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Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error de Le…
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Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (1975 original; edició 1978)

de Le Roy Ladurie, Barbara Bray (Traductor)

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In the early 1300's the village of Montaillou-and the surrounding mountainous region of Southern France-was full of heretics. When Jacquest Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, launched an elaborate Inquisition to stamp them out, the peasants and shepherds he interrogated revealed, along with their position on official Catholicism, many details of their everyday life. Basing his absorbing study on these vivid, carefully recorded statements of peasants who lived more than 600 years ago-Pierre Clergue, the powerful village priest and shameless womanizer is even heard explaining his techniques of seduction-eminent historian Le Roy Ladurie reconstructs the economy and social structure of the community and probes the most intimate aspects of medieval life: love and marriage, gestures and emotions, conversations and gossip, clans and factions, crime and violence, concepts of time and space, attitudes to the past, animals, magic and folklore, death and beliefs about the other world.… (més)
Membre:dah_sab
Títol:Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error
Autors:Le Roy Ladurie
Altres autors:Barbara Bray (Traductor)
Informació:George Braziller, Inc. (1978), Edition: First, Paperback, 383 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Montaillou : Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324 de Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (Author) (1975)

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Es mostren 1-5 de 16 (següent | mostra-les totes)
One thing drives me crazy with LibraryThing and that is the way one loses everything if you don't consciously save what you've written. So I've just lost about half an hour's work writing a review and have to do it again. Why can't they have an auto-save?
I actually read this book about 35 years ago and wanted to refer to it when I was writing another review of "A short history of the Cathars". However, when I did the search, I realised it was not listed in my LibraryThing collection so I must have donated it to charity some time ago. (Update: I found it on my shelves...which is a little worrying because it indicates that my catalog is incomplete). Anyway, the book made enough of an impression on me 35 years ago that I am writing this review from that long ago memory. It is a history of a short period in the life of this little mountain village, in the Pyrenees, that was torn apart by the Catholic inquisition ...determined to wipe out the vestiges of Albigensinism. The poor illiterate inhabitants of the village never seemed quite sure what they believed and had rather mixed up beliefs from both the Cathars and Catholics. And Le Roy Laurie has used the records of the inquisition to prise out the details of their sexual lives as much as their religious beliefs.
One thing that rather impressed me was that the Cathars....especially their Perfects...were held in especially high esteem for the blameless lives they led ....in contrast to the catholic priests who generally seemed a rather venal, immoral, and grasping lot. The village of Montaillou seemed to be the tail end of the genocide of the Cathars of southern France. A genocidal crusade instigated by Pope Innocent which morphed into a political takeover by the French King. Interesting how it was possible to inspire the "faithful" to the up arms when they were rewarded with the lands and goods of the heretics.
There seems to be little in this crusade that reflects the teaching of Christ: to love one another, if one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Nothing there about burning whole families at the stake or slaughtering the entire inhabitants of a city on the grounds that the lord will recognise his own.
Some things that I remember were the mother reassuring her little daughter who asked "how will we bear the pain (of being burned alive......who thought up this horrific practice?) and the mother replied that Jesus would take the pain upon himself. Nice idea ...but a bit late when the faggots have been lit to find that it wasn't true.
One other thing struck me from the book and that was the fiercely independent Shepherd who spent half the year roaming the mountain tops with just his sheep for company; his view was that all religion was rubbish.....and he'd come to this view without the help of instructors or books. (I think he was illiterate).
The villagers had a pastiche of beliefs...some including the magical powers of fingernails and hair that had grown after a person died. The local (Catholic) priest seemed to have slept with most of the women in the village...but, in a way, was as much a victim himself of the environment. They were being judged by educated and literate inquisitors ...according to the beliefs of the church at that time...a rather unfair skewing of the odds against them I would think. And the inquisitors used every trick in the book......using testimony of one person to incriminate another person. And the simple villagers didn't even know enough to know what were the correct catholic beliefs to profess...they had a pastiche of beliefs about the good god and satan. (I suspect that Jesus's beliefs may not have been all that different ...and certainly there were all sorts of Christianity professed in the period up until around 400 AD when the books of the Christian bible were given recognition and the earlier Council of Nicea had determined the creed). The Creed might easily have gone the way of the dualists and Catharism become the "Correct" form of Christianity.
I have no hesitation in giving this book 5 stars (though I recall it was fairly hard reading at the time...maybe because of the fact that it was a translation). It made a big enough impact on me that I can write this review some 35 years later. ( )
  booktsunami | Jan 17, 2020 |
Aan de hand van een gedetailleerd Inquisitie-dossier schetst de Franse historicus een beeld van leven en levensbeschouwing van de bewoners van het Kathaarse Pyreneeëndorp Montaillou rond het begin van de veertiende eeuw.
  EdVullings | May 1, 2019 |
MONTAILLOU, VILLAGE OCCITAN DE 1294 À 1324

