Albi, Albigenses, Albigensian Crusade
Albigenses are inhabitants of Albi (a city located in the south of France,
Albi belonged to the Viscount of Trencavel.
For some reason, at that time, the terminology of "albigenses" refered to "cathars".
The Albigensian Crusade, therefore, means the Crusade against heretics
who have spread to the Languedoc, rather than the crusade
against the inhabitants of a specific city.
A banneret is a lord bearing a banner, which means,
able to bring with him about 5 or 6 knights plus their squires and sergeants.
Capital of Catalonia. The counts
of Barcelona became kings of Aragon in the XIIth century.
The name of Barcelona derives from Barcino which was given in honour of the
Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca father of the famous Hannibal.
A battle is a squadron of cavalry, usually composed of 10 banners.
Knights and heavy cavalry fought at the front whereas less equiped horsemen
fought at the rear.
A city located near Toulouse belonging to the Viscount
Carcassonne was besieged in 1209 by the crusaders. The Viscount of Trencavel
surrendered and was jailed in his own prison, where he died. Carcassonne is
worth a visit, as both the castle and the city walls have been restored. It
is probably the biggest medieval forteress left in Europe.
Catalonia takes its name from Gothalonia when Visigoths settled there in the Vth
The province became a Marche of Charlemagne's Empire. It
was then ruled under the counts of Barcelona.
From the Greek katharos "pure", or the Latin cattus "cat"
(for witches rituals) or catharticum "purgative".
People who believed in the cathar religion. Cathars were considered heretics
by the Roman Church. The inquisition called the most
accomplished cathars as "hereticus perfectus". When captured they were generally
asked to abjure their faith or be sentenced to death (sometimes they were sentenced
to death after abjuring anyway).
Comte, Count, County, Earl, Earldom
Count, from the French Comte, from late Latin Comes (state
The count is the ruler of a county (also called earldom or shire in England).
The count is the local king's deputy (see the feudal ranking).
A county very often represents a city with its surrounding land.
Duke , Duchy
Duke, from the French Duc, from Latin Dux (leader).
A duchy is often a former kingdom or independent nation which was joined to
a kingdom or an empire (example: Aquitaine, Burgundy, Brittany, Lorraine, Austria,
Normandy) . A duchy may be composed of several counties.
A duke is the ruler of a duchy. It's the highest rank among feudatories (see
the feudal ranking).
A faydit is a lord who was found guilty of heresy
(ie being heretic or protecting them), was deprived of his land and tracked down.
His lands were given as a reward to crusaders.
All faydits fought to a certain extent. Some died defending their estates, some
fled to join the court of Aragon, some resisted, others eventually tried to make
peace with Church in order to recover their rights in which case they had to combat
heresy, support the Church through donations to abbeys etc..., subsidize or join
a crusade in the Middle East etc....
Feudal ranking / hierarchy
At the top of the hierarchy there is God, represented on earth by the Pope.
The Pope has the power to create new Kingdoms and Empires through coronation.
He is also able to excommunicate Kings and Emperors (ie remove their divine right)
and to preach a crusade against them.
They may be consirered as Pope's vassals.
The vassals hold their fiefs from their feudal overlod.
Because holding a fief became officially an hereditary charge from 877 (capitulary
of Quierzy-sur-Oise), vassals tended to consider the land as their own property.
Some even "sold" their homage. For example in 1067, Raymond-Bernard
Trencavel, vassal of the Count of Toulouse, sold his homage for Carcassonne
and Razès to the Count of Barcelona. In 1201, Peter II of Aragon gave
the fief of Val d'Aran to receive homage of the Count Bernard IV of Comminges
(also vassal of Toulouse).
Fief, lordship, baronie
A fief, aslo called baronie, is often a piece of land with a castle, but sometimes
can be just a part of it. A lord of Carcassone in the
XIIth century for example, granted to one of his knight a tower of the fortress
as a fief, to which he had to ensure a guard duty.
There is another kind of fief. The "money-fief" which is basically a
title attached to a pension without the land. The king had better control of money-fief
lords than feudal lords simply because it is easier to stop paying felons than
attacking their castles.
Money-fiefs were progressively put in place in France. This system contributed
to replace feudality by monarchy (when all the lands belong directly to the king).
