Bertran de Born










Nostre Seigner somonis el meteis



totz los arditz e·ls valenz e·ls prezatz,



q’anc mais guerra ni cocha no·l destreis,



mas d’aqesta si ten fort per grevatz;



qar presa es la vera crotz e·l reis,



e·l sepolcres ha de socors fraichura,



don tuit crezem ab lial fe segura



qe lo saintz focs i deissen, q’om o ve,



per qe no fai nul esfortz qui so cre.









Cel qui es coms e ducs e sera reis



s’es mes enan, per q’es ses prez doblatz,



q’el vol mais prez q’om de las doas leis:



dels cristians ni dels non-bateiatz.



E s’el vol prez, a las obras pareis;



q’el vol tan prez e tan bon’aventura,



– per que sos prez creis ades et meillura –,



q’el vol lo prez del mal e·l prez del be;



tant ama prez q’ambedos los rete.









Aras sai eu qu’adreitz vol esser reis



lo reis Felips, que dizen qu’es crozatz;



et anc Carles en tal pretz no s’empeis



cum el fara, d’aiso s’es ben vanatz.



English translation [LP]

I. Our Lord Himself summons all bold, valiant, and worthy men, for war nor mêlée never grieved Him, yet He holds Himself deeply injured on account of this one: for the true Cross and the King are captive, and no-one comes to the aid of the Sepulchre on which, as we all believe with firm loyal faith, the holy fire descends: people see it, so there is no difficulty in believing it.
II. The one who is count and duke and will be king has stepped forward, which doubles his honour, for he loves honour more than anyone of the two religions, the Christians and the unbaptised. And his love of honour can be seen in his deeds, for he so loves honour and happiness – so his honour constantly grows greater and more perfect – that he wishes the honour of evil and the honour of good, and he loves honour so much that he retains both.
III. Now I know that King Philip wants to be a legitimate king, for they say he has taken the cross; and Charlemagne never attained such honour as he will: he has publicly committed himself to this.


Italian translation [lb]

I. Nostro Signore convoca egli stesso tutti quelli che possiedono audacia, valore e merito, poiché mai guerra né mischia l’hanno tormentato, ma sente i danni considerevoli che gli causa questa qui: la vera croce e il re sono prigionieri e il soccorso manca al sepolcro per il quale tutti crediamo, con fede leale e certa, che il santo fuoco discende su di lui: lo si vede, cosicché non è un prodigio crederlo.
II. Colui che è conte e duca e sarà re si è fatto avanti, cosa che raddoppia il suo onore, perché egli ama lʼonore più di chiunque delle due religioni, dei cristiani e dei non-battezzati. E si può vedere il suo amore dellʼonore dai suoi atti, poiché egli ama tanto lʼonore e la buona ventura – cosicché il suo onore diventa costantemente più grande e più perfetto –, che egli vuole lʼonore del male e lʼonore del bene, e ama tanto lʼonore che li conserva entrambi.
III. Ora so che il re Filippo vuole essere un re legittimo, poiché si dice che si è crociato. Mai Carlo ha raggiunto il rango di onore al quale egli sta per elevarsi; e si è pubblicamente impegnato.




Text: Gouiran 1985 (XXXIII). – Rialto 5.iii.2013.

Mss.: Dc 257r, F 101v, I 176r, K 161v, d 280r.

Critical editions: Albert Stimming, Bertran de Born, sein Leben und seine Werke, mit Anmerkung und Glossar, Halle 1879, p. 184 (XXX); Antoine Thomas, Poésies complètes de Bertran de Born, publiées dans le texte original, avec une introduction, des notes, un glossaire et des extraits du cartulaire de Dalon, Toulouse 1888, p. 79 (XX); Albert Stimming, Bertran von Born, Halle 1892, p. 96 (XVIII); Albert Stimming, Bertran von Born, zweite, verbesserte Auflage, Halle 1913, p. 100 (XVIII); Carl Appel, Die Lieder Bertrans von Born, Halle 1932, p. 75 (XXX); Gérard Gouiran, L’amour et la guerre. L’oeuvre de Bertran de Born, 2 voll., Aix-en-Provence 1985, vol. II, p. 666; William D. Paden - Tilde Sankovitch - Patricia H. Stäblein, The poems of the Troubadour Bertran de Born, Berkeley - Los Angeles 1986, p. 384 (XXXVI).

Versification: a10 b10 a10 b10 a10 c10’ c10’d10 d10 (Frank 287:1). Two coblas unissonans; the four-line tornada, is irregular, since it adopts the rhyme-scheme of the first part of the stanza: it is unsure whether the text is complete, or whether the last four lines are a relic of another stanza.

Notes: On 3 July 1187 the Christians were routed by Saladin at the Horns of Hattin, near Tiberias. The King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, was taken captive and Jerusalem surrendered on 2 October (v. 5). Conrad of Montferrat, holed up in the Christian stronghold of Tyre, sent desperate messages to the West for aid. Richard the Lionheart took the cross as soon as he heard the news at the end of October 1187 but other leaders showed less sense of urgency, eventually doing so in mid-January 1888. Richard and King Philip II Augustus of France delayed setting out for another three years while they contined to wage war on each other and settle their affairs, by which time King Henry II of England was dead (see Gouiran’s edition, pp. 659-664 and Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, 3 voll., Harmondsworth 1971, first published Cambridge 1951-1954, vol. II, pp. 457-472). Gouiran argues that Bertran probably composed the first two stanzas as soon as Richard took the cross, in other words at the beginning of November 1187, and added the third when the King of France did likewise. – Line 1: Gouiran (followed here) takes Nostre seigner to refer to God Himself (see his note on pp. 668-669). Paden et al (p. 387) understand it as a reference to Henry II of England. – Lines 3-4: Gouiran (p. 669) interprets these lines to mean that God’s interests have never been at stake in previous battles, but since Hattin the presence of Christians in Palestine and Christian worship are themselves in question. – Line 8: according to legend candles placed on the Holy Sepulchre would light spontaneously on Holy Saturday (Gouiran, p. 669). – Line 10: the reference is to Richard the Lionheart, Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine, future King of England.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Bertran de Born

Songs referring to the crusades