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Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast Episode 193 – Fiction Special: A Soldier in the Army of Love by Diane Morrison

Saturday, January 30, 2021 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 193 - Fiction Special: A Soldier in the Army of Love by Diane Morrison - transcript

(Originally aired 2021/01/30 - listen here)

I’m so happy to present the following story as the first fiction episode for 2021. Obviously, since the submissions period is still open for another day, I bought this one last year. So it’s been a very long wait for the author to hear her work appear.

This is very much the sort of story I hoped to see when I opened submissions to including fantasy elements integrated into the historic setting. “A Soldier in the Army of Love” is set at the beginning of the 13th century in the Languedoc region of France, in the midst of the era of troubadours, courtly love…and the violent repression of the Cathar religion. I felt like I was reading a medieval romance, full of wonder and danger, where the otherworld is just a few steps away and you never know whom you might meet while riding through the woods. Our story this month doesn’t shy away from the tragedies of history. The protagonist’s love for another woman is not part of that tragedy, but I’d like to advise listeners that this story contains graphic descriptions of war and its aftermath, including sexual assault (though not of the protagonist). If those topics would be difficult for you to listen to, please make an informed choice about listening to this episode.

Our story today is written by Diane Morrison. Diane lives in Vernon, British Columbia in Canada with her partners and a three-legged cat. In addition to writing and editing fiction, she is a musician, blogger, gamer, medieval re-enactor, and manages the official YouTube channel of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Diane Morrison

Our narrator is Laura Pinson, who is a mid-thirties classicist, doting cat parent, and all-around nerd. She has the same opinion on the best number of languages to know as on the best number of bookshelves to own: always at least one more.

Laura Pinson

This recording is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License. You may share it in the full original form but you may not sell it, you may not transcribe it, and you may not adapt it.

# # #

A Soldier in the Army of Love

by Diane Morrison


“It’s impossible to love your husband,” I told Cécile as we curled up together in the vineyard.  Sun sparkled on the green beryl grapes.

“Nonsense,” she scoffed, her porcelain visage a mask of pique.  “Let me see.”  She seized the book from me.

“Here.” I pointed out the verse from over her shoulder.

Cécile read, “The man says: ‘I admit that I have a wife who is beautiful enough, and I do indeed feel such affection for her as a husband can.  But since I know that there can be no love between husband and wife, and that there can be nothing good done in this life unless it grows out of love, I am naturally compelled to seek for love outside of the bonds of wedlock.’”  She studied me with oceanic eyes.  “My father loves my mother dearly.”

I waved my hand.  “Perhaps, but the obligations of husband and wife to one another, especially within the noble classes, destroy all opportunities for Love to grow.”  Of course, I knew this.  My father was a landed knight and troubadour.  He courted the Lady of Ceret; my mother was courted by the Lord of Frades.  They were discreet, but my father often said I was too curious.  I was happy enough to keep their secrets.

Cécile looked troubled.  “But God commands that a wife cleave to her husband.”

I sat up, eager to argue my point.  “Cleave, yes.  Love, no!  A wife has duties, but her heart is her own.  Does the Saviour not command that we all love one another, because love is born of God?  That’s what the Bishop said.”

Cécile nodded reluctantly.  “Perhaps you’re right, Brun.  He might still love her, but…”

I said nothing.  Viscountess Philippa de Foix was known to speak unkindly of her Lord in his absence.  In the Languedoc, we have long understood lovers, but even so, part of a Lady’s duty is to support her Lord.

But I had upset Cécile.  I hated to see it.  Her finger nestled in the petal of her mouth.  Her other hand twisted the embers of her wimpled braid.  When it was loose and flowing, it cascaded over her milky shoulders like sunset in a river.  Cécile had such unusual colouring in my world of olive skin and chestnut or raven hair.

“Don’t let it trouble you.”  I touched her cheek.  “Perhaps it means a troubadour courts her.”

