Monday, September 30, 2013

La Couvertoirade. Portal d'Amoun. The Seventh Crusade? Origin of Egyptian name?


Origin of Egyptian name.  The Portal d'Amoun, opening in the wall at La Couvertoirade. What is the name.  I find no French references so far.  Since La Couvertoirade was built by Templars, and since the Crusades after the first Crusade ended in failure, what reference might there be to crusades here.

The Seventh Crusade took place from 1248-1254.  The French King, Louis IX, set out from Aigues Mortes on the coast for Egypt but the entire enterprise failed, see

The name Amoun can be a variant of the Egyptian Amen, ancient god, or Amon.  And, an Amoun along with Macarius founded monasteries located in the Egyptian desert in 330 AD or so, see Monastic Overview at 
Templars had been at the forefront of the Seventh Crusade effort, see  

Would those Templars who returned have named this gate at La Couvertoirade after some aspect of their experience in Egypt.  Or, had they, in the initial few years where Templars were in Jerusalem and did such activities as they liked (dug up grail, etc? mystic knowledge, documentation of some aspect of Christianity that the institution(s) did not want publicized, whatever) also access Egypt, travel there, under the watchful eye of our Saint Christopher.

Novelists, to your pens. FN 1


FN 1.  Skip asking others to do your research. Origins of monotheism.  Do it yourself.  Amoun, Amun. This reference to Amun, for theology buffs and Egyptologists, and those who dig into what the Templars think they knew and when did they knew it, connects for some to the origins of monotheism itself, the verity of "Amen" or so be it or a confirmation of what one person says, the affirmation given by another by the Amen. Amun, or Amen, was an Egyptian deity during a particular period.

Again, Novelists, to your pens. Gate of Amun. Amen. Look up Thebes, and even this family is going to look up old slides of Thebes from 1961 (!) to see what it looked like then, and what we saw.

 Read the history and fate of the Templars there, Order of Christ absorbing many of them, settling in Portugal, etc.  Still, why is the name Amoun here? Amen. What do you mean by that?  Where did it come from? 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

La Couvertoirade. Claude Baillon, New Windows, Medieval Church

St. Christopher's Church in La Couvertoirade glows with the 1988 windows of Claude Baillon.  How can you keep from smiling?

Move on to Saint Christopher and John the Baptist, with his furry coat.  Christopher:  Christ-bearer, in some legends.  Both are standing in the waters.

Each is best appreciated up close, on its own.

Claude Baillon:  The Larzac area has been an ongoing center for the French Social Movement, see Crisis and Commitment: The Life History of the French Social Movement by Alexander Alland, Jr., Sonia Alland, now a google book.  The warmth of Baillon's saints fits a social conscience, is that so?

La Couvertoirade. Woad blue. Occitan Heritage and Heretics. Vanishings.

Clues. Echoes of Woad, of Occitan. 

Woad blue. A blue dress. Girl in blue. An Occitan inscription. A modern girl, unknowingly echoes part of a history that decimated an entire people who, among other successes, dealt in woad. Cathars. Albigensians. The Pope's crusade against them 1208-1244, just to the south, in the Languedoc. They spoke their own language - Occitan. And many could have and logically would have fled from the ongoing slaughter in the Languedoc, finding refuge in this more remote area, gaining "couvert" or cover. Look twice. Is she still there? Did she vanish? The heretic?

Girl in woad-shade blue. La Couvertoirade, France

A Cathar connection for La Couvertoirade could explain some of the town's anomalies.  The town was built as a fortress, to protect.  Who needed protection in the 13th Century, the 1200's? Not the Templars. They were  not declared heretic and systematically killed kater, in 1307, and the Order dissolved in 1312. Could the town's growth as Templar included others through an an influx of Cathars, Albigensians, targets of the Pope's Crusade against them 1208-1244.  What would support that, in archeology, accounts.  Where else to flee, but to this remote area to the north.

Templars exonerated.  How about the Cathars, other heretics?  Would "explanations" lead to retractions by the Vatican there as well?  Or does it take discovery of long hidden documents to bring pressure to bear. Will property be returned? Of interest is the now pending exoneration of the Templars themselves, see

As to La Couvertoirade, the town was substantial, suggesting that the inhabitants were not local farmers predominantly.  Think an emerging merchant class, other sources of wealth.  Not just the Templars, but that of the persecuted Cathars, could that be so?

