Tag Archives: castelloza

Castelloza, Disputed


(Castelloza, BnF MS 843 f. 125 – this folio features the beginning of  “Amics”)

While I don’t believe I am anywhere near done with my trobairitz research (can one ever be done with research?), I am on my final piece by Castelloza, and one which is all too often excluded from her oeuvre and disputed. Several scholars have over the years argued that this piece does not belong to her, especially since it only appears in one of the five manuscripts containing her work (Manuscript N). In many anthologies it is not included with her corpus, but rather attributed to Anon. at the end.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have not yet conducted extensive overarching analyses on her work, largely because I had not yet finished working on each piece individually. However, after finishing “Per joi que d’amor m’avegna,” I want to believe it is hers, and herein lies my bias. So I am currently grappling with stepping away far enough to objectively work with the piece. All the evidence I am finding confirms my suspicions that I may have been initially overzealous; despite an already small oeuvre to work with, there are many stylistic differences between this canso and the other three.

Yet, before delving into the larger implications, here is my translation along with a brief analysis.

Per joi que d’amor m’avegna
No m calgr’ ogan esbaudir
Qu’eu no cre qu’en grat me tegna
Cel qu’anc no volc obezir
Mos bos motz ni mas consos;
Ni anc nu fen la sazos
Qu’ie m pogues de lui sofrir;
Ans tem que m n’er a morir,
Pos vei c’ab tal autra regna
Don per mi no s vol partir.
Parti m’en er; mas no m degna,
Que morta m’an li cossir:
E pois noill platz que m retegna,
Vuilla m d’aitant obezir,
C’ab sos avinens respos
Me tegna lo cor joios.
E ja a sidons nu tir
S’ie l fas d’aitan enardir,
Qu’ien no l prec per mi que s teg
De leis amar ni servir.
Leis serva; mas mi’n revegna
Que no m lais del tot morir;
Quar paor ai que m’estegna
S’amors don me fai languir.
Hai! Amics valens e bos,
Car es lo meiller c’anc fos,
No vuillatz c’aillors me vir:
Mas no m volez far ni dir
Con ieu ja jorn me captegna
De vos amar ni grazir.Grazisc vos, cou que m’en pregna,
Tot lo maltrag el consir;
E ja cavaliers no s fegna
De mi, c’ us sol non dezir.
Bels amics, si fas fort vos
On teno los oillz ambedos;
E plas me can vos remir,
C’anc tan bel non sai cauzir.
Dieur prec e’ab mos bratz vos cegna;
C’ature no m pot enriquir.

Rica soi, ab queus sovegna
Com pogues en loc venir
On eu vos bais eus estregna;
Q’ab aitan pot revenir
Mos cors, quez es envejos
De vos mout e cobeitos.
Amics no m laissatz morir
Pueis de vos no m poso gandir,
Un bel semblan que m revegna
Faiz, que m’aucira’l consir.

The joys love brings me
I care not to feel
As I don’t believe he is pleased by me
He who has never observed
My good words nor my songs
Nor is there a good song
That tells me to go on without him;
I am afraid I will die
As he lives with another woman
And for me won’t leave her.
I will leave him; he insults me,
To death I am brought by worry
And since he does not retrieve me
He could at least observe
With light replies
To keep my heart in joy.
And his lady should not care
If I agitate him
Because I don’t ask him to stop
Loving nor serving her.
Let him serve her; but to me return
As to not let me completely die;
I am afraid of the strength of
His love that makes me languish.
O! Friend valiant and good,
Because you are the best that ever was,
Don’t try to make me turn from you:
But you still don’t want to do or say
What I need to hear to stop
Loving you and giving you grace.Thank you, what may come,
For all my suffering and pain;
And no knights should think
On me; for I do not desire it.
Fair friend, I greatly want you
On you I embed my eyes;
And it pleases me at you to look,
Since as fair as you there is no other.
To God I pray to hold you in my arms;
No other can be enough.

I will be rich, if I can know
How to find a place
Where we can kiss and embrace;
With this it is enough to revive
My heart, that you made wanting
For you and most greedy.
Friend don’t let me die
Because I cannot win from you
A fair smile that can revive me
And ameliorate my worry.

Regardless of the disputed status of this work, whether Castelloza composed it or not I think it can be agreed that it is nevertheless a beautiful piece worthy of analysis. Thus without broaching the issue of its origin for now, I want to focus on it as I had done in previous works, piecemeal.