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Montaillou village occitan de 1294 à 1324

Montaillou : un petit village de montagnards et de
bergers en haute Ariège, à 1 300 mètres d'altitude.
En 1320, Jacques Fournier, évêque de Pamiers, plus
tard pape d'Avignon, y déploie ses talents
d'inquisiteur. Il finit par déterrer tous les secrets du village
Rien n'échappe à cet évêque fureteur, ni les vies
intimes, ni les drames de l'existence quotidienne
En s'appuyant sur cet extraordinaire document de
Jacques Fournier, sorte de roman vrai du petit
peuple du xive siècle, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
ressuscite, en utilisant les méthodes historiques et
ethnographiques les plus actuelles, la réalité occitane
et cathare d'il y a six cent cinquante ans.
  FundacionRosacruz | Jan 5, 2018 |
An interesting study about what would seem to be an esoteric topic. Montaillou is a small (250 people) village in the foothills of the Pyrenees, east of the crest. Although this is now France, at the time in question (1294-1324) is was in the nominally independent County of Foix. Although French influence was obviously strong, the inhabitants spoke Occitan and didn’t consider themselves French.


Being out-of-the-way, the village and its surroundings had been bypassed by the great events of the 13th Century; in particular it had been missed by the Albigensian Crusade. As a result, about half the village subscribed to the Cathar heresy. The Comté de Foix protected them as best as possible without implicating himself. However a series of events brought that to an end. The trigger was the Council of Vienna in 1312: it was decided there that the Inquisition, formerly exclusively the province of the Dominicans, could now be “assisted” by local bishops. In 1317, Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, decided to take advantage of this decision and began pursuing heretics. He also began a more aggressive collection of tithes, which had previously been collected in a lackadaisical fashion. Between 1381 and 1324, Fournier’s inquisitorial court in Pamiers handled 98 cases involving 114 people; five of the suspects were burned and the rest had lesser penalties – imprisonment, fines, and/or having to wear a yellow cross sewn on their clothes. (Oh, and a women had her tongue cut out – not for heresy, but for complaining about priests).


Fournier was a skillful interrogator; he would casually converse with the suspects, presumably to put them at ease, asking about their homes, families, and other matters unrelated to heresy before getting to the point. He was also meticulous; his court recorder copied everything carefully into large folio volumes. And he eventually became Pope Benedict XII, meaning that all his records were preserved, including the trial proceedings from Montaillou. As a result there’s a written record of everyday life in a peasant village of the 14th century – albeit a probably atypical village.


