The Troubadours
H.J. Chaytor

Part 1 out of 2

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at the University Press

_With the exception of the coat of arms at
the foot, the design on the title page is a
reproduction of one used by the earliest known
Cambridge printer, John Siberch, 1521_


This book, it is hoped, may serve as an introduction to the literature
of the Troubadours for readers who have no detailed or scientific
knowledge of the subject. I have, therefore, chosen for treatment the
Troubadours who are most famous or who display characteristics useful
for the purpose of this book. Students who desire to pursue the subject
will find further help in the works mentioned in the bibliography. The
latter does not profess to be exhaustive, but I hope nothing of real
importance has been omitted.


PLYMOUTH, March 1912.















[Transcriptor's note: Page numbers from the original document have
been posted in the right margin to maintain the relevance of the
index references.}




Few literatures have exerted so profound an influence upon the literary
history of other peoples as the poetry of the troubadours. Attaining the
highest point of technical perfection in the last half of the twelfth
and the early years of the thirteenth century, Provencal poetry was
already popular in Italy and Spain when the Albigeois crusade devastated
the south of France and scattered the troubadours abroad or forced them
to seek other means of livelihood. The earliest lyric poetry of Italy is
Provencal in all but language; almost as much may be said of Portugal
and Galicia; Catalonian troubadours continued to write in Provencal
until the fourteenth century. The lyric poetry of the "trouveres" in
Northern France was deeply influenced both in form and spirit by
troubadour poetry, and traces of this influence are perceptible even in [2]
early middle-English lyrics. Finally, the German minnesingers knew and
appreciated troubadour lyrics, and imitations or even translations of
Provencal poems may be found in Heinrich von Morungen, Friedrich von
Hausen, and many others. Hence the poetry of the troubadours is a
subject of first-rate importance to the student of comparative

The northern limit of the Provencal language formed a line starting from
the Pointe de Grave at the mouth of the Gironde, passing through
Lesparre, Bordeaux, Libourne, Perigueux, rising northward to Nontron, la
Rochefoucauld, Confolens, Bellac, then turning eastward to Gueret and
Montlucon; it then went south-east to Clermont-Ferrand, Boen, Saint
Georges, Saint Sauveur near Annonay. The Dauphine above Grenoble, most
of the Franche-Comte, French Switzerland and Savoy, are regarded as a
separate linguistic group known as Franco-Provencal, for the reason that
the dialects of that district display characteristics common to both
French and Provencal.[1] On the south-west, Catalonia, Valencia and the
Balearic Isles must also be included in the Provencal region. As
concerns the Northern limit, it must not be regarded as a definite line
of demarcation between the langue d'oil or the Northern French dialects
and the langue d'oc or Provencal. The boundary is, of course, determined
by noting the points at which certain linguistic features peculiar to
Provencal cease and are replaced by the characteristics of Northern [3]
French. Such a characteristic, for instance, is the Latin tonic _a_
before a single consonant, and not preceded by a palatal consonant,
which remains in Provencal but becomes _e_ in French; Latin cant_a_re
becomes chant_a_r in Provencal but chant_e_r in French. But north and
south of the boundary thus determined there was, in the absence of any
great mountain range or definite geographical line of demarcation, an
indeterminate zone, in which one dialect probably shaded off by easy
gradations into the other.

Within the region thus described as Provencal, several separate dialects
existed, as at the present day. Apart from the Franco-Provencal on the
north-east, which we have excluded, there was Gascon in the south-west
and the modern _departements_ of the Basses and Hautes Pyrenees;
Catalonian, the dialect of Roussillon, which was brought into Spain in
the seventh century and still survives in Catalonia, Valencia and the
Balearic Islands. The rest of the country may be subdivided by a line to
the north of which _c_ before _a_ becomes _ch_ as in French, cant_a_re
producing chant_a_r, while southwards we find _c(k)_ remaining. The
Southern dialects are those of Languedoc and Provence; north of the line
were the Limousin and Auvergne dialects. At the present day these
dialects have diverged very widely. In the early middle ages the
difference between them was by no means so great. Moreover, a literary [4]
language grew up by degrees, owing to the wide circulation of poems and
the necessity of using a dialect which could be universally
intelligible. It was the Limousin dialect which became, so to speak, the
backbone of this literary language, now generally known as Provencal,
just as the Tuscan became predominant for literary purposes among the
Italian dialects. It was in Limousin that the earliest troubadour lyrics
known to us were composed, and this district with the adjacent Poitou
and Saintonge may therefore be reasonably regarded as the birthplace of
Provencal lyric poetry.

Hence the term "Provencal" is not entirely appropriate to describe the
literary language of the troubadours, as it may also be restricted to
denote the dialects spoken in the "Provincia". This difficulty was felt
at an early date. The first troubadours spoke of their language as
_roman_ or _lingua romana,_ a term equally applicable to any other
romance language. _Lemosin_ was also used, which was too restricted a
term, and was also appropriated by the Catalonians to denote their own
dialect. A third term in use was the _lingua d'oc,_ which has the
authority of Dante [2] and was used by some of the later troubadours;
however, the term "Provencal" has been generally accepted, and must
henceforward be understood to denote the literary language common to the [5]
south of France and not the dialect of Provence properly so-called.

For obvious reasons Southern France during the early middle ages had far
outstripped the Northern provinces in art, learning, and the refinements
of civilisation. Roman culture had made its way into Southern Gaul at an
early date and had been readily accepted by the inhabitants, while
Marseilles and Narbonne had also known something of Greek civilisation.
Bordeaux, Toulouse, Arles, Lyons and other towns were flourishing and
brilliant centres of civilisation at a time when Northern France was
struggling with foreign invaders. It was in Southern Gaul, again, that
Christianity first obtained a footing; here the barbarian invasions of
the fifth and sixth centuries proved less destructive to civilisation
than in Northern France, and the Visigoths seem to have been more
amenable to the influences of culture than the Northern Franks. Thus the
towns of Southern Gaul apparently remained centres in which artistic and
literary traditions were preserved more or less successfully until the
revival of classical studies during the age of Charlemagne. The climate,
again, of Southern France is milder and warmer than that of the North,
and these influences produced a difference which may almost be termed
racial. It is a difference visible even to-day and is well expressed by [6]
the chronicler Raoul de Caen, who speaks of the Provencal Crusaders,
saying that the French were prouder in bearing and more war-like in
action than the Provencals, who especially contrasted with them by their
skill in procuring food in times of famine: "inde est, quod adhuc
puerorum decantat naenia, Franci ad bella, Provinciales ad victualia".[3]
Only a century and a half later than Charlemagne appeared the first
poetical productions in Provencal which are known to us, a fragment of a
commentary upon the De Consolatione of Boethius[4] and a poem upon St
Foy of Agen. The first troubadour, William, Count of Poitiers, belongs
to the close of the eleventh century.

Though the Count of Poitiers is the first troubadour known to us, the
relatively high excellence of his technique, as regards stanza
construction and rime, and the capacity of his language for expressing
lofty and refined ideas in poetical form (in spite of his occasional
lapses into coarseness), entirely preclude the supposition that he was
the first troubadour in point of time. The artistic conventions apparent
in his poetry and his obviously careful respect for fixed rules oblige
us to regard his poetry as the outcome of a considerable stage of
previous development. At what point this development began and what
influences stimulated its progress are questions which still remain in [7]
dispute. Three theories have been proposed. It is, in the first place,
obviously tempting to explain the origin of Provencal poetry as being a
continuation of Latin poetry in its decadence. When the Romans settled
in Gaul they brought with them their amusements as well as their laws
and institutions. Their _scurrae_, _thymelici_ and _joculatores_, the
tumblers, clowns and mountebanks, who amused the common people by day
and the nobles after their banquets by night and travelled from town to
town in pursuit of their livelihood, were accustomed to accompany their
performances by some sort of rude song and music. In the uncivilised
North they remained buffoons; but in the South, where the greater
refinement of life demanded more artistic performance, the musical part
of their entertainment became predominant and the _joculator_ became the
_joglar_ (Northern French, _jongleur_), a wandering musician and
eventually a troubadour, a composer of his own poems. These latter were
no longer the gross and coarse songs of the earlier mountebank age,
which Alcuin characterised as _turpissima_ and _vanissima_, but the
grave and artificially wrought stanzas of the troubadour _chanso_.

Secondly, it has been felt that some explanation is required to account
for the extreme complexity and artificiality of troubadour poetry in its
most highly developed stage. Some nine hundred different forms of stanza [8]
construction are to be found in the body of troubadour poetry,[5] and
few, if any schools of lyric poetry in the world, can show a higher
degree of technical perfection in point of metrical diversity, complex
stanza construction and accuracy in the use of rime. This result has
been ascribed to Arabic influence during the eighth century; but no
sufficient proof has ever been produced that the complexities of Arabic
and Provencal poetry have sufficient in common to make this hypothesis
anything more than an ingenious conjecture.

One important fact stands in contradiction to these theories. All
indications go to prove that the origin of troubadour poetry can be
definitely localised in a particular part of Southern France. We have
seen that the Limousin dialect became the basis of the literary
language, and that the first troubadour known to us belonged to Poitou.
It is also apparent that in the Poitou district, upon the border line of
the French and Provencal languages, popular songs existed and were
current among the country people; these were songs in honour of spring,
pastorals or dialogues between a knight and a shepherdess (our "Where
are you going, my pretty maid?" is of the same type), _albas_ or dawn
songs which represent a friend as watching near the meeting-place of a
lover and his lady and giving him due warning of the approach of dawn or [9]
of any other danger; there are also _ballatas_ or dance songs of an
obviously popular type.[6] Whatever influence may have been exercised by
the Latin poetry of the decadence or by Arab poetry, it is in these
popular and native productions that we must look for the origins of the
troubadour lyrics. This popular poetry with its simple themes and homely
treatment of them is to be found in many countries, and diversity of
race is often no bar to strange coincidence in the matter of this
poetry. It is thus useless to attempt to fix any date for the beginnings
of troubadour poetry; its primitive form doubtless existed as soon as
the language was sufficiently advanced to become a medium of poetical

Some of these popular themes were retained by the troubadours, the
_alba_ and _pastorela_ for instance, and were often treated by them in a
direct and simple manner. The Gascon troubadour Cercamon is said to have
composed pastorals in "the old style." But in general, between
troubadour poetry and the popular poetry of folk-lore, a great gulf is
fixed, the gulf of artificiality. The very name "troubadour" points to
this characteristic. _Trobador_ is the oblique case of the nominative
_trobaire_, a substantive from the verb _trobar_, in modern French
_trouver_. The Northern French _trouvere_ is a nominative form, and
_trouveor_ should more properly correspond with _trobador_. The
accusative form, which should have persisted, was superseded by the [10]
nominative _trouvere_, which grammarians brought into fashion at the end
of the eighteenth century. The verb _trobar_ is said to be derived from
the low Latin _tropus_ [Greek: tropus], an air or melody: hence the
primitive meaning of _trobador_ is the "composer" or "inventor," in the
first instance, of new melodies. As such, he differs from the _vates_,
the inspired bard of the Romans and the [Greek: poeta], poeta, the
creative poet of the Greeks, the "maker" of Germanic literature. Skilful
variation upon a given theme, rather than inspired or creative power, is
generally characteristic of the troubadour.

Thus, whatever may have been the origin of troubadour poetry, it appears
at the outset of the twelfth century as a poetry essentially
aristocratic, intended for nobles and for courts, appealing but rarely
to the middle classes and to the common people not at all. The
environment which enabled this poetry to exist was provided by the
feudal society of Southern France. Kings, princes and nobles themselves
pursued the art and also became the patrons of troubadours who had risen
from the lower classes. Occasionally troubadours existed with sufficient
resources of their own to remain independent; Folquet of Marseilles
seems to have been a merchant of wealth, above the necessity of seeking
patronage. But troubadours such as Bernart de Ventadour, the son of the [11]
stoker in the castle of Ventadour, Perdigon the son of a fisherman, and
many others of like origin depended for their livelihood and advancement
upon the favour of patrons. Thus the troubadour ranks included all sorts
and conditions of men; monks and churchmen were to be found among them,
such as the monk of Montaudon and Peire Cardenal, though the Church
looked somewhat askance upon the profession. Women are also numbered
among the troubadours; Beatrice, the Countess of Die, is the most famous
of these.