While keeping in line with what may be referred to as traditional trobairitz canso material, or at least form, here the ennobling love is clearly absent. She does not look towards her lover as a means towards spirituality, where by loving him she straddles a realm between humility and divine devotion, both of which lead to a plane of higher existence. She is not exalted by her love for him. She is not justifying her love for one who is not her husband by explaining away the purity of her love. While she maintains a brief facade of undying, and undeserving love for him, here she sings of nothing deeper than lust.

Initially this may appear as a debasement of courtly love, or a degeneration of fin’amor which is supposedly the driving force behind her work. However, in recalling my reaction to and interpretation of fin’amor in a previous section, the concept is faulty from the onset. This song does not in fact detract from the tradition, but rather enriches it by adding yet another layer to the definition of love the audience has thus far been privy to – the human, and very much physical aspect of it.

She may well die on the streets of Southern France for the unrequited love of a man who’s cruelty is without equal, and who does not deign to acknowledge her existence, but even as she extols her continuous selfless love for him, she is not so naive as to negate her other needs or desires. Nor does she believe them to be mutually exclusive. And I am fairly certain her audience would not make the same mistake either.

Platonic romantic love is an unsustainable paradox, and consequently precisely what would be inferred from her words if lust, or physical desire, was to be completely removed from the equation. However, while lust in itself does not belong to a higher order of love, in combination with deeper love it is not an anomaly.

If Castelloza wrote this (and I am trying very hard to refrain from touching upon that question here), then she has amply demonstrated every facet of love, leaving plenty of room for even the more unsavory kind that is reliant upon the deceit of another, who in this case are her husband and the lover’s other women. If Castelloza didn’t write this, then the woman who did enters a tradition where various forms of love have already been dissected in song, and thus she is free to explore myriad avenues love crosses – even this. Regardless, the trobairitz composing this makes clear she is not searching for a soulmate as much as an amorous encounter “on eu vos bais eus estregna” (where we can kiss and embrace), even if, as she states earlier, she does not mind his serving and loving his lady as long as she gets some of his attention. In other words, she understand her predicament at having lost his affection, and in her abysmal condition will settle for the proverbial breadcrumbs. Or so it seems.

As I argued that the trobairitz invert the male/female dynamic found within general troubadour poetry, so do they play with the accepted concepts to create a voice outside that which is expected. Here, the singer’s voice is not a monotone insync with feeling that is reliant upon pleas and bargains. There is a certain self awareness and rawness in her words that cannot escape a closer inspection. As she instructs that “ja a sidons nu tir” (his lady should not care) about her existence she is candidly stating what we shall hear again a hundred years later in the mouth of the Wife of Bath: “He is to greet a nigard that wol werne / A man to light a candle at his lanterne; / He shal have never the lasse light, pardee (lines 333-335). In short, she does not skirt the issue, nor is her song an endless pit of pity – she approaches the situation fully aware, conceding her unending love, whether for convention’s sake or not, and makes evident her stance.

In the end, this is not a woman on her knees, but rather storming upon her lover, informing him or her presence (which he could not have possibly by now missed). Further, while she writes this she understands it serves a greater purpose – entertainment – and as such, she caters her words to the proper format while using her audience as a means of publicly calling out her lover for his neglect.

While those who hear her song fear for her sudden loss of life in the face of love, due to the earthly qualities of her malheur they sympathize with her. She is not a divine embodiment of female perfection, nor is she the slightly inverted prototype for Laura. She is a woman, scorned, in pain, frustrated, in love, in lust, confused, and singing about it.


(Close up from above picture)


Akehurst,F R P, and Judith M Davis. A Handbook of the Troubadours.

Bruckner,Matilda Tomaryn. “Fictions of the Female Voice: The Women Troubadours.”

Huchet, Jean-Charles. “Les femmes troubadours ou la voix critique.”

Mahn, A. Der Troubadours In Provenzalischer Sprache. 

Wilson, Katherina. Medieval Women Writers.

Castelloza, Revisited

In continuing with my trobairitz translations and analyses, I will now focus on Castelloza’s penultimate canso within her ouvre, and the last one which can be attributed to her without a doubt (Note: I am looking at them out of order; this is normally considered the second canso by most scholars, and “Mout avetz” is the third). Some, including myself, will argue that the last piece (forthcoming in this project) was undoubtedly hers considering its consistency of language and style, but there is yet hesitancy to unequivocally call it hers. However, today I will be translating “Ia de chantar,” which is found in all five manuscripts containing her work.

