Les Troubadours

The troubadours, who wrote the “first love-songs in western Europe,” wandered from court to court near Marseille, Toulouse and Tours.

They created “une poésie très élaborée et très savante, qu’accompagne une nusique de mode gregorien, non  moins elaborée et non moins savante”.

Numerous techniques were employed by the troubadours, who attended no formal school but who learned  their art from other poets. They composed a “love song or chanso (with] five, six or seven stanzas (coblas) and with one or two tornadas or envois. The stanza consisted of from two to forty-two lines.

Another type of chanso was the sirventes, which was a “vehicle for satire, moral reproof or political lampooning.  A third troubadour device was the planh, a song celebrating the memory of a lady, a friend or perhaps a patron. The tenso utilized by the poets was a form popular at tournaments, where one poet sang a stanza on a given theme and to which his opponent responded in another stanza using identical metrical form. Of popular origin, the pastorela always concerned a shepherdess-heroine. The parting of lovers at dawn was painted in the alba or dawn song; in its counterpart, the serena, the lovers longed for reunion in the evening. The troubadour offered a defense for having angered his lady in the escondig. Moreover, “the troubadours were the originators of the fixed verse forms: the rondeau and the villanelle, the triolet and the ballade, the aubade and the serenade.

Courtly poetry originated in such courts as that of Alienor, who held a twelfth-century type of salon.  After her marriage to Henri II, Alienor presided over one such court in Caen, then another one later in England. However the most significant court was on return to Poitier c 1168 – 1170 when she  was joined by her daughter, Marie de Champagne, who was accompanied by her father’s chaplain Andreas Capellanus. Together the two ladies laid the foundations for the twelfth century ideal of courtly Love.

These ideas of Courtly Love were expounded in Alienor’s court at Poitiers as evidenced in Capellanus’ work, Tractatus amoris or De Amore ..   the majority of scholars  agree that the events portrayed by Capellanus should not be believed as proof that trials of real lovers with women rendering judgments actually took place in Poitiers, but rather that the cases demonstrate intellectual, literary games.

Bernart de Ventadour is the first great troubadour who accepts completely the service d’amour and addresses his songs of love entirely to a lady of exalted rank.   He was in love with Alienor and adressed poems to her.  He was probably the most directly influenced by Alienor and her courtly themes, a poet considered to be “le plus grand poete lyrique de notre XII siecle, en tout cas dans la langue occitane.  Holmes credits Bernard as the one responsible for spreading from Provence to the north of France “the kernel of courtly love, the subjection of the lover to the lady’s will”.

Bertran de Born was a minor nobleman born in the early ll40’s, he shared the castle Hautefort in Perigord with his brother. He married twice and fathered five children and retired as a monk in the Abbey of Dalon before his death around 1215.   Frequenting the courts of the Plantagenet princes, Bertran de Born is credited with creating, through his poetry, great dissention between the young princes and their domineering father Henri II.

Chr,tien de Troyes, the last author to be examined, demonstrates faithfulness to the code d’amour in some works as well as original views on love in other writings.

It is ·readily apparent that the literary role and the literary influence of Alienor of Aquitaine are almost boundless. She welcomed the troubadour poets to her court, where she was instrumental in creating many ideas incorporated into their poetry. Furthermore, Ali,nor personally inspired the writing of various celebrated works, and she reared her children to follow in her footsteps as patroness of the arts.

When one recognizes her influence on poets whose songs provide the basis for all lyric poetry of succeeding generations, one must conclude that this Queen did far more than reign in two lands and rear future kings.

The above is from a Master’s Thesis –  Alienor of Aquitaine : her literary role and influence in the twelfth century by  Janet Parrish Harris

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WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
See Article History
Troubadour, lyric poet of southern France, northern Spain, and northern Italy, writing in the langue d’oc of Provence; the troubadours, flourished from the late 11th to the late 13th century. Their social influence was unprecedented in the history of medieval poetry. Favoured at the courts, they had great freedom of speech, occasionally intervening even in the political arena, but their great achievement was to create around the ladies of the court an aura of cultivation and amenity that nothing had hitherto approached. Troubadour poetry formed one of the most brilliant schools that ever flourished, and it was to influence all later European lyrical poetry.

