Ermengard of Narbonne and the World of the Troubadours

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Cornell University Press, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 474 pages
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Before France became France its territories included Occitania, roughly the present-day province of Languedoc. The city of Narbonne was a center of Occitanian commerce and culture during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. For most of the second half of the twelfth century, that city and its environs were ruled by a remarkable woman, Ermengard, who negotiated her city's way through a maze of everchanging dynastic alliances.

Fredric L. Cheyette's masterful and beautifully illustrated book is a biography of an extraordinary warrior woman and of a unique, vulnerable, doomed society. Throughout her long reign, viscountess Ermengard roamed Occitania receiving oaths of fidelity, negotiating treaties, settling disputes among the lords of her lands, and camping with her armies before the walls of besieged cities. She was born into a world of politics and warfare, but from the Mediterranean to the North Sea her name echoed in songs that treated the arts of love.

The land between the Rhone and the Pyrenees was a delicately balanced world in which honor, dispute, and the fragile communities of loyalty and family held a "stateless" society together. In Cheyette's prose there rises before us a world we had not imagined, in which women were powerful lords, moving back and forth across what we now call Spain, France, and Italy to play the harsh political games essential to the preservation of their realms. But the region was also fertile ground for religious practices deemed heretical by the Church. The attempt to eradicate them would spawn the Albigensian Crusade, which destroyed the cosmopolitan world of Ermengard and the troubadours--the world that lives again in this book.

  

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User Review  - Juliette Williams - Goodreads

poop...checked this out from the library and then Life happened and I had to return it before really getting into it. It's going back on the to-read shelf, and into my library queue! :) Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Occitania
2
The Viscountess Comes of Age
14
V1scounts of Narbonne
15
Preface 59
39
Narbonne in Ermengards time
46
The Urban Marketplace
54
City and Countryside
66
Oaths and Oath Takers
187
Castles of William of Alaigne and Raymond of Niort
196
Anger Conflict and Reconciliation
199
Giving and Taking
220
Preface
251
The Ravaging of Occitania
274
Trencavel family 26
276
Sowing the Seeds of Crusade
286

Environs of Narbonne
68
Viscounty north of Narbonne
74
Cities of Mammon Cities of Mars
80
The Bishop in the City
103
Archbishops castles
112
Preface
127
Serfdom and the Dues of Domination
149
Ermengards Entourage
168
A War Like an Omen
308
Cathar hierarchy in the early thirteenth century
328
Impatient Heirs
331
The Undoing of Occitania 547
347
Abbreviations
363
Love and Fidelity
418
63
464
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Fredric L. Cheyette is Professor of History at Amherst College.

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