And there is woad blue on the wood, the paint, as often in the Languedoc.  Is that woad? Someone test. Cathars built fortunes on the woad trade.

The blues. The world of Woad. La Couvertoirade.

  • Woad is also known as the Asp of Jerusalem, and may have originated in the Caucasus, perhaps tying it in to increased interest in it upon exposure through the Crusades. Returning crusaders could have added to the interest, and skills in processing it. Templars were money-makers. And the patron saint, St. Christopher who protects travelers, the proximity of Toulouse-Albi-Carcassonne -- a triangle of woad trade. 
  • Woad is not the same as indigo that later effectively replaced it in trade. History of Woad in Europe at 
  • Woad had many uses.  Find medicinal uses claimed as with many natural substances, and magical properties (!), uses in paint, among other matters, at Woad Facts at that site.

Clues for woad.  Knocker!  Is this La Couvertoirade ironwork representing woad balls?  Look on either side, ad the center top, even if the bottom ball is a common striking point for a knocker.  The others are design.

Knocker, La Couvertoirade. Woad balls in the design?

And Occitan, the language, remains in the town.

Cathars. Albigensians. Their language, Occitan.  See this inscription in Occitan at the church in La Couvertoirade:

Occitan inscription, La Couvertoirade, Church. Good people, who pass by here, pray God for the departed. *


* The letters, see;
and online translators 

In Occitan -- Bonas gens que per aissi passatz pregatz Dieu per los trepassatz.
In French -- Bonnes gens qui passez par ici priez Dieu pour les trépassés.
In English --  Good people, who pass by here, pray God for the departed.

And so continue down the street. What? She's gone!

Street, La Couvertoirade, France

Friday, September 27, 2013

La Couvertoirade, Church, Saint Christopher, Militant Mary figure, Altar Symbols

St. Christopher's Church in La Couvertoirade is a place of symbols; and, for those of us without a guide, references to be researched once home. The church is 14th Century, but not Templar. It was built by the Hospitallers who obtained the village and all the Templar property there after confiscation after 1312. There had been an earlier church, 11th Century, outside the village.

St. Christopher's is built partially in rock. These elements were especially interesting to us:

1.  Altar symbol, intersecting swirls.

 Here is the frontal of the altar in the church at La Couvertoirade, but I see no Christian element there. Are these stylized horns, as in giving an alarm, or a tribute; or banners. What? History is a team effort, not to be left to the victors to spin.  Help us out here.

In context, the symbol appears here, on the stone, not fabric.

 Altar, fortified church, Church of Saint Christopher, La Couvertoirade FR 

2.  Does this swirling form suggest any basis for the "bannered" or hooked cross at Roncesvalles, but, if so, that would predate (would it?) the era of the earliest church here, see  What connection among beliefs from Roncesvalles, Charlemagne, in 778 (Battle of Ronceveaux), Christian against Muslim; and here, Christian mainstream against the Christian Templar subgroup?

2.  Spiral on the wall, behind the altar.

This is a single spiral, as opposed to the common multiple spirals on Celtic sites, double or triple or more. Is this merely a reference to the meditation-maze idea, which suggests meditation (in modern terms), or pan-life, in effect. Is it merely modern, as the stained glass windows are modern, and not old at all -- and still to be welcomed.

The swirl or spiral on the wall would not be a reference to a labyrinth, popular for other medieval meditation, see, because it is a clear path in and clear path out. It also is not a Celtic maze, for similar reasons, see

The spiral is an ancient symbol, however, see a history at

  • For ease of reference, here is our photograph of the bannered or hooked cross on a disc stele at Roncesvalles, see Spain Road Ways site above:
Disc stele. Unusual cross form preceding Templars: banner or hooked form at top.  This, Roncesvalles from 778. Is it echoed at St. Christopher's Church, La Couvertoirade, see Spain Road Ways
3.  The stained glass windows are modern and a surprise -- a welcome one. Try to keep from smiling. Claude Baillon is the master glass worker, and the windows were installed in 1984:

4.  Saint Christopher (modern)

This is a recurrent image, for a "saint" that among numerous others now is questioned as having existed at all. See

Why St. Christopher here, in the Larzac?  Not known, except for his role in helping others. The statue of Saint Christopher above the gate known as the Portal d'Amoun at La Couvertoirade is more moving than the plaster of paris type here.

