Already marked as different by contemporary
participants and witnesses, the Albigensian crusade was seen as a
special kind of holy war. In fact, this crusade was not directed
against pagans or Saracens, but against Christian heretics, the
Albigenses or Cathars, and their protectors (a term that referred to
all persons who took a stand against the Crusade). Initiated by Pope
Innocent III, this occidental holy war started in 1209 following the
assassination of the papal legate Peter of Castelnau. It lasted for
twenty years and saw a profound modification of the structures of
Occitan traditional society since it put French conquerors and Occitan
collaborative leaders in positions of power. They killed and exiled a
broad swath of the affected communities in the south of France,
including not only heretics but also poets who made themselves
undesirable by critiquing the war. This papal war, which was the
beneficiary of crusade indulgences, was principally led by French lords
from the region of Paris.
Indeed, as a crusade against Christian heretics in Christian occidental territories, the Albigensian Crusade was criticized by Occitan medieval poets, known as troubadours, in crusade lyric poetry. This Occitan literary corpus represents a consistent part of political and religious lyric songs of the first part of thirteenth century. Those sirventés against the Crusade saw it as a war that was “wrong” and they denounced rapacious clerics, the plunder of territories by French lords and armies, and the diversion of the crusade from its true and holy cause: Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It is interesting to note that it is almost exclusively the Occitan texts that speak on the Crusade in Languedoc; French poets, by contrast, were virtually silent on this subject.
In this lecture, Dr. Raguin will present the typology of motifs and literary uses of the denunciation of this Albigensian Crusade in this lyric corpus. She will show which kind of arguments were used by poets, how they were applied, and in which historical and intellectual context they operated.
Marjolaine Raguin is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Département de Langues et Littératures Romanes at the Université de Liège in Belgium. She earned her doctorate in medieval Occitan language and literature at the Université Paul Valéry de Montpellier in 2011. She is the author of Lorsque la poésie fait le souverain: Étude sur la 'Chanson de la croisade albigeoise (Paris: Honoré Champion 2015) and numerous articles and book chapters on Occitan poetry.
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