The word troubadour is a French form derived ultimately from the Occitanian trobar, “to find,” “to invent.” A troubadour was thus one who invented new poems, finding new verse for his elaborate love lyrics. Much of the troubadours’ work has survived, preserved in manuscripts known as chansonniers (“songbooks”), and the rules by which their art was governed are set out in a work called Leys d’amors (1340). The verse form they used most frequently was the canso, consisting of five or six stanzas with an envoy. They also used the dansa, or balada, a dance song with a refrain; the pastorela, telling the tale of the love request by a knight to a shepherdess; the jeu parti, or débat, a debate on love between two poets; the alba, or morning song, in which lovers are warned by a night watchman that day approaches and that the jealous husband may at any time surprise them. Other forms were frameworks for a lyrical conversation between two or more persons discussing, as a rule, some point of amorous casuistry or matters of a religious, metaphysical, or satirical character.

Troubadour songs, put to music, are monophonic (consisting solely of unharmonized melody) and comprise a major extant body of medieval secular music. Somewhat fewer than 300 melodies survive. Set to a remarkable variety of poems, they display a certain consistency of style yet are far more varied than was once suspected. Some of the melodies were composed by the poets themselves. The Provençal “life” of the troubadour Jaufre Rudel states that he wrote many songs “with fine melodies but poor texts.” Evidently the writer thought the melodies were by Jaufré and that his distinction lay therein.

Many of the melodies, however, were not by the poet. According to a contemporary account, Raimbaut de Vaqueyras wrote his famous poem “Kalenda maya” (“The Calends of May”) to a dance tune played by some vielle (fiddle) players at Montferrat (now Monferrato, Italy). At least four troubadour songs are based directly on Latin sacred melodies. Several troubadour melodies are slightly different in form from the poem to which they are attached, and it must be assumed that these were originally composed for another poem, perhaps in another language. Conversely, many troubadour melodies were appropriated from songs in French and German. Even when a melody was written expressly for its poem, it is possible that the poet devised it with the help of a more experienced musician. Most of the poems have attributions, for the poets valued their originality. For the music, however, anonymity was the rule; authorship was a subsidiary consideration.

From   Britannica.com


Song from the late medieval Occitan troubadour tradition. “A Chantar” is by the Comtessa Beatriz de Dia, a famous troubairitz (female troubadour) in 12th century. Performed by Catherine Bott, drone created by Mathew Morrey.

a chantar m’er par Beatritz de Dia
Listen – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

1. A chantar m’er de so qu’eu no volria,
tant me rancur de lui cui sui amia;
car eu l’am mais que nuilla ren que sia:
vas lui no.m val merces ni cortezia
ni ma beltatz ni mos pretz ni mos sens;
c’atressi.m sui enganad’ e trahia
Com degr’ esser, s’eu fos dezavinens.

2. D’aisso.m conort, car anc non fi faillensa,
Amics, vas vos per nuilla captenenssa;
ans vo am mais non fetz Seguis Valensa,
e platz mi mout quez eu d’amar vos vensa,
lo meus amics, car etz lo plus valens;
mi faitz orgoil en digz et en parvensa,
et si etz francs vas totas autras gens.

3. Meraveill me cum vostre cors s’orgoilla,
amics, vas me, per qui’ai razon queu.m doilla;
non es ges dreitz c’autr’ amors vos mi toilla,
per nuilla ren que.us diga ni acoilla.
E membre vos cals fo.l comensamens
de nostr’amor! Ja Dompnedeus non voilla
qu’en ma colpa sia.l departimens.
4. Proeza grans, qu’el vostre cors s’aizina
e lo rics pretz qu’avetz, m’en ataïna,
c’una non sai, loindana ni vezina,
si vol amar, vas vos no si’ aclina;
mas vos, amics, etz ben tant conoissens
que ben devetz conoisser la plus fina;
e membre vos de nostres partimens.

5. Valer mi deu mos pretz e mos paratges
e ma beutatz e plus mos fins coratges;
per qu’eu vos man lai on es vostr’ estatges
esta chanson, que me sia messatges:
e voill saber, lo meus bels amics gens,
per que vos m’etz tant fers ni tant salvatges;
no sai si s’es orgoills o mal talens.

