L'Agonie du Languedoc
Claude Marti · Studio der frühen Musik

LP, 1975:   EMI Reflexe 1C 063-30132
CD, 1990:   EMI Classics 8 26500 2

Seite 1

1. Pèire CARDENAL. Tartarassa ni voutor  [7:18]
    (mit rezirtierten Texten aus dem
    Aiso es la cansos de la crozada contr els ereges dalberges
    von Guilhem Tudèla und anonymen Texten)
Sängerin, Laute, Sänger, Instrumentalensemble & Rezitation

2. Pèire CARDENAL. Ben volgra  [8:09]
    (mit rezirtierten Texten aus
    Guilhem Augier: Quaus plor e planh
    [planctus a la mort de Raimond-Roger, Béziers]
    und Benhart de la Barta: Foilla ni flors)
Sänger-Altus, Fidel, Sänger, Instrumentalensemble & Rezitation

3. Pèire CARDENAL. Razos es qu'ieu m'esbaudei  [12:47]
Sänger & Instrumentalensemble

Seite 2

4. Guilhelm FIGUEIRA. D'un sirventes far  [2:33]
Chanteur und Gitarre

5. TOMIER & PALAZI. Si col flaca molins torneja   [7:15]
Chanteur und 2 Gitarren

6. Pèire CARDENAL. L'afar del comte Guió  [8:49]
Sänger & Instrumentalensemble

7. Pèire BREMON RICAS NOVAS. Ab marrimen  [5:30]
Chanteur und 2 Gitarren

8. Bernart SICART MARJEVOLS. Ab greu cossire  [3:48]
Rezitation und Laute

Claude Marti – Chanteur und Rezitation

Thomas Binkley

Andrea von Ramm, Sängerin – Organetto
Richard Levitt – Sänger, Schlaginstrumente
Sterling Jones – Streichinstrumente
Thomas Binkley – Zupfinstrumente


Benjamin Bagby – Sänger
Harlan Hokin – Sänger
Alice Robbins – Streichinstrumente
Paul O'Dette – Zupfinstrumente

Organetto, Fideln, Lira, Rabel saracenica, Chitarra saracenica, Gitarren,
Gittern, Lauten, Schellenbaum, Tamburin, Klapper, Trommel


Aufgenommen: 28.VI.-1.VII.1975, Basel, Münstermuseum
Produzent: Gerd Berg
Tonmeister: Joahann-Nikolaus Matthes
Verlag: Manuskript

Titelmotiv: Chanson de la croisade albigeoise
Illustrationen Innenseiten: Chanson de la croisade albigeoise
Cover-Design: Roberto Patelli
Litho: Repro Schmitz KG, Cologne

Ⓟ 1974 EMI Electrola GmbH
Digital reamastering Ⓟ 2000 by EMI Electrola GmbH
© 2000 by EMI Electrola GmbH

L'Agonie du Languedoc

This recording offers something very new in Early Music recordings: the combination of 13th century troubadour in its original ambiente, and modern chanteur in the Langue d'Oc of today. The revitalization of this ancient language today makes this unusual combination possible; the texts are all original 13th century poems, yet when Claude Marti is singing these texts he is thinking of today's Languedoc, striving once again after seven centuries, for its deserved cultural independence, which was lost in this Albigentian Crusade. We hope that this unusual combination of musical genres will offend the devotees of neither field, but rather will direct the attention to the continuity of this forgotten culture.

