Gaucelm Faidit








Fortz cauza es que tot lo maior dan


e·l maior dol – las! –, qu’ieu anc mais agues,


e so don dei totztemps plaigner ploran


m’aven a dir en chantan e retraire:


car selh qu’era de valor caps e paire,


lo rics valens Richartz, reys dels engles,


es mortz. Ai Dieus! quals perd’e quals dans es,


quan estrang mot, quan salvatge a auzir!


Ben a dur cor totz hom c’o pot suffrir.






Mortz es lo reys, e son passat mil an


qu’anc tan pros hom no fo, ni no·l vi res,


ni iamais hom non er del sieu semblan,


tan larcs, tan pros, tan arditz, tals donaire.


Qu’Alichandres, lo reys qui venquet Daire,


no cre que tan dones ni tan mezes,


ni anc Charles ni Artus tan valgues,


qu’a tot lo mon se fes, qui vol ver dir,


als us duptar et als autres grazir.






Meravil me del fals secgle truan,


co·i pot estar savis hom ni cortes,


pus ren no·i val belh dich ni faich prezan.


E donc, per que s’esfors’om pauc ni guayre?


Qu’era nos a mostrat mortz que pot faire,


qu’a un sol colp a lo mielhs del mon pres,


tota l’onor, totz los gaugz, totz los bes.


E pus vezem que res no·i pot guandir,


ben deuri’om meins duptar a murir.






A! Senher reys valens, e que faran


hueimais armas ni fort tornei espes


ni ricas cortz ni belh don aut ni gran,


pus vos no·i etz qui n’eratz capdelaire?


Ni que faran li liurat a mal traire,


silh qui s’eran en vostre servir mes,


qu’atendion que·l guazardos vengues?


Ni que faran cilh que·s degran aucir,


qu’aviatz faitz en gran ricor venir?






Longua ira e avol vida auran,


e tostemps dol, qu’enaissi lor es pres!


E Sarrazi, Turc, Payan e Persan,


que·us duptavon mais qu’ome nat de maire,


creisseran tan d’erguelh e[n] lur afaire


que plus tart n’er lo Sepulcres conques.


Mas Dieus o vol, que s’El non o volgues


e vos, senher, visquessetz, ses falhir


de Suria los avengr’a fugir.






Hueimais non ai esperansa que·i an


reis ni princeps, qui cobrar lo saubes.


Pero tug silh qu’en vostre loc seran


devon gardar cum fos de pretz amaire


ni qual foron vostre dui valen fraire:


lo Ioves Reys e·l cortes coms Gaufres;


e qui en loc remanra de vos tres


ben deu aver fin cor e ferm cossir


de totz bos fachz començar e fenir.






Ai segner reis, Deus, qu’es vers perdonaire,


vera vida, vers hom, vera merces,


vos fassa cel perdo que coiços es,


si que·l pecat oblida e·l falhir,


e·l menbre zo en que saupes servir.



English translation [LP]

I. Grave is the cause for which it befalls me to declare and relate in song the greatest tragedy and the greatest grief – alas! – which I have ever experienced, and for which I must forever lament in weeping: the one who was the pinnacle and origin of all worth, the noble and valiant Richard, king of the English, is dead. Ah God! what a loss and how damaging this is, what a terrible, cruel word to hear! Hard indeed is the heart of any man who can bear it.
II. Dead is the King, and a thousand years have passed since there was any man so valorous, and no-one saw such a man, nor ever will there be his like, so generous, so brave, so bold, so open-handed. I do not believe that Alexander, the king who vanquished Darius, gave or spent so much, or that Charlemagne or Arthur had such great merit, because if truth be told, he made everyone in the world either fear or love him.
III. I marvel at how a wise and courtly man can remain in this false and faithless world, since fine speech and praiseworthy deeds have no value in it. And so why should one make the slightest effort? Death has now shown us what it can do: at a single blow it has taken the best in the world, all honour, all joys, all good things. But since we can see that nothing can protect against it, everyone should certainly fear less to die.
IV. Ah Lord, valiant King, what will henceforth become of deeds of arms and tough tightly-packed tourneys and sumptuous courts and fine gifts, splendid and abundant, now that you who were their leader are not here with them? And what will become of those abandoned to ill-treatment, those who had placed themselves in your service and who were waiting for the reward to come? And what will become of those who ought to kill themselves, whom you had brought to great power?
V. Abiding sorrow and a wretched life will be theirs, and perpetual grief, because such is their fate. But Saracens, Turks, pagans and Persians, who used to fear you more than any man of woman born, will so grow in arrogance in all their actions that it will be even later before the Sepulchre is reconquered. But God wishes it, for had He not wished it and you, Lord, were alive, they would infallibly have been made to flee from the Holy Land.
VI. Henceforth I have no hope that a king or prince who would be capable of recovering it will go there. But all those who will be in your place must pay attention to how you were a lover of merit and what your two valiant brothers were like: the Young King and the courtly Count Geoffrey; and whoever remains in place of the three of you ought certainly to have a pure heart and firm intention to begin and complete all excellent deeds.
T. Ah Lord King! May God who is the true pardoner, true life, true man, true compassion, grant you that pardon which is most needful, so that He forgets your sinfulness and failings and remembers the way in which you were able to serve Him.




Text: Giorgio Barachini, Rialto 15.ix.2016.

Notes: The planh postdates the death of Richard the Lionheart on 6 April 1199, after he was wounded by a crossbow bolt in the shoulder on 25 March 1199 during his siege of the castle of Chalus in the Limousin. – Lines 32-36: it is difficult to be precise about who were expecting a reward and who are now liurat a mal traire (abandoned to ill-treatment). They appear from st. V to include those who had benefited from Richard’s conquests in the Holy Land, where he had consolidated or extended Christian rule along the coast, but as Barachini suggests, the text is deliberately vague so as to allow a wide identification on the public’s part: mercenaries, troubadours, vassals, administrators, relatives and allies who received or were expecting benefices and who were damaged by the king’s unexpected death. – Line 43: Gaucelm bitterly echoes the motto Deus vult from the First Crusade, to indicate not the sacred mission of the reconquest of Jerusalem but the fact that God willed the death of the English king. – Line 51: these are Richard’s two famous brothers, the Young King Henry († 1183) and Geoffrey of Brittany († 1186). Barachini suggests that the planh for Richard thus becomes a sort of panegyric to a whole generation of Plantagenets. – Line 52: Barachini argues that the reference is to John Lackland, Richard’s successor. See his discussion in Datazione.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Gaucelm Faidit    167.22

Songs referring to the crusades