Regarding Isis and The Troubadours:
“During the Middle Ages the troubadours of Central Europe preserved in song the legends of this Egyptian goddess. They composed sonnets to the most beautiful woman in all the world. Though few ever discovered her identity, she was Sophia, the Virgin of Wisdom, whom all the philosophers of the world have wooed. Isis represents the mystery of motherhood, which the ancients recognized as the most apparent proof of Nature’s omniscient wisdom and God’s overshadowing power. To the modern seeker she is the epitome of the Great Unknown, and only those who unveil her will be able to solve the mysteries of life, death, generation, and regeneration.”
Manly P. Hall
(William Holman Hunt – Il Dolce Far Niente)
This one dances around a bit… Mainly about the Troubadours, with examples of lyrics etc. Some historical context, vis a vis the Cathar Connection.
The Troubadours changed society, and brought about the modern concepts of love that we accept in the west at this time. Arranged marriages were all the rage (well, the only rage), and then, something happened. The Troubadours changed the fundamental dynamics of relationships by singing a different tune. They had friends in high places, but they were beloved by the masses. Think patronage? Eleanor of Aquitaine… Think on that one.(remember her, we will eventually come back to Eleanor at another date) They were aligned with an underground stream of consciousness which has been resurfacing again and again over the centuries…
So, here are some selections for ya.
Bright Blessings, and Have a good one!
On The Menu
From The Troubadours – I was plunged into deep distress
By means of an explanation:Cathars and Catharism in the Languedoc
Who’s Who In The Cathar War: Simon de Montfort
Art: Various Pre-Raphaelite Painters…
The Troubadours (The Name in Occitan: Trobadors)
Modern European literature originated in Occitania in the early 12th century. It was started by hundreds of Troubadours (poet-musicians), who sang the praises of new values and in a new way. Their themes were courttly love, and concepts such as “convivencia” and “paratge” for which there is no modern counterpart in modern English or French.
“Convivencia” meant something more than conviviality and “paratge” meant something more than honour, courtesy, chivalry or gentility (though our concepts of honour, courtesy, chivalry and gentility all owe something to the concept of “paratge”. It translates literally as “peerage” which gives no clue to as its signification. The nearest concept we know of may be the ancient Egyption idea of Maht – another untranslatable word carry suggestions of right, balance and natural order to which may be added ideas of joy and light.
They praised high ideals, promoting a spirit of equality based on common virtue and deprecating discrimination based on blood or wealth. They were responsible for a great flowering of creativity. The lyrics could be racy, even by modern standards. Woman troubadours as well as men were welcomed in Châteaux throughout the Midi. They were, of course, loathed by the Roman Church, though a number of priests and bishops had themselves been well known troubadours – including the infamous Fouquet de Marseille, Bishop of Toulouse. The contempt for class disctinction is well illustrated by the social standing of troubadours. As well as commoners and minor nobles, known troubadours includ an emperor, five kings, five marquises, ten counts, a countess and five viscounts. The great Savaric de Mauléon , who fought alongside Ramon VI of Toulouse against the Crusaders in the war against the Languedoc, was a noted troubadour.
“Trobadors” were welcomed by noble courts throughout Occitania, including areas that are now regarded as Spanish, Italian or French. They were also welcomed in the courts of England, France and even Germany (as minnesänger). They made great contributions to intellectual life with their new art, blending courtly love, eroticism, political satire and philosophy – all of which excited the ire of the Roman Church.
Some 2000 of their works are known, from the short compositions like the “cansos”, to the epics. All are expressed in Occitan, or as it was then called, “plana lenga romana” – the plain Roman tongue.
From The Troubadours…
(Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Venus Verticordia)
I was plunged into deep distress
The Countess of Die, a Lady Troubadour circa. AD 1200
I was plunged into deep distress / by a knight who wooed me,
and I wish to confess for all time / how passionately I loved him;
Now I feel myself betrayed, / for I did not tell him of my love.
therefore I suffer great distress / in bed and when I am fully
Would that my knight might one night / lie naked in my arms
and find myself in ecstasy / with me as his pillow.
For I am more in love with him / than Floris was with Blanchfleur.
to him I give my heart and love, / my reason, eyes and life.
Handsome friend, tender and good, / when will you be mine ?
Oh, to spend with you but one night / to impart the kiss of love !
