Analysis of the manuscript: C 266v (bertran dalamano 266r).

Critical apparatus:

9 fan    12 que silh    17 en fos en with second «en» crossed out    35 que despregutz    36 a letter appears to have been crossed out between «dreitz» and «bretos».


Dating and historical circumstances:

The sirventes was composed before Charles of Anjou sailed for the Holy Land with his brother Louis IX on 25 August 1248 (for this generally accepted date see inter alia Matthew Paris, Matthaei Parisiensis, monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica majora, ed. Henry Richards Luard, 7 voll., London 1872-1884, vol. V, p. 22; English translation Richard Vaughan, Chronicles of Matthew Paris, Gloucester and New York 1984, p. 146; Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 voll., Harmondsworth 1971, first published Cambridge 1951-1954, vol. III, p. 160; Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Crusades, Newhaven and London 1987, p. 160. Salverda de Grave (pp. 21-22) gives it as 1249, Aurell (p. 161) as 1247). Lines 9-24 refer to events following the death of Raimon Bérenger V of Provence on 19 August 1245 and Charles’s marriage to his daughter and heiress Beatrice in 1246. The great Provençal communes of Arles, Avignon and Marseilles were opposing French rule and in April 1247 came together under Barral des Baux in a defensive alliance, which is almost certainly referred to in line 13. Charles was not strong enough to attack them decisively; as a result the communes paid him no rents in the early years of his rule in Provence, and the great lords who, like Bertran d’Alamano, had had no difficulty in recognising him as the legitimate heir to Raimon Berenguer V, were suffering from this state of affairs (Salverda de Grave, pp. 28-30 and the more recent account of Florian Mazel, La Noblesse et l’Eglise en Provence, fin Xe-début XIVe siècle. L’exemple des familles d’Agoult-Simiane, de Baux et de Marseille, Paris 2002, pp. 411-416). – Lines 26-29 show that at the time of composition Charles was in the north of France, when a rumour that he had taken the cross arrived in the south. Louis himself took the cross on several occasions: once in 1245, when many French nobles followed his example; apparently again in May 1247, when various English nobles took the cross «encouraged by the example of the king of the French and the nobles of that kingdom»; and once more in January 1248, on his recovery from what had seemed to be a mortal illness, when he was followed by his brothers including Charles of Anjou and other nobles (Vaughan, Chronicles, pp. 110 and 131; Matthew Paris, ed. Luard, IV, pp. 489-490 and 629, and V, p. 3; Albert Pauphilet and Edmond Pognon, Historiens et chroniqueurs du moyen âge: Robert de Clari, Villehardouin, Joinville, Froissart, Commynes, Paris 1952, pp. 224-225, chapters XXIV-XXV. Salverda de Grave was confused by the repeated occasions of taking the cross: on p. 31 he remarks that it is surprising that Bertran only learns in 1247 that Charles has taken the Cross when he had done so in 1245). – After spending a short time in Provence in early 1246, marrying Beatrice in Aix on 31 January, Charles returned to France in the spring and on 27 May was knighted by his brother. Sternfeld states that there are no documents to show whether he visited Provence during the next two years: he is recorded as dining at Saint-Denis with the king and Raymond VII of Toulouse on 9 October 1247, attending to matters in Anjou in January 1248, and returning to the French court in March where, Sternfeld states, he stayed until his departure for Palestine (Richard Sternfeld, Karl von Anjou als Graf der Provence (1245-1268), Berlin 1888, pp. 23, 27-28, 42-43. Salverda de Grave, p. 29, takes it that he was in France all this time. Aurell (p. 161) claims Charles was in Paris in the summer of 1247 prior to setting sail from Aigues-Mortes, joining Louis in Paris a few weeks before embarcation, but gives no source beyond a reference to BdT 76.15, 54, which proves nothing, and his account is confused by his erroneous dating of Louis’ departure (see above). His notes suggest he is going on the archive dates, which Sternfeld adjusts. Barthélémy suggests though does not prove that Charles was present at Louis’ court in July 1248 when he sorted out the question of Monndoubleau (Dominique Barthélémy, La societe dans le comté de Vendôme, Paris 1993, p. 818; see Charles Metais, Chartes vendomoises, Vendôme 1905, pp. 376-379, no. CCCLXII. Jean Dunbabin very kindly signalled this reference). Matthew Paris and Joinville record his presence in Paris in January 1248, but do not name him specifically in the context of the various nobles who took the cross in 1247. Although Salverda de Grave and Aurell give the date of the piece as 1247 (Salverda de Grave, pp. 27, 29, 33, 35; Aurell, pp. 159-161), there is no reason to exclude the first half of 1248. – Aurell (p. 159) suggests that the debt postponement referred to in 23-24, for which Salverda de Grave could offer no explanation, may refer to £300 that Amaury de Thury, seneschal of Provence, was at that time demanding from the Arlésiens as punishment for ambushes perpetrated in Crau against the court bailiffs. He cites an act of 26 February 1247 by which Albeta de Tarascon, Bertran de Baux and Bertran Porcelet had promised Baudoin, bailiff of Aix, to pay this fine in the name of the commune. (Despite his observation, p. 318, n. 18, that as the conversion rate marks to pounds is uncertain it is impossible to be absolutely sure of the link between the poem and these events, this seems extremely likely). Two months later the councillors of Arles went back on this promise, to join the league of cities hostile to Charles of Anjou. – Believing Bertran to have composed his sirventes in 1247, Aurell observes that in the summer of 1247 the troubadour was living in Arles after having been provisionally relieved of his duties at the court of Aix, supported by the annual pension that the count’s officers were supposed to pay him on the toll of la Trouille, according to a privilege accorded him by Raimon Berenguer in May 1245 (p. 160; see also pp. 108-109). As he suggests, it seems more than likely that Bertran saw his own revenues drying up as a result of the count’s rents from Arles being withheld. But Bertran was still in Arles in 1248, so the same situation could apply then. – In conclusion, the sirventes was composed between April 1247 and August 1248. Salverda de Grave may well be right in seeing its immediate stimulus as the formation of the alliance of southern towns in April 1247, reinforced by news of nobles taking the cross in May, though the early part of 1248 cannot be ruled out.