A famous troubadour usually circulated his poems by the mouth of a
_joglar_ (Northern French, _jongleur_), who recited them at different
courts and was often sent long distances by his master for this purpose.
A joglar of originality might rise to the position of a troubadour, and
a troubadour who fell upon evil days might sink to the profession of
joglar. Hence there was naturally some confusion between the troubadour
and the joglar, and poets sometimes combined the two functions. In
course of time the joglar was regarded with some contempt, and like his
forbear, the Roman joculator, was classed with the jugglers, acrobats,
animal tamers and clowns who amused the nobles after their feasts. Nor,
under certain conditions, was the troubadour's position one of dignity; [12]
when he was dependent upon his patron's bounty, he would stoop to
threats or to adulation in order to obtain the horse or the garments or
the money of his desire; such largesse, in fact, came to be denoted by a
special term, _messio_. Jealousy between rival troubadours, accusations
of slander in their poems and quarrels with their patrons were of
constant occurrence. These naturally affected the joglars in their
service, who received a share of any gifts that the troubadour might

The troubadours who were established more or less permanently as court
poets under a patron lord were few; a wandering life and a desire for
change of scene is characteristic of the class. They travelled far and
wide, not only to France, Spain and Italy, but to the Balkan peninsula,
Hungary, Cyprus, Malta and England; Elias Cairel is said to have visited
most of the then known world, and the biographer of Albertet Calha
relates, as an unusual fact, that this troubadour never left his native
district. Not only love, but all social and political questions of the
age attracted their attention. They satirised political and religious
opponents, preached crusades, sang funeral laments upon the death of
famous patrons, and the support of their poetical powers was often in
demand by princes and nobles involved in a struggle. Noteworthy also is
the fact that a considerable number retired to some monastery or [13]
religious house to end their days (_se rendet_, was the technical
phrase). So Bertran of Born, Bernart of Ventadour, Peire Rogier, Cadenet
and many others retired from the disappointments of the world to end
their days in peace; Folquet of Marseilles, who similarly entered the
Cistercian order, became abbot of his monastery of Torondet, Bishop of
Toulouse, a leader of the Albigeois crusade and a founder of the



Troubador poetry dealt with war, politics, personal satire and other
subjects: but the theme which is predominant and in which real
originality was shown, is love. The troubadours were the first lyric
poets in mediaeval Europe to deal exhaustively with this subject, and as
their attitude was imitated with certain modifications by French,
Italian, Portuguese and German poets, the nature of its treatment is a
matter of considerable importance.

Of the many ladies whose praises were sung or whose favours were desired
by troubadours, the majority were married. Troubadours who made their
songs to a maiden, as did Gui d'Ussel or Gausbert de Puegsibot, are
quite exceptional. Love in troubadour poetry was essentially a
conventional relationship, and marriage was not its object. This
conventional character was derived from the fact that troubadour love
was constituted upon the analogy of feudal relationship. If chivalry was
the outcome of the Germanic theory of knighthood as modified by the
influence of Christianity, it may be said that troubadour love is the [15]
outcome of the same theory under the influence of mariolatry. In the
eleventh century the worship of the Virgin Mary became widely popular;
the reverence bestowed upon the Virgin was extended to the female sex in
general, and as a vassal owed obedience to his feudal overlord, so did
he owe service and devotion to his lady. Moreover, under the feudal
system, the lady might often be called upon to represent her husband's
suzerainty to his vassals, when she was left in charge of affairs during
his absence in time of war. Unmarried women were inconspicuous figures
in the society of the age.

Thus there was a service of love as there was a service of vassalage,
and the lover stood to his lady in a position analogous to that of the
vassal to his overlord. He attained this position only by stages; "there
are four stages in love: the first is that of aspirant (_fegnedor_), the
second that of suppliant (_precador_), the third that of recognised
suitor (_entendedor_) and the fourth that of accepted lover (_drut_)."
The lover was formally installed as such by the lady, took an oath of
fidelity to her and received a kiss to seal it, a ring or some other
personal possession. For practical purposes the contract merely implied
that the lady was prepared to receive the troubadour's homage in poetry
and to be the subject of his song. As secrecy was a duty incumbent upon [16]
the troubadour, he usually referred to the lady by a pseudonym
(_senhal_); naturally, the lady's reputation was increased if her
attraction for a famous troubadour was known, and the _senhal_ was no
doubt an open secret at times. How far or how often the bounds of his
formal and conventional relationship were transgressed is impossible to
say; "en somme, assez immoral" is the judgment of Gaston Paris upon the
society of the age, and is confirmed by expressions of desire occurring
from time to time in various troubadours, which cannot be interpreted as
the outcome of a merely conventional or "platonic" devotion. In the
troubadour biographies the substratum of historical truth is so overlaid
by fiction, that little reliable evidence upon the point can be drawn
from this source.

However, transgression was probably exceptional. The idea of troubadour
love was intellectual rather than emotional; love was an art,
restricted, like poetry, by formal rules; the terms "love" and "poetry"
were identified, and the fourteenth century treatise which summarises
the principles of grammar and metre bore the title _Leys d'Amors_, the
Laws of Love. The pathology of the emotion was studied; it was treated
from a psychological standpoint and a technical vocabulary came into
use, for which it is often impossible to find English equivalents. The
first effect of love is to produce a mental exaltation, a desire to live [17]
a life worthy of the beloved lady and redounding to her praise, an
inspiring stimulus known as _joi_ or _joi d'amor_ (_amor_ in Provencal
is usually feminine).[7] Other virtues are produced by the influence of
this affection: the lover must have _valor_, that is, he must be worthy
of his lady; this worth implies the possession of _cortesia_, pleasure
in the pleasure of another and the desire to please; this quality is
acquired by the observance of _mesura_, wisdom and self-restraint in
word and deed.

The poetry which expresses such a state of mind is usually idealised and
pictures the relationship rather as it might have been than as it was.
The troubadour who knew his business would begin with praises of his
beloved; she is physically and morally perfect, her beauty illuminates
the night, her presence heals the sick, cheers the sad, makes the boor
courteous and so forth. For her the singer's love and devotion is
infinite: separation from her would be worse than death; her death would
leave the world cheerless, and to her he owes any thoughts of good or
beauty that he may have. It is only because he loves her that he can
sing. Hence he would rather suffer any pain or punishment at her hands
than receive the highest favours from another. The effects of this love
are obvious in his person. His voice quavers with supreme delight or [18]
breaks in dark despair; he sighs and weeps and wakes at night to think
of the one subject of contemplation. Waves of heat and cold pass over
him, and even when he prays, her image is before his eyes. This passion
has transformed his nature: he is a better and stronger man than ever
before, ready to forgive his enemies and to undergo any physical
privations; winter is to him as the cheerful spring, ice and snow as
soft lawns and flowery meads. Yet, if unrequited, his passion may
destroy him; he loses his self-control, does not hear when he is
addressed, cannot eat or sleep, grows thin and feeble, and is sinking
slowly to an early tomb. Even so, he does not regret his love, though it
lead to suffering and death; his passion grows ever stronger, for it is
ever supported by hope. But if his hopes are realised, he will owe
everything to the gracious favour of his lady, for his own merits can
avail nothing. Sometimes he is not prepared for such complete
self-renunciation; he reproaches his lady for her coldness, complains
that she has led him on by a show of kindness, has deceived him and will
be the cause of his death; or his patience is at an end, he will live in
spite of her and try his fortune elsewhere.[8]

Such, in very general terms, is the course that might be followed in
developing a well-worn theme, on which many variations are possible. The [19]
most common form of introduction is a reference to the spring or winter,
and to the influence of the seasons upon the poet's frame of mind or the
desire of the lady or of his patron for a song. In song the poet seeks
consolation for his miseries or hopes to increase the renown of his
lady. As will be seen in the following chapter, manner was even more
important than matter in troubadour lyrics, and commonplaces were
revivified by intricate rime-schemes and stanza construction accompanied
by new melodies. The conventional nature of the whole business may be
partly attested by the fact that no undoubted instance of death or
suicide for love has been handed down to us.

Reference should here be made to a legendary institution which seems to
have gripped the imagination of almost every tourist who writes a book
of travels in Southern France, the so-called _Courts of Love_.[9] In
modern times the famous Provencal scholar, Raynouard, attempted to
demonstrate the existence of these institutions, relying upon the
evidence of the _Art d'Aimer_ by Andre le Chapelain, a work written in
the thirteenth century and upon the statements of Nostradamus (_Vies des
plus celebres et anciens poetes provencaux_, Lyons 1575). The latter
writer, the younger brother of the famous prophet, was obviously well
acquainted with Provencal literature and had access to sources of [20]
information which are now lost to us. But instead of attempting to write
history, he embellished the lives of the troubadours by drawing upon his
own extremely fertile imagination when the actual facts seemed too dull
or prosaic to arouse interest. He professed to have derived his
information from a manuscript left by a learned monk, the _Moine des
Iles d'Or_, of the monastery of St Honorat in the Ile de Lerins. The
late M. Camille Chabaneau has shown that the story is a pure fiction,
and that the monk's pretended name was an anagram upon the name of a
friend of Nostradamus.[10] Hence it is almost impossible to separate the
truth from the fiction in this book and any statements made by
Nostradamus must be received with the utmost caution. Andre le Chapelain
seems to have had no intention to deceive, but his knowledge of
Provencal society was entirely second-hand, and his statements
concerning the Courts of Love are no more worthy of credence than those
of Nostradamus. According to these two unreliable authorities, courts
for the decision of lovers' perplexities existed in Gascony, Provence,
Avignon and elsewhere; the seat of justice was held by some famous lady,
and the courts decided such questions as whether a lover could love two
ladies at the same time, whether lovers or married couples were the more
affectionate, whether love was compatible with avarice, and the like. [21]

A special poetical form which was popular among the troubadours may have
given rise to the legend. This was the _tenso_,[11] in which one
troubadour propounded a problem of love in an opening stanza and his
opponent or interlocutor gave his view in a second stanza, which
preserved the metre and rime-scheme of the first. The propounder then
replied, and if, as generally, neither would give way, a proposal was
made to send the problem to a troubadour-patron or to a lady for
settlement, a proposal which came to be a regular formula for concluding
the contest. Raynouard quotes the conclusion of a _tenso_ given by
Nostradamus in which one of the interlocutors says, "I shall overcome
you if the court is loyal: I will send the _tenso_ to Pierrefeu, where
the fair lady holds her court of instruction." The "court" here in
question was a social and not a judicial court. Had any such institution
as a judicial "court of love" ever been an integral part of Provencal
custom, it is scarcely conceivable that we should be informed of its
existence only by a few vague and scattered allusions in the large body
of Provencal literature. For these reasons the theory that such an
institution existed has been generally rejected by all scholars of



Provencal literature contains examples of almost every poetical _genre_.
Epic poetry is represented by Girart of Roussillon,[12] a story of long
struggles between Charles Martel and one of his barons, by the Roman de
Jaufre, the adventures of a knight of the Round Table, by Flamenca, a
love story which provides an admirable picture of the manners and
customs of the time, and by other fragments and _novelas_ or shorter
stories in the same style. Didactic poetry includes historical works
such as the poem of the Albigeois crusade, ethical or moralising
_ensenhamens_ and religious poetry. But the dominating element in
Provencal literature is lyrical, and during the short classical age of
this literature lyric poetry was supreme. Nearly five hundred different
troubadours are known to us at least by name and almost a thousand
different stanza forms have been enumerated. While examples of the fine
careless rapture of inspiration are by no means wanting, artificiality
reigns supreme in the majority of cases. Questions of technique receive
the most sedulous attention, and the principles of stanza construction,
rime correspondence and rime distribution, as evolved by the [23]
troubadours, exerted so wide an influence upon other European literature
that they deserve a chapter to themselves.

