Write a poem of up to 50 lines in English with the title ‘Crusade’. Anyone may take part, and participation by schoolchildren is particularly encouraged. Prizes of £50, £30 and £20 will be awarded to the three best entries in each of two categories: up to age 15, and 16 and over, and there will be an additional award of £50 in each category to the school or college if the first prize winner is in full-time education. There may also be up to three mentions of 'highly commended' in each of the two age categories. The competition will be judged by the poet Grevel Lindop, and the best entries will be posted on this website.
You may like to use the troubadour or trouvère songs on this site as a basis for inspiration (see below for some suggestions), but there is no requirement to link the poem to the medieval context: you may treat the subject as you choose. Entries should be accompanied by your name, address, age if 15 or under, and educational affiliation if any, and posted to Professor L. Paterson, Department of French Studies, University of Warwick, COVENTRY, CV4 7AL or emailed to linda dot frrac at gmail dot com as a PDF file; please provide an email address if you would like an acknowledgment of the receipt of your poem. Entries will be anonymised before they are sent to the judge.
The closing date for entries will be 28 February 2015.
The troubadours and trouvères sang of the pain of separation from loved ones and their duty to reciprocate God’s love and sacrifice. They evoked the fearful threats posed by their enemies, praised charismatic leaders and blamed weak or corrupt ones, struggled to explain defeat, and even questioned God and the divine order. Sometimes they just made fun of the whole thing. Here are a few suggestions for medieval texts that you might take as a starting-point for thinking about your approach to the subject. ‘PC’ refers to Occitan (troubadour) texts, ‘RS’ to Old French (trouvère) ones.
- How are people persuaded to fight for a cause? (PC 242.41, PC 293.35, PC 401.1, PC 401.8)
- How do crusaders see their enemies? (PC 174.10, PC 293.35)
- The pain of separation between a soldier and the woman he loves, from a man’s point of view (RS 499, RS 1126, RS 1659; PC 293.1) or a woman’s (RS 191; PC 293.1).
- How did men sometimes see women’s rôle in crusading? (PC 289.1; PC 293.1, PC 293.35; and see the previous topic: NB all of these songs were composed by men).
- Criticism of military, political and religious leaders (RS 273, RS 1133, PC 107.1, PC 126.1, PC 216.2, PC 335.1, PC 335.54).
- How do crusaders explain or come to terms with defeat? (PC 40.1, PC 41.1, PC 248.17, PC 282.23, PC 439.1)
- Challenges to the divine order (PC 40.1, PC 206.4, PC 439.1).
- Humorous takes on crusading (PC 10.37, PC 184.1, PC 189.5, PC 206.4).