H. J. (Henry John) Chaytor.

The troubadours of Dante; online

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Troubadours of Dante

Henry Frowde, M.A.

Publisher to the University of Oxford

London, Edinburgh

New York

. . . •

, ...... ; .


Troubadours of Dante

Being Selections from the Works of the
Provencal Poets quoted by Dante

With Introduction, Notes, Concise
Grammar and Glossary

By H. J. Chaytor, M.A.

At the Clarendon Press



Printed at the Clarendon Press

By Horace Hart, M.A.

Printer to the University



This book is an 'ceuvre de vulgarisation,' and has
no pretensions to originality. Probably few students
of Dante have not felt, at some time or other, the
need of a small chrestomathy in which they could find
ready to hand, and in compact form, such information
upon the great troubadours mentioned in Dante as
any one is likely to require who does not propose to
make a special study of Provencal. At the same
time, the book may be of use to the student who
enters upon the study of the language with more
serious intent ; at present, the only work of the kind
in English — so far as I know — is D. B. Kitchin's
Introduction to the Study of Provencal (Williams and
Norgate, 1888), a book of restricted compass and
necessarily out of date in several respects.

I have not attempted any normalization of the
spelling of the texts, which are given exactly as the
editors mentioned at the head of each piece have
published them. To reduce so extended a series of
texts to a uniform spelling would be a work of great
delicacy ; dialectical forms, often of interest, may
easily be normalized out of existence, and it is part
of the student's training to learn to recognize the



same word in a different dress, if he wishes to make
progress in the mediaeval Romance languages. More-
over, the arrangement adopted in the Glossary, and
the remarks upon orthography under the head of
1 Phonetics/ should enable diverse forms to be identi-
fied without loss of time.

Special monographs used in the preparation of this
work are : —

Bertran de Born, A. Stimming, Halle, 1892 (Forster's
Romanische Bibliothek, No. 8).

„ „ A. Thomas, Toulouse, 1888.

Arnaut Daniel, U. A. Canello, Halle, 1883.

Sordello, C. de Lollis, Halle, 1896 (Forster, Rom. Biblioth.,
No. 11).

Peire d'Auvergne, R. Zenker, Erlangen, 1900.

Giraut de Bornelh (drei Tenzonen und drei bisher unbe-
kannte Gedichte), A. Kolsen, Berlin, 1894.

La personality storica di Folchetto di Marsiglia nella Com-
media di Dante, N. Zingarelli, Bologna, 1899.

Biographie des Troubadours Folquet von Marseille, H.
Pratsch, Diss., Gottingen, 1879.

Texts have also been taken from the following : —

E. Monaci, Testi antichi provenzali, Rome, 1889.

P. Meyer, Recueil d 'anciens textes, Paris, 1875-8.

K. Bartsch, Chrestomathie provencale, Elberfeld, 1880.

Mahn, Die Werke der Troubadours, Berlin, 1846-86.

ROCHEGUDE, Parnasse Occitanie?i, Toulouse, 18 19.

Crescini, Manualetto Provenzale, Verona, 1892.

C. Appel, Provenzalische Chrestomathie, Leipzig, 1895.

Drs. Kolsen and Naetebus of Berlin have not yet
produced their monographs upon Giraut de Bornelh
and Aimeric de Pegulhan, and I am not aware that



any one has yet brought out or is contemplating
editions of Folquet de Marselha or of Aimeric de
Belenoi. From the above authorities I have freely-
taken what seemed useful: but, this book not being
a polemical work, comment has been made as brief
as possible and argument excluded except where
unavoidable ; hence many of the notes may appear
unduly dogmatic upon points which I well know to
be yet in dispute. Detailed acknowledgement of
every work that has been of service would occupy
space unnecessarily : a general reference to Grober's
Grundriss der Romanischen Philologie, and to the
bibliographies given therein, must suffice.

My thanks are due to Professor York Powell and
to Mr. Paget Toynbee for useful hints as to the scope
and nature of the book, and also to Professor Ernest
Muret of Geneva University for much valuable in-
formation and advice.


Merchant Taylors' School,
Crosby, Liverpool.

May, 1 90 1.

Fra tutti il primo Arnaldo Daniello,

Gran maestro d'amor, ch* a la sua terra
Ancor fa onor col dir polito e bello.