I meant to comfort, but Cécile moved away.  “My mother is a good Catholic woman.”  Her eyes flashed indigo as the sea before a storm.

I shrugged.  “My parents are good Catholics, too.  But they are also in fealty to the Court of Love.”

“My mother says that’s a Pagan myth, intended to draw people away from the Church.”

I blinked, aghast.  “The King and Queen of Love serve God as appointed!”  I gestured to the book, so precious and valuable.  My father was kind indeed to let me take it out of our library.  “Andreas Capellanus explains that.”

She smiled.  “Let’s not fight.”  She took my hand.  “The day is too lovely!  Will you sing me a canso while I finish this embroidery?  I do so love to hear you sing!”

So I tuned my lute and sang the great Belenguier de Palou’s “T’ante m’abelis,” though I’m sure mine paled by comparison.  It was then I realized that I loved Cécile, so I sang it to her.


The Church would have frowned on our love.  But Sir Capellanus wrote, “easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized,” so I was not deterred.  I doubted briefly, because he also wrote, “thou shalt not choose for thy love anyone whom a natural sense of shame forbids thee to marry,” but it was not shame that forbade me, just custom.  Who am I to fight Cupid’s dart?

I wrote a canso for Cécile in secret, as is proper.  I praised her kindness and beauty, her passion and patience, and I confessed the dearest desire of my heart: to be near her always.  She had become my sunlight, my air, my milk and bread.  I sang it only to her, one night as Mediterranean waves lapped the distant shore.

She gazed at me for so long afterwards, stardust in her eyes, that I feared I’d frightened her.  But at last she smiled.  Like a proper soldier in the Army of Love, she took my hand.  Delight shivered through me.  There was no mistaking such a direct gesture!  “My dear trobairitz, I would like nothing more than to give you the solace you seek, especially since we are already such dear friends, and I know you are of the most exquisite character.  But my father has already planned my marriage and I would not bring my mother to shame.”

“How could granting me Love’s solace bring shame?” I argued, rising with joy to the chase.  “The Laws of Love demand discretion. Your husband may still know all the joys of your body, and you may bear him as many children as might be wished, but never could the seed be mine.”

She took her hand away, but I knew it was part of the dance.  “I am not of such low character that I would immediately yield to bodily pleasure,” she said with just the right note of haughtiness.  Her head lifted to expose the swan’s grace of her neck.

“I presume no such thing,” I countered with a smile.  “You are indeed, a lady of highest virtue.  I can only lay my heart before you.  Perhaps I ask without hope.”

“I will think on your words.  In the meantime, you must speak to me no more of these things.”

Oc, mi dons – if you will permit me to call you mi dons.  I shall obey you in all things.  But I pray you do not tarry overlong in your decision!”

Cécile led me a merry chase.  With our constant proximity, this was a torment, perhaps to us both.  Six months passed, and many albas and lais were written, before she yielded at last.  Thus, she indeed proved to be a lady of high character and most noble bearing.  The solace of her embrace was like honey after a famine – as it should be.


I was in Béziers when it fell.

Rumours of a Crusade against the Cathars saddened me, but I gave it little thought at first.  Count Raymond was friendly to Cathar, Jew, and troubadour alike, and even entertained a few Moors at his court.  He was powerful – ruler of three other counties, and Duke of Narbonne. No one believed anyone would dare raise hand against him.

We underestimated the anger and fervour of the Crusaders.  Many were soldiers from the disastrous Fourth Crusade; second, third, and fourth sons, with no prospects and no lands to match their lofty titles.  And the new Pope – ironically called Innocent III – wished, it was said, to become suzerain of the whole world.

My first inkling of the war on my homeland came when Cécile’s father rode through Béziers and commanded that we fortify the town.

Viscount Raymond Roger de Foix was a dark, impressive man, very much of his mother’s Trencavel blood.  I curtseyed as he approached my father.  He was uncharacteristically disheveled and reeking from hard riding, which alarmed me.  My father held our small fiefdom under his rule.