Skip that issue for now. He was real for those told he was real, then.  Here is a child being carried on the back of a fine man. That is saintly.  The legend of St. Christopher takes many turns, however, with allusions to places and people variously in the 3d, 6th and 9th centuries.

One, perhaps the one referenced here, is his conversion but reluctance to engage in fasting and prayers.  Instead, he would carry people across raging waters -- a feat he could accomplish because he was big, very big. He carried on particular child, who got heavier and heavier, as though he carried the world's weight.  He was told to plant his staff on the other side, which he did and it bloomed, see details at

This Saint Christopher is located to the left of the altar area, view point of someone in the main aisle.

5.  The warrior woman.

Order of the Glorious Saint Mary? Order of the Hatchet? Or Order of Saint Mary related to Hospitallers in Jerusalem?

Is this Mary, the Virgin Mary, re-envisioned in the traditional blue? Or is this a representative of a now disavowed papal order for militant females, the Order of the Hatchet, established in 1149 in Catalonia to honor the women knighted for fighting the Moors in Spain, over the border (today's border -- then, none such).  See How far had the Moors advanced in to France at the time of the founding of La Couvertoirade?

Was she part of the Order of the Glorious Saint Mary?  Founded in Bologna in 1233 by Loderigo Dandalo, see, and approved by the pope not long thereafter, that militant order of women would have been familiar here, see  Is that the same as the Order of the Hatchet?

This representation cannot be 15th Century Joan of Arc, 1412-1431, in this 14th Century Church, unless it is a later addition.  Is that so?  If it is not Joan of Arc, who is it, with her armor, sword, blue skirts and helmet.

The same form of helmet appears above a door in the town, is this the entry to the old hospital?  I cannot recall.

Helmet on coat of arms, La Couvertoirade FR. See statue of warrior woman, church here.

5.1  As to Order of the Hatchet:

Does she represent women in the military order for women in knighthood, the Order of the Hatchet, see  This was founded 1149 by Raymond Berenger, Barcelona, for valour on the battlefield against the Moors.
Fair use quotation: see

'Medieval French had two words, chevaleresse and chevalière, which were used in two ways: one was for the wife of a knight, and this usage goes back to the 14th c. The other was as female knight, or so it seems. Here is a quote from Menestrier, a 17th c. writer on chivalry: "It was not always necessary to be the wife of a knight in order to take this title. Sometimes, when some male fiefs were conceded by special privilege to women, they took the rank of chevaleresse, as one sees plainly in Hemricourt where women who were not wives of knights are called chevaleresses." '
5.2  Order of the Glorious Saint Mary:  This was Italian, see the heraldica site.  Recall that boundaries were not as they are today.

5.3  Does she perhaps represent the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary's Hospital in Jerusalem, founded in 1190?  See them at The skirts, however, are not 1190, is that so.  And there were women in the crusades as well as socially, militarily active in that crusader time period, see

This may make sense in the context of other Hospitallers who took over when the Templars were ruined, and reaped their property.  More research needed. Ah, to be young and aspiring to academia!

La Couvertoirade, Larzac. Town and Wall Walk

The Larzac, Aveyron area.  This is just north of the Languedoc.  Here the medieval and Templar town La Couvertoirade is located.  The area connects the High Languedoc with the Cevennes National Park -- and is host to a number of Templar sites.  The area was not on widely used trade routes, but did serve as refuge, probably, for those being persecuted farther south at hte time.

Templars were arrested and tortured in 1307 or so, and their lands and property later confiscated, after the Powers had finished off the Albigensians and Cathars to the south, 1208-1244.  In 1312, the Order was dissolved.  The Templars, declared heretic, had such wealth and power as to threaten the sovereignty of church and king (Philip the Fair), and their property was given to the compliant Hospitallers.

Hospitallers were another Crusading Order, but one that did not cross the interests of Pope and King.  They "inherited" the town lands, and its goods?

