The Codex Calixtinus is a manuscript dated in the middle years of the 12th century, of great importance for the Jacobean culture and, in general, for the whole historical development of the late Middle Ages. Written in Latin, the original copy is kept in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela itself, although there are several later copies distributed in various countries.

Its drafting was promoted by the Compostelan Church at the time of the Archbishop Diego Gelmirez (1068 – 1140), who sought only to consolidate the importance of Compostela as an important apostolic see and pilgrimage centre: in short, to make Santiago an important centre of Christianity, like Rome and Jerusalem.

Good relations with the Papacy and the powerful monastic order of Cluny would help greatly in this task.

It is an extensive text divided into five books: liturgical texts related to the Apostle St. James, miracles attributed to him, the vicissitudes of the traslatio (journey to transfer the remains of the Apostle to Galician lands), the presence of Charlemagne in Hispania to liberate the roads to Compostela from the Muslims and the pilgrim’s guide from France to Santiago. More stories of miracles, musical compositions and texts justifying the work complete this compendium of Jacobean culture.

One text, many authors.

Attributed in its entirety to one or perhaps several anonymous authors, in the case of Book V, the one that interests us most as a guide for the medieval pilgrim, most experts agree on one author, the French monk Aymeric Picaud. The Church of Compostela historically related the authorship to the Cluniac pope Callixtus II (1050? – 1124), and hence the name of the work, although this attribution was perhaps given to legitimize and give authority to this book and to the city of Santiago itself as an apostolic see. Thus, this pontiff would appear as the author of the first and most extensive book and part of the second, although if we go back to the experts, this attribution would be false.

This work has been called in different ways, depending on which copy we are talking about.

Thus, the original, preserved in the basilica of Compostela, is the Codex Calixtinus or Codex Calixtinus itself. The French philologist and writer Joseph Bédier (1864-1938) coined the term Liber Sancti Iacobi to refer to the set of complete (or almost complete) copies that are preserved throughout the world. Other authors have proposed other names, such as, for example Iacobus. The codex opens with the following text: “Ex re signatur, Iacobus liber iste uocatur” (“Justly signed, this book Santiago is called”), proposed by the medievalist Manuel Cecilio Díaz y Díaz (1924-2008), specifically for the first and second books. The French writer Pierre David refers to the text as Codex Compostellanus or Liber Calixtinus.

The Codex Calixtinus itself

It is not the most artistically valuable medieval text, but its miniatures provide very good information. Its capitular letters (initials of a word at the beginning of a paragraph, of large size and rich decoration and colouring) are the most remarkable thing in terms of the aesthetics of the codex. According to researchers, several theologians, copyists, writers, poets and other artists would have come to Compostela from France on the initiative of Archbishop Gelmirez.

But… Why is the Codex Calixtinus so important?

We are especially interested in Book V or the so-called pilgrims’ guide, an authentic tourist guide on the French Camino de Santiago. This Liber peregratio