preexisted the beginning and continued after the End.

Biblio and Sources: Guyenne Romane, Pierre Dubourg-Noves, Zodiaque. “Les sept églises et Le fils de l’homme au tympan du portail sud au prieuré benedictin de la Lande-de-Fronsac”  Mireille Mentré , Cahiers de Saint Michel de Cuxa 8 1977 89-103


Roncevaux-11-WPPamplona was such a vital location, as well as being one of the first cities to be reconquered by the Christians from the Moors, that it was inevitable it should become the locus of legendary material.

In the epic poem known as l’Entrée en Espagne, Pamplona is described thus: “From one side it views the way to Gascony, from the other gate one sees towards Aragon, another guards the way towards Spain and the fourth faces the Ocean”.

Pilgrims to Compostela were directed to cross the Pyrenees using the Cize Pass and the first major station after the mountains was Pamplona.

The Royal Frankish Annals of 805 and 829 tell us that the Navarrese and Basques had allied themselves with the Saracens to form an enclave in the city.

Having been repulsed at Saragossa, Charlemagne and his army razed Pamplona, destroying “the walls of this city down to its foundations so that it might not rebel”.

As the Chronicle of Turpin has it, Pamplona was the first city which Charlemagne besieged in Spain after he had been admonished by the Apostle James to free his shrine in Galicia.

Chartres-Charl-Pyrenees-WPLike Joshua at the siege of Jericho, it was the impregnable strength of the walls which prevented him from taking the city.

So it was with Charlemagne before the city of Pamplona, “The first city Charlemagne besieged was Pamplona, he invested it for three months, but was not able to take it, through the invincible strength of its walls.”

Like Joshua, Charlemagne enlisted divine aid to bring down the walls. Where Joshua blew his horn, Charlemagne invoked the intercession of Saint James who, ”hearkening to his petition, the walls utterly fell to the ground of themselves”.

Such was the vital importance of the city, that once captured, the rest of Moorish Spain surrendered totally and the emperor proceeded unhindered to Compostela and then to Padrón, where he dipped his lance in the ocean in a symbolic gesture of dominion over the whole of the Hispanic peninsula.

Chartres-Franks-Pamplona-WPAfter the military reversals which followed the arrival in Spain of the African Saracen leader Aigoland, battle was once more joined in the field outside Pamplona where one hundred and thirty-four thousand Franks faced a hundred thousand Saracens.

The second battle of Pamplona now assumed not merely Biblical, but Apocalyptic proportions.

“So great indeed was the effusion of blood that the Christians waded in it to their knees”, declared the History of Charlemagne and Roland, of the slaughter of the Saracens at Pamplona.

This description echoed the chronicles of the taking of Jerusalem in 1099. The Gesta Francorum told of “such a slaughter that our men were wading up to their ankles in blood”. The other medieval descriptions by Fulcher of Chartres and Guibert de Nogent repeated the same, almost identical, trope to emphasise the brutality of the carnage.

Jacobus064All these writers, whether describing the capture of Jerusalem or Pamplona, were making a calculated reference to the Book of Revelation, which in chapter fourteen tells of the winepress of the wrath of God, whose wine would be reserved for those who worship the Beast.

“And the wine press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine press even unto the horse bridles”.

The Apocalyptic signification attributed by the chroniclers of the First Crusade to the capture of Jerusalem and of the authors of the Turpin manuscript in describing the taking of Pamplona, were made with the same intention. It was to incorporate the twelfth century conflict against the Saracens into an eschatological mythology.

After his victory at Pamplona, the emperor made his way towards Puente la Reina, “Charlemagne then regrouped his armies, greatly rejoiced at this victory and marched forward, and came to the bridge of Arge on the Compostela road”.

Sources and Biblio: Jean Passini, Sur le chemin de Saint Jacques, Cahiers de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, XXX 2000 pp. 75-83

Thomas F Madden Saint Louis University, Revista Chilena de Estudios Medievales Número 1 enero-junio 2012, 25-37, Rivers of Blood: An analysis of one aspect of the crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099

History of Charles the Great and Orlando Ascribed to Archbishop Turpin, Thomas Rodd, 1812

The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin, Kevin R. Poole, Italica Press New York 2014

André de Mandach Naissance et Origines de la chanson de geste en Europe Vol. 1 La Geste de Charlemagne et de Roland Genève, Droz, 1961

Bernard Gicquel La Légende de Compostelle Le Livre de Saint Jacques, Tallandier 2003


The four French Roads and the Spanish Road according to the Pilgrim’s Guide


The Camino Francès and the Camino Primitivo


The French routes Southern France


The French routes Northern France