Eranvi quel cK Amor si leve afferra,

Lun Pietro e Valtro : e 7 men famoso Arnaldo,
E quei che fur conquisi con piu guerra.

I } dico Vuno e Valtro Raimbaldo,

Che cantar pur Beatrice in Monferrato,
E V vecchio Pier d'Alvernia con Giraldo.

Folchetto, cK a Marsiglia il nome ha da to,
Ed a Genova tolto: ed air estrenio
Cangib per miglior patria abito, e stato ;

Giaufrl Rudel cK usb la vela e 7 remo
A cercar la sua morte ; e quel Guglielmo
Che per ca?ztar ha 7 fior d£ suoi dl scemo :

Amerigo, Bernardo, Ugo ed Anselmo,
E ?nille altri ne vidi, a cui la lingua
Lancia e spada fu sempre, e scudo ed elmo.

Petrarch : Trionfo dAmore, Cap. iv, 11. 40-57.






i. Author of ' Las Penas dels Yferns ' i

ii-vi. Peire d'Alvernhe .... 4

vii-xiv. Bertran de Born . . . .15

xv-xxn. Giraut de Bornelh ... 29

xxiii-xxvii. Arnaut Daniel . . . .46'

xxviii-xxxii. folquet de marselha ... 53

xxxiii-xxxvi. almeric de belenoi ... 62

xxxvii-xl. almeric de pegulhan ... 67

xli-xliv. sordello 72









§ i. Among the many points of interest attaching to
the study of Provencal literature, one, at least, must
command the attention of every student of literary history,
namely, the fact that a literature so short-lived as that of
the ancient Provencal should have exerted so profound
and permanent an influence as it did upon the literatures
of the countries with which it lay in contact. In the tenth
century the first piece of Provencal literature, the Boethius
fragment, makes its appearance : by the end of the
thirteenth century, the uproar of the Albigeois crusades
had driven the poets from their country, and their literature
comes practically to an end : Giraut Riquier, the last
troubadour of the old Provencal school, died in 1294,
when Dante was twenty-nine years of age. Yet, within these
limits of time, Provencal poetry rose to the highest pitch
of polish and refinement. Northern France owed much
of her lyric poetry to the troubadours : Spain was a
constant imitator, and Italy has very largely to thank
the Provencal poets for the impulse which started her
poetical literature upon its long career.

Of the name 'Provencal,' of the phonetic peculiarities
and the geographical limits which divided the langue <Toc
from the langue d'o'/t, we shall speak later. Upon the
origin of Provencal poetry little is known ; it is impossible


to believe that its highest perfection can be traced to
beginnings of exclusively popular origin, inasmuch as the
earliest lyric poems known to us are wholly aristocratic
in intention, and are as far removed from the simplicity
of folk-songs as any poetry can be. Probably a large
debt was owing to the Arab poetry, of which there was
a flourishing school in the tenth century that made its
influence felt from the North of Spain, an influence
perhaps apparent in the complexity and direction of
Provencal versification. Poems we certainly have which
bear the stamp of popular origin, however aristocratic their
diction, as, for example, the estamfiidas or dance-songs.
Possibly there were two contemporary schools of poetry,
the* popular and the aristocratic, afterwards conjoined : but,
in any case, the earliest literary monuments imply a long
period of previous development with which we are not here
greatly concerned, as it is our business to deal with Pro-
vencal poetry only so far as may serve to explain its
relation to early Italian literature and especially to Dante.
The medium of poetical diffusion was the same in the
South as in the North of France — the joculatores, scurrae,
thymelici and histriones of Roman society, who continued
to exist through Merovingian and Carolingian times after
the fall of the Roman empire (O. F.jog/eor, M. ¥. jongleur,
Yrov.jog/ar, Eng. juggler). While, in the North of France,
these wandering buffoons remained mere acrobats and
tumblers, they found at last in the South a more refined
audience and a demand for poetry. When their patrons
began to compose poetry themselves, as did, for instance,
William, count of Poitiers and duke of Aquitaine, a more
aristocratic title was naturally desired for purposes of differ-
entiation, and hence the rise of the 'troubadour'. The
name is derived from the verb trobar, to find (M. F.


trouver), and corresponds to trouvere in N. France. The
Provencal declension was : —

Nom. Sing, trobaire. Norn. Plur. trobador.

Ace. Sing. trobador. Ace. Plur. trobadors.