Know that with passion I cherish / the hope of you in my husband’s
as soon as you have sworn to me / that you will fulfill my every wish
(Sir John Everett Millais – Lorenzo and Isabella)
By means of an explanation: Cathars and Catharism in the Languedoc:
On 22 July 1209 the Crusader army arrived at Béziers on the periphery of the area in the Languedoc where Cathars flourished. There were believed to be around 200 Cathars in the town among a much greater population of sympathetic Catholics. The townspeople, believing their city walls impregnable, were careless, and the town was overrun while the leading Crusader nobles were still planning their siege.
The crusading army sacked and looted the town indiscriminately, while townspeople retreated to the sanctuary of the churches. The Cistercian abbot-commander is said to have been asked how to tell Cathar from Catholic. His reply, recorded later by a fellow Cistercian, demonstrated his faith: “Kill them all – the Lord will recognise His own”. The Roman Church has recently taken to disowning these words, but they are reliable. Not only were they recorded by a sympathetic fellow churchman, but they also accord with other sources. The Song of the Cathar Wars , sympathetic to the crusaders at this stage [laisse 21] records that the French crusaders explicitly planned to adopt a popular terrorist tactic of indiscriminate massacre (one often used by the Roman Church against those they regarded as infidels):
The lords from France and Paris,
clergymen and laymen, princes and marquises,
all agreed that at every castle the army besieged
any garrison that refused to surrender
should be slaughtered wholesale
once the castle had been taken by force
When the town was taken Catholic citizens sought refuge in a Church dedicated to Mary Magdelene.
Hurridly they took refuge in the high church.
The priests and clercs put on vestments
And had the church bells rung as for a funeral
And started a mass for the dead.
It was a mass for themselves. The Church was set alight and the rest of the town put to the sword. 7,000 people died in the church including women, children, priests and old men. Elsewhere many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice The town was razed. Arnaud, the abbot-commander, wrote to his master the Pope: “Today your Holiness, twenty thousand citizens were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex”. Reportedly, not a single person survived, not even a new born baby.
Today, there is almost nothing to see remaining from the period. There is no mention of this attrocity in any of the churches in the town, but the city council has put up a number of discreet plaques commemorating the events that took place here. Perhaps the most enduring memorial is the sentiment “Kill them all – the Lord will recognise His own”. The words – and their fullfilment – are remembered by almost everyone in the Languedoc.
Who’s Who In The Cathar War: Simon de Montfort
Simon III de Montfort married Amicie de Leicester, and through her inherited the Earldom of Leicester, though he was soon dispossed. Simon was left with only a small estate in France, north of the forest of Yveline. At the time of the Cathar Crusade, Simon had already build a reputation as a Crusader in the Holy Land. He was a rare comodidy within the Catholic fold. He was not only a fearsome warrier, but also a good tactitian and strategist. Further, he had distinguished himself in the Fourth Crusade by refusing to attack his fellow Christians in Byzantium. Now he found himself among the army assembled under the Abbot of Cîteau to attack the Cathars. After the initial victories at Béziers and Carcassonne the nobles looked for one of their number to take over the leadership. None of them was prepared to take on what appeared to be an impossible task. As Simon had distinguished himself once again in battle he was offered the leadership and, effectivey ordered to accept it. Simon confirmed his military reputation.
He was, however, roundly hated in the Languedoc for his cruelty and ambition. He died while besieging Toulouse. Here is a description of the event, from the contemporary Song of the Cathar Wars , laisse 205, written in Occitan:
There was in the town a mangonel built by our carpenters
And dragged with its platform from St Sernin.
It was operated by noblewomen, by little girls and men’s wives,
And now a stone hit just where it was needed
Striking Count Simon on his steel helmet
Shattering his eyes, brains, and back teeth,
And splintering his forehead and jaw.
Bleeding and black, the Count dropped dead on the ground.
Simon de Montfort continues to be hated to this day. The consensus is that the writer of the Song of the Cathar Wars had it about right [laisse 208]. His scathing words about Simon’s epitaph in the Cathedral of St Nazaire in Carcassonne are given below:
The epitaph says, for those who can read it,
That he is a saint and martyr who shall breathe again
And shall in wonderous joy inherit and flourish
And wear a crown and sit on a heavenly throne.
And I have heard it said that this must be so –
If by killing men and spilling blood,
By ruining souls, and preaching murder,
By following evil counsels, and raising fires,
By ruining noblemen and besmirching honour,
By pillaging the country, and by exalting Pride,
By stoking up wickedness and stifling good,
By massacring women and their infants,
A man can win Jesus in this world,
then Simon surely wears a crown, respondent in heaven.