There was no formal school for poetical training during the best period
of Provencal lyric. When, for instance, Giraut de Bornelli is said to
have gone to "school" during the winter seasons, nothing more is meant
than the pursuit of the trivium and quadrivium, the seven arts, which
formed the usual subjects of instruction. A troubadour learned the
principles of his art from other poets who were well acquainted with the
conventions that had been formulated in course of time, conventions
which were collected and systematised in such treatises as the Leys
d'Amors during the period of the decadence.

The love song or _chanso_ was composed of five, six or seven stanzas
(_coblas_) with, one or two _tornadas_ or _envois_. The stanza varied in
length from two to forty-two lines, though these limits are, of course,
exceptional. An earlier form of the _chanso_ was known as the _vers_; it
seems to have been in closer relation to the popular poetry than the
more artificial _chanso_, and to have had shorter stanzas and lines; but
the distinction is not clear. As all poems were intended to be sung, the
poet was also a composer; the biography of Jaufre Rudel, for instance,
says that this troubadour "made many poems with good tunes but poor [24]
words." The tune known as _son_ (diminutive sonnet) was as much the
property of a troubadour as his poem, for it implied and would only suit
a special form of stanza; hence if another poet borrowed it,
acknowledgment was generally made. Dante, in his _De Vulgari
Eloquentia_, informs us concerning the structure of this musical
setting: it might be continuous without repetition or division; or it
might be in two parts, one repeating the other, in which case the stanza
was also divided into two parts, the division being termed by Dante the
_diesis_ or _volta_; of these two parts one might be subdivided into two
or even more parts, which parts, in the stanza, corresponded both in
rimes and in the arrangement of the lines. If the first part of the
stanza was thus divisible, the parts were called _pedes_, and the
musical theme or _oda_ of the first _pes_ was repeated for the second;
the rest of the stanza was known as the _syrma_ or _coda_, and had a
musical theme of its own. Again the first part of the stanza might be
indivisible, when it was called the _frons_, the divided parts of the
second half being the _versus_; in this case the _frons_ had its own
musical theme, as did the first _versus_, the theme of the first
_versus_ being repeated for the second. Or, lastly, a stanza might [25]
consist of _pedes_ and _versus_, one theme being used for the first
_pes_ and repeated for the second and similarly with the _versus_.
Thus the general principle upon which the stanza was constructed was that of
tripartition in the following three forms:--


1st line }
2nd " } Pes
3rd " etc. }

1st line }
2nd " } Pes
3rd " etc. }
Diesis or Volta

1st line } Syrma
2nd " } or Coda
3rd " etc. }


1st line }
2nd " } Frons
3rd " etc. }
Diesis or Volta

1st line }
2nd " } Versus
3rd " etc. }

1st line }
2nd. " } Versus
3rd " etc. }


1st line }
2nd " } Pes
3rd " etc. }

1st line }
2nd " } Pes
3rd " etc. }
Diesis or Volta

1st line }
2nd " } Versus
3rd " etc. }

1st line }
2nd. " } Versus
3rd " etc. }

These forms were rather typical than stringently binding as Dante
himself notes (_De Vulg. El._, ii, 11); many variations were [26]
possible. The first seems to have been the most popular type. The poem might also
conclude with a half stanza or _tornada_, (French _envoi_). Here, as in
the last couplet of the Arabic _gazul_, were placed the personal
allusions, and when these were unintelligible to the audience the
_joglar_ usually explained the poem before singing it; the explanations,
which in some cases remain prefixed to the poem, were known as the

Troubadour poems were composed for singing, not for recitation, and the
music of a poem was an element of no less importance than the words.
Troubadours are described as composing "good" tunes and "poor" words, or
vice versa; the tune was a piece of literary property, and, as we have
said, if a troubadour borrowed a tune he was expected to acknowledge its
origin. Consequently music and words were regarded as forming a unity,
and the structure of the one should be a guide to the structure of the
other. Troubadour music is a subject still beset with difficulties[13]:
we possess 244 tunes written in Gregorian notation, and as in certain
cases the same poem appears in different MSS. with the tune in
substantial agreement in each one, we may reasonably assume that we have
an authentic record, as far as this could be expressed in Gregorian
notation. The chief difference between Troubadour and Gregorian music
lies in the fact that the former was syllabic in character; in other [27]
words, one note was not held over several syllables, though several
notes might be sung upon one syllable. The system of musical time in the
age of the troubadours was based upon the so-called "modes," rhythmical
formulae combining short and long notes in various sequences. Three of
these concern us here. The first mode consists of a long followed by a
short note, the long being equivalent to two short, or in 3/4 time
[Illustration: musical notation.]. The second mode is the reverse of
the first [Illustration: musical notation.]. The third mode in modern
6/8 time appears as [Illustration: musical notation.]. The principle of
sub-division is thus ternary; "common" time or 2/4 time is a later
modification. So much being admitted, the problem of transposing a tune
written in Gregorian notation without bars, time signature, marks of
expression or other modern devices is obviously a difficult matter. J.
Beck, who has written most recently upon the subject, formulates the
following rules; the musical accent falls upon the tonic syllables of
the words; should the accent fall upon an atonic syllable, the duration
of the note to which the tonic syllable is sung may be increased, to
avoid the apparent discordance between the musical accent and the tonic
syllable. The musical accent must fall upon the rime and the rhythm [28]
adopted at the outset will persist throughout the poem.

Hence a study of the words will give the key to the interpretation of
the tune. If, for instance, the poem shows accented followed by
unaccented syllables or trochees as the prevalent foot, the first "mode"
is indicated as providing the principle to be followed in transposing
the Gregorian to modern notation. When these conditions are reversed the
iambic foot will prevail and the melody will be in the second mode. It
is not possible here to treat this complicated question in full detail
for which reference must be made to the works of J. Beck. But it is
clear that the system above outlined is an improvement upon that
proposed by such earlier students of the subject as Riemann, who assumed
that each syllable was sung to a note or group of notes of equal time
value. There is no evidence that such a rhythm was ever employed in the
middle ages, and the fact that words and music were inseparable in
Provencal lyrics shows that to infer the nature of the musical rhythm
from the rhythm of the words is a perfectly legitimate method of

A further question arises: how far do the tunes correspond with the
structure of the stanza as given by Dante? In some cases both tune and
stanza correspond in symmetrical form; but in others we find stanzas [29]
which may be divided according to rule conjoined with tunes which
present no melodic repetition of any kind; similarly, tunes which may be
divided into pedes and coda are written upon stanzas which have no
relation to that form. On the whole, it seems that the number of tunes
known to us are too few, in comparison with the large body of lyric
poetry existing, to permit any generalisation upon the question. The
singer accompanied himself upon a stringed instrument (_viula_) or was
accompanied by other performers; various forms of wind instruments were
also in use. Apparently the accompaniment was in unison with the singer;
part writing or contrapuntal music was unknown at the troubadour period.

As has been said, the stanza (_cobla_) might vary in length. No poetical
literature has made more use of rime than Provencal lyric poetry. There
were three typical methods of rime disposition: firstly, the rimes might
all find their answer within the stanza, which was thus a self-contained
whole; secondly, the rimes might find their answer within the stanza and
be again repeated in the same order in all following stanzas; and
thirdly, the rimes might find no answer within the stanza, but be
repeated in following stanzas. In this case the rimes were known as
_dissolutas_, and the stanza as a _cobla estrampa_. This last
arrangement tended to make the poem a more organic whole than was
possible in the first two cases; in these, stanzas might be omitted
without necessarily impairing the general effect, but, when _coblas
estrampas_ were employed, the ear of the auditor, attentive for the [30]
answering rimes, would not be satisfied before the conclusion of the
second stanza. A further step towards the provision of closer unity
between the separate stanzas was the _chanso redonda_, which was
composed of _coblas estrampas_, the rime order of the second stanza
being an inversion of the rime order of the first; the tendency reaches
its highest point in the _sestina_, which retained the characteristic of
the _chanso redonda_, namely, that the last rime of one stanza should
correspond with the first rime of the following stanza, but with the
additional improvement that every rime started a stanza in turn,
whereas, in the _chanso redonda_ the same rime continually recurred at
the beginning of every other stanza.

Reference has already been made to the _chanso_. A poetical form of much
importance was the _sirventes_, which outwardly was indistinguishable
from the _chanso_. The meaning of the term is unknown; some say that it
originally implied a poem composed by "servants," poets in the service
of an overlord; others, that it was a poem composed to the tune of a [31]
_chanso_ which it thus imitated in a "servile" manner. From the _chanso_
the _sirventes_ is distinguished by its subject matter; it was the
vehicle for satire, moral reproof or political lampooning. The
troubadours were often keenly interested in the political events of
their time; they filled, to some extent, the place of the modern
journalist and were naturally the partisans of the overlord in whose
service or pay they happened to be. They were ready to foment a war, to
lampoon a stingy patron, to ridicule one another, to abuse the morality
of the age as circumstances might dictate. The crusade _sirventes_[14]
are important in this connection, and there were often eloquent
exhortations to the leaders of Christianity to come to the rescue of
Palestine and the Holy Sepulchre. Under this heading also falls the
_planh_, a funeral song lamenting the death of a patron, and here again,
beneath the mask of conventionality, real emotion is often apparent, as
in the famous lament upon Richard Coeur de Lion composed by Gaucelm

Reference has been already made to the _tenso_, one of the most
characteristic of Provencal lyric forms. The name (Lat. _tentionem_)
implies a contention or strife, which was conducted in the form of a
dialogue and possibly owed its origin to the custom in early vogue among
many different peoples of holding poetical tournaments, in which one [32]
poet challenged another by uttering a poetical phrase to which the
opponent replied in similar metrical form. Such, at any rate, is the
form of the _tenso_; a poet propounds a theme in the first stanza and
his interlocutor replies in a stanza of identical metrical form; the
dispute usually continues for some half dozen stanzas. One class of
tenso was obviously fictitious, as the dialogue is carried on with
animals or even lifeless objects, such as a lady's cloak, and it is
possible that some at least of the discussions ostensibly conducted
between two poets may have emanated from the brain of one sole author.
Sometimes three or four interlocutors take part; the subject of
discussion was then known as a _joc partit_, a divided game, or
_partimen_, a title eventually transferred to the poem itself. The most
varied questions were discussed in the _tenso_, but casuistical problems
concerning love are the most frequent: Is the death or the treachery of
a loved one easier to bear? Is a lover's feeling for his lady stronger
before she has accepted him or afterwards? Is a bad noble or a poor but
upright man more worthy to find favour? The discussion of such questions
provided an opportunity of displaying both poetical dexterity and also
dialectical acumen. But rarely did either of the disputants declare
himself convinced or vanquished by his opponents' arguments the question [33]
was left undecided or was referred by agreement to an arbitrator.

A poetical form which preserves some trace of its popular origin is the
_pastorela_[15] or pastoral which takes its name from the fact that the
heroine of the piece was always a shepherdess. The conventional opening
is a description by a knight of his meeting with a shepherdess, "the
other day" (_l'autrier_, the word with which the poem usually begins). A
dialogue then follows between the knight and the shepherdess, in which
the former sues for her favours successfully or otherwise. The irony or
sarcasm which enables the shepherdess to hold her own in the encounter
is far removed from the simplicity of popular poetry. The _Leys d'Amors_
mentions other forms of the same genre such as _vaqueira_ (cowherd),
_auqueira_ (goose girl), of which a specimen of the first-named alone
has survived. Of equal interest is the _alba_ or dawn-song, in which the
word _alba_ reappeared as a refrain in each verse; the subject of the
poem is the parting of the lovers at the dawn, the approach of which is
announced by a watchman or by some faithful friend who has undertaken to
guard their meeting-place throughout the night. The counterpart of this
form, the _serena_, does not appear until late in the history of
Provencal lyric poetry; in the _serena_ the lover longs for the [34]
approach of evening, which is to unite him with his beloved.

