We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
La Chanson de la croisade albigeoise (review)

From: Tenso
Volume 10, Number 1, Fall 1994
pp. 37-39 | 10.1353/ten.1994.0012

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

REVIEWS La Chanson de la croisade albigeoise. Texte original, adaptation de Henri Gougaud. Collection "Lettres gothiques" dirigée par Michel Zink. Paris: Librairie Générale Française. 1989. Pp. 637. We have witnessed in the last decade an abundance of publishing endeavors, both critical and editorial, centered on the Old Occitan epic of the Albigensian crusade, composed by Guilhem de Tudela (laisses 1-131, 2767 lines) in 1212-1213, and by an anonymous Toulousan poet (laisses 132-2 14, 6793 lines) in 1228. Let us single out, among the editorial endeavors, a particularly handsome book: Guillaume deTudèle et l'Anonyme, La Chanson de la croisade albigeoise, traduction nouvelle par Henri Gougaud, the acquisition of which is a must for all Occitanists. The present volume offers many things to many readers. In the "Préface." (5-9) Georges Duby briefly highlights the enduring fascination that the Albigensian events still exert, almost eight centuries post factum, on the French imagination. He valiantly attempts to reassess the historical impact of those events, but concludes somewhat disingenuously that "personne ne pouvait imaginer que Raymond VII n'aurait qu'un héritier légitime, que ce serait une fille," etc. (8-9). The French negotiators of the Meaux-Paris treaty of 1229 certainly imagined it when they stipulated the Languedocien succession in such terms as to make Jeanne de Toulouse—about to be married to the French king's brother—the count's sole legal heir. Other historians underlined this aspect fully in recent years (e.g.. Georges Bordonove.378-385). Michel Zink's "Introduction" (11-31) intelligently addresses many ofthe thorny issues that have intrigued students ofthis epic over the years. He aptly dubs the work "une chanson de geste historique" and "une chronique sous la forme de l'épopée," (11) and succinctly summarizes the historical events covered by the narrative (12-15). A few inaccuracies escape Zink's attention in this section ofhis essay, such ascalling Raymond RogerTrencavel "jeune comte de Foix" (13). There was indeed a count ofFoix named Raymond Roger at that time, but he was not also viscount of Bézíers and Carcassonne in 1209; this count had a son who fought with distinction, as both crusade songs attest, but his name was Roger Bernard. As for the fateful battle of Muret, it took place on September 12. 1213. not 1211 (14). REVIEWS The second section of the "Introduction" deals with authors and dates ofcomposition (16-22). I have no difficulty in accepting Zink's stance on Guilhem de Tudela's work, composed presumably at the end of 1212 and at the beginning of 1213. Neither do I find implausible this author's hypothesis ofapotential destinatairein the person of Guillaume de Contres (19). The first poet would have composed his song "d'une traite et très rapidement" (20) and would have stopped the composing when the narration became current with the unfolding events. I have more difficulty, however, in accepting Zink's views of the anonymous poet's song. Why should Roger Bernard de Foix be its commanditaire? This personage is indeed flatteringly mentioned time and again by both poets. But so is Raymond VII, the comsjoves of epic stature whose praise is very systematic in the anonymous song. Besides, it does not seem plausible that a poem of 6800 lines, endowed with the argumentative complexity exhibited by the second Chanson, could have been composed "d'une seule traite jusqu'à ce que la matière lui manque" (21). Neither is it easy to dismiss as a simple "interpolation" (22) the allusion to Guy de Montfort's death (January 1228) contained in laisse 142, an allusion on the basis of which Eugène Martin-Chabot, the modern editor of the Old Occitan manuscript of the epic, suggested 1228 as its possible date of composition. Zink's thorough and nuanced discussion of the Chanson's ideological underpinnings—"la question du 'double esprit'" (22-28) —does justice to this multifaceted issue in a few excellent pages, while his remarks on literary forms and references (28-3 1 ) are useful and informative. The scholarly public will recognize in the "texte original" present in this volume the respected edition published...