The Old French:—

Nom. Sing, trovere. Nom. Plur. troveor.

Ace. Sing. troveor. Ace. Plur. troveors.

In both languages the accusative persisted as the name
for the poet — troubador or troubadour^ trouveur^. The
nominative trouvlre was brought into literary fashion in
N. France by grammarians at the end of the eighteenth
century, and is not now likely to be disestablished. Trobar
and trouver are of disputed derivation, probably from
rpoVo?, Low Latin tropus, the form or melody of a song :
the verb then has the primary meaning of ' compose,' and,
as the composer was obliged to exercise his invention, we
have an easy transition to the secondary meaning 'find.'
That was, at any rate, the connotation of the word in
S. France : the troubadour was primarily the inventor, and
this rather of new metres and rimes than of new thoughts.
For the poet of originality, who has something new to say,
and not merely a fresh manner of expressing commonplaces,
is rather the ttoi^t^, poeta, the creator or { maker ' as
Germanic literature has it : or he may be considered as
a vates, the inspired bard, which was the Latin conception
of his function, until it was displaced by the word poeta.
In Middle French trouveur was replaced by the word acteur,
through confusion between the Latin auctor and acior^ and
this again by poete at the Renaissance.

§ 2. The j'og/ar, then, was one who made a business
of poetry and music, both popular and aristocratic : the
troubadour was one who composed aristocratic poetry,
1 Cf. Dante's use of trovatori in the Vita Nuova, § 3, I. 68.


whether for pay or merely in honour of some lady. The
connotations of these two names overlap at times : a writer
of aristocratic lyrics who got his living by composition and
performance might be at the same time troubadour and
joglar. Usually, the troubadour had one or more joglars
in his service, who performed their master's compositions and
might be sent by him to sing a particular song to the lady
in whose honour it had been written. If the joglar was
a man of originality, he might rise to be a troubadour'.
similarly, if the troubadour disgraced himself or fell upon
evil days, he might sink to the joglar class. Both troubadour
and joglar were obliged to learn the technicalities of their
profession, to have a mastery of the literary language, of the
rules of prosody and the art of music : teachers existed who
gained a living by giving instruction upon these points. The
joglar naturally and the troubadour often led a wandering
life, passing from court to court, wherever they could obtain
an audience and a recompense for their performances. The
jongleurs of North and joglars of South France came thus to
put on totally different personalities, resulting from difference
of environment. Until late into the ninth century the North
of France was ravaged by war, the conditions of social life
were unstable, and the ever-present sense of impending
change was entirely destructive of any incipient progress in
the arts : refinement was lacking and for elegant poetry there
was no public. On the other hand, the South of France
was comparatively free from the miseries and disturbances
of war : the petty princes of the several states lived in a rich
and happy obscurity : the development of art was furthered
by the relations subsisting between the courts of Barcelona
and Aragon, and the government immediately north of the
Pyrenees, whereby the door was opened to Spanish and
therefore indirectly to Arab influence. Moreover, the climate


of Southern France is warmer and softer than that of the

North, and the almost racial difference thereby produced

was further accentuated by political circumstances. That

difference — visible even to-day — is well expressed by Raoul

de Caen, when he speaks of the Provencal crusaders

(P. Meyer in Romania, v. p. 257): — 'Les Francs ont le

regard hautain, l'esprit fier, la main prompte aux armes,

toujours prete a depenser, lente a amasser. Les Provencaux

formaient contraste avec eux par les mceurs, par l'esprit,

par la maniere de se vetir et de se nourrir : ils savaient

menager leur nourriture, scruter partout pour la trouver,

supporter le travail : mais, a vrai dire, ils etaient peu

belliqueux. Par leur industrie au temps de la famine, ils

rendirent plus de services que d'autres plus prompts au

combat. A defaut de pain, ils vivaient de racines, et, armes

d'un fer, ils fouillaient la terre pour y trouver leur subsistance:

d'ou le dicton que les enfants chantent encore — les Francs

a la bataille, les Provencaux aux vivres ! '

