- Men and women at Toulouse in the age of the Cathars (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 9, Number 2, December 1991
- p. pp. 170-172
- View Citation
170 Reviews The rest of this volume is comprised of articles concerning Muslims and Jews under Aragonese rule. The articles range from a minor note on Jewish communities mourning the death of Alfonso III by preparing and displaying a bier bearing a representation of the dead king (no. IX), to an analysis of a case of ritual murder, a boy found dead under a butcher's stall in the Jewish quarter in 1301, w h o was almost certainly 'planted' by a Christian (no. X), to 'Free Muslims in the Balearics under Christian rule in the thirteenth century' (no. VI), 'Mafiosi and malsines: violence, fear and faction in the Jewish al jamas of Valencia in the fourteenth century' (no. XII), and to an intriguing short piece on Abraham el Jenet a Jewish mercenary soldier and member of the royal household in the service of Aragon (no. VIU). W e should conclude with the new study published here: 'Anatomy of ambivalence'. This is not an integrated study but rather a composite of various small studies which have apparently been exercising Lourie in recent years. These range from the 'Denial of Mudejar status to the conquered Minorcan population' through a variety of topics to 'Social stratification within the aljamas' and to 'The double vulnerability of Muslim women'. The last is a particularly touching and telling comment on contemporary double standards among males of all religious communities. The various studies are held together by the thread of a theme of ambivalence: Muslims were necessary socially and economically and therefore needed recognition and protection but on the other hand they were subject to discrimination and prejudice. Lourie brings to her subject the sensitivity and skills of an Israeli expert in Jewish and Muslim history who has also made herself an authority on the Crown of Aragon. This collection of her articles is especially welcome and should be a required acquisition for all libraries. Students will benefit greatly from it. John H. Pryor Department of History University of Sydney Mundy, John H., Men and women at Toulouse in the age of the Cathars (Studies and Texts 101), Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1990; paper; pp. xiv, 235; 2 maps; R.R.P. CAN$39.50. Though packedtightwith tabulated, summarized, and discussed evidence on its topic, this book is yet full of banalities, gratuitous truisms, awkward archaisms and colloquialisms, dubious or patronizing attitudes towards females (especially old ones), grammatical enors and even misspellings. Whether because of, constantly belaboured, failings in the source material, or because of the somewhat unclear pretensions of the author, the book leads, on the whole, nowhere; although, it touches on much of interest along the way. Prompted, Reviews 111 perhaps, by the requhements of the 'new history', that is, to tell all about everything, the author claims that it is his duty 'to explore the relationship of men and women in and out of the family structure in this period' (p. 4). Despite the laboured and curious early paragraphs of the book, no clear thesis emerges. There is litde of novelty on the vexed subject of Catharism and women (pp. 41ff). 'Women were no more behind the late twelfth century (sic) growth of the Cathar faith than were their men' (p. 46). The discussion of equality, stereotyping and literacy produces only such nuggets as the fact that most men and women seem to have been happy enough livingtogetherand raising children (p. 116), or 'that m e n prefened w o m e n to be subordinate' (p. 117), or that women displayed a 'relative lack of bellicosity' (p. 119). The chapter on 'Sex' asserts that 'the differences in the bodies of women and men excite curiosity' (p. 47) and takes us through some notes on 'homophilia', on abbots who 'had IT with upwards of a thousand women', on the gripping of an abbatial virile member (p. 60), concluding with some profundities on the use of beds in the period (p. 65). In subsequent chapters w e encounter prostitutes, concubines, 'tine love', violence and adultery, marriage and divorce (the former securing a subsection in chapter 4 as 'marriage' and a full chapter (5) as 'Matrimony'). So also a portion of chapter 5...