Other forms of minor importance were the _comjat_ in which a troubadour
bids a lady a final farewell, and the _escondig_ or justification in
which the lover attempts to excuse his behaviour to a lady whose anger
he had aroused. The troubled state of his feelings might find expression
in the _descort_ (discord), in which each stanza showed a change of
metre and melody. The _descort_ of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras is written in
five dialects, one for each stanza, and the last and sixth stanza of the
poem gives two lines to each dialect, which Babel of strange sounds is
intended, he says, to show how entirely his lady's heart has changed
towards him. The _ballata_ and the _estampida_ were dance-songs, but
very few examples survive. Certain love letters also remain to us, but
as these are written in rimed couplets and in narrative style, they can
hardly be classified as lyric poetry.

In conclusion, a word must be said concerning the dispute between two
schools of stylists, which is one of the most interesting points in the
literary history of the troubadours.[16] From the earliest times we find
two poetical schools in opposition, the _trobar clus_ (also known as
_car, ric, oscur, sotil, cobert_), the obscure, or close, subtle style
of composition, and the _trobar clar (leu, leugier, plan), the clear,
light, easy, straightforward style. Two or three causes may have [35]
combined to favour the development of obscure writing. The theme of love
with which the _chanso_ dealt is a subject by no means inexhaustible;
there was a continual struggle to revivify the well-worn tale by means
of strange turns of expression, by the use of unusual adjectives and
forced metaphor, by the discovery of difficult rimes (_rimes cars_) and
stanza schemes of extraordinary complexity. Marcabrun asserts, possibly
in jest, that he could not always understand his own poems. A further
and possibly an earlier cause of obscurity in expression was the fact
that the _chanso_ was a love song addressed to a married lady; and
though in many cases it was the fact that the poem embodied compliments
purely conventional, however exaggerated to our ideas, yet the further
fact remains that the sentiments expressed might as easily be those of
veritable passion, and, in view of a husband's existence, obscurity had
a utility of its own. This point Guiraut de Bornelh advances as an
objection to the use of the easy style: "I should like to send my song
to my lady, if I should find a messenger; but if I made another my
spokesman, I fear she would blame me. For there is no sense in making
another speak out what one wishes to conceal and keep to oneself." The [36]
habit of alluding to the lady addressed under a _senhal_, or pseudonym,
in the course of the poem, is evidence for a need of privacy, though
this custom was also conventionalised, and we find men as well as women
alluded to under a _senhal_. It was not always the fact that the
_senhal_ was an open secret, although in many cases, where a high-born
dame desired to boast of the accomplished troubadour in her service, his
poems would naturally secure the widest publication which she could
procure. A further reason for complexity of composition is given by the
troubadour Peire d'Auvergne: "He is pleasing and agreeable to me who
proceeds to sing with words shut up and obscure, to which a man is
afraid to do violence." The "violence" apprehended is that of the
_joglar_, who might garble a song in the performance of it, if he had
not the memory or industry to learn it perfectly, and Peire d'Alvernhe
(1158-80) commends compositions so constructed that the disposition of
the rimes will prevent the interpolation of topical allusions or
careless altercation. The similar safeguard of Dante's _terza rima_ will
occur to every student.

The social conditions again under which troubadour poetry was produced,
apart from the limitations of its subject matter, tended to foster an
obscure and highly artificial diction. This obscurity was attained, as
we have said, by elevation and preciosity of style, and was not the
result of confusion of thought. Guiraut de Bornelh tells us his method [37]
in a passage worth quoting in the original--

Mas per melhs assire
mon chan,
vau cercan
bos motz en fre
que son tuit cargat e ple
d'us estranhs sens naturals;
mas no sabon tuich de cals.

"But for the better foundation of my song I keep on the watch for words
good on the rein (_i.e._ tractable like horses), which are all loaded
(like pack horses) and full of a meaning which is unusual, and yet is
wholly theirs (naturals); but it is not everyone that knows what that
meaning is".[17]

Difficulty was thus intentional; in the case of several troubadours it
affected the whole of their writing, no matter what the subject matter.
They desired not to be understood of the people. Dean Gaisford's reputed
address to his divinity lecture illustrates the attitude of those
troubadours who affected the _trobar clus_: "Gentlemen, a knowledge of
Greek will enable you to read the oracles of God in the original and to
look down from the heights of scholarship upon the vulgar herd." The
inevitable reaction occurred, and a movement in the opposite direction
was begun; of this movement the most distinguished supporter was the
troubadour, Guiraut de Bornelh. He had been one of the most successful [38]
exponents of the _trobar clus_, and afterwards supported the cause of
the _trobar clar_. Current arguments for either cause are set forth in
the _tenso_ between Guiraut de Bornelh and Linhaure (pseudonym for the
troubadour Raimbaut d'Aurenga).

(1) I should like to know, G. de Bornelh, why, and for what reason, you
keep blaming the obscure style. Tell me if you prize so highly that
which is common to all? For then would all be equal.

(2) Sir Linhaure, I do not take it to heart if each man composes as he
pleases; but judge that song is more loved and prized which is made easy
and simple, and do not be vexed at my opinion.

(3) Guiraut, I do not like my songs to be so confused, that the base and
good, the small and great be appraised alike; my poetry will never be
praised by fools, for they have no understanding nor care for what is
more precious and valuable.

(4) Linhaure, if I work late and turn my rest into weariness for that
reason (to make my songs simple), does it seem that I am afraid of work?
Why compose if you do not want all to understand? Song brings no other

(5) Guiraut, provided that I produce what is best at all times, I care
not if it be not so widespread; commonplaces are no good for the
appreciative--that is why gold is more valued than salt, and with song [39]
it is even the same.

It is obvious that the disputants are at cross purposes; the object of
writing poetry, according to the one, is to please a small circle of
highly trained admirers by the display of technical skill. Guiraut de
Bornelh, on the other hand, believes that the poet should have a message
for the people, and that even the fools should be able to understand its
purport. He adds the further statement that composition in the easy
style demands no less skill and power than is required for the
production of obscurity. This latter is a point upon which he repeatedly
insists: "The troubadour who makes his meaning clear is just as clever
as he who cunningly conjoins words." "My opinion is that it is not in
obscure but in clear composition that toil is involved." Later
troubadours of renown supported his arguments; Raimon de Miraval
(1168-1180) declares: "Never should obscure poetry be praised, for it is
composed only for a price, compared with sweet festal songs, easy to
learn, such as I sing." So, too, pronounces the Italian Lanfranc Cigala
(1241-1257): "I could easily compose an obscure, subtle poem if I
wished; but no poem should be so concealed beneath subtlety as not to be
clear as day. For knowledge is of small value if clearness does not
bring light; obscurity has ever been regarded as death, and brightness [40]
as life." The fact is thus sufficiently demonstrated that these two
styles existed in opposition, and that any one troubadour might practise

Enough has now been said to show that troubadour lyric poetry, regarded
as literature, would soon produce a surfeit, if read in bulk. It is
essentially a literature of artificiality and polish. Its importance
consists in the fact that it was the first literature to emphasise the
value of form in poetry, to formulate rules, and, in short, to show that
art must be based upon scientific knowledge. The work of the troubadours
in these respects left an indelible impression upon the general course
of European literature.



The earliest troubadour known to us is William IX, Count of Poitiers
(1071-1127) who led an army of thirty thousand men to the unfortunate
crusade of 1101. He lived an adventurous and often an unedifying life,
and seems to have been a jovial sensualist caring little what kind of
reputation he might obtain in the eyes of the world about him. William
of Malmesbury gives an account of him which is the reverse of
respectable. His poems, of which twelve survive, are, to some extent, a
reflection of this character, and present a mixture of coarseness and
delicate sentiment which are in strangely discordant contrast. His
versification is of an early type; the principle of tripartition, which
became predominant in troubadour poetry at a later date, is hardly
perceptible in his poems. The chief point of interest in them is the
fact that their comparative perfection of form implies a long anterior
course of development for troubadour poetry, while we also find him
employing, though in undeveloped form, the chief ideas which afterwards
became commonplaces among the troubadours. The half mystical exaltation
inspired by love is already known to William IX. as _joi_, and he is [42]
acquainted with the service of love under feudal conditions. The
conventional attitudes of the lady and the lover are also taken for
granted, the lady disdainful and unbending, the lover timid and relying
upon his patience. The lady is praised for her outward qualities, her
"kindly welcome, her gracious and pleasing look" and love for her is
considered to be the inspiration of nobility in the lover. But these
ideas are not carried to the extravagant lengths to which later poets
pushed them; William's sensual leanings are enough to counterbalance any
tendency to such exaggeration. The conventional opening of a love poem
by a description of spring is also in evidence; in short, the
commonplaces, the technical language and formulae of later Provencal
lyrics were in existence during the age of this first troubadour.

Next in point of time is the troubadour Cercamon, of whom we know very
little; his poems, as we have them, seem to fall between the years 1137
and 1152; one of them is a lament upon the death of William X. of
Aquitaine, the son of the notorious Count of Poitiers, and another
alludes to the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the daughter of William
X. According to the Provencal biography he was the instructor of a more
interesting and original troubadour Marcabrun, whose active life [43]
extended from 1150 to 1195. Many of his poems are extremely obscure; he
was one of the first to affect the _trobar clus_. He was also the author
of violent invectives against the passion of love--

Que anc non amet neguna
Ni d'autra no fon amatz--

"Who never loved any woman nor was loved of any." This aversion to the
main theme of troubadour poetry is Marcabrun's most striking

Amors es mout de mal avi;
Mil homes a mortz ses glavi;
Dieus non fetz tant fort gramavi.

"Love is of a detestable lineage; he has killed thousands of men without
a sword. God has created no more terrible enchanter." These invectives
may have been the outcome of personal disappointment; the theory has
also been advanced that the troubadour idea of love had not yet secured
universal recognition, and that Marcabrun is one who strove to prevent
it from becoming the dominant theme of lyric poetry. His best known poem
was the "Starling," which consists of two parts, an unusual form of
composition. In the first part the troubadour sends the starling to his
love to reproach her for unfaithfulness, and to recommend himself to her
favour; the bird returns, and in the second part offers excuses from the [44]
lady and brings an invitation from her to a meeting the next day.
Marcabrun knows the technical terms _cortesia_ and _mesura_, which he
defines: _mesura_, self-control or moderation, "consists in nicety of
speech, courtesy in loving. He may boast of courtesy who can maintain
moderation." The poem concludes with a dedication to Jaufre Rudel--

Lo vers e.l son vueill envier
A'n Jaufre Rudel outra mar.

"The words and the tune I wish to send to Jaufre Rudel beyond the sea."

This was the troubadour whom Petrarch has made famous--

Jaufre Rudel che uso la vela e'l remo
A cercar la sua morte.

His romantic story is as follows in the words of the Provencal
biography: "Jaufre Rudel of Blaya was a very noble man, the Prince of
Blaya; he fell in love with the Countess of Tripoli, though he had never
seen her, for the good report that he had of her from the pilgrims who
came from Antioch, and he made many poems concerning her with good tunes
but poor words.[18] And from desire to see her, he took the cross and
went to sea. And in the ship great illness came upon him so that those
who were with him thought that he was dead in the ship; but they [45]
succeeded in bringing him to Tripoli, to an inn, as one dead. And it was
told to the countess, and she came to him, to his bed, and took him in
her arms; and he knew that she was the countess, and recovering his
senses, he praised God and gave thanks that his life had been sustained
until he had seen her; and then he died in the lady's arms. And she gave
him honourable burial in the house of the Temple, and then, on that day,
she took the veil for the grief that she had for him and for his death."
Jaufre's poems contain many references to a "distant love" which he will
never see, "for his destiny is to love without being loved." Those
critics who accept the truth of the story regard Melisanda, daughter of
Raimon I., Count of Tripoli, as the heroine; but the biography must be
used with great caution as a historical source, and the mention of the
house of the order of Templars in which Jaufre is said to have been
buried raises a difficulty; it was erected in 1118, and in the year 1200
the County of Tripoli was merged in that of Antioch; of the Rudels of
Blaya, historically known to us, there is none who falls reasonably
within these dates. The probability is that the constant references in
Jaufre's poems to an unknown distant love, and the fact of his crusading
expedition to the Holy Land, formed in conjunction the nucleus of the [46]
legend which grew round his name, and which is known to all readers of
Carducci, Uhland and Heine.

