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First Comprehensive Online Archive of Troubadour Crusade Poetry Created

First Comprehensive Online Archive of Troubadour Crusade Poetry Created

Researchers from the University of Warwick are editing and collating the first comprehensive archive of troubadour and trouvere poetry and songs covering the Crusades as part of a new Anglo-Italian research project which will open up the lyric poetry of the medieval troubadours and trouveres to its widest-ever audience.

The poetry, some of it long forgotten to modern audiences, will be published on the University of Warwick and University of Naples websites complete with translations, information on manuscripts and earlier editions, and details of the historical circumstances of their original composition and performance.

The four-year project will see the poetry of the crusades shared in up-to-date scholarly editions and translations, bringing to life the profound and disturbing legacy of the Crusades, still much evident in inter-faith and inter-cultural relations in the modern world.

The project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council of the UK, is being led by Professor Linda Paterson from the University of Warwick, together with colleagues from La Sapienza University in Rome and Royal Holloway College London.

University of Warwick Researcher, Professor Paterson said: “Modern editions of these medieval texts are very often out of date and scattered in journals and disparate publications. This project aims not only to edit and collate the texts but make them easily available to the public; they are a valuable resource for not only academic researchers, but also students and school-teachers and are particularly relevant in the current global political climate.”

Examples of the work, translated from Occitan and Old French can already be found on the website at

An example of one of the lesser known Occitan troubadour poems can be found below; it is particularly interesting for its attempt to deal with the defeat of the Christian army led by King Louis IX of France, who was perceived as going on crusade with the purest of intentions. In the poem the author questions why God could allow them to be defeated when they were of course doing his will against the Turks and thus should win.

To celebrate the project, the University of Warwick is running a poetry-writing competition aimed particularly (but not exclusively) at students. Poems must be in English and up to 50 lines long on the subject ‘Crusade’. There are two categories for the competition: up to and including age 15 and age 16 and over. Prizes of £50, £30 and £20 will be awarded to the three best entries in each of the two categories. For more information on the competition visit:

Austorc dʼAorlhac


Ai Dieus, per qu’as facha tan gran maleza

de nostre rey frances larc e cortes,

quan as sufert qu’aital ant’aia preza?

Qu’elh ponhava cum servir te pogues,

que·l cor e·l saber hi metia

en tu servir la nueg e·l dia,

e cum pogues far e dir tom plazer.

Mal guizardo l’en as fag eschazer.


Ai, bella gens avinens e corteza

que oltra mar passetz! Tam belh arnes!

May no·us veyrem tornar sai, de que·m peza,

don per lo mon s’en es grans dols empres.

Mal dicha si’Alexandria,

e mal dicha tota clercia,

e mal dig Turc que·us an fach remaner!

Mal o fetz Dieus quar lor en det poder.


Crestiantat vey del tot a mal meza;

tan gran perda no cug qu’anc mais fezes.

Per qu’es razos qu’hom hueymais Dieus descreza,

e qu’azorem Bafomet lai on es,

Servagan e sa companhia,

pus Dieus vol e Sancta Maria

que nos siam vencutz a non-dever,

e·ls mescrezens fai honratz remaner.


L’emperaires volgr’agues la crotz preza,

e qu’a son filh l’emperis remazes,

e que·s tengues ab luy la gens franceza

contra fals clercx en cuy renha no-fes;

qu’an mort pretz e cavalairia,

e morta tota cortezia,

e prezo·s pauc qui a son desplazer,

sol qu’ilh puesco sojornar e jazer.


Ai, valens reys, s’avias la largueza

d’Alexandre, que tot lo mon conques,

vengarias la gran anta qu’as preza:

remembre te de Karle . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . de Girart cum v . . . .

. . . . . . . . , s’o be·t sovenia,

tost veiram Turcx fello . . . . . . . . . ,

quar bon secors fai Dieus a ferm voler.


Sanh Peire tenc la drecha via,

mas l’apostolis la·lh desvia

de fals clergues que ten en som poder

que per deniers fan manh . . . . . . . . .


