"Priests and clerks.. dance in the choir dressed as women.. they sing wanton songs. They eat black pudding at the altar itself, while the celebrant is saying Mass. They play dice on the altar. They cense with stinking smoke from the soles of old shoes. They run and leap throughout the church, without a blush of their own shame. Finally they drive about the town and its theatres in shabby carriages and carts, and rouse the laughter of their fellows and the bystanders in infamous performances, with indecent gestures and with scurrilous and unchaste words."
The Goliards used sacred sources like texts from the Roman Catholic Mass and Latin hymns and warped them to secular and satirical purposes in their poems. The jargon of scholastic philosophy also frequently appears in their poems, either for satirical purposes, or because these concepts were familiar parts of the writers' working vocabulary. Their satires were almost uniformly directed against the church, attacking even the pope. The Goliard were a protest movement and marked a distinct step in the growing criticism of Church abuses from within its own ranks.
The Goliards faced retribution from the Church. In 1227, the Council of Treves forbade them from taking part in the chanting service. In 1229, Goliards played a part in disturbances at the University of Paris in connection with intrigues of the papal legate. They were the subject of numerous Church councils, notably in 1289, where it was ordered "no clerks shall be jongleurs, goliards or buffons," and in 1300 at Cologne, when they were forbidden to preach or engage in the indulgence traffic. Often the "privileges of clergy" were withdrawn entirely from the Goliards.
Much of the Carmina Burana collection of Latin poetry belongs to this school. One Goliardic author, otherwise anonymous, has been given the name of the Archpoet. Other Goliards whose names are known include Peter of Blois and Walter of Châtillon.
The word "goliard" outlived the original meaning and passed over into the French and English literature of the 14th Century, generally meaning jongleur or wandering minstrel, no longer related to its original clerical association. It is thus used in Piers Plowman and by Chaucer.
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