Books What I Want to Know About
posted by February 21 at 13:29 PMon
Wikipedia is failing me, mostly.
I just finished Graham Robb’s excellent The Discovery of France, which—to put it broadly—describes how the incredible cultural diversity of medieval France was funneled into a single national identity. (Here’s a googly-eyed New York Times review; here’s a pursed-lipped critique from The New Republic.) There’s a tantalizing section in the book about the cagots, a persecuted minority (probably more caste than race) whose origins were variously attributed to leper colonies, Saracens, or Visigoths; whose looks were usually described as tall and blond, but sometimes short and dark; and whose population was long ago absorbed by the general French and Spanish peasantry. But traces of their existence still persist, in cagot-only church entrances and baptismal fonts, in birth records, and in slang insults. Who knew?
I’d love to read more on the subject, but SPL doesn’t recognize the word and the UW is almost as unhelpful. Is there really no English-language book on the cagots?