Tag Archives: trobairitz

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.”

“Mout avetz faich long estatge”

MS A f. 168v

(Castelloza and an anonymous chavalier, Vatican Library lat 5232 MS A f. 168v)

It has been a while, but I continue my translation and brief analysis of Castelloza within my Trobairitz research. I didn’t mean to take so long, but this is a peripheral study disjointed from my primary research or other projects. At the moment I don’t know if I will be doing anything with this other than creating a series of blog posts as I translate each of the Trobairitz poems piecemeal. But, honestly, I am hooked and can’t stop. The Trobairitz are like the sirens of medieval studies, beckoning me to their chansons despite the ticking time-bomb of pending deadlines and papers looming, ever closer as Fall season approaches even though we have not yet even crossed the threshold of Spring.

Alright, enough ranting…. here is my latest (ever small) contribution to the Trobairitz tradition of a translation of Castelloza’s “Mout avetz.” Yes, her work has previously been translated, but I have found I understand the works better when I provide my own translations and analyses.

Mout avetz faich long estatge
Amics, pois de mi.us partitz,
Et es me greu e salvatge,
Quar me juretz e.m plevitz
Que als jorns de vostra vida
Non acsetz dompna mas me;
E si d’autra vos perte,
M’avetz morta e trahida,
Qu’avi’en vos m’esperanssa
Que m’amassetz ses doptanssa.

Bels amics, de fin coratge
Vos amei, pois m’abellitz,
E sai que faich ai follatge,
Que plus m’en etz escaritz;
Qu’anc non fis vas vos ganchida,
E si.m fasetz mal per be:
Be.us am e non m’en recre;
Mas tan m’a amors sazida
Qu’ieu non cre que benananssa
Puosc’aver ses vostre’amanssa.

Mout aurai mes mal usatge
A las autras amairitz:
Qu’om sol trametre messatge
E motz triatz e chausitz.
Et ieu tenc me per garida,
Amics, a la mia fe,
Quan vos prec, qu’aissi.m.cove;
Que.l plus pros n’es enriquida
S’a de vos qualqu’aondanssa
De baissar o d’acoindanssa.

Mal aj’ieu s’anc cor voltage
Vos aic ni.us fui camjairitz,
Ni drutz de negum paratge
Per me non fo encobitz;
Anz sui pensiv’e marrida
Car de m’amor nu.us sove,
E si de vos jois no.m ve,
Tost me trobaretz fenida:
Car per pauc de malananssa
Mor dompna, s’om tot no.il lanssa.

Tot lo maltraich e.l dampnatge
Que per vos m’es escaritz
Vos fai grazer mos linhatge
E sobre totz mos maritz;
E s’anc fetz vas me fallida,
Perdon la.us per bona fe;
E prec que venhatz a me,
Despois quez auretz auzida
Ma chanson, que.us fatz fiansa
Sai trobetz bella semblansa.

Much time have you stayed away
Friend, since you parted from me,
And it is to me hard and cruel,
Because to me you swore and pled
That all the days of your life
You will have no lady but me;
And if in another you lose yourself,
You will have me dead and betrayed,
Because in you I have my faith
That you love me without hesitation.

Fine friend, of boundless heart
I love you, since you pleased me,
And I know I was foolish;
For which you abandoned me;
Though I have never denied you,
And if you give me bad for good:
I love you and wish you no ill;
Since love so has seized me
When I can believe no goodness
Could be had without your love.

A most terrible practice I show
To all other female lovers:
When a man usually sends the message
And tries and chooses his words.
And I am thought fulfilled,
Friends, by my faith,
When I provoke you, as it fits me;
As the most deserving woman is enriched
If she gains from you enough
Kisses and embraces.

Bad luck to me if ever I had a rancid heart
Towards you or was counterfeit,
Or another favorite of any class
Was had by me;
I am sooner pensive and tormented
Because my love is not known,
And if from you joy is not found
Then you will find me dead:
Because from her affliction
A lady will die if not helped.

For all the mistreatment and the damage
That you have brought me
My family will grace you
And more so will my husband;
And if ever towards me you were false,
I pardon you in good faith;
And I pray you come to me,
After you will have heard
My song, when I assure you
You will find a nice reception.

