Coms de Foix








Salvatz[e], tuitz ausem cantar




reis d’Arragon.


Digatz me se poria tant far;


c’a mi no par


ses lo lion


que si asemble en tot ar[n]es


contra·l Frances,


si que·l sieu afar sia ges.


E car el dis que·l plus dreiturier vensa,


de faillir tort a cascun lai raison:


per o sapchatz qu’eu deteing Castelbon.






Mas qui a flor se vol mesclar


ben deu gardar


lo sieu baston,


car Frances sabon grans colps dar,


et albirar


ab lor bordon.


E no·us fizes en Carcases,


ni·n Agenes,


ni·n Gascon, car no l’amon de res


depos vas mi a faita la faillenza;


e·n breu de temps veirem nos Brogoingnon


cridar «Monjoi!», e·l crid’en Arragon.



English translation [LP]

I. Salvatge, we can all hear the King of Aragon singing and falling in love. Tell me whether he will be able to achieve so much, for it does not seem to me that without the lion he will appear in full armour against the French, so that his enterprise will amount to anything. And because he says that the more righteous man should win, everyone there [in Aragon] is right to desert wrong; you should know this is why I retain Castellbó.
II. But anyone who wants to mix (or do battle) with flowers should guard his rod, as the French know how to give mighty blows and aim straight with their lance; don’t rely on the Carcassès or the Agenais or a Gascon, for they have no love for him whatever since he committed the injustice against me; but in a short while we shall be seeing the Burgundian cry «Monjoie!» for us, and may he cry it in Aragon.


Italian translation [lb]

I. Salvatge, noi tutti possiamo sentire il re d’Aragona cantare e dirsi innamorato. Ditemi se sarà in grado di realizzare così tanto, perché non mi sembra che senza il leone possa presentarsi ben armato contro i francesi, e così la sua iniziativa non otterrà nulla. E poiché dice che l’uomo più giusto dovrebbe vincere, tutti laggiù [in Aragona] hanno ragione di abbandonare il torto; dovete sapere che è per questo che tengo Castellbò.
II. Ma chi vuole misurarsi (o combattere) con i fiori deve proteggere il suo bastone, perché i francesi sanno come dare colpi poderosi e mirare dritto con la loro lancia; non fidatevi dei carcassesi o degli agenesi o di un guascone, perché non lo amano per niente, perlomeno da quando ha commesso quell’ingiustizia contro di me; ma tra breve vedremo il borgognone gridare «Monjoie!» per noi, e possa gridarlo in Aragona.




Text: Linda Paterson, Rialto 8.iv.2013.

Ms.: I 150r (stanza I rubric lo reis peire daragon; stanza II rubric lo coms de fois).

Critical editions: Alfred Jeanroy, «Les “coblas” provençales relatives à la “croisade” aragonaise de 1285», Homenaje ofrecido a Menéndez Pidal. Miscelánea de Estudios lingüisticos, literarios e históricos, Madrid 1925, pp. 77-88, on pp. 83 and 85; Martín de Riquer, «Un trovador valenciano: Pedro el Grande de Aragón», Revista valenciana de filologia, 1, 1951, pp. 273-311, on p. 306.

Other editions: Henri Pascal de Rochegude, Le Parnasse occitanien, ou Choix de poésies originales des troubadours, Toulouse 1819, p. 291 (stanza II); Carl August Friedrich Mahn, Die Werke der Troubadours, in provenzalischer Sprache, 4 voll., Berlin, 1846-1886, vol. III, p. 167; Manuel Milá y Fontanals, De los trovadores en España, Barcelona 1861, p. 401; Martín de Riquer, Los trovadores: historia literaria y textos, 3 voll., Barcelona 1975, vol. III, p. 1598.

Versification: a8 a4 b4 a8 a4 b4 c8 c4 c8 d10’ b10 b10 (Frank 111: 2 and 3), -ar, -o, -es, -ensa. Two coblas unissonans. Given that they form part of a cycle almost certainly all having the same form (see Notes) a tornada is almost certainly missing. For the probable model (BdT 215.1), see the edition of BdT 57.3, Versification.

