this is fun!

from “Ethnic Stereotyping in Twelfth-Century Paris” in Difference and Identity in Francia and Medieval France [pgs. 117-118 – links added by me]:

“To what extent, then, did the young clerics in Paris resort to ethnic stereotyping…. The most famous and frequently quoted passage bearing testimony to stereotyping can be found in book VII of bishop and preacher Jacques de Vitry‘s (c. 1170-1240) ‘Historia occidentalis’, under the heading ‘De statu Parisiensis civitatis’. In a tirade against the immorality of students, who in Jacques de Vitry’s opinion gave preference to gambling and prostitutes rather than devoting themselves to serious study…”

big surprise there!

“…the author laments that the scholars from different regions not only ‘quarreled among themselves about the various sects or about academic discussions, but that they rudely hurled a multitude of insults and sneers at each other, their diversity of origin causing mutual dissension, envy and disparagement.’ Jacques de Vitry goes on to relate that the clashes among students from different ethnic backgrounds were frequently accompanied by verbal abuse in the form of ethnic stereotyping and ridicule. Most of the ascriptions in Jacques de Vitry’s catalogue refer to the vices of ethnic groups, stating that:

“‘the English were drunks and tail-bearers, the French arrogant, weak and effeminate, the Germans furious, with disgusting manners, the Normans vain and boastful, the Poitevins traitors and adventurers. The Burgundians were reputed to be vulgar and stupid. They reproached the Bretons for being frivolous and fickle, often teasing them about Arthur’s death. They called the Lombards greedy, malicious and cowardly; the Romans seditious, violent and avaricious; the Sicilians tyrannical and cruel; the Brabanters bloodthirsty, arsonists, brigands and rapists; the Flemish self-indulgent, rich, gluttonous, and weak and soft as butter.’

“Jacques de Vitry goes on to remark that as a result of the verbal abuse, the students often came to blows.”

and from footnote 14:

“Another example of a clash between students from different ethnic backgrounds, though this time in Reims and not in Paris, is related in the Vita of Adelbertus, where the students enter into a snowball fight and hurl abuse at each other.”

(^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. jacques de vitry telling everyone to behave!)

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