§ 3. Those circumstances which favoured the growth of
poetry in the South of France also furthered the spread of
other influences less conducive to the ultimate prosperity
of the country. The intellectual renaissance of the twelfth
century had given rise to a strong tendency to free specula-
tion upon matters ecclesiastical and religious, the result
of a growing interest in the study of philosophy and law.
Throughout the eleventh century, wandering teachers of
strange doctrines had been perambulating Europe ; as time
wore on, the more vigorous of these succeeded in founding
schools or sects, and we begin to meet with divers obscure
bodies of heretics — Manichaeans, Paulicians, Bulgarians,
Paterini, Cathari. The South of France was invariably the
most fruitful field of their labours : Ademar says in his


chronicle, 'there arose throughout Aquitaine Manichees,
seducing the people, denying baptism and the virtue of the
Holy Cross and whatever is of sound doctrine — sed inter
se ipsos luxuriam omnem exercentes.' In 1119 a Church
council was held at Toulouse to inquire into these innova-
tions : in 1 1 63 the council of Tours desired 'ut cuncti
Albigensium haereticorum consortium fugiant.' The popes
fulminated against the growing heresy, but it was not until
1 199 that Innocent III seriously took up the work of
suppression. Thus the so-called Albigeois heresy was of
long and steady growth, contemporary with a large portion
of the literary history of the country : we shall naturally look
for some expression of this heresy in Provencal literature :
we shall, at any rate, expect to find some trace in the
literature of those racial characteristics which predisposed
some of the peoples in the South of France to accept the
heresy which proved their ultimate ruin.

The origin of the heresy is very obscure : some historians
believe it to have been an importation from the Paulicians
of the Balkan peninsula, others would even retrace it to the
ancient Gnostics and Manichees of early Christian times.
Nor is it easy to define the creed of the heretics with any
exactitude : the Manichaeanism of the South of France was
rather a vague general belief than a body of precisely
formulated doctrine. At any rate, it was based primarily
upon an absolute distinction between spirit and matter ; on
the one hand was the perfectly good and spiritual being,
namely God, who was the creator of the spiritual world :
on the other hand was the creator of the material world,
Satan, entirely bad and entirely opposed to God. Thus
much the various sects had in common with all dualism,
though in detail they often disagreed. Man had been
originally pure spirit, the creation of God : but Satan seduced


him, gave him a material body, and the pleasures of possess-
ing property and of reproducing his species. Christ was
the Holy Spirit under the form of man, and came to teach
the world by what means it might free itself from the
trammels of matter, and again becoming spirit recover its
pristine goodness. This was to be done by turning the
mind from the material to the spiritual world, and by
renouncing the pleasures of marriage and of earthly posses-
sions, as tending to prolong the reign of Satan. He who
succeeded in this renunciation became perfectus and entered
at once into the spiritual kingdom upon his death. The
Church of Rome, which was given over to luxury, was
naturally in the power of Satan and was to be combated in
every possible way.

§ 4. In view, then, of the length of the period during
which this heresy had been growing, and in view of the
extent to which it had become ingrained in the people, we
shall expect to find some traces of it in the poetry of the
troubadours. As a whole, the troubadours were not greatly
interested in religious affairs, unless they happened to have
been brought up in the cloister, and many of them had
a fine contempt for the Church of their time : allusions in
poems written before the Albigeois crusade to the Church of
Rome and the dissolute lives of the priests are to be referred
to this source, quite as much as to any sympathy with the
Albigeois heretics. But, beyond this, we should expect to
find that so pronounced a dualism was an element in the
literary atmosphere of the time, and traces of it may, in fact,
be noted. Yet, if we are disappointed to find those traces
somewhat vague and indeterminate, we must take into
account the nature of the literature under discussion. There
is no question here of a national literature, in the proper



sense of the term ; though there were certain racial character-
istics common to Southern France, there never was any bond
of political union. From the earliest times we find Aquitaine
opposed to the southernmost districts with their Greek and
Roman civilization: we find again the Arian Visigoths of
Toulouse and Aquitaine in conflict with the orthodox Franks
and Burgundians. These early differences are continued
into later years : in 1112 Provence is joined to the territory
of Barcelona, and in n 36 to the kingdom of Aragon, while
in 1 1 54 Aquitaine and Poitou become possessions of the
King of England. There was thus no one point d'appui,
nothing round which any national unity could centre : and,
beyond a certain opposition to Northern France and a
general enthusiasm at the time of the crusades, there is
nothing in the shape of common action or purpose. Hence
it is that epic poetry forms no real part of Provencal
literature : we have to deal mainly with a literature of lyric
poetry, expressing sentiments purely personal; a literature
moreover intensely aristocratic, artificial to a degree, with
nothing in it to catch the ears of the multitude. Therefore
any characteristics common to this literature either will have
sprung from those tendencies inherent in every inhabitant
of Southern France, or will have been dictated by the
social conditions under which the poet lived. They will
not be the expression of national thought and feeling, for
such feeling was absolutely non-existent.

