What did Le Roy Ladurie find in Montaillou?

Resources for a short Year 7 enquiry into the medieval village of Montaillou.

In the late thirteenth century, a heresy swept through the south of France called Catharism. It rejected money, the teachings of established church and Papal authority. After the Pope crushed these heretics with a violent crusade, he then sent an inquisition to study the extent of the heresy. One of the places this inquisition visited was Montaillou.

An Inquisition Register – where peasant’s confessions and denials were recorded – still survives today, hidden away inside Vatican city. Its aged velum pages, if read ‘against the grain’, provide a unique window into the long-vanished world of these medieval peasants. In the 1970s, the French Annales historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie did exactly that; he used the register to reconstruct the ‘mentalities’ of this small community in his magnum opus Montaillou (which was translated into English in 1980 to near-universal acclaim).

Hopefully, some teachers will find these lessons useful. They have a clear focus on ‘evidential thinking’ and ‘historical perspective’, and should help prepare pupils to understand sources, evidence and interpretations – something demanded by most GCSE courses. I would really appreciate any feedback (whether it’s about glaring omissions, hideous typos or just general errors). If you’d like to suggest anything or ask me any questions, please contact me via Twitter (@OliveyJacob).

If you want to find out more about this enquiry and ‘historical perspective’, please come to my and Alexander Benger’s presentation about cultural history at the Schools History Project Virtual Conference: http://www.schoolshistoryproject.co.uk/virtual-summer-conference/

Thanks for reading this! Here are the resources (please download them to ensure that the formatting works properly).

What did Le Roy Ladurie find in Montaillou? (PowerPoint, lessons 1-3 and accompanying teacher notes)


What did Le Roy Ladurie find in Montaillou? (pupil workbook)


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