English translation [LP]

I. Ah God, why have you treated our generous, courtly French king so badly in allowing him to suffer such shame? For he made every effort to serve you, putting heart and mind into this, serving you night and day, and thinking of how he might act and speak according to your pleasure. A poor reward have you granted him.

II. Alas fair people, gracious and courtly, who sailed to the Holy Land! Such splendid armour! Nevermore shall we see you return again, which grieves me and throws the whole world into deep mourning. A curse on Alexandria, and a curse on all clergy, and a curse on the Turks who have kept you there! God has done ill for he gave them the power to do it.

III. I see Christendom utterly destroyed; I do not think it ever suffered such an enormous loss. So it makes sense for people to stop believing in God, and for us to worship Mahomet, Tervagan and his company where they are, given that God and Holy Mary want us to be unjustly conquered, and cause the misbelievers to continue to be honoured.

IV. I wish the Emperor had taken the cross and that the Empire remained in the hands of his son, and that the French people allied themselves with him against the false clergy in whom reigns non-faith; for they have killed worth and chivalry, and killed all courtliness, and care little for others’ misfortunes as long as they can enjoy resting and sleeping.

V. Ah, valiant king, [if you had the] generosity of Alexander who conquered the whole world, [you would avenge] the great shame [you have suffered: remember] Charles, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Girart, how he . . . . . . . . . . . . ; if you recalled this well, we should [soon see] the wicked Turks . . . . . . . . . , for God brings strong help to the firm of heart.

VI. St Peter took the straight path, but the pope makes it crooked because of the false clergy under his authority who, for money, make many a . . . . . . . . .


Italian translation [lb]

I. Ah Dio, perché hai trattato così male il nostro generoso, cortese re francese permettendo che patisse una tale vergogna? Egli ha fatto ogni sforzo per servirti, mettendoci il cuore e la mente, servendoti notte e giorno, e pensando a come avrebbe potuto agire e parlare secondo il tuo piacere. Una ben misera ricompensa gli hai concesso.

II. Aimè, bella gente, gentile e cortese, voi che siete salpati verso la Terra Santa! Un così splendido armamento! Non vi vedremo mai più tornare indietro, cosa che mi addolora e getta il mondo intero in un profondo lutto. Sia maledetta Alessandria, e sia maledetto tutto il clero, e siano maledetti i Turchi che vi hanno tenuti lì! Ha fatto male Dio a dar loro il potere di farlo.

III. Vedo la cristianità completamente distrutta; non credo che abbia mai sofferto una perdita così enorme. Quindi è logico che la gente smetta di credere in Dio, e che noi adoriamo Maometto, Tervagan e la sua compagnia nel loro paese, dato che Dio e Maria Santissima vogliono che siamo ingiustamente conquistati, e fanno sì che i miscredenti continuino ad essere onorati.

IV. Vorrei che l’Imperatore avesse preso la croce e che l'Impero restasse nelle mani di suo figlio, e che i francesi si alleassero con lui contro il falso clero, nei quali regna la miscredenza; poiché hanno ucciso il valore e la cavalleria, e ucciso ogni cortesia, e si curano poco delle sventure altrui fintanto che possono oziare e dormire.

V. Ah, valoroso re, [se avessi la] generosità di Alessandro che ha conquistato il mondo intero, [vendicheresti] la grande onta [che hai subito: ricordati] di Carlo, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . di Girart, come . . . . . . . . . . . . ; se ti ricordassi bene di questo, [vedremmo presto] i Turchi malvagi . . . . . . . . . , perché Dio dà grande aiuto al cuore saldo.

VI. San Pietro ha imboccato la via diritta, ma il papa la rende storta a causa del falso clero sotto la sua autorità che, per soldi, fa molti . . . . . . . . .


For the full translation, references and notes and to hear a recording of this Crusade Poem visit:


Notes to Editors:

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Alison Rowan, Communications Manager, or by telephone on 024 7615 0423 or 07876 218166