Folquet de Marselha








Oimais no·i conosc razo
ab que nos poscam cobrir,
si ja Dieu volem servir,
pois tant enquier nostre pro
5 que son dan en volc sofrir:
que·l Sepulcre perdet primieiramen
et er sofre qu’Espaigna·s vai perden,
per so car lai trobavam ochaiso
mas sai sivals non temem mar ni ven;
10 las! cum nos pot plus fort aver somos,
si doncs no fos tornatz morir per nos.




De si mezeis nos fetz do
quan venc nostres tortz delir,
e fetz so sai agrazir
15 quan si det per rezensso;
doncs qui vol viven morir
er don per Dieu sa vida e la presen,
qu’el la donet e la rendet moren,
c’atressi deu hom morir non sap co;
20 ay! cum mal viu qui no·n a espaven!
que·l nostre viures don em cobeitos
sabem qu’es mals et aquel morir bos.




Aujatz en cal error so
las gens ni que poirant dir!
25 que·l cors, c’om non pot gandir
de mort per aver que·i do,
vol quecs gardar e blandir,
e de l’arma non a nuill espaven
que pot gardar de mort e de tormen:
30 pens quecs de cor s’ieu dic vertat o no
e pois aura d’anar meillor talen;
e ja no·i gart paubreira nuills hom pros:
sol que comens, que Dieus es piatos.




Cor sivals pot aver bo:
35 d’aitan poira s’en garnir
que l’als pot Dieus tot complir
e nostre reis d’Arago;
qu’el non cre saubes faillir
a nuill home que·i an ab cor valen,
40 tant pauc vezem que faill’a l’autra gen,
non deu a Dieu jes far pejuraso
qu’el l’onrara si·l serv honradamen,
c’ojan, si·s vol, n’er coronatz sa jos
o sus el cel: l’us no·il faill d’aquestz dos.




45 E ja non pretz fol resso
lo reis castellans ni·s vir
per perdre, qu’anz deu grazir
a Dieu que·l mostra el somo
qu’en lui si vol enantir;
50 et autre esfortz ses Dieu torna e nien:
c’aissi valra sos bos pretz per un cen
si acoill Dieu oimais a compaigno;
qu’el non vol ren mas reconoissemen:
sol que vas Dieu non sia orgoillos,
55 mout es sos pretz honratz et envejos.




Vida e pretz c’om vol de folla gen
on plus aut son cazon leugieiramen;
bastiscam doncs en ferma peazo,
el pretz que·s ten quan l’autre van cazen:
60 que totz sos pretz, sos gaugz e sos laus fos
en pensar fort quant a Dieus faich per nos.




Bels Azimans, Dieus vezem que·us aten
qu’enaissi·us vol gazaignar franchamen;
qu’onrat vos ten tant que a mi sap bo;
65 no·ill fassatz doncs camjar son bon talen,
anz camjatz vos, que mais val per un dos
c’om s’afraigna anz que forsatz chaia jos.



English translation [LP]

I. Henceforth I know no pretext behind which we can hide if we ever wish to serve God, since He seeks so much what is good for us that He has been willing to suffer harm to Himself. First of all He lost the Sepulchre, and now He lets Spain suffer losses, because there [in the Holy Land] we had an excuse, but here at least we fear neither sea nor wind. Alas, how can He summon us more forcefully other than by coming back to die for us again!
II. He made us a gift of Himself when He came to erase our crimes, and He made us thankful here for this when He gave Himself for our redemption. Therefore whoever wishes to die into eternal life should now give and offer his life for God, for He gave it and renounced it through His death, and a man also must die one way or another. He leads such a bad life if he has no fear of this! For we should realise that our life, which we covet so much, is bad and dying in that way is good.
III. Hear how wrong people are and what they may say! Each wants to preserve and cosset his body, which he cannot defend from death by spending his wealth, yet he has no fear for his soul which he can preserve from death and torment. Let each man ponder in his heart whether I tell the truth or not, and then he will feel greater desire to go; but let no brave man be put off by poverty: let him simply make a start, for God is merciful.
IV. At least he can have a good heart: with this he can equip himself, for God and our King of Aragon can do the rest. I do not believe He would fail any man who goes there with a valiant heart, so little do we see Him fail the others. He should certainly not perjure himself to God, for He will honour him if he serves Him honourably, so that this very year, if he so desires, he will be crowned by Him down here on earth or up in the heavens: one or other of these gifts [or two] will not fail to be his.
V. And may the King of Castile disregard foolish gossip and not turn aside because of losing; instead he should thank God who, by calling him to His service, shows him that He wishes to exalt Himself through him. But any exploit other than with God is futile: his good name will be worth a hundred times more if he welcomes God as his companion from now on; for all He desires is acknowledgment of His suzerainty. His [the King’s] reputation is highly honourable and enviable as long as he is not arrogant towards God.
VI. The grander the life and reputation one seeks from foolish people, the more easily he comes to grief. Let us therefore build on solid foundations, on the reputation that holds fast when the other kind is collapsing: all one’s reputation, joy and praise ought to lie in reflecting deeply on how much God has done for us.
VII. Fair Aziman, we see that God is waiting for you, for in this way He wishes to win you freely; I am delighted that He holds you in such esteem. So do not make Him change His good intention, but rather change yourself, since it is twice as good to humble oneself as to be forced to fall.