Contemporary with Jaufre Rudel was Bernard de Ventadour, one of the
greatest names in Provencal poetry. According to the biography, which
betrays its untrustworthiness by contradicting the facts of history,
Bernard was the son of the furnace stoker at the castle of Ventadour,
under the Viscount Ebles II., himself a troubadour and a patron of
troubadours. It was from the viscount that Bernard received instruction
in the troubadours' art, and to his patron's interest in his talents he
doubtless owed the opportunities which he enjoyed of learning to read
and write, and of making acquaintance with such Latin authors as were
currently read, or with the anthologies and books of "sentences" then
used for instruction in Latin. He soon outstripped his patron, to whose
wife, Agnes de Montlucon, his early poems were addressed. His relations
with the lady and with his patron were disturbed by the _lauzengiers_,
the slanderers, the envious, and the backbiters of whom troubadours
constantly complain, and he was obliged to leave Ventadour. He went to
the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the granddaughter of the first
troubadour, Guillaume IX. of Poitiers, who by tradition and temperament
was a patroness of troubadours, many of whom sang her praises. She had [47]
been divorced from Louis VII. of France in 1152, and married Henry, Duke
of Normandy, afterwards King of England in the same year. There Bernard
may have remained until 1154, in which year Eleanor went to England as
Queen. Whether Bernard followed her to England is uncertain; the
personal allusions in his poems are generally scanty, and the details of
his life are correspondingly obscure. But one poem seems to indicate
that he may have crossed the Channel. He says that he has kept silence
for two years, but that the autumn season impels him to sing; in spite
of his love, his lady will not deign to reply to him: but his devotion
is unchanged and she may sell him or give him away if she pleases. She
does him wrong in failing to call him to her chamber that he may remove
her shoes humbly upon his knees, when she deigns to stretch forth her
foot. He then continues[19]

Faitz es lo vers totz a randa,
Si que motz no y descapduelha.
outra la terra normanda
part la fera mar prionda;
e si.m suy de midons lunhans.
ves si.m tira cum diamans,
la belha cui dieus defenda.
Si.l reys engles el dux normans
o vol, ieu la veirai, abans
que l'iverns nos sobreprenda.
"The _vers_ has been composed fully so that not a word is wanting,
beyond the Norman land and the deep wild sea; and though I am far from
my lady, she attracts me like a magnet, the fair one whom may God
protect. If the English king and Norman duke will, I shall see her
before the winter surprise us."

How long Bernard remained in Normandy, we cannot conjecture. He is said
to have gone to the court of Raimon V., Count of Toulouse, a well-known
patron of the troubadours. On Raimon's death in 1194, Bernard, who must
himself have been growing old, retired to the abbey of Dalon in his
native province of Limousin, where he died. He is perhaps more deeply
inspired by the true spirit of lyric poetry than any other troubadour;
he insists that love is the only source of song; poetry to be real, must
be lived.

Non es meravelha s'ieu chan
mielhs de nulh autre chantador;
que plus mi tra.l cors ves amor
e mielhs sui faitz a son coman.

"It is no wonder if I sing better than any other singer; for my heart
draws me more than others towards love, and I am better made for his
commandments." Hence Bernard gave fuller expression than any other
troubadour to the ennobling power of love, as the only source of real
worth and nobility.

The subject speedily became exhausted, and ingenuity did but increase [49]
the conventionality of its treatment. But in Bernard's hands it retains
its early freshness and sincerity. The description of the seasons of the
year as impelling the troubadour to song was, or became, an entirely
conventional and expected opening to a _chanso_; but in Bernard's case
these descriptions were marked by the observation and feeling of one who
had a real love for the country and for nature, and the contrast or
comparison between the season of the year and his own feelings is of
real lyrical value. The opening with the description of the lark is

Quant vey la lauzeta mover
De joi sas alas contral rai,
que s'oblida e.s laissa cazer
per la doussor qu'al cor li vai,
ai! tan grans enveia m'en ve
de cui qu'eu veya jauzion!
meravilhas ai, quar desse
lo cor de dezirier no.m fon.

"When I see the lark flutter with joy towards the sun, and forget
himself and sing for the sweetness that comes to his heart; alas, such
envy comes upon me of all that I see rejoicing, I wonder that my heart
does not melt forthwith with desire".[20]

At the same time Bernard's style is simple and clear, though he shows
full mastery of the complex stanza form; to call him the Wordsworth of
the troubadour world is to exaggerate a single point of coincidence; but
he remains the greatest of troubadour poets, as modern taste regards [50]

Arnaut de Mareuil (1170-1200 _circa_) displays many of the
characteristics which distinguished the poetry of Bernard of Ventadour;
there is the same simplicity of style and often no less reality of
feeling: conventionalism had not yet become typical. Arnaut was born in
Perigord of poor parents, and was brought up to the profession of a
scribe or notary. This profession he soon abandoned, and his "good
star," to quote the Provencal biography, led him to the court of
Adelaide, daughter of Raimon V. of Toulouse, who had married in 1171
Roger II., Viscount of Beziers. There he soon rose into high repute: at
first he is said to have denied his authorship of the songs which he
composed in honour of his mistress, but eventually he betrayed himself
and was recognised as a troubadour of high merit, and definitely
installed as the singer of Adelaide. The story is improbable, as the
troubadour's rewards naturally depended upon the favour of his patrons
to him personally; it is probably an instance of the manner in which the
biographies founded fictions upon a very meagre substratum of fact, the
fact in this instance being a passage in which Arnaut declares his
timidity in singing the praise of so great a beauty as Adelaide.

Mas grans paors m'o tol e grans temensa, [51]
Qu'ieu non aus dir, dona, qu'ieu chant de vos.

"But great fear and great apprehension comes upon me, so that I dare not
tell you, lady, that it is I who sing of you."

Arnaut seems to have introduced a new poetical _genre_ into Provencal
literature, the love-letter. He says that the difficulty of finding a
trustworthy messenger induced him to send a letter sealed with his own
ring; the letter is interesting for the description of feminine beauty
which it contains: "my heart, that is your constant companion, comes to
me as your messenger and portrays for me your noble, graceful form, your
fair light-brown hair, your brow whiter than the lily, your gay laughing
eyes, your straight well-formed nose, your fresh complexion, whiter and
redder than any flower, your little mouth, your fair teeth, whiter than
pure silver,... your fair white hands with the smooth and slender
fingers"; in short, a picture which shows that troubadour ideas of
beauty were much the same as those of any other age. Arnaut was
eventually obliged to leave Beziers, owing, it is said, to the rivalry
of Alfonso II. of Aragon, who may have come forward as a suitor for
Adelaide after Roger's death in 1194. The troubadour betook himself to
the court of William VIII., Count of Montpelier, where he probably spent
the rest of his life. The various allusions in his poems cannot always [52]
be identified, and his career is only known to us in vague outline.
Apart from the love-letter, he was, if not the initiator, one of the
earliest writers of the type of didactic poem known as _ensenhamen_, an
"instruction" containing observations upon the manners and customs of
his age, with precepts for the observance of morality and right conduct
such as should be practised by the ideal character. Arnaut, after a
lengthy and would-be learned introduction, explains that each of the
three estates, the knights, the clergy and the citizens, have their
special and appropriate virtues. The emphasis with which he describes
the good qualities of the citizen class, a compliment unusual in the
aristocratic poetry of the troubadours, may be taken as confirmation of
the statement concerning his own parentage which we find in his




We now reach a group of three troubadours whom Dante[21] selected as
typical of certain characteristics: "Bertran de Born sung of arms,
Arnaut Daniel of love, and Guiraut de Bornelh of uprightness, honour and
virtue." The last named, who was a contemporary (1175-1220 _circa_) and
compatriot of Arnaut de Marueil, is said in his biography to have
enjoyed so great a reputation that he was known as the "Master of the
Troubadours." This title is not awarded to him by any other troubadour;
the jealousy constantly prevailing between the troubadours is enough to
account for their silence on this point. But his reputation is fairly
attested by the number of his poems which have survived and by the
numerous MSS. in which they are preserved; when troubadours were studied
as classics in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Guiraut's poems
were so far in harmony with the moralising tendency of that age that his
posthumous reputation was certainly as great as any that he enjoyed in
his life-time.

Practically nothing is known of his life; allusions in his poems lead us [54]
to suppose that he spent some time in Spain at the courts of Navarre,
Castile and Aragon. The real interests of his work are literary and
ethical. To his share in the controversy concerning the _trobar clus_,
the obscure and difficult style of composition, we have already alluded.
Though in the _tenso_ with Linhaure, Guiraut expresses his preference
for the simple and intelligible style, it must be said that the majority
of his poems are far from attaining this ideal. Their obscurity,
however, is often due rather to the difficulty of the subject matter
than to any intentional attempt at preciosity of style. He was one of
the first troubadours who attempted to analyse the effects of love from
a psychological standpoint; his analysis often proceeds in the form of a
dialogue with himself, an attempt to show the hearer by what methods he
arrived at his conclusions. "How is it, in the name of God, that when I
wish to sing, I weep? Can the reason be that love has conquered me? And
does love bring me no delight? Yes, delight is mine. Then why am I sad
and melancholy? I cannot tell. I have lost my lady's favour and the
delight of love has no more sweetness for me. Had ever a lover such
misfortune? But am I a lover? No! Have I ceased to love passionately?
No! Am I then a lover? Yes, if my lady would suffer my love." Guiraut's [55]
moral _sirventes_ are reprobations of the decadence of his age. He saw a
gradual decline of the true spirit of chivalry. The great lords were
fonder of war and pillage than of poetry and courtly state. He had
himself suffered from the change, if his biographer is to be believed;
the Viscount of Limoges had plundered and burnt his house. He compares
the evils of his own day with the splendours of the past, and asks
whether the accident of birth is the real source of nobility; a man must
be judged by himself and his acts and not by the rank of his
forefathers; these were the sentiments that gained him a mention in the
Fourth Book of Dante's _Convivio_.[22]

The question why Dante should have preferred Arnaut Daniel to Guiraut de
Bornelh[23] has given rise to much discussion. The solution turns upon
Dante's conception of style, which is too large a problem for
consideration here. Dante preferred the difficult and artificial style
of Arnaut to the simple style of the opposition school; from Arnaut he
borrowed the sestina form; and at the end of the canto he puts the
well-known lines, "Ieu sui Arnaut, que plor e vau cantan," into the
troubadour's mouth. We know little of Arnaut's life; he was a noble of
Riberac in Perigord. The biography relates an incident in his life which
is said to have taken place at the court of Richard Coeur de Lion.

A certain troubadour had boasted before the king that he could compose a [56]
better poem than Arnaut. The latter accepted the challenge and the king
confined the poets to their rooms for a certain time at the end of which
they were to recite their composition before him. Arnaut's inspiration
totally failed him, but from his room he could hear his rival singing as
he rehearsed his own composition. Arnaut was able to learn his rival's
poem by heart, and when the time of trial came he asked to be allowed to
sing first, and performed his opponent's song, to the wrath of the
latter, who protested vigorously. Arnaut acknowledged the trick, to the
great amusement of the king.

Preciosity and artificiality reach their height in Arnaut's poems, which
are, for that reason, excessively difficult. Enigmatic constructions,
word-plays, words used in forced senses, continual alliteration and
difficult rimes produced elaborate form and great obscurity of meaning.
The following stanza may serve as an example--

L'aur' amara bruels brancutz
clarzir que.l dons espeys' ab fuelhs, letz becxs dels auzels ramencx
te balbs e mutz pars e non pars.
per qu'ieu m'esfortz de far e dir plazers
A manhs? per ley qui m'a virat has d'aut,
don tern morir afans no.m asoma.

"The bitter breeze makes light the bosky boughs which the gentle breeze [57]
makes thick with leaves, and the joyous beaks of the birds in the
branches it keeps silent and dumb, paired and not paired. Wherefore do I
strive to say and do what is pleasing to many? For her, who has cast me
down from on high, for which I fear to die, if she does not end the
sorrow for me."

