Analysis of manuscripts: C 141r (Bertrans de born), E 97r (Bertran de born), R 20v (Bertran del born).


Dating and historical circumstances:

The first stanza refers to King Jaume I of Aragon’s losses in Millau and Marseille, and a past threat to the city of Montpellier of which he was overlord (5-8). The second reproaches Count Raimon VII of Toulouse for his ingratitude for the sacrifice made by Jaume’s father, Pere II, at the battle of Muret, who died fighting for Raimon VI of Toulouse against the French during the Albigensian crusade: a sacrifice which Raimon is now repaying by encroaching on Jaume’s rights and territory. In stanza III the troubadour promises Count Raimon Berenguer V of Provence that Jaume will shortly come to his aid once he receives the call «here» in Chiva (Valencia), but informs the King of Aragon that En Berenguiers has wrested the castle from him and he will be acting childishly if he simply gives his property away. Stanza IV urges the Count of Urgel to demand back from Jaume all the land he used to hold the other side of Urgel, and if he does not make this claim he cannot expect to survive for long. The fifth stanza, of no relevance to dating, gestures in the direction of the troubadour’s courtly credentials. In the tornada he praises Jaume’s success over the Saracens but expresses the wish to see the King fighting in the region of Montfort against all those who are diminishing his honour and/or territory. – Scholarly opinion has been divided as to whether these details indicate a date of c. 1231, 1238-39 or 1240 (c. 1231 Stimming 1879, p. 84, Jean-Jacques Salverda de Grave, Le troubadour Bertran d’Alamanon, Toulouse 1902, pp. 103-107 and Paden-Sankovitch-Stäblein 1986, p. 93; 1238-39 Martin Aurell, La Vielle et l’épée. Troubadours et politique en Provence au XIIIe siècle, Paris 1989, pp. 140-141, pp. 140-141; 1240 Charles-Jean-Marie baron de Tourtoulon, Études sur la maison de Barcelone. Jacme Ier le conquérant, roi d’Aragon, 2 voll., Montpellier 1863-1867, vol. II, p. 23; Nicolau d’Olwer, p. 393). – The reference to Millau presents us with a terminus post quem of 1229. According to the Treaty of Paris of 17 May 1229 Louis VIII gave this viscounty back to Raimon VII and promised to support him against any objectors. This last detail was aimed at Jaume of Aragon, whose father had pawned Millau to Raimon VI but had continued to claim it as his (Stimming, p. 85). Jaume recaptured it between 1232 and 1237 but on 28 June 1237 Raimon took it back (HGL, VI, p. 705 and n. 5 on pp. 705-706 says Jaume probably recaptured it in 1236; Tourtoulon, II, pp. 4-5; Aurell, pp. 140-141). – The allusion to Marseille advances the tpq to the end of 1230, when the citizens of the independent city of Marseille were at war with Count Raimon Berenguer of Provence, who tried to take control of the town. The Marseillais sought the Count of Toulouse’s help and, although free from vassalic ties, they recognised his rights over its goods as long as he respected their liberties. Raimon VII owned vast grain depots at the port and had set up a highly profitable customs system. So in 1237, when Marseille again asked for help against Raimon Berenguer (HGL, VI, p. 704), he made his way there, settled conflicts between the upper and lower city, and signed a treaty confirming his rights as co-seigneur. Jaume, Raimon Berenguer’s cousin, who still held rights of suzerainty over the county of Provence, sent a complaint to the pope, who then wrote to Louis VIII complaining of Raimon VII’s various new misdeeds which included seizing Vaison and re-establishing a salt tax in the Venaissin (HGL, VI, p. 705), whereupon Raimon withdrew from eastern Provence. In 1238, after a quarrel with Jaume over Montpellier, he sent messengers to Rome, one outcome of which was that on 9 June 1239 the pope lifted the excommunication under which he was still suffering. He nevertheless continued to work very actively to enlarge his possessions: he received homage for part of the Vivarais, and in January 1240 responded to the call of his benefactor Frederick II, taking castle after castle in the Rhône valley (Jean-Luc Déjean, Les Comtes de Toulouse, Paris 1988, pp. 367-370; HGL, VI, pp. 708-709; compare Stimming, p. 85). – These events in Marseille do not further pin down the question of dating, but Raimon’s activites in eastern Provence may point to the later period. Raimon attempted military operations from the Venaissin and the lower Rhône valley on many occasions between 1232 and 1241. Although these were largely unsuccessful, either because he was repelled by Raimon Berenguer or because of the intervention of Louis VIII, he finally emerged victorious from these long years of struggle, concluding favourable treaties in Arles, Tarascon and Avignon