(William Waterhouse – St. Cecilia
“Since I feel a need to sing”
Guillaume IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071-1127)
Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal
As the desire to sing takes hold of me,
I will make a song about my sorrow;
I will no longer be a servant of love
In Poitou nor in Limousin.
For now I will go into exile:
In great fear, in great peril,
In war, I will leave my son
And his people will harm him.
The departure from the realm
Of Poitiers is so difficult for me!
I leave Foucon of Angers in charge
Of all the land and of his cousin.
If Foucon of Angers does not help him
And the king from whom I hold my realm,
Many people will bring him harm,
Treacherous Gascons and Angevins.
If he is neither wise nor mighty
When I will have left you,
They will soon overthrow him
For they will see him young and weak.
I seek mercy on my companion
If I have ever wronged him, may he pardon me,
And I pray to Jesus on the throne,
In French and in Latin.
I have might and joy,
But now we all part,
And I go to the One
With whom all sinners find peace.
I have been most jovial and joyful,
But our Lord wants that no more;
Now I can suffer this burden no longer
Since the end draws so near.
I have left behind all that I once loved
Chivalry and pride;
And since it pleases God, I accept all that
And pray Him to retain me in His presence.
I pray all my friends, at my death
That they all come and give me great honor,
For I have known joy and pleasure
Far and near and in my realm.
Thus I renounce joy and pleasure
The brown, grey, and sable furs.
“I am obliged to sing”
La Comtessa de Dia (fl. late 12th Century)
Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal
I must sing of what I do not want,
I am so angry with the one whom I love,
Because I love him more than anything:
Mercy nor courtesy moves him,
Neither does my beauty, nor my worthiness, nor my good sense,
For I am deceived and betrayed
As much as I should be, if I were ugly.
I take comfort because I never did anything wrong,
Friend, towards you in anything,
Rather I love you more than Seguin did Valensa,
And I am greatly pleased that I conquered you in love,
My friend, because you are the most worthy;
You are arrogant to me in words and appearance,
And yet you are so friendly towards everyone else.
I wonder at how you have become so proud,
Friend, towards me, and I have reason to lament;
It is not right that another love take you away from me
No matter what is said or granted to you.
And remember how it was at the beginning
Of our love! May Lord God never wish
That it was my fault for our separation.
The great prowess that dwells in you
And your noble worth retain me,
For I do not know of any woman, far or near,
Who, if she wants to love, would not incline to you;
But you, friend, have such understanding
That you can tell the best,
And I remind you of our sharing.
My worth and my nobility should help me,
My beauty and my fine heart;
Therefore, I send this song down to you
So that it would be my messenger.
I want to know, my fair and noble friend,
Why you are so cruel and savage to me;
I don’t know if it is arrogance or ill will.
But I especially want you, messenger, to tell him
That many people suffer for having too much pride.
“The Firm Desire”
Arnaut Daniel (fl. 1180-1210)
Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal
The firm desire that enters
Can neither be taken from my heart by beak or nail
Of that liar who loses his soul through speaking evil,
And since I dare not beat him with either a branch or rod,
I will in some secret place, where I will have no spying uncle,
Rejoice with my joy, in a garden or in a chamber.
But when I am reminded of that chamber
Where I know, to my sorrow, that no man enters
And which is guarded more than by brother or uncle,
My entire body trembles, even to my fingernail,
As does a child before a rod,
Such fear I have of not being hers with all my soul.
At least in body, if not in soul,
Let her hide me within her chamber;
For it wounds my heart more than blows of rod
That her slave can never therein enter.
I will always close to her as flesh and nail,
And believe no warnings of friend or uncle.
Even the sister of my uncle
I never loved so much, with all my soul!
As close as is the finger to the nail,
If it please her, I would be in her chamber.
It can mold me to its will, this love that enters
My heart, more so than a strong man with a tender rod.
Since flowered the dry rod,
Or from Adam descended the nephew and uncle,
There never was such a love as what enters
My heart, dwelling neither in body or in soul
And wherever she may be, outside in the street, or in her chamber,
My heart is no farther than the length of my nail.
As if with tooth and nail
My heart grips her, holding as the bark on the rod;
To me she is joy’s tower, palace, and chamber
And I love neither brother, parent or uncle
So much; and I will find double joy in Paradise for my soul
If a man blessed for good love therein enters.
Arnaut sends his song of nail and uncle,
By the grace of her who has, of his rod, the soul,
To his Desired One, whose praise all chambers enters.
(Sir Edward Burne-Jones – Hesperus, The Evening Star)