Four of these manuscripts contain a vida which not only briefly narrates her life, but consequently helps situate her activity between the latter quarter of the twelfth century and about the first decade of the thirteenth century, with perhaps an extension of a decade that is yet to be determined.

Despite the strong desire to historicize her works and bring them into context, while focusing solely on her cansos it has been stated her works, including the disputed fourth, comprise a cycle that progresses through the various stages of love to a final acceptance of her place in the lover’s life, and a forgiveness for his departure. I have recently argued the duality of her usage of “joi” to encompass both the joys of love, but also its other more literal meaning, to play, as a play on “jeu”. So I am not entirely convinced about a progression as much as a back and forth where she occasionally concedes only to reaffirm her grasp on the situation as she firmly posits herself within her lover’s sphere, controlling the outcome via her rhetoric. However I have merely been translating her works piecemeal and analyzing them in the same manner. Perhaps after I finish with the fourth, and finally step back to acknowledge the larger corpus, I too will see what Peter Dronke found and be able to trace a more sophisticated progression within her songs. In the meantime, here is my translation of “Ia de chantar:”

Ia de chantar non degra aver talan
car on mais chan
e pieitz me vai d’amor,
que plaing e plor
fant en mi lor estatge,
car en mala merce
ai mes mon cor e me,
e s’en breu no.m rete,
trop ai faich lonc badatge.

Despois vos vi fui al vostre coman
et anc per tan,
amics, no.us n’aic meillor,
que preiador
no.m mandetz ni messatge
que ia.m viretz lo fre,
amics, non fassatz re.
Car iois no mi soste
a pauc de dol non ratge.

Si pro.i agues, be.us membri’en chantan
q’aic vostre gan
q’enbliei ab gran temor,
puois aic paor
qe i aguessetz dampnatge
d’aicella qe.us rete,
amics, per q’ieu desse
lo tornei, car ben cre
q’eu non ai poderatge.

Dels cavalliers conosc que i fant lor dan,
car ia preian
dompnas plus q’ellas lor,
c’autra ricor
no.i ant no seignoratge,
que pois dompna s’ave
d’amar, preiar deu be
cavallier, s’en lui ve
proeza e vassalatge.

[this next stanza does not have manuscript consensus, and appears so differently each time it is practically impossible to create a reliable compilation – I will use manuscript N as my primary source here since I feel so far it has been one of the strongest resources for all the cansos]

Dompna Almucs, ancse
am so don mal mi ve,
car cel qui pretz mante
a vas mi cor volatge.

Bels Noms, ges no.m recre
de vos amar iasse
car viu en bona fe,
bontatz e ferm coratge.

I, of singing should not want,
because the more I sing
the worse for me it goes in love;
what pleas and tears
make their home in me,
because where there is no mercy
I have put my heart and myself,
and if he does not now take me,
I will have too long waited.

Since I saw you I’ve been at your command,
and still as for pain,
friend, I’ve had no better from you,
not a pleader
nor message do you send
for to look towards me,
friend, you do not this!
Because no joy comes to me,
I am mad with sorrow.

If it would help, I’d remind you in song
that I had your glove,
the one I stole trembling
then I feared
you would find damage
from the one who keeps you,
friend, right away
I returned it, because I well knew
I had no power to keep it.

Knights I know who themselves harm
when they plead
with ladies more than ladies plead with them,
for no other rank
or seniority is in it,
that when a lady has it
to love, she should plead
with the knight if she sees
fit and worth in him.



Lady Almucs, still
I love what does me harm,
for he who carries merit
has towards me a changing heart.

Fair Name, I never fail
to love you endlessly
for I live within good faith
good will and a constant heart.

Unlike her other two chansons I first notice her meekness here that seems almost uncharacteristic of her demanding voice to which by now I have become accustomed. She appears hesitant to fully voice her dismay at her lover’s lack of acknowledgement despite that she makes clear he is now with another. Yet even here she positions herself as superior to the other “d’aicella qe.us rete,” or who keeps him, almost against his will – surely if he had a choice he would rather be with Castelloza. In other words, should her narrative be reinterpreted, he did not turn away from her in this line, but rather was detained, or kept from her. Of course she negates her naiveté only a few lines earlier where she attests to his inconstant heart that has without a doubt abandoned her without as much as a message while simultaneously calling attention to her own complacency in her pain as she cannot help but be drawn to that which hurts her. She ends in much the same way her other cansos begin, reminding her lover, and more importantly her audience, that she will not bear ill feelings towards the one who abandoned her since her love is immutable, everlasting, and by implication superior.

