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Miscellaneous medieval stuff

A troubadour legend in Old Occitan

troubadourThis medieval story comes from a collection of Old Occitan Vida — “Lives” of famous and not so famous troubadour poets. It represents a particular genre popular in the very first well established secular literary culture since the fall of Rome. For the most part, troubadour poets were dedicated to ideals of courtly love, but their works also reflected events of the time, including the crusades. Although it is highly unlikely that this biography of Jaufres Rudels is rooted in reality, one can get (very incidently) a good idea of how respected the Knights Templar were during the 13th century, when this text was written. I am including a version in the original Old Occitan (taken from Revue historique, Volume 53, 1893). If you have any background in Romance languages you may be able to read a great deal of this text. It is actually used by William D. Paden in his “Introduction to Old Occitan.” This language survives today as Modern Occitan, a regional language in Southern France.

Jaufres Rudels de Blaia si fo mout gentils hom, princes de Blaia, et enamoret se de la comtessa de Tripol ses vezer, per lo gran bon qu’el n’auzi dir als pelegrins que vengron d’Antiochia, e fetz de lieis mains vers, ab bons sons, ab paubres motz. E per voluntat de lieis vezer el se crozet, e mes se en mar; e pres lo malautia en la nau, e fo condutz a Tripol en un alberc per mort. E fo fait a saber a la comtessa, et ella venc ad el al sien lieit, e pres lo entre sos braz. Et el saup qu’ella era la comtessa, si recobret lo vezer e l’auzir el flairar; e lauzet Dieu que l’avia la vida sostenguda tro qu’el l’agues vista. Et enaissi el mori entre sos braz; et ella lo fetz a gran honor sepellir en la maison del Temple. E pois en aquel dia ella si rendet monga per la dolor que ella ac de la mort de lui.

“Jaufres Rudels de Blaia was a very noble man, a prince of Blaia. And he fell in love with the Countess of Tripoli, without ever having seen her, because of good deeds that she performed, as he heard, for pilgrims who arrived from Antioch. He wrote many songs about her, with good melodies, but with poor lyrics. Because of his desire to see her, he took the cross and set out to sea. On the ship, an illness took over him and was brought to an inn in Tripoli, to die. This was made known to the Countess and she came to him, to his bed, and embraced him. He realized that it was the Countess and regained the ability to see, to hear and to smell. He praised God who sustained his life long enough for him to see her. Thus he died in her arms and she had him buried with great honor at the house of the Temple. Then, on the same day, she became a nun due to grieving over his death.”

2 comments… add one

  • Carter

    That’s a strange little legend, isn’t it?
    Think about it; it suggests that they were soulmates, but in order to see her, i.e., to fulfill his destiny as well as as much as he can or as close as he can his desire, he has to die too soon to get to know her.
    She feels he is her soul mate also, else wise she wouldn’t have entered the monastery. I can understand the goal of many years to find and love the woman of your dreams but they got an embrace as the consummation of a lifetime desire pulling him in her direction. It’s too ironic. It suggests to me, anyway, a follow up with reincarnation, as the only suitable remediation for their connection with each other to be realized in the standard model of life.

    • KTV

      Don’t know about reincarnation… A heavenly rendezvous is a strong possibility.

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