Finds and grave disc steles at La Couvertoirade suggest involvement of other Orders in the town's evolution.

Prepare to walk.  Ramparts, bastions,  environs, see Midi-Tourism, Midi-Pyrenees, a UK site.

If time for hiking is not feasible, stay as my son and I did, with La Couvertoirade, and its facets and sometimes unexplained bits. Endless interests. With time, see what we missed at Ste Eulalie de Cernon, not far.

1. Wall walk. Here, here a half-tower. Was that an economy in stopping the construction time and costs almost in half, or more simply enabling building inside the wall to connect to it directly..

The truncated wall tower retains the defensive advantage of a circular view of any invaders.  Slice!  Right down the wall. Wonderful. Demi-tower. Like demitasse.

2. Examine old chimney pots:  and old slate-work rooftops. The chimney topper helped keep out varmints, and dispersed sparks. The town is still occupied, with residents including artists, entrepreneurs.

Chimney pot-cover, La Couvertoirade FR


3.  Admire the views. Has that changed in these hundreds of years? .

. La Couvertoirade, view from church inside walled town, France ,
4. Peer through defenses in the walls: arrow slits, spear.  What else?

 Tower arrow slits, La Couvertoirade France.  See placement above.

5.  Find a windmill.  An old windmill still turns on the hilltop.  Look closely for it.It is too far from the town to be of much benefit, or is that misleading? Did a water source flow to the town?
Larzac, France.  Le Redounel, hilltop windmill at La Couvertoirade FRCloser view of the windmill, the one restored in the Aveyron, Larzac region, I understand.

6.  Ground views. La Couvertoirade: ground view of tower

Parts are crumbling and sagging, but valiant.

7.  Size of medieval buildings. Medieval buildings were not necessarily small.  With the aid of huge beams supporting the interior and exterior, they could be stories high.

Couvert means covered.  Why is that the name of this town, La Couvertoirade?  Were things, ideas covered?

8.  Patron saint, Saint Christopher, Sant Cristol, niche above north portal, the Porte d'Amoun

Is there a rushing waterway nearby, so that Saint Christopher would be a natural patron saint,the one with the child on his shoulder, carrying although the child became heavier and heavier, across the dangerous water? Christopher is also the patron saint of travelers. That could be it. The town probably was, for a time, a haven for some.

9.  Large, traditional cross, behind church.  With all the variations on crosses in the graveyard, this stands alone.

Given a choice of fully restored structures, and the old, I prefer the old.  Retain the old patina.

La Couvertoirade:  a closed, walled town still

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

La Couvertoirade. Graveyard Crosses; History

La Couvertoirade is a splendidly preserved medieval walled village in a mountainous area still remove.  First a village was built, purposely as a place of safety, apparently, and not as a matter of longstanding settlement; then a castle, then a church, over several centuries.  Here the focus is on the graveyard, tombstones, headstones largely of the type known as disc steles.  Round-topped markers on stems. The town is "Templar" but there are many, many cross forms.
A.  Who is buried here? Just Templars and members of Orders?

That raises another question for this lovely, old walled town in the mountainous area aiming toward the Massif: why the new Maltese cross on the main town website for this old, old place?
  • Why does the official site for La Couvertoirade display a cross from the 1500's as "the" Templar cross, when the eight-pointed version highlighted did not come into use until the 1500's? 
  • Click on translate, at See history of Maltese Crosses, one of which was original Templar, or perhaps two; and neither are the pointy versions.  See
Instead, it is the equal-armed but convex form of cross, narrow at the center, wider at the ends creating a circle, that is, I understand related to Templars.  See also! 

B.  Which crosses mean what?  Do the pointy ended spear-crosses appear, or others, in the graveyard.

Look at the graves at La Couvertoirade. There is a wide variation in crosses, but none with the pointy spear ends.  How to identify which members of which Orders are buried  here? 

1.  Rudimentary Budded cross? 

Split ends! The length of the vertical arm looks tampered-with, a later elongation with a sloppy attempt to make the circle flow into a stem.  The horizontal arm is narrow at the center, and divided but rounded at the wider ends, like two buds.