The Early Music Quartet revives here songs concerned with a devastating French invasion of Languedoc, which began in 1209 and which systematically destroyed in the cruelest manner the towns, chateaux and monasteries of the South, thereby breaking apart the old and established social structure which had provided Europe with its most advanced civilization after that of the Spanish Arabs. As Ibn Khaldûn (14th century) wrote in the Muqaddimah: "A nation that has been defeated and has come under the rule of another nation will quickly perish." So it was with Languedoc, today a forgotten country of the Middle Ages. This was the homeland of the troubadours, the cradle of culture in Europe, whose literature remains a cornerstone of Western lyric. "Troubadour" is the French word, French the conquerors' language. In Occitanian the word is "trobador". This language, which is a mixture of several Latin dialects and might as well be called Old-Provençal, Occitan or Langue d'Oc was, an outgrowth of the vernacular Latin as spoken in the "Gallia Narbonensis" and in "Aquitania", with the Atlantic on the west, Italy on the east, the Central Massif on the north and the Mediterranian on the south: Gascogne, Limousin, Languedoc, Auvergne, Périgord and Velay are the areas where the language is spoken. At the time of trobadores the language was one with Catalonian, and even today the regional dialects clearly belong together, one language, not French and not Castilian.

It was the language of Frédéric Mistral who won a Nobel prize for literature in 1904, and it is the language of a large group of poet-singers today, the "Chanteurs Occitans", who cultivate the chanson with political overtones in their own language; a group of modern trobadores who are carefully watched by a government fearful of their separatist tendencies.

Claude Marti is one of these chanteurs, certainly the best-known. During the day he teaches in a village school and during the summer season he sings nightly in concerts throughout the South. He is not a worldly man, and when he sings about minorities that have been forbidden cultural rights (L'Express observed recently that Japan has two university chairs for Occitanian and one for Provençal while France has none!) he is simply singing about himself and his own Occitanian minority.

The Early Music Quartet and Marti join hands on this recording. His living language, his identification with the same cause as his ancestors blend with the revival of the historical music and give life and immediacy to the collection of songs. The Early Music Quartet brings original trobador songs while Marti takes original trobador texts and sings them in his own musical style. No music has survived for the texts that Marti sings here, and although seven centuries lie between the original music of the trobadors and today, the power of the language convincingly bridges this hiatus. For it is not the musical style, it is the anger, despair and helplessness at the ravaging of the Languedoc, the frustration of a people subjected to a cultural starvation economy that unites the pieces on this recording; magnificent poetry which has outlived that forgotten war, the Albigentian Crusade.

This recording is not a song recital; it is an attempt to portray the art and the feelings of a civilization about to die.


"Kill them all, God will recognize his own!"
There in Béziers, 22 July 1209 the crusading army murdered the entire population of the town, Christians and Cathars alike, took what there was to take and burned what would burn. The first action (campaign) of the army of Abbot Arnaud-Amaury de Cîteaux was complete!

The events leading up to this slaughter are not complicated, they are simply ordinary political history. At the Council of Toulouse in 1199 the Cathars, a harmless, aescetic Paulician sect was declared heretical. In 1204 the new Pope, Innocent III decided upon active persecution of the heretics. Count Raimond VI of Toulouse (Languedoc) was not active in suppressing them, and the Papal Legate, Pierre de Castelnau was successful in bringing about a Papal ban on the Languedoc. On 15 January 1208 Pierre de Castelnau was murdered, a crime unsolved to this day. Innocent III then called for a crusade against Languedoc — how else might he exercise his power if his ban be ignored and his legate killed? Thus the highly cultivated, most civilized part of Europe was offered to the Northern brigands for the taking on the scanty justification that Raimond VI was insufficiently zealous in persecuting a small minority within his lands. The Abbot Arnaud-Amaury in Lyon began to organize an army which led to the disastrous rape of Provence and the Languedoc, which began the following year with the razing of Béziers. After Béziers the crusaders, who included the most powerful barons of the North, moved on to Carcassonne, where the citizens were permitted to leave the city alive but naked, and all their belongings became the property of the French crusaders. But these were the lands of the Viscount Raimond-Roger Trencavel, and the counts of the North felt uncomfortable about taking them over from the hand of an abbot. Indeed, can the church take the lands from one count and give it to another? Burgundy and Nevers and Saint-Pol thought not, and decided to leave the crusade. Only one was found who in pious humility would accept the poisoned gift from Rome of such magnificent wealth — Simon, Count of Leicester and Montfort.