alongside the pontifical legate Zoën Tencarari in July 1241 (Thierry Pécout, Raymond Bérenger V, Paris 2004, p. 189). These circumstances may possibly explain the reference to Monfort (44) in the tornada. This has been overlooked by previous scholars, with the exception of Wiacek, who assimilates it to her entry for a place of that name in Périgord: a wholly implausible identification in the context of the song (Wilhelmina M. Wiacek, Lexique des noms géographiques et ethniques dans les poésies des troubadours des XIIe et XIIIe siècles, Paris 1968, p. 137). There are many Montforts in France, including three in eastern Provence: one in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, arr. Forcalquier, cant. Volonne; one in Rhône-Alpes, dép. Isère, arr. Grenoble, cant. Le Touvet; one in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, dép. Var, arr. Brignoles, cant. Cotignac. Compare Conqueron Capenses e Monfort e Verdon, / tors e murs e palays, tro intz en Embrezun, / ni non layssan cieutat sal Marceylla e Tholoza (La Vida de Sant Honorat, ed. Peter T. Ricketts with the collaboration of Cyril P. Hershon, Turnhout 2007, vv. 8866-8868). It makes sense to see the troubadour referring to one of these, in the later period of possible dates for the poem. – The allusion to Urgel is chronologically inconclusive. The count of Urgel at this time was Pons I de Cabrera who succeeded his cousin Aurembaix as count, after both had spent many years fighting over the inheritance. Aurembaix had been supported by Jaume I and in 1228 had handed over nine fortresses to him (Stimming, p. 85; Milá, p. 171, n. 12). Salverda de Grave (p. 105) relates that Jaume seized Urgel in 1228 under the pretext of helping her, and cites Tourtoulon (II, p. 50) who states that the troubadour’s words show new claims were emerging from the turbulent house of Cabrera. – If Urgel moves us no further forward, the references to En Berenguiers and Chiva in stanza III point more convincingly to the later date. Berenguer de Entenza was a Catalan nobleman who rebelled against Jaume I in 1240 and took refuge in Xativa, from where he carried out raids into Christian territory. From the Llibre dels feits it appears that Berenguer had passed to the service of the Muslims at this time. Jaume caught up with him and they came to terms, Berenguer being obliged to to receive him in peace and in war into the castle and town of Chiva which the King had previously donated to him (Milá, p. 170, n. 11; Jerónimo Zurita, Anales de la corona d’Aragón, ed. Ángel Canella López, 9 voll., Saragossa 1967-1977, vol I, L. III, c. 37; Tourtoulon, II, p. 32; Aurell, p. 315, n. 39; Jaume I, el Conqueridor, Crónaca o Llibre dels feits, ed. Ferran Soldevila, Les quatre grans cróniques, Barcelona 1973, p. 123, ch. 316 and Damian J. Smith and Helena Buffery, The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon, Farnham and Burlington 2010, p. 249, ch. 316 and n. 41). Since the troubadour informs Jaume sai en Chiva (v. 21) that Berenguier has wrested the castle of Chiva from him, the sirventes must have been composed there while Berenguier was still in rebellion. This would date the song precisely to 1240. – Salverda de Grave (p. 107) is reluctant to accept the accuracy of this account of Berenguer’s rebellion: «Je ne sais pas si le récit que fait de Tourtoulon de ce Berenguer de Entenza a une grande autorité, si la date de sa défection est sûre; pour le moment, je suis plutôt sceptique sur ce point». His reasons are quite explicit: it conflicts with his arguments in favour of the earlier date, focussed primarily on the mention of Montpellier in v. 8. «Si pourtant j’hésite à lui sacrifier tous les arguments que j’ai jusqu’ici rassemblés pour prouver qu’il est des environs de 1230, c’est surtout que je ne sais pas contre qui le comte de Provence aurait bien pu avoir besoin de l’aide de Jacme en 1240, où il venait de soumettre Arles» (p. 106). He adds that in 1236 the King had tried to reconcile the two counts in Montpellier (Richard Sternfeld, Das Verhältnis des Arelats zu Kaiser und Reich vom Tode Friedrichs I. bis zum Interregnum, Berlin 1881, p. 88), had personally renewed these attempts in there in 1239, and in 1241 concluded a treaty with Raimon VII whereby they promised to help the Church against all bar the Count of Provence and the King of France (Sternfeld, Arelat, p. 126). He saw these various actions of Jaume as incompatible with the promise of help with which the troubadour flatters the Count of Provence. In contrast, he argues, at the beginning of the war, the latter was no doubt entitled to expect Jaume’s support, since their interests were the same. – The situation was more complicated than this, as other accounts of Jaume’s relations with Montpellier in the 1230s indicate. In