BBC World Histories Magazine

A 15th-century grand tour of Spain and Portugal

More than a century after the Black Death devastated Europe, the danger from plague had receded but was certainly not eradicated. Periodic disease outbreaks prompted many to flee their homes. So it was in the early 1480s that a Nuremberg-based doctor, Hieronymus Münzer, travelled to Italy to evade the plague that was then afflicting Germany.

In 1494, the plague flared up once more – and in autumn Münzer again set out from Nuremberg with three companions on what would become a remarkable 7,000-mile horseback odyssey. The quartet traversed Germany, Switzerland and France before looping through Spain and Portugal.

Münzer’s diary provides a unique insight into life in the Iberian peninsula soon after the fall of Muslim Granada to the Christian monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. His sparse, scientific style focuses on the geography, flora and fauna he observed, and on churches, monasteries

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