“My lord,” father said with a bow.

“Aribert,” he said, “it’s come.  I’m away to Carcassone to fortify my holdings.  Will you join me, or remain?”

My father blinked, surprised.  “I’m bound to the court of Toulouse for the next three months, my lord.”

He nodded.  “The French are on their way.  Count Toulouse has joined their number.  I tried, but was refused.  You must lead the defense of Béziers if you stay.”

“Surely they would not march on Béziers, my lord!” I cried.

“They mean to, Brunissende.  Will you come with me, or remain with your father?”

I was torn.  “I am my father’s jongleur, my lord.  If he remains, then I must.”

“Then God have mercy on us all.”  He clasped my father’s wrist, and, I’m honoured to say, mine.  “I’ll send reinforcements as soon as I’m able.”

“Please give my love to Cécile!” I called to his back.


My father obeyed his lord’s command, but no one truly believed Béziers would see fighting.  Fortifications were made, but they were rushed and sloppy.

My father begged Bishop Renaud de Montpeyroux to intervene.  To his credit, he tried.  I held my breath from the battlements as he went out to the encamping Crusaders.  He was ushered into the bright blue and gold pavilion of the Duke of Burgundy.

He returned with a grim expression hours later.  “They have agreed to spare the town if we turn over the heretics.  I’ve been asked for a list of known Cathars.”

Father nodded.  “Let’s convene a meeting at the Cathedral.”

The townsfolk gathered to discuss the Crusaders’ terms.  I was not surprised when shouts of dismay and rage issued from the pews.

“Lady Montpelleur?  Surely not!  She’s the most influential voice at court!”

“Guildmaster Arnauld?  But how would the guild function?”

At last my father turned to the Bishop.  “We cannot meet these demands.”

He lowered his head.  “Then will the Catholics at least come away to save themselves?”

“It’s not so simple,” said my father.  “The Viscount has promised reinforcements, if we can withstand the siege until they arrive.”

In the end, a few Catholics went away with the Bishop.  But my father remained, and so did I.


It was the 22nd of July.  I was helping to reinforce the battlements, so I happened to see an armed band leave the gate at the River Orb.  They made for what could only be mercenaries, with no devices or colours displayed.

I ran to my father.  “There’s a sortie leaving.  Did you authorize this?”

His black eyes widened.  “No.”  He thumped the shoulder of one of the Viscount’s men-at-arms.  “Come, we have to stop them!”

I followed.  By the time we arrived, the band was fleeing back through the Orb gate.  “They’re coming!” cried a blacksmith with rough-hewn helm askew.

A roar like the snarl of a dragon resonated through the stone walls.  “To arms!” my father cried.  Seeing me, he grabbed my sleeve.  “Get the ladies out of here, Brunissende!”

Oc, my lord!”  I ran to obey.

I found as many ladies as I could and sent them from the town.  I don’t remember how many, but they say perhaps thirty escaped.  It seems such a paltry number.  I wish I had been able to do more.  I will never forgive myself that I didn’t.

For those who failed to flee, there was only horror.  The screams went on for hours, days, as mercenaries, lacking even the thin discipline of chivalry, rampaged through Béziers.  They raped every woman and girl they found, before butchering them as they did the men.  They looted and pillaged.  And the smell… I have never smelled so much blood.

They didn’t find me.  I wedged myself in the cupboard where the Host was kept.  God sheltered me in His tabernacle, indeed!  Blasphemous, but I was desperate, and presumably as Catholics, they would not violate the sanctum.

I was wrong.  Soldiers broke into the Cathedral.  I shivered and bit my bleeding tongue as they smashed the pews, murdered the priests, and raped and murdered the nuns and old women right before the altar.  Peering through the cracks, I saw everything.

 I trembled there for I know not how long.  It got dark, then light, then dark again.  I’m ashamed to say it was long enough that I ate some of the Host and drank sacramental wine, but I could not make myself leave.