The Cathars fell into the Dualist religious category, like Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Manichaeism, and Gnosticism. Dualist religions have two equal or nearly equal spiritual powers, one evil and one good, struggling over the universe. The Cathars considered themselves Christian (in fact, the only Christians; Cathar code for another Cathar was “Good Christian”), with the Christian God as the good power and the Christian Satan as the evil one. Satan had control over the material world; thus everything in it was irrevocably corrupt. The recourse for a “Good Christian”, therefore, was to have as little to do with material world as possible. Cathars divided into “perfects” or “goodmen”, who were essentially the priestly caste; and ordinary “believers”. A “perfect” had to give up meat and women; a believer still lived in the material world with meat and sex but supported the “goodmen” with money, food, and shelter. When a believer was near death, a goodman was summoned and performed the consolamentum, a blessing that absolved the believer from all sins; there was a catch, though – once a believer had received the consolamentum they were divorced from the material – which meant they could no longer eat or drink. This suicide by self-starvation was called the endura, and could be unpleasant if the recipient of the consolamentum didn’t die quickly. The Cathar position that everything in the material world was evil had considerable influence on life in Montaillou; in particular all sex – even within marriage – was sinful. Author Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie notes that the idea that everything was sinful essentially meant that everything was equally sinful – and, for example, it was no more sinful to have sex with your daughter than with your wife – all would be absolved on your deathbed. The Cather goodmen had some problems with the situation – they had essentially backed themselves into a corner – and tried to resolve things by saying (for example) sex with your wife and sex with your daughter were equally sinful, but sex with your daughter was also “shameful”. The Cathars had pretty much been wiped out in France proper but maintained a foothold in the Pyrenees, by crossing the mountains into Catalonia if things got too rough on the French side, and vice versa. The Montaillionais seemed to have turned to Catharism out of resistance to the collection of tithes more than out of sincere belief; as the Inquisition brought out lots of them had religious ideas that were neither Catholic nor Cathar.


I tend to think of the Middle Ages as very prudish and restrained, but a truly amazing amount of sex went on – and was reported to the Inquisition – in Montaillou. It was Peyton Place in the Pyrenees. Just about everybody is involved in illicit affairs, but the centerpiece is the priest of Montaillou, Pierre Clergue. He was a double agent – a secret Cathar working as a Catholic priest – and took full advantage of the Cathar attitude toward sex. At one time or another his mistresses were Alazaïs Fauré; her sister Raymonde Guilhabert; Béatrice de Planissoles (the closest thing Montaillou had to a noblewoman; she was the widow of the chatelaine); Grazide Lizier (his niece and a 14-year-old virgin at the time); Alazaïs Azéma; Gaillarde Benet; Alissende Roussel (sister of Gaillarde Benet); Mengarde Buscailh; Na Maragda (“Na” is an Occitan honorific for an older, respected woman); Jacotte den Tort; Raymonde Guilhou; and Esclarmonde Clergue, (his sister-in-law). Le Roy Ladurie notes these were just the ones that came out at the trial and suggests there were probably others. Pierre’s approach was straightforward; he simply told the woman he wanted “I would like to know you carnally” (in one case just after hearing her confession) and she always said “Yes”. He only seems to have failed once, and that was when he didn’t use the direct approach but asked his current mistress Alazaïs Fauré to arrange things with her niece Raymonde Fauré. Interestingly enough, the women who were willing to talk about Pierre all spoke well of him, even to the Inquisition where they had no incentive to do so; this may have been due to a convenient local folk belief that if you enjoyed illicit sex it wasn’t a sin.


Interestingly enough, even with all this carrying on, adultery was unusual (although not unknown); it was apparently OK for a woman to be promiscuous before she was married and after she was a widow but less proper – “shameful” – in between. This was despite the fact that almost none of the marriages were love matches; they were commonly arranged for economic reasons (a local proverb was “Marriage is when one man gives a woman to another man”). Similarly there didn’t seem to be a lot of illegitimacy; there are a couple of “natural” children mentioned but not as many as you might expect. Le Roy Ladurie notes that in one case Pierre Clergue seems to have used some sort of contraceptive – the woman described an “herb” that was put “at the opening of her stomach”. It could be that illegitimate children just sank into the pit of childhood mortality; about 25% of children died before their first birthday, and another 25% were dead before they reached maturity. Connected with this is the observation that widows outnumbered widowers, which seem odd, since given the state of medical knowledge you might expect a lot of women to die in childbirth. Le Roy Ladurie speculates that men died young due to a life of hard work.