Textual notes:

9-11. I follow Salverda de Grave’s emendation in 9. His translation «Quoique mon seigneur eût annoncé avec beaucoup de bruit qu’il allait réclamer des villes ses droits & sa part (de leurs revenus)» implies a confrontational tone, where Bertran would be accusing Charles of bombast and vacillation. However, it is uncertain that the source of the brutz was Charles himself, and although the initial de is somewhat ambiguous, the fact that Charles is not presented as the active subject of the clause suggests rather that the source of the brutz is impersonal (compare lo ressos and tug dizon, 26 and 28). The tone of leu (11) is problematic as it could be taken more or less neutrally («quickly», «easily») or censoriously «with a lack of proper consideration, frivolously»). I interpret the tone in these lines and elsewhere to be diplomatic while getting the point across. Compare Stefano Asperti’s well-judged assessment in «Sul sirventese “Qi qe s’esmai ni·s desconort” di Bertran d’Alamanon e su altri testi lirici ispirati dalle guerre di Provenza», in Cantarem d’aquestz trobadors. Studi occitanici in onore di Giuseppe Tavani, ed. Luciano Rossi, Alessandria 1995, pp. 169-234, on p. 177: «Bertran critica il proprio signore non come un oppositore o avversario, ossia come partecipe di una fazione contrapposta, ma in quanto la posizione che occupa fra i seguaci del conte gli permette di dissentire e di obiettare, talora anche attraverso una lieve ironia», and p. 210: «la sua critica muove però sempre dall’interno della cerchia dei “fedeli” del Conte, cioè non esalta mai il partito opposto, e fa ricorso all’ironia, non al vilipendio o alla denigrazione». – For the meaning of razos here compare see SW, VII, 60, faire r. ‘bezahlen’, the examples of rendre r. ‘Rechnung, Rechenschaft ablegen’, and the many legal nuances in Niermeyer, s.v. ratio, including ‘legal title’, ‘claim’, ‘property’, ‘co-owner’s share in a joint estate’, ‘due attaching to a tenement’.

12. Salverda de Grave rightly adjusts the word division.

13-16. In 14 Bertran is playing on the ideas of nozar ‘to knot’ and nozer ‘to harm’. The correction to the otherwise unattested nozamens made by Salverda de Grave, following SW, V, 433, is unjustified. For the form las for ‘bond, tie’ in 15, compare SW, IV, 333 latz, the last example (.I. rezol de seda de las d’amors). These are perhaps an echo of Matt. 16: 19, «Et quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum et in caelis; et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in caelis», Peter (as first pope) being given the power by Christ to tie up and untie. 

18. Aurell misunderstands nos as referring to Bertran himself and his co-citizens of Arles: «Il s’en prend ainsi aux habitants de la ville du delta qu’il considère comme ses concitoyens à en croire la première personne du pluriel qu’il emploie pour les exhorter» (p. 159). This is surely wrong: Bertran is directing his exhortations to Charles, and in 17-19 he is reproaching the count and his supporters, of which the troubadour is one, for weakness in the face of the communes. In other words, Bertran advised Charles not to give up at an early stage; now that Marseille and Avignon are involved, instead of reinforcing the count’s claim to his rights, his side has settled for postponing any decisive action. Nos in 21 can hardly mean the Arlésiens. – For remaner see PD «r. (en, per alcun) être empêché, ne pas avoir lieu (par la faute, par la volonté de qn.)», and compare Marcabru, BdT 293.22, 13-15, Mas en cels de lai es romas, / ad ops d’Espaigna e del Vas /en devetz ben l’afan sofrir and the note.