I finally emerged when I smelled smoke.  There was too much of it.  I knew it meant the town was to be sacked.  I had no choice but to flee.

The slaughter in the Cathedral nearly undid me.  Flies buzzed around the corpses and drying crimson stains.  I pray you will never see such a sight!  It still haunts my nightmares.

When I emerged into daylight, the flames were already consuming the town.  I fled before them.  Around sunset I found myself lost in the woods, with only the tattered dress on my back.  Even my lute was gone, abandoned to the tender mercies of the invaders.

I fell to the ground and wept.


The sound of singing pierced my stupor.

I thought at first I must be imagining it, for it was so transcendent!  But soon I heard soft thuds of many hooves on mossy forest paths.  Sudden fear it might be Crusaders drove me to my feet, but that thought soon fled.  They sang albi and cansos.  Why would Crusaders sing the songs of Love?

Hoping I had found a friendly army marching in our defense, I stood and prepared to greet them.

The man who led the cavalcade emerging from the thicket was surely not human.  He was clad in the finest silks and velvets.  His complexion was radiant.  Indeed, he seemed to emit soft light all around him, and not from the golden diadem set at his shining brow.  He rode a fine courser, white beyond the white of fine linen, and he plucked the most beautiful lute I had ever seen.  Its wood gleamed golden.  Its intricate rosette was delicate as a spider’s web.  The sound he drew from its silken strings was both resonant as deep earth and ethereal as the moon.

He was followed by court ladies, each with a gold-embroidered cloak, sitting fat, beautiful horses with gentle gaits. Each lady was accompanied by a knight for her right and left hand, and one to lead her horse like a servant.

I knew immediately whom this must be.  “You do me great honour by showing yourself, my liege,” I said, wiping my dirty, tear-streaked face to make myself more presentable.

The King of the Court of Love dismounted.  I bowed, but he took my face in his long-fingered hand and kissed away the tears.  “You need not make such obeisance, Brunissende.”  His dulcet tones thrummed through my very bones.  “You have always been faithful to Love, and I have come to give you aid and succor.”


I was long healing in the Court of Love.  I entertained them with my songs and lais, and I rode just behind His Majesty at his command.  When I asked how I had earned this honour, he said, “You have dared to love with more purity and audacity than most of your generation.  Besides,” he swept his arm over his Court, “you don’t belong to any of the other courts, for you have neither been courted by a troubadour, and thus, cannot be judged by your command of that courtship; nor are you a knight, so you cannot stand in defense of the ladies; nor have you given your body indiscriminately, so you surely cannot be ranked among the low and base!”

I cast a glance over my shoulder, where ladies who had given themselves too freely were harassed by grovelling suitors; then at the court where ladies whose frozen hearts had denied Love were left to fend for themselves as best they could.  I shuddered.

From time to time we picked up other wandering troubadours and their ladies.  I begged them for news, but it made little sense.  Toulouse, Carcassone, Albi and Montréal were taken.  The people of Carcassone had been driven naked from the city and Albi and Montréal surrendered without a fight.  I couldn’t blame them, after Béziers.  I asked after Cécile, but none could tell me of her fate.

Not long after, it was said that Count Toulouse, enraged by the massacres, had taken arms against the French, and Viscount de Foix marched with him.  They had taken back most of their holdings.

Talk of de Foix filled me with thoughts of Cécile.  The gilded glamour of the Court ensorcelled me, and I admit, my fears made me reluctant to leave.  But now, I could think of nothing but mi dons.  I went to the King and begged to be allowed to return to the world to search out my beloved.

He smiled.  “I knew we could not distract you long, Brunissende.  But I have come to treasure your company.  Are you sure you cannot stay?”

I had been happy there, but now my sleep was tormented, and all joy was soured.  I knew I would not serve Love if I didn’t try.  “My liege, you know I cannot.”