6. Mais aitan plus voill li digas, messatges,
qu’en trop d’orgoill an gran dan maintas gens.

Artist – Jordi Savall
Album – The Forgotten Kingdom
Licencié a YouTube via Orchard Music
(par Alia Vox)
La chanson est extraite de l’album “Le Royaume Oublié – La Tragédie Cathare”.

Notation : & : Modern Notation :

1. Je dois chanter ce que je ne veux pas,
Je suis tellement en colère contre celui que j’aime,
Parce que je l’aime plus que tout:
La miséricorde ni la courtoisie ne le déplacent,
Ni ma beauté, ni ma dignité,
ni mon bon sens,
Car je suis trompé et trahi
Autant que je devrais, si j’étais moche.
2. Je me console parce que je n’ai jamais rien fait de mal,
Ami, envers toi en n’importe quoi,
Je t’aime plutôt plus que Seguin Valensa,
Et je suis très heureux que je t’ai conquis en amour,
Mon ami, parce que tu es le plus digne;
Vous êtes arrogant pour moi en paroles et en apparence,
Et pourtant, vous êtes si amical avec tous les autres.
3. Je me demande comment tu es devenu si fier
Ami, envers moi, et j’ai des raisons de me lamenter;
Ce n’est pas juste qu’un autre amour t’éloigne de moi
Peu importe ce qui est dit ou accordé.
Et rappel-toi comment c’était au début
De notre amour! Que Seigneur Dieu ne souhaite jamais
Que c’était de ma faute pour ce séparation.
4. La grande prouesse qui habite en vous
Et ta valeur me retient,
Car je ne connais aucune femme, lointaine ou proche,
Qui, si elle veut aimer, ne vous inclinerait;
Mais vous, mon ami, avez une telle compréhension
Que tu peux dire le meilleur,
Et je vous rappelle notre partage.
5. Ma valeur et noblesse devraient m’aider,
Ma beauté et mon beau coeur;
Par conséquent, je vous envoie cette chanson
Pour que ce soit mon messager.
Je veux savoir, ma belle et noble amie,
Pourquoi es-tu si cruel, si sauvage a moi?
Je ne sais pas s’il s’agit d’arrogance ou de mauvaise volonté.
6. Mais je veux surtout que tu lui dises, messager
Que beaucoup souffrent d’avoir trop d’orgueil.

La comtessa de Dia, probablement nommée Beatritz ou Beatriz (1140-1175), était un trobairitz, probablement la fille du comte Isoard de Diá (au nord-est de Montélimar). Elle était mariée à Guillaume de Poitiers, mais était amoureuse de Raimbaut d’Orange (1146-1173) et chantait pour lui.

The question of musical accompaniment

1. I must sing of what I do not want,
I am so angry with the one whom I love,
Because I love him more than anything:
Mercy nor courtesy moves him,
Neither does my beauty, nor my worthiness,
nor my good sense,
For I am deceived and betrayed
As much as I should be, if I were ugly.

2. I take comfort because I never did anything wrong,
Friend, towards you in anything,
Rather I love you more than Seguin did Valensa,
And I am greatly pleased that I conquered you in love,
My friend, because you are the most worthy;
You are arrogant to me in words and appearance,
And yet you are so friendly towards everyone else.

3. I wonder at how you have become so proud,
Friend, towards me, and I have reason to lament;
It is not right that another love take you away from me
No matter what is said or granted to you.
And remember how it was at the beginning
Of our love! May Lord God never wish
That it was my fault for our separation.

4. The great prowess that dwells in you
And your noble worth retain me,
For I do not know of any woman, far or near,
Who, if she wants to love, would not incline to you;
But you, friend, have such understanding
That you can tell the best,
And I remind you of our sharing.

5. My worth and my nobility should help me,
My beauty and my fine heart;
Therefore, I send this song down to you
So that it would be my messenger.
I want to know, my fair and noble friend,
Why you are so cruel and savage to me;
I don’t know if it is arrogance or ill will.

6. But I especially want you, messenger, to tell him
That many people suffer for having too much pride.

Beatrice’s poems were often set to the music of a flute. Five of her works survive, including 4 cansos and 1 tenson. “A chantar m’er de so” is the only existing song by Beatriz which survived with music.