Symbolism in Travel
With travel across Europe came the travel of ideas. Pilgrims and merchants were not satisfied with simply translating objects from one place in the Mediterranean rim to another; they also saw fit to bring ideas with them. They told tales of the wondrous peoples of Africa, of the brutish fighters to be found in the dark forests of the North. Out of these images and stories came an entire artistic culture dependent on things the artist had never seen, with objects such as the monkey statue and the wildman as examples. For these statues to have successfully conveyed their meaning, however, every viewer must have had some familiarity with what they represent; this widespread knowledge of symbols cannot have existed without the insemination of symbology through travel.
Sometimes ideas traveled in the form of first-hand accounts; other times, they traveled in books. Either way, the Middle Ages were a time when an element of daily life in one part of the continent would be welcome and understood in another: for example, the widespread playing of chess. Without travel, the Middle Ages would have truly been a static and stagnant time, and not the period of incredibly diverse and hybridized cultures we now know it to have been.