He nodded.  “Then take my lute.  It bears such enchantments as my Queen was able to impart.  When you play it, your words will have great power of persuasion.  And if you play it upside down, with your right hand upon the neck, it will disguise you as a man.”

I raised my eyebrows in surprise.  “But my liege, why should I need such a charm?”

“The churchmen do not see women as their equals, and they control most of the Languedoc now.  You may be barred from places you need to go.  I would not see that happen.”

The only place I had ever been barred from for my sex was a battlefield.  “Your Majesty is most generous.”  I bowed again.

“Bring her back, Brunissende.  And if she will not come, promise that you will return.”

What soldier in the Army of Love would not come to the King’s Court when summoned?  It seemed an easy pledge to make.  “I will return as soon as I’m able, my lord.  I promise.”

“Then go with my blessing.”

I mounted my fine courser and rode from the cavalcade.  When I turned to wave farewell, they were gone.


They say in Faerie, time does not pass as it does in the world.  So it would seem.  I had dwelled with the Court nine years.  Nine years!

I did not recognize my homeland.  So many places I had known and loved, smelted in the crucible of battle!  Castles scorched, towns eaten by thickets.  Everywhere, monasteries, Cathar and Catholic, in rust-stained ruins.

Armed with elfin lute, astride my elfin steed, I wandered through the Occitan countryside, as trobairitz have always done.  I searched, shared news, and carried messages, and sang and composed as my patrons bid.  I was received everywhere, even monasteries, so long as I used the power of the lute.

Eventually I came to the house of great trobairitz Lombarda, and begged news from Bernart Arnart as he fruitlessly courted her and she riposted elegantly.

“Cécile de Foix?” he echoed.  “I haven’t heard!  The Viscount fled to England when Toulouse was occupied, but he took only his son.”

“But what of the Viscountess?  Surely she has not been abandoned to the Crusaders!”

He blinked.  “You have not heard?  Viscountess Philippa took the Consolamentum.  Years ago, now; I think the war had just started.”

In retrospect, it explained much.  The Viscountess was one of the Perfecti, who foreswore all earthly pleasures.  Inasmuch as the Cathars had leaders, she would be one.  The Viscount had no choice but to fight the Crusaders, no matter what Count Toulouse did.

“I hear an army under Simon de Montfort marches for de Foix, and Toulouse is again besieged.”  His mouth was tight.

“Then I must go.”

He shook his head.  “It's a fool's quest, Brunissende.”

I said nothing.  I had to try.


Arnart was right.  Even upon my fleet courser, when I arrived, de Foix was in ruins.  I wept for the shattered castles, the cinders of green-beryl vineyards and golden fields of wheat and rye, and the black rows of poles thrusting from pyre-ashes, as if they had raped the whole land.

I asked at each smoking village, each ruined hovel, but no one knew.  At last I happened upon a wounded knight waiting to die in an abandoned stable.  He thirsted, so I fetched water before I presumed to ask.

“They’re in Toulouse,” he rasped. “I’m sorry, but you must give her up for dead.  She has joined the Cathars and the Crusaders are too many.  The siege has held all spring.  Toulouse will fall again.”

“I cannot do that.  I am bound by Love.”

He smiled.  Blood trickled from his mouth.  “True trobairitz!  You may be the last!  Then sing to me of Love and Beauty, and when I have passed, take my sword and armour, and may God protect you.”


The knight passed sometime in the night.  I could only wear his chain shirt and tabard, which I had to shorten.  I stuffed his boots with torn pieces of tunic, and wrapped my skirts into trews.  Then I played a backwards chanson, and made my way to Toulouse.

I shivered when I saw the Crusaders encamped, and it worsened the closer I came.  My courage almost failed me.  “For Cécile,” I whispered to gird my loins.

“Who comes?” demanded the perimeter watch.

“Brunard, man-at-arms to Lord Phillippe,” I lied.  He had been the one to wound the knight.  “He’s dead.”

