Peire Vidal







A per pauc de chantar no·m lais, I almost abandon singing, for I see youth and valour dead, and merit finds no source of nourishment, because everyone repels and rejects it; and I see evil, which has conquered and overcome the world, so hold sway that that I can hardly find a land whose head it has not caught in its snare.

quar vei mort jovent e valor

e pretz, que non trob’on s’apais,


c’usquecs l’enpeinh e·l gieta por;

e vei tant renhar malvestat

que·l segl’a vencut e sobrat,

si qu’apenas truep nulh paes


que·l cap non aj’a son latz pres.


Qu’a Rom’an vout en tal pantais In Rome the Pope and the false doctors have thrown the Holy Church into such disarray that God is angry; for they are so foolish and sinful that the heretics are on the rise. And since it is they (the clergy) who are the first to sin, it is difficult for anyone else to behave otherwise, though I do not wish to defend such people.

l’Apostolis e·lh fals doctor

Sancta Gleiza, don Dieus s’irais;


que tan son fol e peccador,

per que l’eretge son levat.

E quar ilh commenso·l peccat,

greu es qui als far en pogues;


mas ieu no·n vuelh esser plaies.


E mou de Fransa totz l’esglais, The whole horror stems from France, from those who used to be better, for the King is not faithful or true towards merit or towards Our Lord. He has abandoned the Sepulchre and buys and sells and deals just like a servant or burgher, which is why his French subjects are put to shame.

d’els qui solon esser melhor,

que·l reis non es fis ni verais


vas pretz ni vas Nostre Senhor.

Que·l Sepulcr’a dezamparat

e compr’e vent e fai mercat

atressi cum sers o borzes:


per que son aunit siei Frances.


Totz lo mons torn’en tal biais The entire world is so twisted that we could see it was bad yesterday and worse today; and never since he infringed God’s safe-passage have we seen the Emperor grow in merit or goodness. However, if from now on he foolishly lets Richard go, now he is in his prison, the English will vent their scorn on him.

qu’ier lo vim mal et huei peior;

et anc pus lo guit de Dieu frais,


non auzim pueis l’Emperador

creisser de pretz ni de bontat.

Mas pero s’ueimais laiss’en fat

Richart, pus en sa preizon es,


lor esquern en faran Engles.


Dels reis d’Espanha·m tenh a fais, I am heavy-hearted on account of the kings of Spain, because they are so keen for war among themselves, and because they send grey and bay chargers to the Moors out of fear; they have redoubled the latters’ pride through which they themselves are subdued and defeated; and it would be better, if it pleased them, for there to be peace and lawfulness and faith among themselves.

quar tant volon guerra mest lor,

e quar destriers ferrans ni bais


trameton als Mors per paor:

que lor erguelh lor an doblat,

don ilh son vencut e sobrat;

e fora miels, s’a lor plagues,


qu’entr’els fos patz e leis e fes.


Mas ja non cug hom qu’ieu m’abais

But let no man believe I will humble myself on account of the men of power, if they take a turn for the worse; a noble joy leads and nourishes me and keeps me joyful in great sweetness and causes me to dwell in the true friendship of the lady who pleases me most: and if you wish to know her identity, ask over there in the Carcasses.


pels rics, si·s tornon sordeyor;

qu’us fis jois me capdell’e·m pais


qui·m te jauzent en gran doussor

e·m sojorn’en fin’amistat

de lieis que plus mi ven a grat:

e si voletz saber quals es,


demandatz la en Carcasses.


Et anc no galiet ni trais

Moreover she never tricked or betrayed her beloved, or put on false colours, nor is there any need, for the colour born in her is as fresh as a rose at Easter. She is lovely beyond all loveliness and combines sense with youth, which is why the most courtly people take pleasure in her company and speak praises and honourable things about her.

son amic ni·s pauzet color,
ni·l cal, quar selha qu’en leis nais
52 es fresca cum roz’en pascor.
Bell’es sobre tota beutat
et a sen ab joven mesclat:
per que·s n’agrado·l plus cortes
56 e·n dizon laus ab honratz bes.