The answers to the seventeen rime-words which occur in this stanza do
not appear till the following stanza, the same rimes being kept
throughout the six stanzas of the poem. To rest the listener's ear,
while he waited for the answering rimes, Arnaut used light assonances
which almost amount to rime in some cases. The Monk of Montaudon in his
satirical _sirventes_ says of Arnaut: "He has sung nothing all his life,
except a few foolish verses which no one understands"; and we may
reasonably suppose that Arnaut's poetry was as obscure to many of his
contemporaries as it is to us.

Dante placed Bertran de Born in hell, as a sower of strife between
father and son, and there is no need to describe his picture of the

"Who held the severed member lanternwise
And said, Ah me!" (_Inf._ xxviii. 119-142.)

The genius of Dante, and the poetical fame of Bertran himself, have
given him a more important position in history than is, perhaps, [58]
entirely his due. Jaufre, the prior of Vigeois, an abbey of
Saint-Martial of Limoges, is the only chronicler during the reigns of
Henry II. and Richard Coeur de Lion who mentions Bertran's name. The
_razos_ prefixed to some of his poems by way of explanation are the work
of an anonymous troubadour (possibly Uc de Saint-Cire); they constantly
misinterpret the poems they attempt to explain, confuse names and
events, and rather exaggerate the part played by Bertran himself.
Besides these sources we have the cartulary of Dalon, or rather the
extracts made from it by Guignieres in 1680 (the original has been
lost), which give us information about Bertran's family and possessions.
From these materials, and from forty-four or forty-five poems which have
come down to us, the poet's life can be reconstructed.

Bertran de Bern's estates were situated on the borders of Limousin and
Perigord. The family was ancient and honourable; from the cartulary
Bertran appears to have been born about 1140; we find him, with his
brother Constantin, in possession of the castle of Hautefort, which
seems to have been a strong fortress; the lands belonging to the family
were of no great extent, and the income accruing from them was but
scanty. In 1179 Bertran married one Raimonde, of whom nothing is known,
except that she bore him at least two sons. In 1192 he lost this first [59]
wife, and again married a certain Philippe. His warlike and turbulent
character was the natural outcome of the conditions under which he
lived; the feudal system divided the country into a number of fiefs, the
boundaries of which were ill defined, while the lords were constantly at
war with one another. All owed allegiance to the Duke of Aquitaine, the
Count of Poitou, but his suzerainty was, in the majority of cases,
rather a name than a reality. These divisions were further accentuated
by political events; in 1152 Henry II., Count of Anjou and Maine,
married Eleanor, the divorced wife of Louis VII. of France, and mistress
of Aquitaine. Henry became king of England two years later, and his rule
over the barons of Aquitaine, which had never been strict, became the
more relaxed owing to his continual absence in England.

South of Aquitaine proper the dominions of the Count of Toulouse
stretched from the Garonne to the Alps; this potentate was also called
the Duke of Narbonne, and was not disposed to recognise the suzerainty
of the Duke of Aquitaine. But in 1167 Alfonso II., King of Aragon and
Count of Barcelona, had inherited Provence, to which the Duke of
Toulouse laid claim. Henry and Alfonso thus became natural allies, and
the power of Alfonso in Aragon and Catalonia, was able to keep in check
any serious attempt that the Count of Toulouse might have meditated on [60]
Aquitaine. On the other hand, Henry had also to deal with a formidable
adversary in the person of the French king, his lawful suzerain in
France. Louis VII. (or Philippe Auguste) was able to turn the constant
revolts that broke out in Aquitaine to his own ends. These circumstances
are sufficient to account for the warlike nature of Bertran de Born's
poetry. The first _sirventes_ which can be dated with certainty belongs
to 1181, and is a call to the allies of Raimon V, Count of Toulouse, to
aid their master against the King of Aragon. What Bertran's personal
share in the campaign was, we do not know. He was soon involved in a
quarrel with his brother Constantin, with whom he held the castle of
Hautefort in common. Constantin was driven out and succeeded in
persuading the Count of Limoges and Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, to help
him. Richard, however, was occupied elsewhere, and Bertran survived all
attacks upon the castle. In 1182 he went to the court of Henry II.,
during a temporary lull in the wars around him; there he proceeded to
pay court to the Princess Matilda, daughter of Henry II., whose husband,
Henry of Saxony, was then on a pilgrimage. He also took part in the
political affairs of the time. Henry II.'s eldest son, Henry "the young
king," had been crowned in 1170 at Westminster, and was anxious to have [61]
something more than the title, seeing that his brother Richard was Duke
of Aquitaine, Count of Poitou, and practically an independent sovereign.
Bertran had not forgotten Richard's action against him on behalf of his
brother Constantin, and was, moreover, powerfully attracted by the open
and generous nature of the young king. He therefore took his side, and
on his return to Limousin became the central point of the league which
was formed against Richard. Henry II. succeeded in reconciling his two
sons, the young Henry receiving pecuniary compensation in lieu of
political power. But the young Henry seems to have been really moved by
Bertran's reproaches, and at length revolted against his father and
attacked his brother Richard. While he was in Turenne, the young king
fell sick and died on June 11, 1183. Bertran lamented his loss in two
famous poems, and soon felt the material effects of it. On June 29,
Richard and the King of Aragon arrived before Hautefort, which
surrendered after a week's resistance. Richard restored the castle to
Constantin, but Bertran regained possession, as is related in the second

Henceforward, Bertran remained faithful to Richard, and directed his
animosity chiefly against the King of Aragon. At the same time it
appears that he would have been equally pleased with any war, which [62]
would have brought profit to himself, and attempted to excite Richard
against his father, Henry II. This project came to nothing, but war
broke out between Richard and the French king; a truce of two years was
concluded, and again broken by Richard. The Church, however, interfered
with its efforts to organise the Third Crusade, which called from
Bertran two _sirventes_ in honour of Conrad, son of the Marquis of
Montferrat, who was defending Tyre against Saladin. Bertran remained at
home in Limousin during this Crusade; his means were obviously
insufficient to enable him to share in so distant a campaign; other, and
for him, equally cogent reasons for remaining at home may be gathered
from his poems. There followed the quarrels between Richard and the
French king, the return to France of the latter, and finally Richard's
capture on the Illyrian coast and his imprisonment by Henry VI. of
Austria, which terminated in 1194. Richard then came into Aquitaine, his
return being celebrated by two poems from Bertran.

The Provencal biography informs us that Bertran finally became a monk in
the Order of Citeaux. The convent where he spent his last years was the
abbey of Dalon, near Hautefort. The cartulary mentions his name at
various intervals from 1197 to 1202. In 1215 we have the entry "_octavo,[63]
candela in sepulcro ponitur pro Bernardo de Born: cera tres solidos
empta est_." This is the only notice of the poet's death.

Dante perhaps exaggerated the part he played in stirring up strife
between Henry II. and his sons; modern writers go to the other extreme.
Bertran is especially famous for his political _sirventes_ and for the
martial note which rings through much of his poetry. He loved war both
for itself and for the profits which it brought: "The powerful are more
generous and open-handed when they have war than when they have peace."
The troubadour's two _planhs_ upon the "young king's" death are inspired
by real feeling, and the story of his reconciliation with Henry after
the capture of his castle can hardly have been known to Dante, who would
surely have modified his judgment upon the troubadour if he had
remembered that scene as related by the biography. Sir Bertran was
summoned with all his people to King Henry's tent, who received him very
harshly and said, "Bertran, you declared that you never needed more than
half your senses; it seems that to-day you will want the whole of them."
"Sire", said Bertran, "it is true that I said so and I said nothing but
the truth." The king replied, "Then you seem to me to have lost your
senses entirely". "I have indeed lost them", said Bertran. "And how?" [64]
asked the king. "Sire, on the day that the noble king, your son, died, I
lost sense, knowledge and understanding." When the king heard Bertran
speak of his son with tears, he was deeply moved and overcome with
grief. On recovering himself he cried, weeping, "Ah, Bertran, rightly
did you lose your senses for my son, for there was no one in the world
whom he loved as you. And for love of him, not only do I give you your
life, but also your castle and your goods, and I add with my love five
hundred silver marks to repair the loss which you have suffered."

The narrative is unhistorical; Henry II. was not present in person at
the siege of Hautefort; but the fact is certain that he regarded Bertran
as the chief sower of discord in his family.

Mention must now be made of certain troubadours who were less important
than the three last mentioned, but are of interest for various reasons.

Raimbaut d'Aurenga, Count of Orange from 1150-1173, is interesting
rather by reason of his relations with other troubadours than for his
own achievements in the troubadours' art. He was a follower of the
precious, artificial and obscure style, and prided himself upon his
skill in the combination of difficult rimes and the repetition of
equivocal rimes (the same word used in different senses or grammatical
forms). "Since Adam ate the apple," he says, "there is no poet, loud as [65]
he may proclaim himself, whose art is worth a turnip compared with
mine." Apart from these mountebank tricks and certain mild "conceits"
(his lady's smile, for instance, makes him happier than the smile of
four hundred angels could do), the chief characteristic of his poetry is
his constant complaints of slanderers who attempt to undermine his
credit with his lady. But he seems to have aroused a passion in the
heart of a poetess, who expressed her feelings in words which contrast
strongly with Raimbaut's vapid sentimentalities.

This was Beatrice, Countess of Die and the wife of Count William of
Poitiers. The names, at least, of seventeen poetesses are known to us
and of these the Countess of Die is the most famous. Like the rest of
her sex who essayed the troubadour's art, the Countess knows nothing of
difficult rhymes or obscurity of style. Simplicity and sincerity are the
keynotes of her poetry. The troubadour sang because he was a
professional poet, but the lady who composed poetry did so from love of
the art or from the inspiration of feeling and therefore felt no need of
meretricious adornment for her song. The five poems of the Countess
which remain to us show that her sentiment for Raimbaut was real and
deep. "I am glad to know that the man I love is the worthiest in the
world; may God give great joy to the one who first brought me to him: [66]
may he trust only in me, whatever slanders be reported to him: for often
a man plucks the rod with which he beats himself. The woman who values
her good name should set her love upon a noble and valiant knight: when
she knows his worth, let her not hide her love. When a woman loves thus
openly, the noble and worthy speak of her love only with sympathy."
Raimbaut, however, did not reciprocate these feelings: in a _tenso_ with
the countess he shows his real sentiments while excusing his conduct. He
assures her that he has avoided her only because he did not wish to
provide slanderers with matter for gossip; to which the Countess replies
that his care for her reputation is excessive. Peire Rogier whose
poetical career lies between the years 1160 and 1180, also spent some
time at Raimbaut's court. He belonged to Auvergne by birth and was
attached to the court of Ermengarde of Narbonne for some years: here
there is no doubt that we have a case of a troubadour in an official
position and nothing more: possibly Peire Rogier's tendency to
preaching--he had been educated for the church--was enough to stifle any
sentiment on the lady's side. On leaving Narbonne, he visited Raimbaut
at Orange and afterwards travelled to Spain and Toulouse, finally
entering a monastery where he ended his life.