I see no a cross quite like that, even if we disregard the long stem, at the pictures at  Teutonic Knights did adopt a cross with a longer stem, however, see examples at  Perhaps this is that, somehow.  A distinctly yellow cross with a stem about twice as long as the cross-arm and top-arm was required for Cathars who repented during pressure of the Inquisition, and converted.  Regular Catholics were to shun them. See

a.  This divided-end cross resembles an Apostle's Cross, see It is also known, see site, as the Treflee, the Cathedral Cross, or the Botonee, each to be researched. Two buds at the ends can signify bones, cross bones.  One bud can mean Aaron's staff, budding; and three buds? Faith, hope, charity, perhaps; or the Trinity.  See It can also signify,

b.  This divided-end cross also resembles the V-shaped, or split end, cross, see

This site is new to me, so research it further. For objective information, vet.

2.  Fleur-de-lis, a stylized lily.

Some say that the fleur de lys was a gift from golden angels to Clovis, King of the Merovingians in France when he converted to Christianity -- that would be 496 AD, see  It is a symbol that Wikipedia says has existed since the 11th Century, but that seems late.  See  The monarch Louis VI or VII used it beginning in the 12th Century, see

This use, then, would appear to be more mere Christian, than nobility-monarchical?

3.  Jerusalem Cross?

This one looks like a variation on the Jerusalem Cross, which ordinarily displays a smaller cross in each of the four quadrants, see This one is creative.  A etched linear equal-armed cross, with two crosses etched in each top quadrant, and two circles etched in each lower quadrant.

4.  Hand over hand

Could that be a marriage symbol? or a dedication to an order? No idea. This headstone, resting now against a wall, is not the medallion shape seen elsewhere, but a newer looking gravestone shape, a rectangle with arched top.  And there is no cross, just hands, left over right. 

Nothing Maltese there.  Have to broaden the symbols search and report back.

5. Budded Cross, two buds.  Or Pommee, like little apples?

Below is another budded-ended equal-armed cross, narrower in the center, two rounded buds at the end of the cross piece.  It is different from the one also shown above without the stem apparently added.

A form of three-budded cross is the Cross of Toulouse, the Occitan Cross, and - in error - the Cathar Cross (Cathars rejected the cross as an instrument of torture, and did not revere it), see  In those, however, the buds are like separate dots or circles, not attached buds. Instead of a convex or flat-sided outer arm, each is pointed in the center

6.  Cross Formee?

Flat ends to the crosspieces. It is at the center of a circular design.

7A.  Nestorian Cross?  Three bulbed cross. Back left.  See above, buds perhaps for Trinity, or Faith, Hope Charity? See site.

Then consider this alternative:  the Nestorian Cross, see 
Nestorians developed theologies at odds with the militant Roman Christians, for which they were deemed heretic.  Some see a relationship between similarities of Nestorians and the Albigensians, or Cathars, being persecuted at about the same time, see; now we need a view other than the Catholic for a second look at the merits of varying theologies, given the same texts. 

7B   Cross Potent, or Teutonic Cross. Foreground.

The cross at the foreground is straight, with straight flat rectangles at the ends of the crosspieces. That could be a Cross Potent, or a Teutonic Cross.

  • Teutonic Cross:  The Teutonic Knights were a Germanic order similar to Templars or Hospitalers, see  The Teutonic Knights were founded by King Henry VI, the site says, but that is wrong.  The Teutonic Knights were founded by Emperor Henry VI, not the English King. This is a site that also offers ministry degrees on line, so vet it all. Is there another
  • It is sometimes called a crutch cross.  From this shape derive, perhaps, later application of the swastika which itself originated not in Germany but probably India and for reasons and symbolism unrelated to the German 20th century. Another topic. 
  • See variations of stem length and other motifs for Teutonic Knights at

Daniel, who took the above picture, gets a little impatient.

8.  This traditional shape, the Wedge at looks very new, applied last week.

St. John's Maltese Cross, La Couvertoirade, France

Tombstones like the ones at La Couvertoirade are designated "Cathar" at this site, but without supporting authority.  See and question
Does the Sheriff of Nothing who posted the photographs expect credibility?