Simon thus became the leader of the crusade, and he supplemented his army after the departure of his more powerful colleagues with mercenaries from many places. Simon turned to the chateau of Bram. There he sent the defenders off in a long chain of human misery, blinded and with their noses cut off, with a one-eyed man to lead them, off they went to Cabaret. In the wake of such cruelty, who would dare to defend his house, who would fail to open his gates to welcome the cleansing crusaders? Minerve: there he burned 140; Termes, Cabaret, Lavaur, where he burned between three and four hundred, Cassés and Castelnaudry, only sixty, and then a grand massacre at Moissac, and then Muret... on and on. Pierre de Vaux-Cemai: "Innumerabile etiam haereticas peregrini nostri cum ingenti gaudio combusserunt" (Historia Albigensium, cap. LII).

In the Statutes of Pamier Simon set forth the organization of his conquests ... what did it matter to him that much of the land belonged to the English crown, some to Philippe Augustus and some to Peter of Aragón? What did the law matter to him? He was master there now, hated and reviled and feared. Soon his army was to stage a sensational victory over Peter II of Aragón, who had returned from his own sensational victory over the Moors at Las Navas to aid Raimond VI of Toulouse. But Simon's politics of terror and cruelty were repaid during the long siege of Toulouse in 1217 by a stone which crushed his head. "Simon est mort, Simon est mort!"

Simon de Montfort was dead, but it was too late to turn back what he had done. Languedoc, weakened by ten years of tragic war, the cultivated house torn asunder, was never to regain its splendor. The war went on, lands fell to the French and here and there heretics were burned, monasteries plundered and people put in fear of life and property. One of the last stands, Montségur fell heroically as late as 1244, and the châteaux of Quéribus and Puylaurens survived for another ten years. All the while the Inquisition worked to intimidate all, especially the poets: The Abbot of Villemeir addressed the poets with a poem of his own, containing the refrain:

E s'aquest no vols croyre vec te'l foc
aizinat que art tos companhos
Aras velh que m respondas en un mot o en dos
si cauziras el foc o remanras ab nos.

If you don't wish to believe this,
then look into the fire
where your companions are burning
and give me your response in one or two words,
whether you want the fire too or will join us.

In the end it was Raimond VII of Toulouse who alone did not accept the new order. One by one the others, Olivier de Termes, the Count of Fois, Raimond Trencavel of Carcassonne and Béziers, and the rest, all were sufficiently intimidated to accept French rule, and so it has remained to this day. Raimond VII died 1249 powerless and defeated, nor was his lineage to be sustained.


The history and culture of Languedoc had little in common with that of France. Its civilization was a peculiar mixture of Roman, Visigoth and Moslem, it had no clearly definable geographical boundaries beyond the sea and the Pyrenees. The Visigoth Septimania, called so after the seventh Roman legion, comprising the land round the cities of Narbonne, Carcassonne, Elne, Béziers, Maguelonne, Lodève and Agde, corresponds roughly to the land that became known as Languedoc. Following its separation from Aquitaine in 817 it became a duchy. By the opening of the 13th century the authority of the house of Toulouse was recognized throughout half of Provence, at that time the wealthiest and most highly cultured area of what today is France.

But with the French invasion of 1209 the sun went down on the Languedoc and the dark ages descended. By the treaty of 1229 all the lands from Carcassonne to the Rhone went to the French, and after the death of the last of the Toulouse line, Jeanne, in 1271 the rest of the Languedoc went to the French Crown. (In 1274 Rome illegaly took the county of Venaissin, laying the basis for the Papal residence in Avignon during the Captivity.) Improper rule and heavy taxation led the infuriated peasantry to rebellion 1382-83, which was harshly and cruelly put down. (Both Louis of Anjou, brother of Charles V, and the Duc de Berry can be blamed for much of this misery). In 1790 Languedoc was simply erased from the map of France, being replaced by the several departments.


