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gifts

(sponralitia)

remained in the

controi

of hus-

bands during their lifetimes, though wives’ po- tential claims meant their participation was required if dowry or marriage-gift lands and rights were alienated. But death took its toll of brothers and husbands, and the throw of reproductive dice meant that some couples would produce only daughters. When men died, their widows took control of dowries and marriage gifts and, often enough, of their husbands’ entire honors. If the men were not married, it was sometimes their mothers who succeeded. Here is one example, particularly instructive because of the person in- volved. When Berenger of Puisserguier died in

erty

do justice, collect tolls , command castles, give oaths of fidelity and receive them, and in every way act as a [lady] lord. Indeed, the very language of oaths of fidelity and the boilerplate formulas that scribes employed when they drew up con- veyances assumed that women would play such political roles. Both Latin and Occitan had gram- matically gendered but semantically neutral words for “a person”: “persona” and “om” or “hom” (from Latin “homo”). Yet in order to be sive the person who swore the oath of fidelity promised:

all-inclu-

if a man or a woman

[si

homo

autfemina]

should

he left his entire honor to his mother. After her death, his two castles, Puisserguier and rensac, his right to “protect” merchants on the

1169,

Flo-

take this castle by force I will make no agreement nor associate with them nor come to their aid with- out the consent of [you, the

overlord.]z6

road between

Beziers

and Narbonne, and his

other properties and rights were to be divided be- tween his two brothers. If they were to die with- out legitimate heirs, he ordered, one sister was to have Puisserguier and the other Berenger of Puisserguier was the only person we know of to challenge Ermengard of Narbonne’s justice -unsuccessfully- because she was

Florensac.‘4

Similarly, the guarantee clause in conveyances regularly reads, “if any man or woman or any per-

son seeks to break this agreement”

venerit, sive

sive

We

therefore should not be surprised to discover

(si quis autem fmina aut ulLzpe7son~2). Rix-

horn0

endis

de

Parez

joining a posse of village lords in at-

a tacking some mills on the Orb River when she

woman.‘?

He doubtless picked up the idea from someone trained in the newly revived Roman Law, but whatever else the experience may have taught him, it did not get in the way of his pur- suing a traditional family strategy of leaving pos- sessions, including castles and rights of justice, to women when he dictated his will.

claimed a share in those mills and their tenants as her own, nor to watch the wife of Bernard of Nis- san taking revenge on her husband’s enemy when the two men were fighting over a castle they jointly

held.‘7

In this society, women were expected to have a

role and a voice.

What

consequences might this

Under the appropriate circumstances, it was fully expected that women would control

prop-

social fact have for our interpretation of

tar

m’ei’

and

“Uautrier

jost’una sebissa”?

“‘A chan-

24. J. Rouquene, ed.,

Grrmkzire de P&&s (Live Noir)

(Paris:

Picard, 1918),

no.

22~.

(no.

contains the famous sentences: “Therefore sit in judgment and examine

That story is told in a series of letters to and from King Louis VII:

25. ofwhich

280)

Recueildes historims 0.2s Gauks mattets

et France, one with the diligent zeal of Him

163331,

de ia

Nar-

bonne

who created you a woman when He could have created you a man and of his great goodness gave the rule of the province of into a woman’s hands. On no account may anyone by our authority refuse to be subject to your jurisdiction because you

andSemdiy

Ermengard HGL ~01s. 5

ntversity

LIM. California

19931,

in Music Scholarship ([Berkeley: U

of

Press,

I), Ruth A.

are a woman.” One may wonder what 26. Numerous oaths are printed in

thought of this language.

and 8, as well as in

In her introduction to

Mu.ricology Solie

Dzfmmce: Gender

and

has emphasized an important

feature of the “discourses of the West: the everyday terms we use for human subjectivity make universal claims but are nonethe- less situated as male within cultural practice.” The evidence of Occitan oaths suggests that this observation does not entirely per-

tain to Medieval Occitania.

27.

Cartdzire

de

BPziers,

no.

147; HGL 5~790.

FREDRIcLcHJ3J3TE& MARGARETSWI’M’EN

Women in Troubadour Song

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