However, that doesn’t square with another observation – life in Montaillou was pretty laid-back. Almost all the men were farmers; there was the priest, of course, and a cobbler, but no blacksmith or tavern (although there was a woman who sold wine door-to-door). But the people seem to have had a lot of free time. Almost as amazing as the amount of sex in Montaillou was the number of lice. Delousing turns up as a casual social activity in a lot of the recorded conversations; where today someone might say “I was having coffee with a neighbor when this happened” a Montaillionais would say “I was delousing my neighbor when this happened”. All the delousing seems to have been done by women, to men or to each other; the libidinous Pierre Clergue seems to have used delousing as a sort of foreplay for his seductions, and he and other men in the records use “delouser” as a sort of term of endearment for their wives or mistresses.


The actual religious beliefs of the Montaillionais, Cathar or Catholic, seem to have been pretty heterodox. One suspect interrogated by Fournier was a complete atheist; others had rather vague ideas about eschatology and the afterlife. One of the strangest was a man who believed he could see, and talk to, ghosts; he acted as sort of an intermediary between the living and the dead, reporting that the dead essentially duplicated their lives on Earth, going to church, visiting their former homes, sometimes even sleeping in their old beds, until after some indeterminate time they went to what he called “the place of rest”. The Cathars were fond of quoting various sayings of Jesus – for example his instruction to the disciples not to eat meat – that don’t appear in the Bible. It’s unlikely that any Cathar had ever seen a Bible. For that matter, it’s unlikely that anybody in Montaillou except the priest had ever read a Bible – almost everybody was illiterate; even if you were literate it was certainly in Occitan and it was illegal to translate a Bible from Latin; it was illegal for a lay person to own a Bible in the first place regardless of language; and a complete Bible cost about 80 livres, which was about twice the price of a house in Montaillou. Thus most religious knowledge came from the Montaillionais talking to “goodmen”, or speculating with each other.


Le Roy Ladurie regrets that although there’s an unusual abundance of textual evidence, there isn’t any physical evidence; the town has never been archaeologically studied (at least at the time this book was written, 1975). That leads to some puzzles; for example, the kitchen was the focal point of the house and a lot of recorded conversations take place “sitting around the kitchen fire”. But it isn’t clear if there was a fireplace or just a fire pit in the floor with a hole in the ceiling for smoke.


An entertaining and enlightening book. There are a few short fallings; Le Roy Ladurie takes everything the Montaillionais said to the Inquisition at face value without considering they might have lied to protect themselves or others. There’s no index, which is pretty annoying; however there is an alphabetical list of all the families in Montaillou with the pages they’re mentioned in the text. There are a couple of good maps of the area and region, but no other illustrations. All the books in the bibliography are in French or Latin. ( )
2 vota setnahkt | Dec 15, 2017 |
I had read this a very long time ago, and was delighted to find a secondhand copy. I enjoyed it much more on a second reading. Ladurie writes a scholarly social history based on the oral evidence given long ago to Bishop Fournier's Inquisition into the persistence of Catharism in his diocese. But he leaves us with the impression that we have been reading a historical novel about the lady Beatrice de Planissoles, her lover the powerful and duplicitous village priest Pierre Clergue, the carefree shepherd Pierre Maury, and the mysterious green and blue clad "parfaits" or goodmen, who move secretly from house to house spreading their austere doctrines.
  PollyMoore3 | Nov 23, 2014 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Le Roy Ladurie, EmmanuelAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Allard, William AlbertFotògrafautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Boer, Claire denTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bogliolo, GiovanniTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bray, BarbaraTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Fagel, RolandTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Sandén, AnnikaPrefaciautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Stolpe, JanTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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In the early 1300's the village of Montaillou-and the surrounding mountainous region of Southern France-was full of heretics. When Jacquest Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers, launched an elaborate Inquisition to stamp them out, the peasants and shepherds he interrogated revealed, along with their position on official Catholicism, many details of their everyday life. Basing his absorbing study on these vivid, carefully recorded statements of peasants who lived more than 600 years ago-Pierre Clergue, the powerful village priest and shameless womanizer is even heard explaining his techniques of seduction-eminent historian Le Roy Ladurie reconstructs the economy and social structure of the community and probes the most intimate aspects of medieval life: love and marriage, gestures and emotions, conversations and gossip, clans and factions, crime and violence, concepts of time and space, attitudes to the past, animals, magic and folklore, death and beliefs about the other world.

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