France / French / Franks
Theoratically, within the borders of the kingdom of France, any subject of the
crown should have been considered as French (also called Franks during crusades
in the Middle East), but in those days that was far from being the case. The genuine
French were only those of the leading class society and those living in the area
around Paris. The national identity will come later.
We read in books written during this period that crusaders were called French
which meant that méridionals did not consider
themselves French, although they were subjects of the crown.
Belief contrary to Christian Church.
Anybody supporting or protecting a cathar was guilty of
Judicial institution for the persecution of heresy by special
ecclesiastical courts. The Albigensian Crusade gave
birth to the inquisition.
Languedoc / Languedocian
The area where people speak the "language of Oc" or the "Occitan
language" as opposed to the "langue of Oil" spoken in northen France. The
Languedoc is where the Albigensian crusade took
The Languedoc, in terms of province is actually only a part of a far greater area
called Occitania, where this language was spoken widely.
People living in Languedoc are Languedocians.
Marcher, Marche, Marquis
A Marcher or Marquis is the ruler of a March (also called Marquisat or Margravat).
In order to secure or expand the Kingdom, border counties
were granted privileges. Those counties were called "Marches" (doorstep). A Marcher
was entitled to own any land conquered from his enemy. This reward was an incentive
for Marchers to expand their territory and enabled the Kingdom, at the same time,
to have secure borders. For example, there were Marches on the Welsh border and
on the Spanish border.
There are also examples as in Denmark (March of the Danes) or as in Ostermark
(eastern March) which became Osterreich (Austria in English).
See also the feudal ranking.
Inhabitants of southern France. The word "méridional" designates those
who fought against the crusaders. The word "méridional" may replace the
Méridional does not mean cathar, altough some méridionals
were, or supported them.
Narbonne is a very old city located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Narbonne
gave its name to the Roman province of ancient Gaul, the Narbonnaise. Later when
Visigoths (western goths) were defeated by Clovis, King of the Franks, they moved
their capital from Toulouse to settle in this region which
was called Septimania ("Sept" means seven in French) in memory of the Roman VIIth
legion which was settled there or because it contained seven cities (Narbonne,
Béziers, Nîmes, Agde, Carcassonne, Maguelonne
and Elne). Others crossed the Pyrenees to settle in Catalonia.
Septimanie was eventually incorporated into Charlemagne's Empire and became the
Margravat of Gothia (or Marche of Gothie) and turned later
into the Duchy of Narbonne.
Language stemming from Latin.
"Oc" means "yes".
The Occitan language varied from one city to another, nowadays, to preserve the
language, Occitan has been standardized and can be learnt at school.
The other meaning of Occitan is simply the name of inhabitants of Occitania.
Later in the history, all occitan spoken provinces were put togehter to form Occitania.
This area covers more or less all the lands stretching between the River Loire,
the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Mediteranean coast. It includes Gascony,
Guyenne, Languedoc and other provinces.
However, Occitania has never been a political province as Languedoc was.
Seigneur, Baron, Lord, co-lord
A seigneur is a feudal lord holding one or several fiefs.
In Languedoc, it was common usage to share an estate between children, even if
there was only one fief to share.
The consequence was that many fiefs and castles became divided and soon belonged
to several lords (36 for Montréal, 50 for Lombers, 34 for Mirepoix etc..).
They were "co-Lords" or "co-Seigneurs". Some of them took the lead to run the
fief as today's company shareholders.
As an example, the Principality of Andorra is still ruled today by
The northern usage was generally to favour the eldest son, in order to keep each
fief undivided. This usage was also followed by big estate owners in Languedoc.
A Seneschal is the governor of a place (city, county, duchy...) which is then
called a Seneschalsy.
He is the deputy of his overlord, but his charge is not hereditary as it is for
3rd city in Europe after Rome and Venice. Former capital of
the Visigothic Kingdom.
One of the most famous Counts the city had was Raymond IV
of Saint-Gilles (1042-1105). He took the cross on the first crusade in 1096, leading
southern crusaders to Jerusalem. It is said that he declined the offer to become
King of Jerusalem. He founded the County of Tripoli instead.
During the Albigensian crusade, Toulouse
withstood 3 sieges, in 1211, 1218 and 1229.
A Viscounty is simply a part of a County, generally a town
and its outskirts.