Analysis of the ms.: As well as containing a number of errors I has garbled the order of material in the cycle (see below) and lacks the tornada. – Two stanzas but no tornada are preserved. There are three rubrics on I 150r: lo coms de fois, lo reys peire daragon, and lo coms de fois again. Stanza I appears under the rubric lo reys peire daragon. The first rubric lo coms de fois heads two stanzas, the first being stanza II of the present piece, the second being the first of Bernart d’Auriac’s coblas (BdT 57.3). The second rubric lo coms de fois heads the anonymous coblas BdT 182.1. For a more schematic presentation of the content of the mss. see Riquer, «Un trovador valenciano», p. 296. Jeanroy (pp. 81-84) prints a diplomatic edition (with a few misreadings) of the two mss. – Although emendations are not normally shown within the body of the text for Rialto editions, an exception is made here; compare BdT 182.1.

Rejected readings: 1 Salvatz tuitz (−1); 7 sia ensemble, ares; 9 gens; 11 c. del ai (+1); 20 ni engenes; 21 ni en g.; 22 a] ai; 23 mos.

Notes: These coblas are the fourth set in a cycle of five composed at the time of the so-called Aragonese crusade of 1285. They follow on from a pro-French composition of Bernart d’Auriac and an exchange between King Pere III of Aragon and Peire Salvatge (see the editions of BdT 57.3, BdT 325.1 and BdT 357.1 on Rialto). Count Roger Bernat III of Foix, Viscount of Castelbó from 1265 until his death in 1302, son of Brunisenda of Cardona and brother-in-law of the Jaume II of Mallorca who was claiming the throne of Sicily, had taken active part in a rebellion of nobles against the King of Aragon in July 1280, which ended in their surrender in 1281. The Count was the only one who did not obtain a royal pardon, «per ço que res que agués promès al rei no volia atendre e per ço car parlava altivament e donava a conèixer al rei que, si eixia de la presó, que faria més de mal al rei que anc no avia fet» («because he did not wish to comply with anything he had promised the King and because he spoke haughtily and gave the King to understand that if he left prison he would do more damage to the King than he had already done», Bernat Desclot, Llibre del rei en Pere, in Ferran Soldevila, Les quatres grans cròniques, Barcelona 1971, pp. 403-664, ch. LXXV, p. 464). He was kept in chains and only freed in December 1283 by giving his daughter Constanza as a hostage (Charles Baudon de Mony, Relations des comtes de Foix avec la Catalogne, 2 voll., Paris 1896, vol. I, pp. 250-259). On liberating him Pere demanded that he hand over the viscounty of Castelbó, giving him certain lands in exchange, but Roger Bernat induced the inhabitants of the viscounty to refuse to comply with this order under various pretexts including the one that the King had been excommunicated by the Pope (see Riquer, «Un trovador valenciano», pp. 300-301 and Baudon de Mony, Relations, pp. 260-262). He appears to have had a close relationship with the King of France during the crusade, supplying advice and information about the Aragonese and negotiating with them on his behalf (Baudon de Mony, Relations, p. 271, and see the note to 11, below). – Riquer suggests that the coblas of Pere el Gran and Peire Salvatge (BdT 325.1 and BdT 357.1) spread very rapidly through Catalonia and soon arrived at the fighting frontier. He surmises that Roger Bernat came into (not necessarily personal) contact with Peire Salvatge on the occasion of an unfortunately undatable visit, which the latter made on the orders of King Pere to Gastón VII de Montcada, Viscount of Bearn (1229 to 1290), whose daughter Margarita had been Roger Bernat of Foix’s wife since 1257. He argues convincingly that the words en breu temps veirem show that the Count of Foix was writing at the time when the invasion of Catalonia was not far advanced, and concludes that he must have made his contribution to the cycle very soon after those of the King and Peire Salvatge («Un trovador valenciano», pp. 301-302). This must have