June-October 1239 Jaume went to Montpellier to seek help for his expenses in conquering Valencia, which had surrendered to him on 28 September 1238. He also appears to have felt the need to oppose the increasing power of the northern Franks in Occitania as it threatened his interests in the area, including Montpellier. In 1238 the bishop of Maguelonne, Jean de Montlaur, had handed over in fief to Raimon VII the town of Montpellier, the castle of Lattes and other domains that Jaume held from the bishop of Maguelonne. Jean de Montlaur claimed that Jaume had committed various acts against the rights of the Church and since the lordship of Montpellier, which Jaume held in fief from him, was tombée en commise, he was free to dispose of it. He complained in particular or an ordinance by which Jaume had forbidden all his subjects in Montpellier to plead in any court other than his own, whether this be civil or ecclesiastic (HGL, VI, pp. 706-707; Llibre dels feits, p. 117, ch. 295; Smith-Buffery, The Book of Deeds, p. 237 and notes 6 and 9; Déjean, Les Comtes de Toulouse, p. 368). Salverda (p. 105) sees the fact that someone offered Raimon the lordship over the city as quite different from an attempt to seize it, observing that once the Count of Toulouse had accepted the offer, it would not be just a question of an attempt. He argues that v. 8 of the song must therefore refer to something else, though he does not know what. He suggests rather vaguely that it would not be impossible that in the war between Raimon VII and the King of France the Count of Toulouse tried to take over the King of Aragon’s rights. But this analysis is far from convincing: if the Bishop made Raimon lord of Montpellier in Jaume’s place it is splitting hairs to say Raimon was not trying to seize it: he was hardly likely to have been taken by surprise, the end result would have still been the despoliation of the King of Aragon’s rights, and it could certainly have looked to others, such as the troubadour, that Raimon was actively involved in political manoeuvres. In their comments on this episode Smith-Buffery observe when Raimon Berenguer was with Jaume on 15 July «James is very discreet about his Occitan business, which perhaps suggests that when he was telling this section of his story the events were recent and it would have been inadvisable to say more». While they allow that «the presence of Raymond VII of Toulouse at Montpellier at this time might suggest he had made no attempt to wrest the town from James, whatever the intentions of the bishop of Maguelonne» (Smith-Buffery, p. 242, n. 22), it is also possible that Jaume glossed over Raimon VII’s part in the uprising for diplomatic reasons at a time when he was trying to conciliate Raimon VII and Raimon Berenguer: an attempt which bore fruit in the summer of 1241 when a marriage contract was sealed between the Count of Toulouse and Raimon Berenguer’s third daughter Sancha of Provence. – The available evidence converges on the date of 1240. Millau and Marseille were still lost to the King of Aragon, and there had been a recent move to hand Montpellier over to the Count of Toulouse, who was seen to be prospering at Jaume’s expense. Jaume was intending to go to the aid of Raimon Berenguer, which he soon did through his diplomatic efforts. Berenguer de Entenza was in rebellion against the King. Jaume’s power among the Saracens had recently been demonstrated by his conquest of the city of Valencia; at the same time Raimon VII was in eastern Provence, enlarging his possessions. – What is the troubadour’s point of view? He supports the King of Aragon in his territorial claims in Occitania, sees him as an ally of the Count of Provence against the Count of Toulouse and supports him against the rebel Berenguer de Entenza, but as Stimming (p. 85) remarked, feels enough local patriotism to wish that Pons de Cabrera would regain the fortresses of Urgel lost to the King. He is also more interested in war than diplomacy. – The composer of this song cannot be the famous Bertran de Born since the events to which it refers fall beyond his lifetime. The place of composition is in Spain (sai en Chiva, v. 21). Since the troubadour refers to James I of Aragon as nostre rei (4), he is likely to be a Catalan, unless the attribution to Bertran de Born lo fils is accepted (as for example by William D. Paden Jr., Tilda Sankovitch, and Patricia H. Stäblein, The poems of the troubadour Bertran de Born, Berkeley–Los Angeles 1986, pp. 92-93; Aurell, pp. 140-141), in which case it must be assumed that he travelled to Spain and was identifying himself with the King of Aragon’s subjects, which is unlikely. The three mss. are closely related and are likely to have derived their unanimous attribution from a common source.


