Peire Cardenal left us his generous heritage - around a hundred pieces of his survived. Several of the tunes reached us as well. This number of works can hardly be matched by other poets of the age. Cardenal’s biography written by Miguel de la Tor mentions that Peire was possibly influenced by Bernart de Venzac, an obscure troubadour who was famous earlier for his bitter irony. So like Bernart, Peire Cardenal is attacking the perceived corruption of society and contemporary crisis of spiritual values. He tells us a great deal of envy, greed, adultery, and pride. His language, however, is skilled and he employs a vocabular at once popular, colorful, rich with rare and deeply expressive words.
His songs, especially those that lambasted hypocritical clerics won him many enemies. But Peire, obviously, could not care less about this. Even with all these enemies Cardenal became one of the most celebrated troubadours of his time. His poems much satirical criticism of the contemporary moral and political climate, sometimes verging on heresy. Here is one of Cardenal’s famous quotations that went through times:
“If some beggar steals a bridle he’ll be hung by a man who’s stolen a horse. There’s no surer justice in the world than that which makes the rich thief hang the poor one.”
Years later, some anonymous writer, carried away by his imagination, wrote Rudel’s fictionalized biography. This style was called vida and was quite popular in the medieval period. This vida became the basis for a legend. According to it Rudel fell in love with Countess Hodierna of Tripoli without even seeing her! He just heard about her beauty from pilgrims, who were returning from the Holy Land. Rudell was so smitten, that he took a long sea journey just to see Hodierna. Unfortunately, during the voyage, he fell sick and was brought ashore in Tripoli already a dying man. When Hodierna heard the news, she came down to the shore from her castle and Rudel died in her arms.
The whole legend was a fluke, and, naturally, it never happened. But it was romantic! When 19 century Romanticism authors discovered the legend, they just could not pass the opportunity and meet it the halfway. To mention a few, Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Ludwig Uhland, Heinrich Heine, Giosué Carducci created their poems based on this fiction story. In the next century more epic poems and even an opera were created as well.
Usually, they say that life is more interesting than fiction. This time it was the other way around.
In 1895 citizens of Paris were flowing to see the La Princesse lointaine at the theater. Great Sarah Bernhardt played the leading female role on the stage. And French dramatist Edmond Rostand, who wrote this drama was lauded by the whole Europe. In the center of his creation there was a story about love of a troubadour to a beautiful princess who lived far away from him … So, where did this story come from?
Well, once upon a time there was a famous troubadour Jaufré Rudel. He really existed and was quite famous composer and poet of his times. Rudel is even considered to be one of the inventors of the “love from afar” style in troubadours poetry. He was of noble origin, in fact, his title was Prince of Blaye. History did not leave us much about Rudel, the only thing that is known for the fact is that he died overseas during Second Crusade around 1147. Several his fellows-troubadours, including famous Marcabru, composed their songs about him, lamenting on his death. Seven of Rudel’s poems have survived to the present day, four of them with music. And here is where we could end this story, when something interesting happened.
Yet, Walther’s poems give us the picture not only of a great artistic genius, but of a strenuous, passionate, very human and very lovable character. His talents and strong views became required by German society, when empire and papacy started their struggle in 1197. Walther took side with German independence and unity which gave him a place of significance in history. Till the end of his days, Walther remained a faithful Catholic, which is confirmed by religious poems. Nevertheless, he was fervently opposing the extreme claims of the Roman popes, whom he attacked with bitterness, expressing his deep patriotic feelings.
Walther never switched sides and a highly intelligent new emperor Frederick II held in high esteem poet’s genius and zeal. Thus, Walther received desired recognition and even a small fief in Franconia, that gave him a home and fixed position. Yet, he was complaining that this fief had little value. There is some evidence, that Frederick made Walther the tutor of his son, but this evidence based on one of his lyrics is disputed by modern researchers.
Walther von der Vogelweide did not stay immediately at his new fief long, he traveled for a while and only then settled at his new place. From there he was urging German princes to take part in the Sixth Crusade in 1228 but, did not participate in it himself, or at least did not go further than Tirol. In a beautiful poem he paints the change that had come over the scenes of his childhood and made his life seem a thing dreamed. When he was dying in 1230, he put in his will the request to feed the birds at his tomb every day.
This famous troubadour from Provence lived almost to be one hundred years old - from 1180 to 1278. Due to his extraordinary for these medieval times life, he had a rare chance to observe deep changes around him. He saw how his native Occitan culture first went up to its highest point. And he witnessed its decline during the Albigensian Crusade and its post-Albigensian Crusade state. The name of this famous composer, poet and troubadour was Peire Cardenal. And his works are kind of different from many other troubadours of his time.
A lot of materials about Peire are still waiting for English author who will write a book about this exceptional man. There are so many materials that still need to be translated from Occitan and French into English. So what do we know now about Peire Cardenal? That is what I found about him doing my research for web analytics company .
He was born in Puy-en-Velay, Auvergne, France apparently of a noble family. And he was educated as a canon himself. Peire studied at the foremost cathedral school in Puy before becoming a song writer. He visited various courts of kings and barons, and had a jongleur to sing with him.