§ 5. The lyric poetry of ancient Provencal literature falls
into two general divisions : the sirventes, a poem dealing
with political, social, religious or moral themes, and generally
of a polemical or at any rate of a didactic character, and the
canso, a love-poem generally addressed to some lady. More
precise definitions of these two forms and of their sub-


divisions will be given later: but at the moment we may
observe that the most striking feature of the sirventes is its
power in the hand's of a poet who knew how to use it.
That a poet should be able to influence the course of
political events by his compositions upon them, that rulers
should ask for sirventes as instruments to further their ends,
may seem remarkable to us at the present day. But we
have to take into account the wholly corporate character of
mediaeval life under the feudal system : comparatively few
individuals in the world were of any great account, and
the 'man in the street' was non-existent. For the same
reasons, we find the crusade sirventes to be an important
factor in the determination of those religious movements :
their influence was probably considerable, for national
movements were then to be brought about by influencing
leaders, not by inspiring peoples with a sense of responsi-
bility : and the leaders found that satire was a force to be
reckoned with in the society in which they lived. However,
as love is the most powerful of human emotions, it is in the
canso rather than in the sirventes that we shall expect to
find the fullest expression of the troubadour spirit. It need
hardly be said that the great feature of the troubadour
love-poetry is the glorification of the married woman, result-
ing probably from an increase of Mariolatry in the eleventh
century. On the one hand, we are told that the most
passionate poem was nothing more than a conventional
compliment paid by the troubadour to his lord's wife,
expected by both parties and countenanced by the husband.
When we find the troubadour entering his lady's service,
putting his hands between hers, and receiving her kiss in
imitation of the oath of fealty to an overlord, here we have
a recognized custom of the times, part of the organized
system of chivalrous service then prevailing. It is said

b 2


that the great work of the troubadours was to raise the
married woman to a higher stage, to draw the 'femme'
from the low esteem in which she was formerly held and
which she still obtains in the East. On the other hand, to
take one of many arguments, Canello finds in the very
word ' femme ' an indication of the laxity of family life in
Southern France. The married woman, in Roman society,
was the uxor : the word has disappeared from the Romance
languages, being displaced hjfemina or mulier (Prov. femna,
molher), words which denote a connexion which might be
terminated at pleasure : in North France, to avoid any
possible equivocation, the married woman is specified as
femina esponsata, 'femme espousee.' Relationship was
traced only through the mother, and so patruus, the pater-
nal uncle,^ was displaced by avtinculus (oncle), the maternal
uncle, a phenomenon which may obviously be otherwise ex-
plained, as e. g. any survival of pre-Roman custom. A further
result of the looseness of family life, as Canello thinks, was
the tendency of family names to disappear : the son was
known by his Christian name, by his mother's name, and, if
necessary, by the name of the locality of his birth : whereas
the paucity of Christian names gives rise to place-names
used as secondary names, and posthumous children were
called by their mother's name among Teutonic peoples. It
is, surely, a simple explanation to make the Low Latin usage
responsible for the change in words. Else we might argue
that the breed of horses had deteriorated where the word
caballus (cheval) has ousted equus, or that in Southern
France mares had escaped this degradation, inasmuch as
equa (Prov. egua) continued to survive. The degradation
of a word does not necessarily imply moral deterioration in
the ideas which it connotes.

Legal marriage was in any case a stern necessity, in


whatever light the compact may have been regarded. In-
heritances ha4 to be transmitted, and heirs had to be
forthcoming, if the feudal system was to continue. It is
indisputable that the majority of husbands did not leave
their wives in absolute freedom, whatever their own morality
may have been : the biographies of the troubadours alone
give sufficient evidence of the fact. Equally certain is it
that every married lady of position was allowed to have her
circle of admirers, and was probably anxious to have a
famous troubadour among them, as her fame was spread
abroad by his songs : no doubt, the senhal, or pseudonym

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Online LibraryH. J. (Henry John) ChaytorThe troubadours of Dante; → online text (page 1 of 20)