Pèire Cardenal was the arch-Satirizer of the period. He was born in Puy-en-Velay and served as a secretary to Raimond VI of Toulouse beginning 1204. Thus he was a young man at the outbreak of the war. He enjoyed a clerical education but chose to become a trobador. He lived through the war and the death of the members of the House of Toulouse, Raimond VI, Raimond VII and his daughter (died 1271). Cardenal was not a Cathar, remaining within the church all his life, yet he was outspoken against the French and the church. Very likely it was the Inquisition that compelled him to go into exile — he selected Montpellier, which at that time was a fief of the king of Aragón. Cardenal's satire was bitter in the extreme. His audience was educated and he himself frequently cited figures out of the literature — Blancheflor, Isolde, the Isengrim fables, etcetera. As was the custom, he modelled his Sirventes after canzones, employing borrowed melodies, which gave him a subtle satirical tool: view the beautiful soave melody of Tartarassa and then regard the text!

Guilhem Augier Novella was born in Saint-Donat (Valence) in 1185 and became a minstrel at the court of Raimond Rogiers in Beziers. Following the execution of Raimond (10 November 1209 at the hands of the French) Guilhem went into exile in Italy, where he received the name "Novella".

Pèire Bremond Ricas Novas was a Provencal trobador who worked from 1229 to after 1241. He worked at the court of Raimond VII in Toulouse.

Tomier and Palazi were two trobadores who wrote Sirventes on James I of Aragón (1208-1276), the Count of Provence, Raimond-Bérenguèir IV (died 1245), the Count of Toulouse, Raimond VI (died 1222).

Guilhem Figuèira was from Toulouse, son of a tailor, and he was one himself. When the French occupied Toulouse (1229) he fled to Lombardy. He could write well and sing well, but, the vida tells us, he kept the company of whores and ribalds in the taverns rather than that of the courtiers. The 'vida' omits mention of his most famous poem, D'un sirventes far. Such a devastating attack on the church may have prompted the writer of the vida to discredit him before history with the remark about his character: mere possession of a copy of this poem was sufficient grounds in the fourteenth century in Toulouse, to come before the Inquisition!

Thomas Binkley

Cançon de la Crosada

The text usually entitled Chanson de la croisade albigeoise (Song of the Albigentian crusade) — the original has no title, and the note "Aiço es la cançons de la crosada contra'ls erètges d'Albigès" was given to it by Fauriel in his edition of 1838 — is composed of two quite different, but successive works. The first part (2,772 lines) was written in a bad frenchified Occitan dialect by a Spaniard from Navarre whose native language must have been Basque: Guilhem de Tudèla. He was a priest who favoured the crusade, but not a fanatic and wrote his poem, which is almost nothing but a document, in the course of the events between 1210 and 1213.

The first extract given here tells the origins of the crusade, the second alludes to the taking of Lavaur (May 3, 1211), when the lady of the castle, Girauda, was thrown in a well and stoned to death, when the knights were hanged or beheaded and the heretics burnt at the greatest stake of the crusade.

The second part of the Chanson de la croisade albigeoise, consisting of 6,810 lines, is a splendid work, and the sublimest text in Occitan literature. This epic poem, written in 1228 by an anonymous author, was supposed to have survived for the only reason of continuing the work by Guilhem de Tudèla which was written before the crusade: A lazy inquisitor must have read only the beginning of one manuscript, and so the complete text was preserved.

The eight lines inserted here, carefully chosen for their insignificance, refer to the organisation of the defense of Toulouse against Simon de Montfort during the winter 1217/1218. Siege and combat did not stop before June 25, 1218, when Simon de Montfort was killed by a stone from a machine the women of Toulouse were operating.

Ben volgra

The reconquering attack they advanced in Beaucaire in 1216 was brought to its end in 1224. Amaury de Montfort, Simon's son, returned home abandoning his titles to Louis VIII, king of France, who, early in 1226, started on a further crusade and, with the strongest army that had ever been gathered against the Occitans, he marched down the valley of the Rhone.

