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Averoigne Location
Posted by: Mazza (IP Logged)
Date: 11 December, 2016 02:30PM
My name is Andrew and I am a long time lurker. Greetings to you all!

I have been especially interested in the Averoigne stories for the last couple of years. I've noticed it frequently mentioned in online sources that Averoigne should be roughly considered to be equivalent to the historical province of Auvergne. I propose that Averoigne should really be further north and to the west of Auvergne, somewhere in the historic province of Berry.

I've also noticed in most maps, including the beautiful one posted in the art collection on this site, a town in the province of Averoigne called "Touraine". I believe the original source for this was the D&D Module X2 Castle Amber, which places Touraine in the south of its hexmap of Averoigne. This strikes me clearly as an error, as Touraine is the historical province along the Loire river of which Tours was the capital. In "The Holiness of Azédarac", the Sieur des Émaux introduces himself as from Touraine, and I believe that Tom Moldvay, the author of Module X2, mistook this to mean that Touraine was a location in Averoigne, rather than a nearby province. The city of Tours was extremely economically important in medieval times - the most widespread unit of account was the livre tournois (the pound of Tours, like the Pound Stirling today). It makes sense for CAS to explain the location of Averoigne relative to Tours and Touraine.

In "The End of the Story", Christophe is travelling from Tours to Moulins. Moulins was the capital of the historic province of Bourbonnais. Between the provinces of Touraine and Bourbonnais lies Berry.

Finally, the placement of Averoigne in Berry is also more consistent with respect to language than a province further south. France did not become linguistically unified until after the time period of the Averoigne stories. Many stories describe the language of Averoigne as "Old French". As the Middle Ages were linguistically fragmented, there was no single "Old French" but dozens of closely related and similar dialects, but there were two broad families of dialects - in the north of France, the Langue d'Oïl, and in the south, the Langue d'Oc. We could simplify and call these "French" and "Occitan". If Averoigne is in Berry, it would make sense for its inhabitants to speak Old French just as CAS says they do. If Averoigne is really Auvergne, then most of them should be speaking Auvergnat Occitan.

Forgive me if all of this is obvious, but since the ideas that Averoigne is analogous to Auvergne and that Touraine is a town within it are widespread across the web, and since this site is the most complete and authoritative CAS site, I thought this was the best place to post a rebuttal to what I believe are two widely propagated mistakes.

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 4 January, 2017 11:01PM
What an excellent post! Thanks for you input!

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 9 June, 2017 03:56PM
Good job. You are probably right.

I wrote a story of my own set in Averoigne, Cult of the Singing Flame... but I'd sketched it out before reading your essay. As a result it is set immediately northeast of the Massif en, oui (ou, oc), l'Auvergne. I had Stuff To Say about Catharism, so fixing at least Ximes upon the northern edge of the thirteenth century Languedoc was important to that story.

But hey, it's not like any of us can go there.

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 21 August, 2017 11:01AM
Many thanks! Your insights are an example of one of the main reasons I come to this discussion board.

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 13 November, 2019 07:17PM
Here is some data (okay, gratuitous nerdery) relevant to this question.

First re "The End of the Story": this is the first-composed of the Averoigne stories. Smith reserved the right to fine-tune his geography.

"The End of the Story" sites only Perigon and Faussesflammes in relation to sites of historic AD 18th century France specifically the Tours-Moulins road. Vyones is mentioned only in a quoted document, as a city existent in its (parallel?) past; other sites – Ximes, mainly – remain absent.

I mostly want to discuss the career of the Languedoc / Languedoïl dialects in the hinterland. Because the shift in their boundary – favouring Middle French in the late 1300s – overlaps the earlier stories.

The Albigensian crusade in the early 1200s weakened the Languedoc relative to Paris. Other shocks, particularly the 100 Years War, allowed increased Parisian control over the Auvergne region and more prestige for langue d’oïl here. In particular: Good King John (Valois) recognised John the Magnificent as overlord and duke, and so the latter ruled 1357-1416 over both Berry and Auvergne.

So if Averoigne (whichever it is) wasn’t speaking some Old French “Averoignais” before 1357, it was certainly speaking standard Middle French by 1416.

Since the quoted document in "The End of the Story" is in fact Old French, those events precede 1357. Vyones had its cathedral 1138.

So far, we can be assured Vyones was Languedoïl as of 1300. Besides this, and before that, though…

Of all the Averoigne stories, by Smith or by others, only “Maker of Gargoyles” and then “Holiness of Azédarac” (plus “Doom”) specifically postdate the Romans and precede the Albigensian crusade. (We’re not counting “Cult” in between.) These two are the only stories which I would accept into evidence for the Averoignais / Averonhat dialect of the twelfth century and before. Also they too are early-composed. And they don’t say much about the language; Vyones is likely polyglot anyway at this time.

