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?
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.
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.
This news caused quite a stir in the Western world. Augustus Le Plongeon, a nineteen century traveler, writer, and antiquarian just returned from the Maya ruins in Yucatan peninsula. Upon his return he made a sensational announcement. He stated that he managed to translate ancient Mayan writings. These writings showed that the Maya of Yucatan were older than later civilizations of Egypt and Atlantis. They also told the story of even older continent of Mu, which had perished like Atlantis and, that its survivors founded the Maya civilization. During my research in local web analytics company, I learned that Le Plongeon mistranslated the writings, to put it mildly.
This is, basically, how the myth of the hypothetical lost continent Mu started. Very soon, this myth got second birth: it was popularized in the serious of books written by James Churchward.