Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Auch. D'Artagnan; Cathedral of Saint Mary; World Wars memorial

Auch. 
D'Artagnan, War Dead, and Cathedral

Auch.  How to pronounce a Gascon city name, a regional capital.  It is not ouch as in ET with a hurt, but instead (long-o) Osh. See http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/world/auch.html/ The appearance of the word is German, but so far we see no connection.

Auch has a splendid history with Basque roots, and Roman, and BCE tribes. A favorite son of Auch is fictitious: D'Artagnan, of Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers fame. Enjoy the autonomy of car travel, and go anywhere there is an interest.  We follow books, songs, characters, then see what else there is. A movie can start it all, or a chance conversation. The draw for Auch for us was swash and buckle:  D'Artagnan.

I.  D'Artagnan, favorite son
 Dan Widing and the swashbuckler D'Artagnan, Auch, France


What is a Swashbuckler? A swashbuckler somebody who makes threatening noises hitting his or on someone else's shield. See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?/allowed_in_frame=0&search=swashbuckler&searchmode=none:

Was there a real D'Artagnan?  Yes. There was a Count, Charles de Batz, Comte d'Artagnan, born nearby. The real one apparently was used for the statue. Beating hearts refuse to still at the sight of such a buckler with swash.

II.  Cathedral of Saint Mary, Auch

The Renaissance Cathedral of Saint Mary gets mixed reviews for its stained glass.  It is used as an example of the descent in the stained glass craft to "overdoodling" see http://www.abelard.org/france/stained_glass_history_ugly_glass.php.  The master glazier was Arnaud de Moles, 1470-1520.

Cathedral of St. Mary, Auch, France

The construction spanned the 15th-17th Centuries. Apparently there is a little door on the side where a custodian may or may not be present to let you in to see the choir. We saw none such, and would have preferred to see the wooden carved stalls than the windows. Next trip.

III.  World War I memorials, Auch

That war rightfully remains immediate in Europe.


Stop to read names.


Monday, December 01, 2014

Toulouse - Battle of Toulouse 1814; Comte de Las Cases; Napoleon

The Battle of Toulouse in 1814 was one of the British Wellington's lesser claims to fame in the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon was already about to abdicate, and Wellington's armies and allies suffered far greater casualties than the French. See http://napoleononline.ca/2011/03/battle-of-toulouse/


Emmanuel, Comte de Las Cases 1766-1842. He was a fine historian, and great creator of atlases. He admired Napoleon greatly. He recorded Napoleon's last conversations on St. Helena.  Apparently the better practice is not to translate Comte into Count.



In an era of graffiti, noone escapes.


Marquis de Las Cases seems to refer to what is now a winery, or region of wineries.  What is the protest or claim here?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Toulouse - Religious Crossroads. St. Sernin; and Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse. Albigensian Crusade. Religioius Wars and Milestones

Toulouse: Religious Wars and Milestones

From haven to slaughter.  Toulouse stands for protection and sustenance for pilgrims, and for the killing of those other Christians, dissenters from dogma, that the institutional church found threatening to its authority:  Albigensians, or Cathars.


Toulouse is a waystation for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, the medieval route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, said to be the burial place of Saint Ja,es.  This basilica, built in the 11th Century, was large enough to house hundreds of the pilgrims at a time.
Toulouse is also the site of the slaughter of other Christians, in the Albigensian Crusade -- Roman Christian against dissenting Christian-- and the home of one of the last of the medieval Catholic moderates. Count Raymond VI of Toulouse was a Catholic with tolerance.  For that, he was beaten, excommunicated twice, and exiled.   The moderate Catholics of that day stood, in their way (without using these terms), for civil rights of individuals against the state, the rights of Cathars to engage in commerce and their religion next to their neighbors, and separation of Church and State -- let groups decide how to pursue their calling with God, or whatever.
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Those ideas were beaten down in the Albigensian Crusade, but not out. 

1.  Toulouse has a history of varied peoples.

Follow its growth, from Celts in BC, to Roman Empire also in BC, through Visigoths, Charlemagne, the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars, a Christian group deemed heretic by Rome 1209-1243 at the fall of Montsegur, a last Cathar stronghold, and then the years of mop-up in the Pyrenees and elsewhere).  The Crusade officially ended in 1229 with the Treaty of Meaux-Paris, against the Cathars. See http://southweststory.com/toulouse-short-history/ In 1233, however, the Inquisition began where the Albigensian Crusade left off, and with all the records carefully kept by the Church guiding the hunt for more heretics.

2.  Toulouse is remembered for many of those, but least for its perhaps most important role: its killing of its own Catholic moderates.

 With all those history-pushes and pulls, the least referenced, and perhaps the most important symbolically, is the role of Toulouse in the Albigensian Crusade, and the institution pitting authoritarianism against tolerance even among Catholics. Refresh recollections at .http://www.xenophongroup.com/montjoie/albigens.htm.  For a timeline, see http://www.midi-france.info/19020113_ramonvi.htm/  The Church set its course against moderates at an early stage in Europe as elsewhere, with devastating consequences thereafter.

2.1.  People rejected by the Church

Toulouse was the governmental seat of Count Raymond VI of Toulouse., a Catholic moderate who sympathized with the Cathars of his region, and refused to support Rome's Crusade to kill them off and confiscate their estates.  He was accused of the assassination of the Pope's Legate, the Cistercian Pierre de Castenau.  He was excommunicated -- twice during the Crusade -- and banished to England, where he died deprived of a Catholic burial.  See http://www.midi-france.info/19020113_ramonvi.htm

2.2.  His nephew, Raymond Roger Trencavel, Viscount of Carcassonne and also of Beziers and Albi, was a moderate Catholic as well.  Count Raymond VI came to Raymond Roger and asked for support in opposing the Crusade.  Raymond Roger, despite his governmental seat to the south, nearer the invasion points,  failed to recognize the Roman threat and join with Count Raymond.  Raymond Roger was killed.

3.  This treatment by the institutional Church established an impermeable barrier against legitimacy of others' beliefs. Absolute intolerance, begun early with the militarization of the Church, its Crusades in the East, Charlemagne's killing of those who would not convert, grew with subsequent Inquisitions and terrorism.  Feudalism, the firm division of human roles, was taught by the Church to be divinely ordained.  The teachings of the Church were not to be challenged.  See http://www.midi-france.info/19020113_ramonvi.htm/  Those who disagreed?  Recant or die.

4.  Toulouse:  Death for death.

The spearhead against tolerance was himself killed, in his own battle against Toulouse.

 In 1218, The Siege of Toulouse, Simon de Montfort was killed here.  He had led the campaigns of the Pope and King against the prosperous Cathars, met his own death.  Simon de Montfort had been periodically unstoppable, see analysis at http://www.briancreese.co.uk/cathars.htm/   Note that Cathar was merely a derogatory term, slang perhaps, and the proper name is Albigensian for the city of Albi where so many had their estates.

Two Raymonds.  Sort them out to better understand the course of the Crusade against the Cathars. Count Raymond VI: http://historytimeshistory.blogspot.com/2011/11/cathar-heresy-count-raymond-vi-of.html; and Viscount Raymond Roger Trencavel , http://stephenosheaonline.com/book-tph-ex1.html


The legacy of no major area, crossroads for religion and commerce and politics, is simple.  Nuance around with it, like a dance.