Auvergne produced a far more important troubadour in the person of Peire [67]
d'Auvergne, whose work extended from about 1158 to 1180; he was thus
more or less contemporary with Guiraut de Bornelh and Bernart de
Ventadour. He was, according to the biography, the son of a citizen of
Clermont-Ferrand, and "the first troubadour, who lived beyond the
mountains (i.e. the Pyrenees, which, however, Marcabrun had previously
crossed)... he was regarded as the best troubadour until Guiraut de
Bornelh appeared.... He was very proud of his talents and despised other
troubadours." Other notices state that he was educated for an
ecclesiastical career and was at one time a canon. He had no small idea
of his own powers: "Peire d'Auvergne," he says in his satire upon other
troubadours "has such a voice that he can sing in all tones and his
melodies are sweet and pleasant: he is master of his art, if he would
but put a little clarity into his poems, which are difficult to
understand." The last observation is entirely correct: his poems are
often very obscure. Peire travelled, in the pursuit of his profession,
to the court of Sancho III. of Castile and made some stay in Spain: he
is also found at the courts of Raimon V. of Toulouse and, like Peire
Rogier, at Narbonne. Among his poems, two are especially well known. In
a love poem he makes the nightingale his messenger, as Marcabrun had [68]
used the starling and as others used the swallow or parrot. But in
comparison with Marcabrun, Peire d'Auvergne worked out the idea with a
far more delicate poetical touch. The other poem is a _sirventes_ which
is of interest as being the first attempt at literary satire among the
troubadours; the satire is often rather of a personal than of a literary
character; the following quotations referring to troubadours already
named will show Peire's ideas of literary criticism. "Peire Rogier sings
of love without restraint and it would befit him better to carry the
psalter in the church or to bear the lights with the great burning
candles. Guiraut de Bornelh is like a sun-bleached cloth with his thin
miserable song which might suit an old Norman water-carrier. Bernart de
Ventadour is even smaller than Guiraut de Bornelh by a thumb's length;
but he had a servant for his father who shot well with the long bow
while his mother tended the furnace." The satiric _sirventes_ soon found
imitators: the Monk of Montaudon produced a similar composition. Like
many other troubadours, Peire ended his life in a monastery. To this
period of his career probably, belong his religious poems of which we
shall have occasion to speak later.

We have already observed that the Church contributed members, though
with some reluctance, to the ranks of the troubadours. One of the most [69]
striking figures of the kind is the Monk of Montaudon (1180-1200): the
satirical power of his _sirventes_ attracted attention, and he gained
much wealth at the various courts which he visited; this he used for the
benefit of his priory. He enjoyed the favour of Philippe Auguste II. of
France, of Richard Coeur de Lion and of Alfonso II. of Aragon, with that
of many smaller nobles. The biography says of him, "E fo faitz seigner
de la cort del Puoi Santa Maria e de dar l'esparvier. Lone temps ac la
seignoria de la cort del Puoi, tro que la cortz se perdet." "He was made
president of the court of Puy Sainte Marie and of awarding the
sparrow-hawk. For a long time he held the presidency of the court of
Puy, until the court was dissolved." The troubadour Richard de
Barbezieux refers to this court, which seems to have been a periodical
meeting attended by the nobles and troubadours of Southern Prance.
Tournaments and poetical contests were held; the sparrow-hawk or falcon
placed on a pole is often mentioned as the prize awarded to the
tournament victor. Tennyson's version of the incident in his "Geraint
and Enid" will occur to every reader. The monk's reputation must have
been considerable to gain him this position. His love poems are of
little importance; his satire deals with the petty failings of mankind,
for which he had a keen eye and an unsparing and sometimes cynical [70]

Be.m enoia, s'o auzes dire,
Parliers quant es avols servire;
Et hom qui trop vol aut assire
M'enoia, e cavals que tire.
Et enoia.m, si Dieus m'aiut
Joves hom quan trop port' escut,
Que negun colp no i a agut,
Capela et mongue barbut,
E lauzengier bee esmolut.

"These vex me greatly, if I may say so, language when it is base
servility, and a man who wishes too high a place (at table) and a
charger which is put to drawing carts. And, by my hope of salvation, I
am vexed by a young man who bears too openly a shield which has never
received a blow, by a chaplain and monk wearing beards and by the sharp
beak of the slanderer." The monk's satire upon other troubadours is
stated by himself to be a continuation of that by Peire d'Auvergne; the
criticism is, as might be expected, personal. Two _tensos_ deal with the
vanities of women, especially the habit of painting the face: in one of
them the dispute proceeds before God as judge, between the poet and the
women: the scene of the other is laid in Paradise and the interlocutors
are the Almighty and the poet, who, represents that self-adornment is a
habit inherent in female nature. In neither poem is reverence a [71]
prominent feature.

One of the most extraordinary figures in the whole gallery of troubadour
portraits is Peire Vidal, whose career extended, roughly speaking, from
1175 to 1215. He was one of those characters who naturally become the
nucleus of apocryphal stories, and how much truth there may be in some
of the fantastic incidents, in which he figures as the hero, will
probably never be discovered. He was undoubtedly an attractive
character, for he enjoyed the favour of the most distinguished men and
women of his time. He was also a poet of real power: ease and facility
are characteristics of his poems as compared with the ingenious
obscurity of Arnaut Daniel or Peire d'Auvergne. But there was a
whimsical and fantastic strain in his character, which led him often to
conjoin the functions of court-fool with those of court poet: "he was
the most foolish man in the world" says his biographer. His
"foolishness" also induced him to fall in love with every woman he met,
and to believe that his personal attractions made him invincible.

Peire Vidal was the son of a Toulouse merchant. He began his troubadour
wanderings early and at the outset of his career we find him in
Catalonia, Aragon and Castile. He is then found in the service of Raimon
Gaufridi Barral,[24] Viscount of Marseilles, a bluff, genial tournament [72]
warrior and the husband of Azalais de Porcellet whose praises were sung
by Folquet of Marseilles. It was Barral who was attracted by Peire's
peculiar talents: his wife seems to have tolerated the troubadour from
deference to her husband. Peire, however, says in one of his poems that
husbands feared him more than fire or sword, and believing himself
irresistible interpreted Azalais' favours as seriously meant. When he
stole a kiss from her as she slept, she insisted upon Peire's departure,
though her husband seems to have regarded the matter as a jest and the
troubadour took refuge in Genoa. Eventually, Azalais pardoned him and he
was able to return to Marseilles. Peire is said to have followed Richard
Coeur de Lion on his crusade; it was in 1190 that Richard embarked at
Marseilles for the Holy Land, and as a patron of troubadours, he was no
doubt personally acquainted with Peire. The troubadour, however, is said
to have gone no farther than Cyprus. There he married a Greek woman and
was somehow persuaded that his wife was a daughter of the Emperor of
Constantinople, and that he, therefore, had a claim to the throne of
Greece. He assumed royal state, added a throne to his personal
possessions and began to raise a fleet for the conquest of his kingdom.
How long this farce continued is unknown. Barral died in 1192 and Peire
transferred his affections to a lady of Carcassonne, Loba de Pennautier. [73]
The biography relates that her name Loba (wolf) induced the troubadour
to approach her in a wolf's skin, which disguise was so successful that
he was attacked by a pack of dogs and seriously mauled. Probably the
story that an outraged husband had the troubadour's tongue cut out at an
earlier period of his life contains an equal substratum of truth. The
last period of his career was spent in Hungary and Lombardy. His
political _sirventes_ show an insight into the affairs of his age, which
is in strong contrast to the whimsicality which seems to have misguided
his own life.

Guillem de Cabestanh (between 1181 and 1196) deserves mention for the
story which the Provencal biography has attached to his name, a
Provencal variation of the thirteenth century romance of the _Chatelaine
de Coucy_.[25] He belonged to the Roussillon district, on the borders of
Catalonia and fell in love with the wife of his overlord, Raimon of
Roussillon. Margarida or Seremonda, as she is respectively named in the
two versions of the story, was attracted by Guillem's songs, with the
result that Raimon's jealousy was aroused and meeting the troubadour one
day, when he was out hunting, he killed him. The Provencal version
proceeds as follows: he then took out the heart and sent it by a squire
to the castle. He caused it to be roasted with pepper and gave it to his [74]
wife to eat. And when she had eaten it, her lord told her what it was
and she lost the power of sight and hearing. And when she came to
herself, she said, "my lord, you have given me such good meat that never
will I eat such meat again." He made at her to strike her but she threw
herself from the window and was killed. Thereupon the barons of
Catalonia and Aragon, led by King Alfonso, are said to have made a
combined attack upon Raimon and to have ravaged his lands, in
indignation at his barbarity.

The Provencal biography, like the romance of the _Chatelain de Coucy_,
belongs to the thirteenth century, and the story cannot be accepted as
authentic. But the period of decadence had begun. By the close of the
twelfth century the golden age of troubadour poetry was over. Guiraut de
Bornelh's complaints that refinement was vanishing and that nobles were
growing hard-hearted and avaricious soon became common-places in
troubadour poetry. The extravagances of the previous age and the rise of
a strong middle and commercial class diminished both the wealth and the
influence of the nobles, while the peace of the country was further
disturbed by theological disputes and by the rise of the Albigeois



The feudal society in which troubadour poetry had flourished, and by
which alone it could be maintained, was already showing signs of
decadence. Its downfall was precipitated by the religious and political
movement, the Albigeois Crusade, which was the first step towards the
unification of France, but which also broke up the local fiefs,
destroyed the conditions under which the troubadours had flourished and
scattered them abroad in other lands or forced them to seek other means
of livelihood. This is not the place to discuss the origin and the
nature of the Albigeois heresy.[26] The general opinion has almost
invariably considered the heretics as dualists and their belief as a
variation of Manicheism: but a plausible case has been made out for
regarding the heresy as a variant of the Adoptionism which is found
successively in Armenia, in the Balkan peninsula and in Spain, and
perhaps sporadically in Italy and Germany. Whatever its real nature was,
the following facts are clear: it was not an isolated movement, but was
in continuity with beliefs prevalent in many other parts of Europe. It [76]
was largely a poor man's heresy and therefore emerges into the light of
history only when it happens to attract aristocratic adherents or large
masses of people. It was also a pre-Reformation movement and essentially
in opposition to Roman Catholicism. Albi was the first head-quarters of
the heresy, though Toulouse speedily rivalled its importance in this
respect. The Vaudois heresy which became notorious at Lyons about the
same time was a schismatic, not a heretic movement. The Vaudois objected
to the profligacy and worldliness of the Roman Catholic clergy, but did
not quarrel with church doctrine. The Albigenses were no less zealous
than the Vaudois in reproving the church clergy and setting an example
of purity and unselfishness of life. But they also differed profoundly
from the church in matters of doctrine.

Upon the election of Otho as Emperor, in 1208, Germany and Rome were at
peace, and Pope Innocent III. found himself at liberty to devote some
attention to affairs in Southern France. He had already made some
efforts to oppose the growth of heresy: his first emissaries were unable
to produce the least effect and in 1208 he had sent Arnaut of Citeaux
and two Cistercian monks into Southern France with full powers to act.
Their efforts proved fruitless, because Philippe Auguste was no less
indifferent than the provincial lords, who actually favoured the [77]
heretics in many cases; the Roman Catholic bishops also were jealous of
the pope's legates and refused to support them. Not only the laity but
many of the clergy had been seduced: the heretics had translated large
portions of scripture (translations which still remain to us) and
constantly appealed to the scriptures in opposition to the canon laws
and the immorality of Rome. They had a full parochial and diocesan
organisation and were in regular communication with the heretics of
other countries. It was clear that the authority of Southern France was
doomed, unless some vigorous steps to assert her authority were speedily
taken. "Ita per omnes terras multiplicati sunt ut grande periculum
patiatur ecclesia Dei." [27] The efforts of St Dominic were followed by
the murder of the papal legate, Pierre de Castelnau, in 1208, which
created an excitement comparable with that aroused by the murder of
Thomas a Becket, thirty-eight years before, and gave Innocent III. his
opportunity. In the summer of 1209 a great army of crusaders assembled
at Lyons, and Southern France was invaded by a horde composed partly of
religious fanatics, of men who were anxious to gain the indulgences
awarded to crusaders without the danger of a journey overseas, and of
men who were simply bent on plunder. The last stage in the development
of the crusade movement was thereby reached: originally begun to recover [78]
the Holy Sepulchre, it had been extended to other countries against the
avowed enemies of Christianity. Now the movement was to be turned
against erring members of the Christian Church and in the terms of a
metaphor much abused at that period, the Crusader was not only to
destroy the wolf, but to drive the vagrant sheep back into the fold.[28]
Beziers and Carcassonne were captured with massacre; Toulouse was spared
upon the humiliating submission of Raimon VI., and little organised
opposition was offered to the crusading forces under Simon de Montfort.
The following years saw the revolt of Toulouse and the excommunication
of Raimon VI. (1211), the battle of Muret in which Raimon was defeated
and his supporter Pedro of Aragon, was killed (1213), the Lateran
Council (1215), the siege of Toulouse and the death of Simon de Montfort
(1218). The foundation of the Dominican order and of the Inquisition
marked the close of the struggle.

