English translation [LP]
I. Now I know who has the greatest merit of all the early risers:
Lord Conrad’s is the purest and truest, for he is defending himself overseas at
Tyre against Saladin and his vile troops. God help him, for help is slow in
coming! He alone will have the prize, since he alone suffers the hardship.
Italian translation [lb]
I. Ora so chi ha il merito più alto fra tutti quelli che si sono
alzati presto: quello del signor Corrado è più puro, privo di artifici, lui che
si difende laggiù a Tiro contro Saladino e le sue truppe malvagie. Che Dio lo
soccorra, poiché il soccorso tarda. Solo riceverà la gloria, poiché solo patisce
Text: Gouiran 1985 (XXXIV). – Rialto 5.iii.2013.
Mss.: Dc 257r, F 100v, I 176r, K 161r, M 232r, d 279v.
Critical editions: Albert Stimming, Bertran de Born, sein Leben und seine Werke, mit Anmerkung und Glossar, Halle 1879, p. 132 (IV); Antoine Thomas, Poésies complètes de Bertran de Born, publiées dans le texte original, avec une introduction, des notes, un glossaire et des extraits du cartulaire de Dalon, Toulouse 1888, p. 84 (XXII); Albert Stimming, Bertran von Born, Halle 1892, p. 100 (XXI); Albert Stimming, Bertran von Born, zweite, verbesserte Auflage, Halle 1913, p. 103 (XX); Carl Appel, Die Lieder Bertrans von Born, Halle 1932, p. 76 (XXXI); Gérard Gouiran, L’amour et la guerre. L’oeuvre de Bertran de Born, 2 voll., Aix-en-Provence 1985, vol. II, p. 678; William D. Paden - Tilde Sankovitch - Patricia H. Stäblein, The poems of the Troubadour Bertran de Born, Berkeley - Los Angeles 1986, p. 415 (XLI).
Other editions: Vincenzo De Bartholomaeis, Poesie provenzali storiche relative all’Italia, 2 voll., Roma 1931, vol. I, p. 22 (text Stimming 1892 and Thomas); Saverio Guida, Canzoni di crociata, Parma 1992, p. 188 (Gouiran's text).
Versification: a10 b10 a10 b10 c7’ a10 a10 (Frank 347:1); five coblas unissonans with two three-line tornadas and one of two lines.
Notes: The manuscript tradition of this song is complicated and the text appears to have been re-worked on at least two occasions. The mss. present two different versions, one in DcFIKd and one in M. The text here is the DcFIKd version; for the M version see BdT 80.17 on Rialto. M’s stanzas III and IV correspond to stanzas I and II of the DcFIKd version. – The general background to events referred to here is that after Saladin’s defeat of the Christians at Hattin on 3 July 1187, Conrad of Montferrat, holed up in the Christian stronghold of Tyre, sent desperate messages to the West for aid. Although Richard the Lionheart took the cross as soon as he heard the news, other leaders showed less sense of urgency, eventually doing so in mid-January 1188. However, it took another three years before Richard and King Philip II Augustus of France set sail for the East, by which time King Henry II of England was dead, as they continued to wage quarrel amongst themselves at home (see Gouiran’s edition, pp. 659-664 and Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 voll., Harmondsworth 1971, first published Cambridge 1951-1954, vol. II, pp. 457-472). – The reference to Richard as king in v. 18 proves that the DcFIKd version must have been composed after he succeeded his father in July 1189, if not after his coronation on 3 September. Paden et al (pp. 408-409) argue that since Conrad is called king in v. 45 Bertran must be speaking after his marriage to Isabelle, heiress to the kingdom of Jerusalem, in November 1190. However, Gouiran (p. 676) observes that Conrad’s contemporaries may have thought he was king before that, noting that Conrad considered himself the kingdom’s sovereign when Guy de Lusignan was in captivity, and that his supporters had many reasons to give him this title, so this does not help to narrow down the dating definitively. – Gouiran notes (pp. 674-675) that in stanza III Bertran states openly that the two kings, Philip and Richard, distrust each other, but that this does not seem to correspond the period after Richard’s accession to the throne, and that it is difficult to know at what moment the kings could have given their contemporaries the idea that they were delaying on such an account. He suggests the possibility of circumstances in the winter of 1189-1190 but argues that this would place the date of composition as very late, since this would be a virtually two years after the kings had taken the cross. (His implication here seems to be that two years is too long in the light of Bertran saying it is well over a year, v. 14, since he first considered leaving.) So all that can be concluded, he suggests, is that this crusade song was reworked between July 1189 and January 1190, but that this may not have been its only reworking: after the harsh criticisms of stanzas I-IV (or rather, stanzas I-V?) the tone changes abruptly when the kings are suddenly about to leave and one has already embarked, and ogan in v. 38 certainly designates 1190. The content of stanza VI is obscure: Richard will make the crossing, while Philip en mar poia ab autres reis, and moreover this news is recent and uncertain, since the tornada indicates a restriction, si·ll rei no·m van bauzan (v. 48). Despite this, he argues, events must have unfolded as Bertran describes them, and the troubadour composed stanza VI in the light of the kings’ planned itinerary after they separated at Lyon, Philip to Genoa and Richard to Marseille, even if there is no trace of the autres reis (v. 41) who were supposed to accompany Philip (perhaps an element of propaganda), though once the crusaders moved off, Bertran probably lost all contact with them and had to rely more and more on rumour. Gouiran concludes that this stanza seems to have been added at the time of the general assembly of Vézelay on 4 July 1190. – Line 2: the «early risers» are pilgrims or crusaders: see Gouiran’s edition, p. 687. – Line 29: the wheel of fortune is a medieval commonplace. – Line 42: according to medieval legend, the Dry Tree had stood in the valley of Hebron since the beginning of the world; it had withered at the death of Christ and would come back to life once a Christian prince expelled the infidels from the Holy Land. – Lines 43-45: Bertran indicates one of the possible routes to the Holy Land, through Italy (starting by heading for Savoia) and sailing from Brindisi. – Line 46: since Papiol will be telling Conrad about an extra delay, the troubadour is expressing a wish that his messenger will not suffer the King’s anger.