been around the second half of July and definitely before the middle of August, when the battle of Santa Maria and the negotiations which the Count of Foix concluded with Ramón Folch de Cardona in Gerona on 16 August (see the Soldevila edition of Desclot, ch. CLIX, p. 565 and ch. CLXV, p. 572) indicate a state of the war very different from that reflected in the Count’s coblas. – Line 1: Jeanroy corrects to Salvatge, e and translates «Salvatge et vous tous qui entendez chanter, comme un amoureux, le roi». Riquer prints Salvagg’, e tuit and translates «Salvatge, [vos] y todos los que oímos cantar y enamorar al rey». While an «e» is needed to complete the name there is no need to insert qu’ before ausem. – Lines 3-4: Jeanroy corrects to Rei and poira; poria is a common form, to judge by COM. – Lines 6-7: Jeanroy notes the frequent confusion in the Middle Ages between the leopard of England and the lion. He and Riquer correct to qu’el el (Riquer e·l) leon / sian ensems en totas res, which does some considerable violation to the ms. I retain 6 and suggest two lesser corrections to 7, supposing a missing «n» from arnes, which allows the singular tota to stand, and a scribal misunderstanding of siasemble. For reflexive asemblar in the singular compare BdT 29.11, Arnaut Daniel, Canzoni, ed. Gianluigi Toja, Florence 1960, IV, 10-12 c’a tantas partz volv e tomba / fals’Amors, que no s’asembla / lai on leiautatz asoma, and for the sense see also SW, I, 88, Levy’s discussion of No l’aus m’amor fort assemblar in the first example, for which he states that the sense must be ‘offenbaren, zeigen, kund thun’; compare also BdT 183.8, Guglielmo IX, Poesie; edizione critica, ed. Nicolò Pasero, Modena 1973, IX, 45-46, ni ieu mezeis, tan tem faillir, / non l’aus m’amor fort asemblar, and the note on pp. 239-240 for discussion of the derivation. – Line 9: Jeanroy corrects ms. gens to ges and translates «qu’il y ait dans son affaire quelque chose de bon (quelque chance de succès)», but in the note (p. 88, IX, 9) comments «Si l’on pouvait donner à ges le sens positif («quelque chose»), la phrase serait claire, mais je n’en connais pas d’exemple. J’hésite devant une correction violente comme serait: quel sieus afars mais valgues». For ges as ‘thing’ see SW, IV, 107, 1. Levy refers to the edition of Wilhelm Bernhardt (Die Werke des Trobadors n’At de Mons, Heilbronn 1887, p. 12), who emends ms. bel jes to bels jes, deriving jes from genus and attributing to it the sense of ‘thing’ here: «Vernunft ist ein schönes Ding (eine schöne Eigenschaft) im Menschen». Levy retains the ms. reading and prints Que razos es be·l jes / En home don hom es / Semblans a Dieu. Fabrizio Cigni, Il trovatore N'at de Mons, Pisa 2012, p. 41 prints be[s] jes («E risulta senz riserva che la ragione è certo un bene nell’uomo»), without comment on the emendation. An alternative translation might be «should ever be, should ever happen». As Jeanroy, I have not been able to find other example of ges as ‘a good thing’. Riquer «que su empresa sea bella». – Line 10: Jeanroy corrects to dreituriers. The Count of Foix is responding to the King of Aragon’s words a plass’a Dieu que·l plus dreyturiers vensa (BdT 325.1, 22). – Lines 11-12: the ms. is hypermetric in 11, de faillir tort a cascun del ai raison. Jeanroy (also Riquer) corrects to tost and omits del: «de faillir à l’un et à l’autre j’ai juste raison», «tengo razones para faltar al punto a cada uno»). This is unsatisfactory, firstly because it does not explain the presence of del (if the scribe had understood «each of them» this should have been dels = d’els), secondly because the historical reality is that Roger Bernat is on the French side. It seems highly unlikely that he should be claiming to be right to fail or abandon both Kings, when he has such an active rôle alongside Philip (see for example Desclot, CXXXVI-CXXXVII, pp. 527 and 529-533). Jeanroy (p. 80) claims that although he was officially allied to King of France he did not involve himself in the fighting and confined