Analysis of the manuscript: C 362 (Austorc daorlhac, Register, 15v).

Critical apparatus:

1 [...] dieus p. q. fa|[...]a t. g. male|[...], gaps in the line rectified from Register, f° 15v    2 fra(n)|[...]s    3 q(uan)| [...]s sufert    4 quelh | [...] seruir    12 empre    33 reys [...] largueza (−3)    34 alex[...] lo mon (−4)    35 [...] la g. a. qu[...] (−6)    36 [...]bre te (−2)    37 [...] de g. c. u[...] (−4)    38 [...] so b. s. (−3)    39 [...]ram t. f. [...] (−6)    40 [...] bon (−1)    44 manh [...] (−4).


Dating and historical circumstances:

The sirventes dates from the time of Louis IX’s first crusade of 1249-1250, which ended in the French King’s defeat and ignominious capture at the battle of Mansurah on 5 April 1250: see Stanisław Stroński, «Notes de littérature provençale», Annales du Midi, 25, 1913, pp. 273-297, on pp. 283-288, IV, «Austorgius de Auriliaco cruce signatus», p. 283, n.1. In view of the textual references to his shame and failure (3-4, 35), the piece must postdate that defeat. The King was eventually freed in May after the payment of a vast ransom. While his brothers urged him to return to France, Louis announced his decision on 3 July to stay in the Holy Land, and a letter was sent to the barons of France begging for reinforcements for the crusade. Jeanroy did not understand this context, commenting rather unfortunately that «Il y a quelque naïveté à suggérer à Louis IX captif [my italics] ce moyen de réparer les désastres. Il est difficile de trouver un exemple plus topique de la tyrannie du lieu commun dans la littérature provençale» (p. 84, n. 4). The appeal to Louis in line 33 shows that the sirventes must have been composed after his release. Austorc’s wish to see the Holy Roman Emperor take the cross and leave the Empire in the hands of his son refers to Frederick II Hohenstaufen and his son Conrad IV; since his expedition of 1228-1229 Frederick had promised many times to return to the Holy Land, though Pope Innocent IV, «insensible aux malheurs de la Terre-Sainte et du roi de France, faisait prêcher une véritable croisade [...] contre Frédéric II, qu’il a excommunié au concile de Lyon en 1246, et qu’il traite d’Antéchrist» (Fabre, p. 67). The sirventes must therefore date from May 1250 at the very earliest and before Frederick’s death on 13 December 1250. – Austorc himself took the cross two years later. On 18 April 1252, already on his way to the Holy Land, he signed an act at Millau confirming the donations of his ancestors to the abbey of Bonneval. Stroński explains that the troubadour was one of the knights who, after the repression of the Pastoureaux in 1251, decided to join the king’s army in the East. He appears not to have returned or to have lived long after that date, since a few years later, between 1259 and 1260, his son Austorg died and was succeeded by his heirs. In 1252 the troubadour was probably no longer young since he is likely to have been the same man who paid homage for his lands in 1236. The troubadour’s grandson Austorg was a minor in 1260, was knighted by Saint Louis in 1266, accompanied the King on his crusade of 1270, and made his will in 1285 (Stronski, pp. 285-287).


Textual notes:

3-4. Fabre does not attempt to patch the gaps here; I have followed Jeanroy (also Lavaud).

13. Alexandria = Egypt.

15. Jeanroy translates «qui ont fait échouer votre entreprise», giving alternatively in a note, «qui vous ont fait rester là-bas», the latter followed by Lavaud, which is surely right: see 9-11. Louis has by now been ransomed, since Austorc is appealing to him to set out again (33-40), but huge numbers of French were either dead or imprisoned. «The Egyptians were at first embarrassed by the numbers of their prisoners. Finding it impossible to guard them all, those that were too feeble to march were executed at once, and on every evening for a week three hundred were taken out and decapitated, by the Sultan’s own orders». The many wounded soldiers who were left behind at Damietta after the king’s departure were all massacred, with others awaiting release until 1252 (Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 voll., Harmondsworth 1971 (first published Cambridge 1951-1954), vol. III, pp. 270-271, 274-276).

17. a mal meza: Fabre «malheureuse».

20-21. It was commonly supposed that the Saracens worshipped four idols: Mahomet (Bafomet), Tervagan, Jupiter and Apolin (Apollo). Servagan is not recorded on COM; Jeanroy and Lavaud correct to Tervagan, common in Old French (see Louis-Fernand Flutre, Tables des noms propres avec toutes leurs variantes figurant dans les romans du moyen âge, Poitiers 1962, p. 179), though COM records only Tarvagan, in Guilhem de la Barra by Arnaut Vidal de Castelnaudary, text re-edited for COM from the manuscript, 420, 424, 646, 704, 742, and so on. Fabre translates lai on es as «à sa place», wrongly; Jeanroy «là où il est»; Lavaud «là où Dieu se trouve», possibly but not convincingly (why would God be located exclusively in the Holy Land?). I take it to mean that since all these Moslem «idols» are clearly present, and firmly established, in the Holy Land, we might as well be worshipping them there.

22-24. For the single verbs (vol, fai) with the plural subject Dieus [...] e Sancta Maria, see Frede Jensen, Syntaxe de l’ancien occitan, Tübingen 1994, § 478 («Si [...] le sujet se compose de deux ou de plusieurs substantifs singuliers coordonnés, le verbe se met normalement au singulier»).

31. As Fabre I take son to refer to qui.

33-40. Fabre omitted this damaged stanza. Jeanroy (followed by Lavaud) patched it extensively:


Ai, valens reys, [s’avias la] largueza


d’Alex[andre, que tot] lo mon conques,


[vengarias] la gran anta qu[’as preza: 


Ai! mem]bre te de Karle, [del marques


Guillem], de Girart cum v[encia.


Ai francx reys,] s’o be·t sovenia,


[leu fo]ran Turcx fello [en ton poder,


quar] bon secors fai Dieus a ferm voler.

It is hard to quarrel with his repair of 33-35: Alex... cannot be anyone but Alexander, and prendre anta is a fixed phrase. But the threefold repetition of Ai! seems a gratuitous invention, the insertion of a reference to marques Guillem even more so, and the assumption that Karle refers to Charlemagne rather than, say, Charles Martel (compare Girart de Roussillon) questionable; neither does the absolute use of vencia ring entirely true (perhaps better valia?); moreover the word preceding Turcx in 39 ends in -ram, not -ran. I have accepted Jeanroy’s relatively uncontentious emendations, made a simple suppletion to the first part of 39, but judge it preferable to leave 36-38 (and 44) unrestored. But it is clear that Austorc is using the traditional device of citing legendary heroes as a spur to valour.

42-43. The nuance of the ethical dative ·lh seems to be possessive: literally «for him (St Peter)» (compare Jensen, Syntaxe, 1994, §§ 244-248). The function of the preposition de appears to be causal: compare LR, III, 15, «à cause de, par l’effet de». Fabre: «s’en éloigne (et l’encombre) / De faux clercs soumis à son autorité», and Jeanroy «mais le pape dévie, lui et les clercs perfides qu’il tient en son pouvoir», both wrongly; Lavaud «la lui rend tortueuse, A l’aide de faux clercs», better.

44. Fabre (also Lavaud) patches the missing syllables with [rey descazer], suggesting that this could refer to the deposition of Frederick II by the Council of Lyon in 1245; this speculation cannot be accepted in the absence of any other textual support. Jeanroy emends blandly to manh[s lo mal voler], a feeble ending which seems unlikely for that reason. The text is best left unamended.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Austorc dʼAorlhac

Songs referring to the crusades