Here we have to account for Glenn Rahman’s “The History of Averoigne”. This has Lovecraft assuming Auvergne for the later stories and not getting corrected by Smith.

As mentioned I do like the Berry theory… for Vyones.

For Ximes, Smith doesn’t say much about the town proper until “Beast”, set in 1369, at which point in our timeline the Auvergne is (politically) Berry, and all the educated men are speaking Middle French.

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 November, 2019 08:11PM
Welcome to the group, zimriel! Your contributions will make the exchanges more interesting.

In this group, I'm sorta the "surface-skimmer" and if I serve any useful function here, it is to introduce a sort of macro-environment that other more serious scholars here flesh out with great and well-considered comments that they generously share.

So now I would like to make two divergent observations, and if they are too great a stretch, please ignore them.

1) I'm sensing an increasing interest in the Averoigne cycle over the last few years. This interests me because it was the last coherent cycle of CAS work I encountered, and this was perhaps the last of the Ballentine series from the 60s/70s, that Carter edited. So this was after some of CAS's weaker works (Zothique and Hyperborea being the most unified and satisfying in terms of setting/social milieux ) and so I was led, lazy reader than I can be, to dismiss this cycle.

...and yet there was *something* in it that seemed to cause me to revisit it in my recollection.

I think that the geographic region now occupied by France roughly, after the dissolution of the Roman empire up until it was semi-unified, had an odd sort of sinister and dark taste to it. There were the Cathars--a sort of religious genocide--and folk beliefs in loups garous. The Averoigne cycle seems to me to be intrinsically connected to this artistic font of inspiration.

2) I'm a "high school French" kinda guy, and even for me the spellings represent something abnormal--not randomly abnormal, but plausibly derived from a different dialect than the modern French I learned and its linguistic rules.

Again, this may be too divergent, but I thank you for your thoughtful additions to this forum.

"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: Mazza (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 02:33AM
Those are really excellent and helpful contributions zimriel, thank you! If we assume Averoigne corresponds to the "historic political greater Auvergne" (and thus includes Berry and Auvergne), it is very reasonable for Ximes and other "southern" locations of Averoigne to correspond to locations in Auvergne, and this is certainly appealing because it allows us to "reconcile" the two potential locations very reasonably, and the arguments linking Averoigne to Auvergne given in the Rahman essay are at least as compelling as the argument Vyones should be placed in Berry because of how it is described.

Re: Averoigne Location
Posted by: olegrand (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 04:21AM
May I mention a few extra elements as "food for thought" ?

- Auvergne is not the only French / Occitanian regional name bearing a resemblance to "Averoigne"; there is also a French département called "Aveyron" (after a river of the same name), located in the current region of Occitanie - but not, it should be noted, within the region of Auvergne (although it shares a border with it - i.e. the northern border of Aveyron = the southern border of Auvergne. For those unfamiliar with French territorial entities, a "département" is an administrative division within a greater "region". During the Middle Ages (before départements were invented), the current département of Aveyron would have simply been a part of the Comté de Toulouse - a langue d'oc / occitan-speaking entity. Although Averoigne is obviously a "langue d'oil / french-speaking" land, one cannot miss the fact that its name does sound like a mix of "Auvergne" and "Aveyron". It should be noted, however, that the two names seem to have different etymologies... and no connection with "Avernus" (the place linked to the Underworld in Roman mythology) - not to be confused with Arvernus, the tribal god of the Arverni.

- Auvergne derives its name from the Gaulish tribe of the Arvernes (as opposed to the fictional "Averones"). Their territory was roughly equivalent to the following present-day départements of Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme, with some bits of Haute-Loire and Allier - all located within the region of Auvergne.

- The fact that Auvergnat (the regional language / dialect of Auvergne) originally was an Occitan dialect is far from being a perfectly-established fact. While this theory is popular with most proponents of the Occitan culture / language / renaissance ("régionalistes", as we call them in France), some linguistic experts argue that Auvergnat could well have been an original, autonomous Romance language, i.e. neither clearly "langue d'oil" nor "langue d'oc" but another, different branch from the same linguistic tree.

- As a minor aside, the name "Ximes" has always struck me as a linguistic wink at the city of "Nimes"... also located in Occitanian lands.

Personally, I see Averoigne as "a French region that never was", a collage of different (and sometimes conflicting) literary, historical and linguistic sources, full of references which were obviously dear to CAS (like the name of the poet "Gérard de l'Automne", which seems reminiscent of both Gérard de Nerval (19th century French Poet) and "Gaspard de la Nuit" (a posthumous book of prose poems written by the enigmatic Aloysius Bertrand in the 19th century, with many written tableaux of medieval urban life, partly inspired by the city of Dijon, which was once the capital of the powerful Duché de Bourgogne) but were never meant to form a self-consistent whole.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 14 Nov 19 | 04:28AM by olegrand.

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