English translation [LP]
I. Some people preach and sermonise when
their heart is false and vicious, and some accuse others without blaming
themselves, and some strike worse than a snake while they keep their thoughts
under lock and key; some wear humble clothes and intend treachery.
Italian translation [lb]
I. C’è chi predica e fa sermoni mentre il
suo cuore è falso e vizioso, e c’è chi accusa gli altri senza biasimare la
propria colpa, e c’è chi colpisce peggio di un serpente, mentre tiene i suoi
pensieri sotto chiave; c’è chi indossa vestiti umili e ha intenzioni malvagie.
Text: Sharman 1989. – Rialto 1.x.2014.
Ms.: P 5v.
Critical editions: Adolf Kolsen, Sämtliche Lieder des Trobadors Giraut de Bornelh, 2 voll., Halle 1910 and 1935, vol. I, 67, p. 426; Ruth V. Sharman, The Cansos and Sirventes of the Troubadour Giraut de Borneil, Cambridge 1989, LXXVII, p. 483.
Versification: a7’ b7 a7’ b7 b8 a7’ b7 a6’ (Frank 302:7); -ona, -en. Six coblas unissonans and two tornadas of four lines each. The song derives ultimately from a canso of Peirol (BdT 366.19, Frank 302:8), which has the same metrical shape, the rhyme-endings of its first pair of coblas doblas, and a number of verbal parallels (see Sharman, p. 485). A sirventes of Peire Cardenal (BdT 335.29, Frank 302:11) in coblas unissonans has the identical versification (erroneously given in Frank as 7’ 7 7’ 7 7 7’ 7 7’: see Sergio Vatteroni, «Le poesie di Peire Cardenal - I», Studi mediolatini e volgari, 36, 1990, pp. 73-259, on p. 91) and rhymes. The three other pieces sharing the metrical shape of Peirol’s canso are sirventes (BdT 236.10, Guillem de la Tor; BdT 406.1, Raimon de Miraval; BdT 455.1, Uc de Mur) which have different rhymes. There is a close relationship between the present piece and Peire Cardenal’s, but given the doubts about Giraut de Borneil’s authorship, the question of who imitated whom remains open: see Vatteroni, pp. 92-93.
Notes: Kolsen’s acceptance of the single manuscript’s attribution of this piece to Giraut de Borneil has been rightly questioned (see Sharman, p. 485 and Vatteroni, pp. 92-93). Sharman suggests that the emperor referred to in v. 33 is probably Frederick II, crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Honorius III in 1220: see her note on p. 486, though since there were several claimants to the Empire in the 13th c. this is far from sure. Its content and tone, especially its attacks on clerical hypocrisy and the decline of Christian values, similar in inspiration to those of Peire Cardenal, indicate that the sirventes belongs well into the thirteenth century; moreover the other texts of a small group of unica in ms. P are late productions, in particular 242.38 (see BEdT and Gilda Caïti-Russo, Les Troubadours et la cour des Malaspina, Montpellier 2005, p. 375), and above all 242.52, which dates from 1271-1275 (Francesca Gambino, «Osservazioni sulle attribuzioni “inverosimili” nelle tradizione manoscritta provenzale (I)», in Le rayonnement de la civilisation occitane à l’aube d’un nouveau millénaire. Actes du VIe Congrès International de l’AIEO (12-19 septembre 1999), ed. Georg Kremnitz, Barbara Czernilofsky, Peter Cichon, Robert Tanzmeister, Vienna 2001, pp. 372-390, especially pp. 380-383). – While the sirventes begins with general accusations, stanzas V-VI are more specific. Sharman suggests that the reference to the imperial crown indicates a date between 1215, when Frederick II took the cross upon being elected King of the Romans, and 1220, the year of his coronation. However, the poet is not speaking of an emperor here, but of someone aspiring to the imperial title. Frederick was the natural, sole and uncontested candidate, so it does not fit to say sarcastically that he is seeking it (quer). In addition, the short period of time, five years, between his decision to go on crusade and his coronation, when he was preoccupied with grave matters of organising his domains, cannot explain the apocalyptic tone of this sirventes: compare two crusade songs of those years, Guilhem Figueira’s Totz hom qui ben comensa e ben fenis, which is decidedly enthusastic in the face of Frederick’s decision, and Elias Cairel’s Qui saubes dar tan bo conselh denan, composed in 1225-1226 (Gioshué Lachin, Il trovatore Elias Cairel, Modena 2004, p. 400 and poem XI). Both of these are designed to incite the great vassals who seem inert in the face of appeals from the Holy Land, but do not criticise either the ruler of the West or the Pope or the Church in general; and the tone of these two texts is very different from the grim sense of catastrophe of the present piece, in which the coming of the Antichrist is seen as imminent (45-48). – For all these reasons the piece must be dated to a much later period than those hitherto proposed: at least to the Great Interregnum of 1250-1273, when the death of Frederick II provoked a no-holds-barred contest for the imperial title, to which many pretendants aspired. But if the attacks on a lay lord and a pope in the last stanzas are not generic but refer to specific historical figures, they may point to another, even later, context, namely the eve of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, between 1280 and 1282 (as Stefano Asperti has suggested in a private communication). The one who is seeking the imperial crown but bad at defending the Christian faith could be Charles of Anjou. Luquet Gatelus clearly alludes to his imperial aims (BdT 290.1a, ed. Giulio Bertoni, I trovatori d’Italia, Modena 1915; reprinted Rome 1967, p. 438, LXV, 15-14; see also Vincenzo De Bartholomaeis, Poesie provenzali storiche relative all’Italia, 2 voll., Roma 1931, vol. II, p. 228), and Gregory X granted Charles the office of Senator of Rome, which traditionally lay with the Emperors, this then being confirmed by Innocent V, John XXI and Martin IV. In addition, in 1281, thanks to the new French pope Martin IV, an agreement was concluded based on a system of matrimonial alliances that was supposed to have brought Charles Martel the kingdom of Arles through marriage to Clemence of Augsburg. Besides this Charles was also King of Jerusalem, having bought the rights to it from Maria of Antioch in 1277, and so was at least the nominal head of the Franks in the Holy Land. He had a poor reputation in the West because of this new position, since he had been patently uninterested in the most recent crusading projects, starting with the one organised by the brother of St Louis in 1270, when Charles had given priority to his plans for expanding his personal domains in both the East and the Mediterranean. So he could certainly have been presented as an extremely bad defender of the Christian faith. For his part, Martin IV, pope from 1281 to 1285, must have appeared highly indolent and subject to the Angevin’s interests, especially by comparison with his predecessor Nicholas III, and who was primarily remembered for his excessive fondness for eels (cfr. Purgatorio XXIV, 19-24); the accusation by the author of our sirventes that the pope sleeps during the middle hours of the day would fit him like a glove.