Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/87

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CIVILIZATION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE.

Even Saracenic elements were not wanting to make up the strange admixture of races which rendered the citizen of Narbonne or Marseilles so different a being from the inhabitant of Paris — quite as different as the Langue d'Oc from the Langue d'Oyl. The feudal tie which bound the Count of Toulouse, or the Marquis of Provence, or the Duke of Aquitaine to the King of Paris or the Emperor was but feeble, and when the last named fief was carried by Eleanor to Henry II., the rival pretensions of England and France preserved the virtual independence of the great feudatories of the South, leading to antagonisms of which we shall see the full fruits in the Albigensian crusades.

The contrast of civilization was as marked as that of race. Nowhere in Europe had culture and luxury made such progress as in the south of France. Chivalry and poetry were assiduously cultivated by the nobles ; and, even in the cities, which had acquired for themselves a large measure of freedom, and which were enriched by trade and commerce, the citizens boasted a degree of education and enlightenment unknown elsewhere. Nowhere in Europe, moreover, were the clergy more negligent of their duties or more despised by the people. There was little earnestness of religious conviction among either prelates or nobles to stimulate persecution, so that there was considerable freedom of belief. In no other Christian land did the despised Jew enjoy such privileges. His right to hold land in franc-alleu was similar to that of the Christian ; he was admitted to public office, and his administrative ability rendered him a favorite in such capacity with both prelate and noble ; his synagogues were undisturbed ; and the Hebrew school of Narbonne was renowned in Israel as the home of the Kimchis. Under such influences, those who really possessed religious convictions were but little deterred by prejudice or the fear of persecution from criticising the shortcomings of the Church, or from seeking what might more nearly respond to their aspirations.[1]


  1. Saige, Les Juifs du Languedoc. P. i. ch. ii. ; P. ii. ch. ii. (Paris, 1881), The same causes were at work in Spain, where the faithful complained that they were lot allowed to persecute the Jew (Lucse Tudens. de altera Vita Lib. iii. cap. 3), and missionary work among the slaves of Jews was rendered costly by forcing the bishop of the diocese to pay to the master an extortionate price for every slave converted to Christianity and thus set free, for Jews could not hold Chris-