NB I highlight “audience” here because I feel it is becoming an ever more important structure to explore in my larger project. While voice is axiomatically associated with the trobairitz, that voice had an audience that has not yet been fully explored.


Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. “Na Castelloza, Trobairitz, and Troubadour Lyric.”

Dronke, Peter. “The Provencal Trobairitz: Castelloza.”

Paden, William. “The Poems of the Trobairitz Na Castelloza.”

Castelloza – A Medieval Mystery

Castelloza has less than a handful of trobairitz songs attributed to her, just four actually, and only three are ascribed to her with irrevocable certainty. All of her songs are written in the canso form that was the most common among Troubadours and trobairitz alike. Very little is known from her vida except that she may have been from Auvergne and married to Turc de Mairona. Maybe. Distinguishing these facts from fiction seems like an almost insurmountable task at the moment, but it is also well outside my scope where I will share a piece of my current project, my translation of one of her songs, with a brief analysis. While the personal histories of the trobairitz were very interesting, their songs are the keys to a broader understanding of their culture, and perhaps even more importantly, a gateway to how their songs and society influenced poetry and the concepts of love for centuries to come.


Amics, s’ie.us trobes avinen
humil e franc e de bona merce,
be.us amera, quand era m’en sove
q’us trob vas mi mal e fellon e tric,
e fauc chanssos per tal q’en fassa auzir
vostre bon pretz. dond eu non puosc sofrir
que no.us fassa lauzar a tota gen,
on plus mi faitz mal et adiramen.Iamais no.us tenrai per valen
ni.us amarai de bon cor e de fe
tro que veirai si ia.m valria re
si.us mostrava cor fellon ni enic;
non farai ia, car no vuoil puscatz dir
q’ieu anc vas vos agues cor de faillir,
c’auriatz pois caique razonamen
s’ieu fazia vas vos nuill falimen.Eu sai ben c’a mi esta gen,
si be.is dizon tuich que mout descove
que deompna prei a cavallier de se
ni que.l teigna totz temps tan lonc pressic,
mas cel q’o ditz non sap ges ben gauzir
q’ieu vuoill proar enans qe.m lais morir
qe’l preiar ai un gran revenimen
qan prec cellui don ai greu pessamen.

Assatz es fols qui m’en repren
de vos amar, pois tant gen mi cove,
e cel q’o ditz non sap cum s’es de me,
ni no.us vei ges aras si cum vos vic,
qan me dissetz que non agues cossir
que calc’ora poiria endevenir
que n’auria enqueras gauzimen,
de sol lo dich n’ai eu lo cor gauzen.

Tot’autre’amor teing a nien,
e sapchatz ben que mais iois no.m soste
mas lo vostre que m’alegra e.m reve
on mais en sent d’afan e de destric,
e.m cuig ades alegrar e gauzir
de vos, amics, q’ieu non puosc convenir,
ni ioi non ai, ni socors non aten
mas sol aitant qan n’aurai en dormen.

Oimais non sai qe.us mi presen,
que cercat ai et ab mal et ab be
vostre dur cor don lo mieus no.is recre,
e no.us o man q’ieu mezeussa.us o dic
qu’enoia me si no.m voletz gauzir
de calque ioi, e si.m laissatz morir
faretz pechat e serai n’en tormen
e seretz ne blasmatz vilanamen.

Friend, if I have found you being kind
humble and frank and with good mercy
I would love you so, yet when I recall
that I find you evil and cruel to me
I sing so that my song can be heard
of your good worth since I cannot suffer
that you are not lauded in every way
even as you continue bringing me cruelty and pain.Never shall I hold you valiant
nor fully love you with a good heart
until I negotiate the reality of it all
see if I show you an evil and cruel heart;
but I will not, because I don’t want you to say
that I have ever had a false and failing heart,
or to be able to say with reason
that in any acts I have failed you.I know this all suits me well in this way
even if everyone tells me this is not fitting
for a lady to plead with a knight as such
or to hold his time for so long,
but who says this knows not joy
that I would like to prove before I die
that in prayer I feel greatly renewed
to him who has given me heavy thoughts.