Pèire Cardenal is in Vivarais from where he makes an appeal in favour of Raimond VII de Saint-Gilles, count of Toulouse, marquis of Provence, and count of Vivarais.

Razos es qu' ieu m'esbaudei

Baudoin, brother of Raimond VI, Count of Toulouse, was born in France and brought up there. Though first devoted to his brother, he joined Simon de Montfort and never quitted him (it was Baudoin Guilhem de Tudèla had taken refuge with and where he had written his work.). His disloyalty was to cost him his life: Roger-Bernart, Count of Foix, his son, and a knight from Aragón, Bernart de Fonda, hanged him on a walnut-tree in March 1214. It is probably this event Pèire Cardenal evokes at the beginning of this song, but he quickly expands it into a condemnation of all the traitors they have never been in want of in — so to say — these circumstances.

D'un sirventes far

Guilhem Figueira is above all known for having written this sirventes of uniqualled violence. Remarkable in it:

I. The amplitude of the political perspectives. This troubadour, just as his predecessors, is a man who thinks on the level of European politics. His 'sirventes' is a historical painting. We find in it:
• an allusion to the Pope's betrayal of John Lackland (verse 2). Innocent III finally decided to acknowledge Otto of Brunswick as Emperor of Germany. The allusion is only rapid, because the beneficiary of this betrayal was Frederick II, at the time allied with Philipp August.
• an allusion to the loss of Damiette in 1221, which the papal legate was to blame for who rejected-the Moslem's acceptable propositions (verse 5).
• incessant allusions to the Albigentian crusade, in particular the razing of Béziers (verse 22) which the papal legate, a member of the order of Cîteaux, had allowed.

II. The ingenious way of representing the fight of the Occitans and French: Though the troubadour responds to the hatred they entertained for the intruder at the time, he does not abstain from rejecting the crusaders' historical responsibility. Only through cruelty had they been forced into complying with an infamous enterprise wanted by the Roman power. Hence, the French victims of the crusade are the victims of the Church: the killed knights were the martyrs of a bad cause (verse 6); having taken Avignon in 1226, King Louis VIII died in Montpensier/ Auvergne (verses 7 and 10). That is why "França n'èr dolorosa/dels vòstres engans."

III. The clarity of the Christian conception: Guilhem Figuèira is a Christian moralist and holds the opinion that Rome — possessed of the devil — sins. (The Cathars, by the way, took the same view.) He details the sins Rome has committed: sale of the sacraments, cupidity, hypocrisy. Above all Rome has distorted the idea of the crusade and she sends out for killing Christians. Figuèira also associates the oriental crusade with the "crusade" in his homeland. He twice likens the Occitans to the Greek (verses 3 and 7).

IV. The vigour of anticlericalism which is undoubtedly encouraged by the enthusiasm of the Goliards. A certain influence of Latin poetry is possible. We find subjects of topical interest, for example the play upon words (in verse 10): romans = rotz mans; "qui ronge les mains".

This sirventes, posterior to 1227 and prior to the Treat of Meaux, coincides with the moment when the Occitans still think feasible their victory. This victory, they expect it from Raimond VII, their national leader, whom Guilhem salutes from a distance (verse 10).

The melody — est son que m'agença — is that of the prayer to Vierge Flor de Paradis, which fact adds quite a lot to the scandal of the poem. This scandal is not extinct in 1274, the year when a citizen of Toulouse, Raimond Baranhon, was brought before the inquisition for having privately sung the sirventes by Guilhem Figuèira.

Robert Lafont: Trobar

As regards this poem Anglade said: "This is the most virulent satire the Middle Ages ventured upon Papacy."