C.  History - Clues as to the reason for this village, here.

A.  History. Why the variety of crosses, the religious calls to arms.

1100's.  La Couvertoirade dates from the late 1100's -- recall that Jerusalem's occupation by European Christians ended in 1187, and the Muslims resumed their ownership. That had left Crusader Orders, including Templars who were militant monks who established a system of bill-of-lading-type "banking" for crusaders' property that led to their great wealth when a crusader did not return.  The Templars and other Orders were unemployed. Eulalie-de-Cernon, now a saint (why? is he  St. John's or Templar? and what is his title as to the commanderie?, and did he renounce the Templar aspect?) ordered the establishment of a village.

  • Was this village to be a refuge? An Inquisition by the Church of Rome, established in the Languedoc beginning in the 12th Century, created a fierce environment for differing believers.  The Medieval Inquisition by the Dominicans ran from the 13th-14th Centuries. The Inquisition in Spain after the turmoil of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation brought in anti-sorcery tactics. 
1193. Pope Celestine III calls for the Northern Crusades, against the Orthodox Christians in Northern Europe,who had been converted by missionaries of the Eastern Church, in the footsteps of Cyril and Methodius and others; and non-Christian groups remaining close to their traditional religions. The call went out to the newly converted Swedish and Danish kings, and their allies, the Teutonic Knights and others, see summary at;
and full article as a start for your own research, at

1208-1244.  From 1208-1244, the Pope ordered crusades against the peaceful and economically successful Christian Cathars in the Languedoc region, deeming them heretics, and killing and confiscating their property.  This remote place could well have served as a refuge.

 1249.  The Templars built the castle at the village. 

1312.  Then came 1312, and the persecution-dispersement, torture, killing of the Templars by Pope Clement V and King Philip le Bel of France.  The purpose: as with the Albigensian or Cathar Crusades, to get at the property they controlled.  The Roman Church succeeded in decimating the Templars, but not in getting the property. Legends remain.

One Order apparently traditionally sheltered Templars, the Knights of Saint John, and recruited some/many -- a lateral pirhouette into survival.  The Order of St. John, also known as the Hospitaliers, took possession of the Templar property as part of the overall confiscation of anything Templar, and erected a church at La Couvertoirade also in the 14th Century, see

Monday, September 23, 2013

Avignon. Sant Benezet. The Bridge Sur or Sous L'On y Danse

Hearing voices. Saint Benezet in about 1170, in nearby mountains of France, heard a voice instructing him to take his rod, and go to Avignon, and there build a bridge. Fix the infrastructure.  We could do with that today, is that so.  There was no polarizing issue of taking up arms. Think of the convenience. Who could oppose?

Saint Benezet. Was he a benign schizophrenic, or divinely inspired? You are a fool! shouted many people.  Such a bridge exposed to the elements such as flooding, was nonsense. So Saint Benezet shouldered a large rock and hurled the huge thing into the river. A miracle! The people fell in line, amazed.

 The conclusion depends on the outcome, as it may be indeterminable if the hearer was deranged or not. If the people hear, agree, and do as directed with benign results, he is sound. The persuasion worked, regardless of the soundness of the speaker.

So, the bridge was built, and later indeed suffered such damage from flooding that it has not been repaired, and so it stops, this bridge to nowhere.  Nonetheless, it inspires those who look back on unlikely persuasions, and find the angels on their side.

And song.  After the Papal move here in 1309, this was then the capital of Everything, with Popes and Civil Authorities in accord to do their will. Sing! 

Lost in the Papal glitz blitz, however, is the pre-Papal history: Notables like "Romans, Goths, Saracens, the Holy Roman Empire, the Albigensian Crusade, Charles Martel, Louis the Stammerer, sundry counts of Provence and a queen of Sicily."  All to be researched.  Listing from Financial Times 9/28-29, 2013, Travel at p.9.

A chapel was constructed to memorialize the inspiration. 

And, where the bridge begins, a fine still gatehouse stands guard.  

 And for geographic topographical detectives, there used to be a series of islands beneath the bridge with taverns and carousing.  The bridge itself was too narrow for dancing.  It follows, then, that the dancing took place under the bridge, sous le pont, not on the bridge, sur le pont.  Sing the correct way?  Are you doctrinaire or just having fun and does it matter?