Text: Peire Vidal, Poesie. Edizione critica e commento a cura di d’Arco Silvio Avalle, 2 voll., Milano-Napoli 1960, vol. I, p. 66 (VI).

English translation by Linda Paterson. – Rialto 25.ix.2013.

Notes: The song dates from the period of Richard the Lionheart’s imprisonment by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, between 14 February 1193 and 4 February 1194 (see Lucilla Spetia, «Riccardo Cuor di Lione tra oc e oïl (BdT 420,2)», Cultura neolatina, 56, 1996, pp. 101-155, the detailed note 2 on pp. 101-102), despite the fact that Richard was a crusader-pilgrim, an action strictly forbidden by the Church and punishable by excommunication. The pope is Celestine III (1191-1198), the king of France Philip Augustus, who left the Third Crusade after the capture of Acre on 3 August 1191, and the kings of Spain Alfonso VIII of Castile (1158-1214), Anfos II of Aragon (1162-1196), Alfonso IX of León (1188-1230) and Sancio VI the Wise of Navarre (1150-1194) (for further details see d’Arco Silvio Avalle, Peire Vidal, Poesie, 2 voll., Milan-Naples 1960, vol. I, p. 70 and BdT 364.36, 49-56). John Gillingham (private communication) suggests that soon after Easter 1193 it might have been possible to envisage Henry freeing Richard without taking a ‘king’s ransom’ in return. At this time, just after Henry had put Richard on trial at Speyer, reports had circulated about Richard’s successful defence of his reputation and in consequence Henry giving Richard a kiss of peace. According to Roger of Howden, Chronica, iii.199, immediately after this Richard agreed to pay Henry 100,000 marks as a fee for Henry reconciling him with Philip Augustus, with - very curiously - Henry promising he would let Richard return home without taking any money from him if he (Henry) failed to reconcile them. Of course, this very soon came to nothing - as it was bound to (given the treaty Henry had already made with Leopold of Austria) - but it may be that for a few weeks after the public ritual of the kiss of peace rumours circulated that Richard might soon be simply set free. – Line 16: Peire appears to be saying that the behaviour of the senior clerics makes heresy inevitable, though he takes care to say he does not wish to defend it. – Line 27: Guadagnini «da quando ha rotto la guida di Dio», which is unclear. Following Avalle, p. 70, n. 27, she states that Peire is referring to Henry’s well-known impiety; Avalle also thinks it may possibly refer to his imprisonment of Richard. It is implausible that guit should refer to Richard himself; rather, it must refer to the safe passage or protection promised to pilgrim-crusaders. See SW, IV, 218, Levy’s discussion of the examples in the second column, though I have been unable to find further Occitan support for this; compare however Niermeyer, wida, ‘due for a safeguarding’, and widagium, widamentum ‘safe-conduct’, widare ‘to safeguard, protect’; FEW, XVII, 601, OPr guizage (1210) and OF guyage (1309) ‘sauf-conduit’, Apr guidar v.a. ‘accompagner (qn) pour le protéger; donner un sauf-conduit (à qn) (gask. 13 jh.; Albi 1220; Jaufre); 602 Apr guidó n. ‘sauf-conduit’ (Albi 1233). For the sense of franher as ‘infringe’ see PD and LR, III, 385. Line 32, Engles: Richardʼs people, rather than what we would understand by ʻthe Englishʼ.  – Line 38: allusion to the return in force of the Moors with Abu Jussuf (1184-1198), who defeated Alfonso VIII of Castile on 19 July 1195 at the battle of Alarcos (Avalle, p. 70). Line 48: for Peire’s lady in the Carcasses, otherwise referred to as Na Loba, see Avalle, p. 67. – Line 50, ni·s pauzet color: Peire plays on the idea of deceiving appearances (galiet, trais) and the use of cosmetics.

[LP, lb]


BdT    Peire Vidal

Songs referring to the crusades