Textual notes:

4. malamen: Milá ‘injustamente’.

5-6. Stimming notes that tener is used absolutely, as in 26, 38, but that the sense there does not fit here: he suggests perhaps reading que instead of on as in v. 29. I take que in 6 to be a neuter predicate without antecedent: see Jensen, Syntaxe, § 312.

8. antan could be translated as ‘a year ago’.

15-16. Stimming prints el reis Jacmes, giving rei iacme as the variant for CR. In fact all mss. have el rey iacme, and the syntax clearly shows this to be the direct object of merman. Milá translates «apesar de esto vais dando creces á los que fueron en su daño y mermando al rey Jaime» (also Tourtoulon, «Mais à ceux qui lui firent du tort vous allez donnant des forces, et affaiblissant le roi Jacme»); however, d’aisselhs means ‘from those’, not ‘to those’. The Count of Toulouse is profiting from those who used to be the King of Aragon’s Occitan subjects because he is now ruling them and exploiting their resources.

19. Stimming understands el of ms. R as e lo (CE quel nostre reys): see his note to this line, which refers to his note to 26, 4, which however is unhelpful. Milá’s «pues en breve será ausiliado y nuestro rey que harto lo desea, irá á valerle, cuando aquí habrá logrado mandar en Chiva» does not match the syntax of the original. He was surely right to consider emending el to del: I have found no information about, or other examples of, en + a person. It looks as if a previous exemplar may have had the initial d missing or unclear and the source of CE rewrote, taking el nostre rei as nominative but not making sense of what follows.

20. I take n’ to be used pleonastically in anticipation of the complement mandamen: see Jensen, Syntaxe, § 266.

27. For ab que introducing a final-consecutive clause see Jensen, Syntaxe, § 762.

44. Onor means both honour in the abstract sense, and land, territory. Aurell (p. 141) takes it in the first sense, understanding the text to mean that the King has never sought to avenge the death of his father at the hands of Simon de Montfort’s men.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Bertran de Born

Songs referring to the crusades