Folquet of Marseilles is a troubadour whose life belongs to these years
of turmoil. He was the son of a Genoese merchant by name Anfos, who
apparently settled in Marseilles for business reasons: Genoa was in
close commercial relations with the South of France during the twelfth
century, as is attested by treaties concluded with Marseilles in 1138
and with Raimon of Toulouse in 1174. Folquet (or Fulco in Latin form) [79]
seems to have carried on his father's business and to have amused his
leisure hours by poetical composition. The Monk of Montandon refers to
him as a merchant in his _sirventes_ upon other troubadours. He is
placed in Paradise by Dante and is the only troubadour who there
appears, no doubt because of his services to the Church. His earliest
poems, written after 1180, were composed in honour of Azalais, the lady
whose favour was sought by Peire Vidal, and to whom Folquet refers by
the _senhal_ of Aimant (magnet). His poems are ingenious dissertations
upon love and we catch little trace of real feeling in them. The stories
of the jealousy of Azalais' sister which drove Folquet to leave
Marseilles are probably apocryphal. Folquet also addressed poems to the
wife of the Count of Montpelier, the daughter of the Emperor of
Constantinople. He wrote a fine _planh_ on the death of Barral of
Marseilles in 1192 and it was about this time that he resolved to enter
the church. His last poem belongs to the year 1195. No doubt the wealth
which he may have brought to the Church as a successful merchant
contributed to his advancement, but Folquet was also an indomitably
energetic character.

Unlike so many of his fellow poets, who retired to monasteries and there
lived out their lives in seclusion, Folquet displayed special talents or [80]
special enthusiasm for the order which he joined. Of the Cistercian
abbey of Toronet in the diocese of Frejus he became abbot, and in 1205
was made Bishop of Toulouse. He then, in company with St Dominic,
becomes one of the great figures of the Albigeois crusade: in 1209 he
was acting with Simon de Montfort against Raimon VI., the son of his old
patron and benefactor, and persuaded the count to surrender the citadel
of Toulouse to de Montfort and the papal legate. He travelled in
Northern France in order to stir up enthusiasm for the crusade. The
legend is related that, hearing one of his love songs sung by a minstrel
at Paris, he imposed penance upon himself. He helped to establish the
Inquisition in Languedoc, and at the Lateran council of 1215 was the
most violent opponent of Count Raimon. To enter into his history in
detail during this period would be to recount a large portion of the
somewhat intricate history of the crusade. Of his fanaticism, and of the
cruelty with which he waged war upon the heretics, the Count Raimon
Roger of Foix speaks at the Lateran council, when defending himself
against the accusation of heresy.

E die vos de l'avesque, que tant n'es afortitz,
qu'en la sua semblansa es Dieus e nos trazitz,
que ab cansos messongeiras e ab motz coladitz,
dont totz horn es perdutz canta ni los ditz, [81]
ez ab sos reproverbis afilatz e forbitz
ez ab los nostres dos, don fo eniotglaritz,
ez ab mala doctrina es tant fort enriquitz
c'om non auza ren dire a so qu'el contraditz.
Pero cant el fo abas ni monges revestitz
en la sua abadia fo si.l lums eseurzitz
qu'anc no i ac be ni pauza, tro qu'el ne fo ichitz;
e cant fo de Tholosa avesques elegitz
per trastota la terra es tals focs espanditz
que ia mais per nulha aiga no sira escantitz;
que plus de D.M., que de grans que petitz,
i fe perdre las vidas cors esperitz.
Per la fe qu'icu vos deg, als sous faitz e als ditz
ez a la captenensa sembla mielhs Antecritz
que messatges de Roma.

"And of the bishop, who is so zealous, I tell you that in him both God
and we ourselves are betrayed; for with lying songs and insinuating
words, which are the damnation of any who sings or speaks them, and by
his keen polished admonitions, and by our presents wherewith he
maintained himself as _joglar_, and by his evil doctrine, he has risen
so high, that one dare say nothing to that which he opposes. So when he
was vested as abbot and monk, was the light in his abbey put out in such
wise that therein was no comfort or rest, until that he was gone forth
from thence; and when he was chosen bishop of Toulouse such a fire was
spread throughout the land that never for any water will it be quenched;
for there did he bring destruction of life and body and soul upon more [82]
than fifteen hundred of high and low. By the faith which I owe to you,
by his deeds and his words and his dealings, more like is he to
Anti-Christ than to an envoy of Rome." (_Chanson de la croisade contre
les Albigeois_, v. 3309.)

Folquet died on December 25, 1231, and was buried at the Cistercian
Abbey of Grandselve, some thirty miles north-west of Toulouse. Such
troubadours as Guilhem Figueira and Peire Cardenal, who inveighed
against the action of the Church during the crusade, say nothing of him,
and upon their silence and that of the biography as regards his
ecclesiastical life the argument has been founded that Folquet the
troubadour and Folquet the bishop were two different persons. There is
no evidence to support this theory. Folquet's poems enjoyed a high
reputation. The minnesinger, Rudolf, Count of Neuenberg (end of the
twelfth century) imitated him, as also did the Italians Rinaldo d'Aquino
and Jacopo da Lentino.

The troubadours as a rule stood aloof from the religious quarrels of the
age. But few seem to have joined the crusaders, as Perdigon did. Most of
their patrons were struggling for their existence: when the invaders
succeeded in establishing themselves, they had no desire for court
poetry. The troubadour's occupation was gone, and those who wished for
an audience were obliged to seek beyond the borders of France. Hence it [83]
is somewhat remarkable to find the troubadour Raimon de Miraval, of
Carcassonne, continuing to sing, as though perfect tranquillity
prevailed. His wife, Gaudairenca, was a poetess, and Paul Heyse has made
her the central figure of one of his charming _Troubadour Novellen_.
Raimon's poems betray no forebodings of the coming storm; when it broke,
he lost his estate and fled to Raimon of Toulouse for shelter. The
arrival of Pedro II. of Aragon at Toulouse in 1213 and his alliance with
the Count of Toulouse cheered the troubadour's spirits: he thought there
was a chance that he might recover his estate. He compliments Pedro on
his determination in one poem and in another tells his lady, "the king
has promised me that in a short time, I shall have Miraval again and my
Audiart shall recover his Beaucaire; then ladies and their lovers will
regain their lost delights." Such was the attitude of many troubadours
towards the crusade and they seem to represent the views of a certain
section of society. There is no trace on this side of any sense of
patriotism; they hated the crusade because it destroyed the comforts of
their happy existence. But the South of France had never as a whole
acquired any real sense of nationalism: there was consequently no
attempt at general or organised resistance and no leader to inspire such [84]
attempts was forth-coming.

On the other hand, special districts such as Toulouse, showed real
courage and devotion. The crusaders often found much difficulty in
maintaining a force adequate to conduct their operations after the first
energy of the invasion had spent itself, and had the Count of Toulouse
been an energetic and vigorous character, he might have been able to
reverse the ultimate issue of the crusade. But, like many other petty
lords his chief desire was to be left alone and he was at heart as
little interested in the claims of Rome as in the attractions of heresy.
His townspeople thought otherwise and the latter half of the _Chanson de
la Croisade_ reflects their hopes and fears and describes their
struggles with a sympathy that often reaches the height of epic
splendour. Similarly, certain troubadours were by no means absorbed in
the practice of their art or the pursuit of their intrigues. Bernard
Sicart de Marvejols has left us a vigorous satire against the crusaders
who came for plunder, and the clergy who drove them on. The greatest
poet of this calamitous time is Peire Cardenal. His work falls within
the years 1210 and 1230. The short notice that we have of him says that
he belonged to Puy Notre Dame in Velay, that he was the son of a noble
and was intended for an ecclesiastical career: when he was of age, he
was attracted by the pleasures of the world, became a troubadour and [85]
went from court to court, accompanied by a _joglar_: he was especially
favoured by King Jaime I. of Aragon and died at the age of nearly a
hundred years. He was no singer of love and the three of his _chansos_
that remain are inspired by the misogyny that we have noted in the case
of Marcabrun. Peire Cardenal's strength lay in the moral _sirventes_: he
was a fiery soul, aroused to wrath by the sight of injustice and
immorality and the special objects of his animosity are the Roman
Catholic clergy and the high nobles. "The clergy call themselves
shepherds and are murderers under a show of saintliness: when I look
upon their dress I remember Isengrin (the wolf in the romance of
Reynard, the Fox) who wished one day to break into the sheep-fold: but
for fear of the dogs he dressed himself in a sheepskin and then devoured
as many as he would. Kings and emperors, dukes, counts and knights used
to rule the world; now the priests have the power which they have gained
by robbery and treachery, by hypocrisy, force and preaching." "Eagles
and vultures smell not the carrion so readily as priests and preachers
smell out the rich: a rich man is their friend and should a sickness
strike him down, he must make them presents to the loss of his
relations. Frenchmen and priests are reputed bad and rightly so: usurers [86]
and traitors possess the whole world, for with deceit have they so
confounded the world that there is no class to whom their doctrine is
unknown." Peire inveighs against the disgraces of particular orders; the
Preaching Friars or Jacobin monks who discuss the relative merits of
special wines after their feasts, whose lives are spent in disputes and
who declare all who differ from them to be Vaudois heretics, who worm
men's private affairs out of them, that they may make themselves feared:
some of his charges against the monastic orders are quite unprintable.

No less vigorous are his invectives against the rich and the social
evils of his time. The tone of regret that underlies Guiraut de
Bornelh's satires in this theme is replaced in Peire Cardenal's
_sirventes_ by a burning sense of injustice. Covetousness, the love of
pleasure, injustice to the poor, treachery and deceit and moral laxity
are among his favourite themes. "He who abhors truth and hates the
right, careers to hell and directs his course to the abyss: for many a
man builds walls and palaces with the goods of others and yet the
witless world says that he is on the right path, because he is clever
and prosperous. As silver is refined in the fire, so the patient poor
are purified under grievous oppression: and with what splendour the
shameless rich man may feed and clothe himself, his riches bring him
nought but pain, grief and vexation of spirit. But that affrights him [87]
not: capons and game, good wine and the dainties of the earth console
him and cheer his heart. Then he prays to God and says 'I am poor and in
misery.' Were God to answer him He would say, 'thou liest!'" To
illustrate the degeneracy of the age, Peire relates a fable, perhaps the
only instance of this literary form among the troubadours, upon the
theme that if all the world were mad, the one sane man would be in a
lunatic asylum: "there was a certain town, I know not where, upon which
a rain fell of such a nature that all the inhabitants upon whom it fell,
lost their reason. All lost their reason except one, who escaped because
he was asleep in his house when the rain came. When he awoke, he rose:
the rain had ceased, and he went out among the people who were all
committing follies. One was clothed, another naked, another was spitting
at the sky: some were throwing sticks and stones, tearing their coats,
striking and pushing... The sane man was deeply surprised and saw that
they were mad; nor could he find a single man in his senses. Yet greater
was their surprise at him, and as they saw that he did not follow their
example, they concluded that he had lost his senses.... So one strikes
him in front, another behind; he is dashed to the ground and trampled
under foot... at length he flees to his house covered with mud, bruised [88]
and half dead and thankful for his escape": The mad town, says Peire
Cardenal, is the present world: the highest form of intelligence is the
love and fear of God, but this has been replaced by greed, pride and
malice; consequently the "sense of God" seems madness to the world and
he who refuses to follow the "sense of the world" is treated as a

Peire Cardenal is thus by temperament a moral preacher; he is not merely
critical of errors, but has also a positive faith to propound. He is not
an opponent of the papacy as an institution: the confession of faith
which he utters in one of his _sirventes_ shows that he would have been
perfectly satisfied with the Roman ecclesiastical and doctrinal system,
had it been properly worked. In this respect he differs from a
contemporary troubadour, Guillem Figueira, whose violent satire against
Rome shows him as opposed to the whole system from the papacy downwards.
He was a native of Toulouse and migrated to Lombardy and to the court of
Frederick II. when the crusade drove him from his home. "I wonder not,
Rome, that men go astray, for thou hast cast the world into strife and


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