This seemed to suffice.  One of the knights nodded.

“May I help you with your armour?” a camp follower asked, laying her hand upon my shoulder.

I knew Cathars would have been disgusted by such worldliness from those who ostensibly had taken the Cross, but I was saddened for her sake.  “Thank you, but I fear we must be ready should the damned heretics push to escape.”

“That’s the spirit!” said a Hospitaller.  I resisted the urge to put this sword I knew ill how to use through his heart.

“I should report,” I said instead.

He nodded back.  “Montfort is in his pavilion.”  I thanked him.

All around, rough men with bloodstained armour diced or dueled or cavorted with camp followers.  Sullen men ate hard bread and watched me pass with harder eyes.  Trembling, I forced myself on.  I was unchallenged.  I made my way to this giant, terrifying man Montfort, leader of my enemies, who had been at Béziers.

 “My lord,” I said, “I must be allowed to speak with the heretics.”  I strummed my lute to work Faerie wiles upon him.  “Viscount de Foix wishes to discuss surrender.  Perhaps the heretics will give themselves up if they know.”

Tales of Montfort’s astute mind were true.  He squinted suspiciously.  But the Queen of Love’s sorcery was more than his match.  “Oi, of course!  Carry my seal.  Tell them if they give up the heretics, all good Christians may go free.”

Oi, my lord,” I said, hating the sound of this invader’s word for “yes” on my tongue.

“I come under flag of truce!” I cried at the wall, strumming hard so the ragged men on the battlements could hear.  “Open the gate!”  I was less afraid than I had been among the Crusaders, although at any moment, boiling oil or a volley of arrows could end my life.

“Open the gate!” someone cried.  Soon the drawbridge lowered and my courser took me across.

“Close the gate,” I said, plucking strings to release the glamour.  The guards started in surprise.  “I am no man of Montfort’s; I am Brunissende, trobairitz.  I seek the Viscountess Philippa.”

They blinked at me a long moment.  Then one laughed.  “Perhaps it’s just as well!”  His voice was bitter.  “The French give us little reason to hear their ‘negotiations!’  Oc, trobairtiz, follow me.”

They took me to the Viscountess.  Head shaven, stick-thin, clad in the white shift of the Perfecti, she smiled upon seeing me, and I felt poorly for having ever thought ill of her.  “Brunissande!”  She opened her arms to me.

I came into them.  “I am so pleased to see you, Your Excellency.  But please, where is Cécile?”

“Brun!” exclaimed my beloved then.  She threw herself into my arms.

I nearly forgot myself and wept. Cécile, at long last!  I clutched her to my breast and drank in the rose scent of her body.

But cold crept into my heart from my bowels.  I realized that I had not seen her because she, too, wore a white shift, and had shorn her sunset hair.

“No,” I breathed.  “Oh no.”

“What is it?” asked Cécile.

I pushed her gently away.  “You…” I fell silent.  It was not appropriate for me to speak of our love before all of these people.  “I’m overjoyed to see you,” I said at last, “but I am saddened.  You have taken the Consolamentum, and are beyond earthly things.”  Such as my Love.  Tears pricked my eyes.

She looked down.  “Not yet.”  Her gray-green ocean eyes met mine.  I read so much that remained unspoken; longing, light, and Love.  Her hand fluttered at her side, as though she wished to reach for me.

Renewed hope flooded my veins!

“We thought you dead!”  Now her eyes were a tempest of accusation.  “Where have you been?”

This, I could give tongue to.  “In exile, in the Court of Love.  You have been offered a place.”  With me, I would have added, had we been alone.

She hitched in her breath.  I felt her agony.  She had her duty, and her mother had need of her.

Yet so did I.  I waited.  I longed to use the lute to bolster my words, but Love must always be a choice of free will.

“I will go,” she said at last.

My heart thrilled with joy!

“But… the siege,” said the Viscountess, her hands in knots.  I was sorry for her.  Of course she feared to lose her daughter.