himself to the rôle of observer and informer, but this appears to be an assumption based on his emended line. My emendation preserves the opposition between tort and raison, and requires only the omission of de and adjustment of the word-division. A scribe may have been thinking of lai but written down the equivalent preposition de lai. My only hesitation is the need to understand faillir here as transitive. SW, III, 402, 11 gives two examples of this with the sense ‘nicht halten, übertreten’ (of mandamens, establimenz). –  Riquer comments that in referring to his possession of Castelbó (12), the Count of Foix, «Con esta cínica frase, tan propria de su temperamento», makes a veiled reference to his unreliability in ceding the viscounty. I understand differently from Jeanroy and Riquer: per o rather than pero. Roger Bernat turns the King of Aragon’s words a plass’a Dieu que·l plus dreyturiers vensa against him, arguing that everyone in Aragon (lai) is therefore right to abandon him because he is in the wrong, and this is why he has not handed Castelbó back to him as he was supposed to have done. The argument may (or may not) be specious and self-serving but it it is not particularly cynical. Desclot (ch. CLVI, p. 557) reports that when Roger Bernat was trying to persuade Ramon Folc, Viscount of Cardona, to go over to the French side, he assured him that the cardinal legate would absolve him in the name of the Pope of the faith and loyalty he owed to the King of Aragon. The Viscount replied that the cardinal might well absolve him in the eyes of God, but would not be able to absolve him of the mala fama which would forever after be associated with his name and lineage. – Line 13: Jeanroy indicates that this line proves the Count to have known the coblas of Bernart d’Auriac (see BdT 57.3). – Line 15: the basto refers to the heraldic palo or rod on the Aragonese coat of arms, commonly known as barras (Riquer, Los trovadores, p. 1597). – Lines 19-20: corrections Jeanroy in 20-21. Misled by the rhyme, the scribe placed a punctus after en gascon, seeing this as part of an 8-syllable line, which no doubt explains the expansions of ·n. This resulted in a following 6-syllable line out of keeping with the metrical shape of the whole. – The lines are a response to Pere rey d’Aragon, BdT 325.1, 7-9. – Line 22: correction Jeanroy. The Count is referring to his imprisonment by Pere of Aragon for his part in the barons’ rebellion (see above). – Line 23: Pace Jeanroy («nous verrons les Bourguignons») and Riquer («veremos a nuestros borgoñones»), brogoingnon is singular. The reference must be specifically to the Duke of Burgundy Othon IV who, as Jeanroy notes (p. 88, note to VIII, 11), was a faithful ally of the King of France throughout his reign, and sent several contingents in support of the crusade against Aragon. As medieval names are notoriously flexible, especially with metathesis of r, I do not emend. – Jeanroy («Un trovador valenciano», pp. 301-302) says that according to Desclot the Burgundians formed the second corps of the French army, though the Soldevila edition (ch. CXXXVII, p. 530) shows them in the third. – I follow Jeanroy’s and Riquer’s emendation of mos but understand differently: the Burgundians will be shouting the warcry Monjoie! on behalf of the French. – Line 24: Jeanroy, followed by Riquer, corrects ms. el cride en arragon to e crit el «Aragon!», a plausible guess at the sense though it is hard to see how the errors could have occurred. Perhaps cride en was the result of a previous reading cride with titulus above the e, which a scribe then realised was criden (= crid en or crid’en) but added en instead of simply n at the end of the previous word. In any case I think Jeanroy and Riquer must have been right to see crid as a subjunctive. My version, closer to the ms. reading, is more threatening: let Duke of Burgundy proclaim the cry of France in Aragon because Aragon will soon belong to France.

[LP, lb]

BdT    Coms de Foix

Songs referring to the crusades