All are crazy who reproach me
for loving , as it is fitting to me,
and who says this does not know how it is
nor do I now look at you as I once did
when you told me not to be distressed
that at any time it will happen
that I will again have joy,
And these words alone fill my heart with joy.

All other love means nothing
certainly there are but no other joys
except yours that lifts and revives me
when I feel but only pain and distress
so I will be brought pleasure and joy
of you, friend, from whom I cannot convert,
I have no joy nor do I hope for help
but what rest I shall have when I sleep.

I no longer know how to present myself,
I have tried with good and with bad intent
your hard heart from which mine does not retract,
and this is no sent message, but I tell you myself
angered I will die if you do not want to give me joy
whatever manner of joy, and if you let me die
you sin and I will be tormented
and you will be villainously blamed.

(Castelloza, BnF MS 843 f. 125 – the beginning of the poem cited above)

(Close-up of the same)

This highly stylized poem gives voice to her pain derived from unrequited love. In keeping with the courtly love tradition she first raises the beloved other upon a pedestal and gives him power over her while asserting his higher position in the world at large. However, in this assertion there is a certain double language in use – it is uncertain as to whether the lover was in fact of a higher class than her, but there is good reason to believe he was not, therefore if socially they were equals, her statement is false. Yet, even as equals, by virtue of being a woman she is below him socially, thus rendering her statement simultaneously true and drawing attention to the place of women in society as opposed to the artificial pedestal they sit upon in traditional Troubadour poems. Regardless of her title, class, or wealth, in love, much like in life, the woman is beneath the man and must beg his favor like Castelloza here does.

However, while begging his favor she usurps the male role in multiple ways. It is often thought that in the role reversal the trobairitz give a voice to the silent females of the Troubadour poems, but that is in fact not the case, and as I have argued before, these women find their own voices, separate from another. What I found the most interesting is that through Castelloza’s unrelenting praise of her beloved she manages to create a similar superficial pedestal for the male of her poetry where she uses words to elevate the man and synchronously place herself even higher, becoming a martyr to love. Petty and angry thoughts and gestures are beneath her, and she operates in accordance to a higher power. While she “non puosc sofrir” (cannot suffer) anyone thinking less of him, or for him to believe she “fazia vas vos nuill falimen” (has in any acts failed him), she unfailingly enumerates his various methods of mistreating her and casts the blame for her demise solely upon his shoulders, whose neglect is not only a fault, but a sin for which he must pay doubly – to God for having collaborated in her demise, and to the world who will blame him. Her love places him in a most precarious position, ultimately responsible for her well being, even if only to safeguard his own reputation. After all, his good name could not withstand women dying on the streets of Southern France from neglect.

Yet, what she wants from him is not simply attention, but “gauzir,” that roughly translates to joy, or “joi.” This concept emerges throughout the song, and carries several connotations, but there is one in particular I want to focus on – joi as related of joue (game) – and can lead to another form different from the canso that troubadours used, the jeu-parti. This reading of joi places her expectations into a different context and highlights the playfulness in her words. I don’t mean to detract in any way from the seriousness of her song because love at the time, along with everything it entailed, was indeed of crucial importance, but as she forces his hand in a response, she is essentially eliciting a game, while keeping in mind that games were not necessarily light matters either. Think of this type of game on par with chess or a similar cerebral activity that demands a certain level of involvement from the players while providing a comparable level of stimulation.

And it is this very stimulation that creates the extended metaphor for joi that can easily pour over into the meaning of a different kind of joy that also stems from stimulation, and then even further into joy which sustains itself simply through the act of loving.

Some have said Castelloza’s poetry is not as sophisticated or refined as the other trobairtiz, but her range of emotions combined with the various statements she makes demonstrate her prowess as a poetess and songstress, placing her on par with the likes of Comtessa de Dia.

While I am very much going to continue researching Castelloza and translating the rest of her songs, I do need to return for while to the Crusades and finish work on my conference paper that is quickly approaching. So, for those of you who have been enjoying my Crusades posts, there will be several coming in the next couple of weeks. As for my female writing fans, rest assured, I am not done.


Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. “Fictions of the Female Voice: The Women Troubadours.”

Dronke, Peter. “The Provencal Trobairitz: Castelloza.”

Lazar, Moshe. “Fin’amor.”

Paden, William. The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours.