The papers in this session deal with approaches to the social history of the Albigensian Crusade and southern French society, especially with regard to the problems raised by source materials.
In considering the three great contemporary works on the Albigensian Crusade – the Historia Albigensis, the Chronicle of William of Puylaurens, and the Canso – it is notable that the perceptions of their authors fall along a spectrum as to how events occurred, what they meant, and how they were perceived. ‘Songs of Saints and Heretics’ analyses the unique cultures of France and Languedoc to reveal social causes for these regional variations in the telling of a single story.
While the Albigensian Crusades have been studied very extensively, the participants in these expeditions have received comparatively little attention, with the exception of those who settled in the Midi with Simon de Montfort. This paper draws upon the evidence of charters and other documentary sources from Northern France, in order to identify the participants in the crusade and to analyse their stated motives for joining the expedition. In conclusion, the Albigensian Crusades are considered in the context of the recent studies of recruitment to crusades.
The roles of women in heretic groups such as the Cathars has attracted a considerable degree of attention from historians in the past. It has been argued variously that women turned to heresy as a result of dissatisfaction with their role in the established Church, and that heretical movements challenged ideas about female authority and literacy, especially in terms of the Cathar perfecti. Certainly, gender and sexuality often featured strongly in hostile ecclesiastical accounts of heretical activities as a means of further undermining their cause. In practical terms, family networks were crucial to Cathar support, and certain celebrated individuals such as Eslcarmonde of Foix and Giraude of Laurac have attracted some attention. As yet however, no cohesive attempt has been made to consider how source material for the Albigensian Crusades compare and contrast with the wider discourse on women, gender, and crusading, a lacuna which this paper intends to address.