Italian translation [PS]

I. Ormai non conosco pretesto dietro cui ci possiamo nascondere, se vogliamo servire Dio, poiché tanto desidera il nostro bene che volle patire il proprio male: che prima perdette il Sepolcro e ora sopporta che si vada perdendo la Spagna, perché là trovavamo una scusa, ma qua almeno non temiamo mare né vento; ahimè! come avrebbe potuto richiamarci con più forza, se non tornando a morire per noi.
II. Di se stesso ci fece dono quando venne ad annullare le nostre colpe e fece essere gradito ciò qui quando si immolò per la nostra redenzione; dunque chi vuole morire vivendo in eterno doni ora la sua vita a Dio e gliela presenti, che egli la donò e la rese morendo, che comunque si deve morire senza sapere come; ahi! come vive male chi non ne ha timore! il nostro vivere di cui siamo avidi sappiamo che è male e quel morire buono.
III. Udite in quale errore sono le genti e cosa potranno dire! perché il corpo, che non si può difendere dalla morte per quante ricchezze si donino, ciascuno vuole salvaguardare e curare, e non ha nessuna paura per l’anima, che invece [avendone] ci si può salvare dalla morte e dal tormento: pensi in cuor suo se dico il vero o no e poi avrà un miglior desiderio di andare; e nessun uomo prode tenga in conto a tal fine la povertà: basta che cominci, che Dio è misericordioso.
IV. Che abbia almeno buona intenzione: di essa se ne potrà armare, giacché Dio può procurare tutto il resto insieme col nostro re d’Aragona; perché non credo sia capace di mancare nei confronti di alcun uomo che vada là con cuore valoroso, tanto poco vediamo che viene meno verso le altre genti; non deve affatto procurare danno a Dio che l’onorerà se egli lo servirà con onore, che quest’anno, se si vuole, sarà coronato qua giù o su nel cielo: uno di questi doni [oppure: due] non gli mancherà.
V. E il re di Castiglia non tenga in conto la sciocca fama, né si disvii per le perdite subite, che anzi deve ringraziare Dio che chiamandolo al suo servizio gli indica che attraverso di lui si vuole esaltare; e altro sforzo senza Dio si riduce a niente: così varrà il suo valente pregio cento volte di più se infine accoglie Dio come compagno d’armi; Egli non vuole nient’altro che il riconoscimento: solo che non sia orgoglioso verso Dio, il suo pregio sarà molto onorato e invidiato.
VI. La vita e il pregio che si vogliono da gente stolta, quanto più sono alti tanto più cadono facilmente; costruiamo dunque su solide fondamenta, sul pregio che si mantiene quando il resto va precipitando: che tutto il loro pregio, il loro gaudio e la loro lode siano nel pensare con forza a quanto Dio ha fatto per noi.
VII. Caro Aziman, vediamo che Dio vi attende che così vi vuole guadagnare francamente; che vi tiene tanto in onore che a me fa piacere; non gli facciate perciò cambiare il suo desiderio, piuttosto cambiate voi, perché vale il doppio che ci si penta prima di cadere giù per forza.




Text: Squillacioti 1999 (XVIII). – Rialto 6.iii.2014.

Notes: The song dates from after the defeat of the Castilian army under Alfonso VIII by the Almohad caliph of Morocco Abû-Jûsûf beneath the walls of Alarcos on 19 July 1195, and before the death of Anfós II of Aragon in April 1196, probably shortly after the battle of Alarcos (Squillacioti, Le poesie, p. 40). Compare BdT 174.10, composed at the same time in Occitania by the troubadour Gavaudan. – Lines 37-44: the king is Anfós II of Aragon (1164-1196). Guida, p. 382, observes that the faith the troubadour places in him was justified among other things by his committed efforts to bring peace between the Iberian rulers after the defeat at Alarcos, a necessary preliminary to any attempts at «reconquest». Line 40: Lewent (review of Stroński, Literaturblatt für germanische und romanische Philologie, 23, 1912, coll. 327-337, on col. 336) thought l’altra gen referred to the Castilians. The sense appears to be that although these have been defeated, as Folquet will argue in the following stanza, this is not a case of God failing them, but rather one of His love and generosity, for He is offering them a fresh opportunity to advance His cause when their hearts – or the King’s heart – are purer. – Line 46: Alfonso VIII of Castile (1158-1214). Guida 1992, pp. 382-383: there may be a reflection here of the idea, current on both sides of the Pyrenees, that the disaster of Alarcos was divine punishment for the King of Castile’s sins: according to the chronicles of the time, after his marriage to Eleanor of England he had entered a seven-year relationship with a beautiful Jewess from Toledo, forgetting his duties as a spouse and sovereign. – Line 53: Squillacioti translates reconoissemen as ‘riconoscimento’, without comment. The sense of the Occitan is not entirely clear, but it seems to have feudal overtones: see PD ‘reconnaissance. t. féodal’ and reconoissensa ‘reconnaissance. t. féodal; don offert comme signe de reconaissance’. – Line 60: Squillacioti translates «il loro pregio, il loro gaudio e la lora lode», reporting in the note to his 1999 edition that Stroński translated «leur» without specifying to whom these refer, that Jean-Jacques Salverda de Grave (review of Stroński, Annales du Midi, 23, 1911, pp. 498-504, on pp. 503-504), thought they referred to om in 56, and Schultz-Gora, p. 153 thought they could only refer to the King of Castile. It seems to me that Salverda de Grave is right grammatically, but that by innuendo Alfonso VIII is implied. – Lines 62-63: Bels Azimans (‘Fair Diamond’ or ‘Magnet’) is a senhal or pseudonym for Bertran de Born. Lewent (col. 336) thought the sense was that God was expecting Bels Aizimens to go on crusade. Squillacioti (Le poesie, p. 379) admits this as a possibility, though points out that it conflicts with Stroński’s hypothesis that Folquet is exhorting him to enter a monastery, as he is planning to do himself (see Le poesie, p. 90, §

[LP, lb]

BdT    Folquet de Marselha    155.15

Songs referring to the crusades