Si col flacs molins tornejaThe crusade as seen from Provence by two knights of Tarascon

At the beginning of 1216 Occitania is conquered and occupied. But the deposition of the house of Raimond at the Council of Latran in favour of Simon de Montfort who later was surnamed Seigneur Fantoche ("lo senhor aposús": the false sovereign) gave the signal for the revolt and reconquest of the country. On August 25, he has to stiffer his first defeat at the hands of the 19-year-old Raimond VII and the reinforcements that had come from all Provence, from Marseille to Digne, and among these above all the people from Avignon made themselves a name. The second verse applies to the reprisals Simon de Montfort made upon Toulouse when he had had to abandon Beaucaire. The third evokes the fact that the countess of Forcalquier came to help Raimond VII and alludes to the treacherous Guillaume des Beaux, who is mentioned again in the fifth verse after a eulogy on the citizens of Avignon. The last lines of the song are concerned with the perversion of the idea of the crusade — the latest had turned out to be nothing but a brigandage.

L'afar del comte Guió

The first three lines of this work allude to well-known facts. For a long time the bishops of Clermont had been following an imperialistic policy as mighty feudal lords (they even wanted to extrude the Count of Auvergne), and for the benefit of their claims, they did not even fail to ask the king of France for help (by the way we could hardly imagine an Occitan sovereign offering his help to such an enterprise), and, of course, they took part in the Albigentian crusade. When fighting against these attempts of domination, Guy II of Auvergne ("the cómte Guion" in Pèire Cardenal) had destroyed the Abbey of Mozac ("de Mauzac lo barrei") and Philipp August, by way of reprisals, organized a campaign against him ("la guèrra del rei"). On the other hand, we know nothing about the events that are the main subject of the song: The pillage of Saint-Gilles de Chamalières and Saint-Chafre du Monastier which latter he belonged to. In any case it refers to developments of secondary importance to the crusade. Perhaps an attack (extortion?) by the bishop of Le Puy (who followed the same policy as his colleague in Clermont); in 1209, for example, he personally, with the crusaders, had exacted a ransom from the citizens of Caussade and Saint-Antonin, with the assistance (or at least complicity) of the seneschal of France in Beaucaire.

Ab marrimen

On August 19, 1245, Raimond-Berenguièr V, count of Provence and Forcalquier (he was the son of Amfès et Garsenda) died in Aix leaving behind four daughters. His will, made in Sisteron on June 20, 1238, clearly formulated his desire to maintain the independence of his domains. In fact, he excluded his two sons-in-law, king of France resp. England, in favour of his daughter Beatritz, he also excluded his sister Sancha (one was to marry Raimond VII de Toulouse) and his cousin James I, king of Aragón. But the plot of Blanks of Castile, with the assistance of an éminence grise, Romée de Villeneuve, succeeded in contesting his will, and some months after the count's death, she could marry Beatritz to her son Charles d'Anjou, who, with the assistance of Alphonse de Poitiers, by force son-in-law of Raimond VII had to conquer a county that was resting until 1263. Since the death of Raimond-Berenguèir Pèire Bremon had most lucidly foreseen the danger.

Ab greu cossire

We know nothing about this troubadour from Gévaudan. His sirventes we had reason to date as of 1230 (after the Treaty of Meaux) is the desperate cry of not only a patriot, but also of an Occitan moralist who penetrates the hypocrisy in view of the victory. The occupation of the territory round Toulouse and especially the domain of the house of Trecavel (cf. verse 2) by the French and the clergy signifies, as well as in Peire Cardenal, a decline of civilisation. In his mystical phraseology it is not only the orders of knighthood that are accused of villainy and a mean policy of domination and enrichment. But it is here that the sirventes changes its tune! No longer reflexions on international politics: the reality of the occupation, of the people's misery. Patriotism and sense of justice find their consolation in superstition and also the belief in the justice of God: The Occitans are in the extremest misery; now it is their enemies' turn whose sins cry for punishment to descend. The poet resumes the folkloristic theme of the natural man who sings when seeing stormy weather drawing near, because he knows that spring is out of patience.

Robert Lafont: Trobar