“Then we must break it,” I said.


Raymond VII, Count Toulouse’s son, was in command.  Cécile and I went to him first, then among the soldiers.  I strummed the lute and sang first my own lament for Béziers, then a sirvente of love for our homeland.

Their Occitan blood stirred!  War-weary faces fixed into determined countenances.  Hands slack on weapon hilts tightened.  Even the women and children were swept along!  Perfecti did not fight, but the Cathars who had not yet taken holy vows were ready to spill Crusader blood.

“The false Pope is dead,” Raymond VII said to his father once I had finished playing.  “The Crusaders cannot last much longer.  We must break the siege now.”

The Count chaffed against his words.  “There are too many Crusaders and not enough Occitan men.”

“Then the women must fight too,” said Cécile.

It was as though lightning had struck him.  His eyes burned.  “My lady, how rightly you speak!  We shall arm every man and boy, and the girls and women shall man the artillery.”

So it was that on that day at the end of June, we stood with the women of Toulouse, and took up arms against the enemy.

I now know why men sing of the glory of battle.  My temper was sanguine indeed as the gates came down and the men surged forth, screaming their battle cries!  Cécile and I cranked our mangonel, and loosed its deadly stones into the bright-pennanted teeming mass, until it became only ritual.

It went on for hours or days, or perhaps years.  My arms trembled with the effort.  Sweat ran in my eyes and the hand that wiped it away gave no solace, for it was caked with filth and soot.  The reek of fire and blood made it difficult to breathe.

There was horror, too.  A girl next to us was crushed by a stone.  Her blood stained my makeshift trews and splattered Cécile’s shift.  Tears ran down mi don’s soot-stained cheeks as she continued to load the mangonel.

But God was with us!  The siege collapsed, and the Crusaders fled in disarray!

We brought the wounded in.  The Perfecti went among them, cleaning wounds and bandaging, and when no healing was possible, giving the Consolamentum to all who wished.  Hard though it was, I found this healing more to my liking.  “Sing to me, trobairitz,” many begged, and I did, until the light faded from their eyes and my voice was a raven’s caw.

Then they brought in the dead.  I could hardly bear to look at them.

But a cheer rose up.  “It’s Montfort!” a knight cried.  “Here is his tabard!”

It was!  Three lions rampant argent on a field rouge.  This awful man who had devastated my homeland was dead, crushed by a mangonel stone. Who’s to say if it was ours?

“It is done, then,” said Cécile, taking my blistered, bloodied hand.  “Innocent III is dead, Montfort is dead, and I may now put my heart at ease.  Take me from this place, Brun, before I lose my courage.”

“What of your mother?” I found myself asking, regretting it as soon as I had spoken.

“I cannot know.”  She sighed, and squeezed my hand more tightly.  “But she is Perfecti now.  She has forsaken the world, as her faith commands.  Should she die, she will be with her God in Heaven.  Without you” – she swallowed, and her eyes glistened – “I was finished with the world too.  But now that you’re here… I can no longer seek Consolamentum, for I no longer wish to forsake worldly things.  I want to love you, Brun, for as long as God gives for us to Love.”

And here in Love’s Court we remain.  There is Cécile, with a knight for each hand.  I am the one who guides her horse, since I have proven my courage.  I am perhaps the last trobairitz, for the Languedoc is no more.

But Eleanor of Aquitaine has brought our songs to Normandy and even distant England.  His Majesty thinks perhaps one day soon, we will vanish into Faerie, but first, we will wander, as we have always done, and perhaps visit those far shores.  For now, God has given us this place to love one another.  That’s all anyone can ask for, is it not?

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Show Notes

This quarter’s fiction episode presents “A Soldier in the Army of Love by Diane Morrison, narrated by Laura Pinson.

Content Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of war and its aftermath, including sexual assault (though not of the protagonist).

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

Links to Diane Morrison Online

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