First, the poem follows Castelloza’s general style of the five stanza format while also maintaining the stricter style and subject of Trobairtiz poetry. She laments the loss of her love, his betrayal, and her subsequent suffering, but she places no blame upon him and proceeds to forgive him for the pain he has inflicted upon her. Yet once again her forgiveness is laced with anger towards his abandonment as she indirectly chastises him for his neglect.

Nevertheless she delivers her poem with a dose of sarcasm that does not escape detection, and also conveniently allows us a glimpse into her society. The time of greatest activity for the Trobairitz coincided with an overall renaissance in women’s rights since in the middle of the twelfth century in France, especially in the southern regions and Occitania, women regained much of the power they had not seen for nearly two hundred years. Thus when Castelloza steps into the dominant role, generally reserved for her male counterpart in poetry, she does so from the vantage point of a woman in possession of not just her quill and voice, but uses that voice to echo her position in society. She may be (as I discussed in a previous post) socioeconomically beneath her love interest, nevertheless regardless of her reasons for positioning herself beneath him, it is not because she is a woman. In other words, the implication here is that her stance which positions her beneath her lover is as much a self created pose as it is for the male Troubadour who castigates himself at the foot of his lady’s pedestal.

She blatantly recognizes her reversal as she concedes that general practice is “Qu’om sol trametre messatge,” (When a man usually sends the message) of love to an ever patiently awaiting woman. Bouchard analyzed these lines as an apology where Castelloza negotiates her place within a poetic tradition through a pseudo apology – a practice the Troubadours never had to partake in since it was implied that men never had to apologize for their existence in any sphere and could move with a freedom unreserved for women.  While I love Bouchard’s close reading of these lines, I do have to disagree and found another reason for Castelloza’s insertion of these seemingly apologetic lines. Almost smirkingly Castelloza acknowledges that her behavior sets a terrible example for all other female lovers while synchronously encouraging them to do the same. She is not apologizing as much as drawing attention to the solidarity between women who will now partake in this perhaps liberating behavior and act upon their desires as opposed to remaining within the confined roles of passive love interests. Her apology is really just a nod towards the agency she has a hand in eliciting. There are in fact several instances within the chanson that mark her extrapolation from self to a universal feminine exemplum – her personal grief and simultaneous joy derived from her lover become the suffering and joy of every woman. These instances are set off from the rest of the chanson by her deliberate usage of the third person pronoun as she moves from “I” to “she” and from “my” to “her” (lines 28-30 and 39-40).

Even though there are innumerable more points to be discussed here, especially concerning the feudal language she employs that allows us an even more detailed glimpse into the relationship between her and her lover, I think that is best left to another time – perhaps one day this will be more than just a series of blogposts.

In the meantime, I want to draw attention to one last bit of a testament to what I feel is Castelloza’s sense of humor. The last stanza  has been translated differently by Dronke and Paden in regards to her family and their response, real or perceived, to her predicament. My own translation is also a bit different, but as Bec has stated, what can be surmised and agreed upon is her reference to having a husband. I do not believe her family/lineage or husband will be elevated due to her status as a Trobairitz as others have stipulated, so the pain her lover has inflicted upon her for which those around her are glad is not reflective of their joy at the literary and performative success that the suffering has brought about, but rather it is an ironically descriptive statement. Most notably her husband’s joy at her misfortune would fit perfectly well within the genre of a malmarie where Castelloza acknowledges her husband and lover within the same composition while the former would have every reason to rejoice at the grief the latter inflicts upon his adulterous wife. And Castelloza does not skirt the issue. This is the work of a woman in control of her situation who doesn’t paint fairy tales, but navigates the problematic reality of her dual existence by choosing to candidly admit her reality one line before negating its importance as she returns her attention to her lover and her unending love for him despite how he torments her. Much like in her poem, Amics, here too she ends with a promise, yet this time it is not a veiled threat of what should befall him if he abandons her, but a promise of the kind reception that awaits his return.


(Castelloza, BnF MS 843 f. 125)

Even though the actual score for this chanson has not survived, and actually only one Trobairitz musical accompaniment has been preserved, by Beatritz de Dia, I found a pleasing rendition of Castelloza’s Mout Avetz set to music. Enjoy!



Bec, Pierre. Chants d’amour des femmes-troubadours: Trobairitz et “chasons de femme.”

Bouchard,Constance Brittain. Strong of Body, Brave and Noble: Chivalry and Society in Medieval France.

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

Gravdal, Kathryn. “Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Medieval Women Trobairitz.”

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