19. For the flexional «irregularity» at the rhyme, discussed by Salverda de Grave, compare Ruth Harvey and Linda Paterson, The Troubadour Tensos and Partimens: A Critical Edition, 3 voll., Cambridge 2010, vol. I, pp. xxii-xxvi. Alternatively, son could be a misreading of sg. fon.

20-21. Aurell translates as «mais, à partir du moment que Marseille et Avignon étaient engagées, nous avons fait...», which does not take account of the initial e of 21 or the syntax.

23-24. Salverda de Grave marcxs, mistakenly. He does not translate umilmens. – For the likely circumstances of this debt postponement see the general note above.

25. On the basis of OF Salverda de Grave translates «cette affaire sera...facilement réparée», interpreting the stanza (which would otherwise be nonsensical) as ironic. Levy (SW, VII, 288, 3) adds: «Vgl. auch Du Cange, retinere 2 “sarta tecta aedium tueri, aedificia reficere, reparare; gall. entretenir, alias retenir”. Aber r. kann doch wol [sic] nur “in Stand halten” bedeuten, was hier nicht passt. Cor. revengutz? Vgl. ibid. 5, 59: Mas tot o revenra lieu, Sol li fag non syan grieu». That retengutz may be erroneous is perhaps also suggested by the repetition of the rhyme-word at 11. But Levy’s solution also depends on the resort to irony, which seems strained. One might postulate a scribal error for remazutz (compare 18), but the simplest solution is to keep the MS reading and interpret ‘postponed’: compare La nuech vai e·l jorns ve / ab clar cel e sere / e l’alba no·s rete, / ans ven belh’e complia (L’œuvre poétique de Falquet de Romans, troubadour, ed. R. Arveiller and G. Gouiran, Aix-en-Provence, 1987, XIII, 12-15), «l’aube ne diffère pas». Despite Levy’s hesitation over this example (SW, VII, 288, 6) «se r. “sich zurückhalten, zurückbleiben”? oder “zögern”?»), these editors evidently saw the translation as unproblematic. Compare many examples on COM of retenir meaning «to hold back», though I have found no others used in a temporal sense under rete or retengutz.

28. Salverda de Grave does not translate n’, which must just refer back to the previous idea, hence my translation «as a result». It seems preferable to translate irascutz as ‘downhearted’ rather than ‘angered’ (compare PD iraiser, ‘s’irriter, se fâcher; s’affliger’, irat ‘irrité, fâché; attristé, affligé’): it is not obvious why anger should impel Charles to go on crusade, whereas if he is pessimistic about finding a solution to the problem of the cities then crusading could be seen by Bertran as a diversion. Perhaps the closest to the sense is ‘fed up’.

29. suria: not ‘pays de Tyr’ (Salverda de Grave).

31-32. In other words, he thinks he can win land and resources in the East to make up for losses at home.

34. Pleonastic en: see Frede Jensen, Syntaxe de l’ancien occitan, Tübingen 1994, § 676.

35. Salverda de Grave prints en tro (35). Since this line offers the only attestation of despregutz, the word division is probably misleading. Levy (SW, II, 160) wonders whether entro should be emended to tro and despregutz to desperegutz, but there is no need for emendation beyond word division: compare the forms cited in SW, III, 260.

36. «To be a real Breton» means «to wait forever (for the return of King Arthur)».

39-40. Mahn reads aitals (39) correctly; Salverda de Grave prints aital without commenting on this, though notes «le cas oblique sens», apparently confused. – Mahn expands the penultimate word of 40, no with an abbreviation mark, to non; Salverda de Grave prints no.m as a correction. – For the imperfect indicative of the hypothetical si clause linked to a future in the main clause, «where it may serve to produce a stronger impression of actuality», see Jensen, Syntaxe, § 555.

41-43. Salverda de Grave follows Mahn’s misreading (nesteia) of nestia in 41 and «corrects», and Mahn’s reading sui in 43. The force of these lines is that if Charles won’t provide an opportunity for Bertran to resort to arms (see 33-34) to reclaim his rights, he should at least allow him to send a request for compensation. The tone seems diplomatic and supplicatory rather than ironic.

44. Hungary was frequently associated in the Middle Ages with vast wealth: see particularly Levente Seláf, «Gaucelm Faidit en Hongrie, ou l’aventure orientale des troubadours», in Gaucelm Faidit: amours, voyages et débats, Moustier Ventadour, 2010, pp. 37-55, on pp. 44-46 and Ruth Harvey, «Le contexte des “performances” des troubadours», Actes du IVe Congrès International de l’AIEO (Vitoria-Gasteiz, 22-28 août 1993), ed. Ricardo Cierbide Martinena, 2 voll., Vitoria-Gasteiz 1994, vol. I, pp. 113-125, on pp. 116-117.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Bertran dʼAlamano

Songs referring to the crusades