More mad shepherds

“Their travel preparations involved the slaughter of Jews and of non-ecstatic clerics, as well as the usual catalogue of rape and robbery.”

Bleeding obvious, but I missed it: the pastorets of Catalan nativity pageants are almost certainly les pastoureaux. These were the hoards of millennialist shepherds and peasants dressed up as shepherds (or not, but note the allegedly Catalan barretina on the sorry dwarves at the bottom) who, led by nice boys with a church school education, poured through France in 1251 and again in 1320. Their goal was the Holy Land and, as in most movements of this nature, their travel preparations involved the slaughter of Jews and of non-ecstatic clerics, as well as the usual catalogue of rape and robbery. The best account I’ve read is in Norman Cohn’s Pursuit of the Millennium (), and they also turn up – of course! – in Eco’s Name of the Rose ().
Le Roy Ladurie in Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error () says that virtually none made it to the Upper Ariège, roughly half way along the French Pyrenees, and I can’t find any accounts that register the arrival of fugitives in significant numbers here, so what I’m trying to figure is how the story – and elements from other chiliastic disasters like the Children’s Crusade – came to be regarded as Catalan. Furthermore, I’d love to know whether Pere Botero’s cauldron is in fact a northern/Norman French motif. (No, it’s not about Asterix. Stop it!)

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Comments

  1. Local records in the Spanish Pyrenees show, however, that some did arrive on your side of the border and led several massacres of Jews.

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