Guillaume VIIth Count of Poitou and IXth Duke of Aquitaine, 1071-1127


Camille Chabaneau, Les Biographies des troubadours


William IX of Aquitaine BN MS fr 12473Lo Coms de Peitieus si fo uns dels majors cortes del mon, e dels majors trichadors de dompnas; e bons cavalliers d'armas, e larcs de dompneiar. E saup ben trobar e cantar;  & anet lonc temps per lo mon per enganar las domnas. Et ac un fill que ac per moiller la duquessa de Normandia, don ac una filla que fo moiller del rei Enric d'Englaterra, maire del rei jove, e d'en Richart, e del comte Jaufre de Bretaingna (Chabaneau 6).


The Count of Poitou was one of the foremost courtiers of the world, one of the foremost deceivers of women; and a good knight at arms and free with women. And was a good troubadour and singer; and long roamed the world for the sake of duping women. And he had a son who had as wife the Duchess of Normandy, who had a daughter who was the wife of the King of England, mother of the young king and of Richard and of Duke Geoffrey of Brittany (C VI: n.1).


Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance, 1910, 1929:
The first troubadour honourably mentioned is of courtly rank: William IX, Count of Poitiers (1086-1127), a great crusader, and most puissant prince, who belongs rather in one of Mr. Hewlett’s novels than in a literary chronicle: his fame rests rather upon deeds than upon the eight poems that have survived him (SR 41).

The culture of Provence finds perhaps its finest expression in the works of Arnaut Daniel. Whatever the folk element in Provençal poetry may have been, it has left scant traces. (What now strikes me [1929] is that Guillaume de Poitiers is the most “modern” of the troubadours. For any of the later Provençals, i.e. the highbrows, we have to make a number of intellectual transpositions, we have to “put ourselves into the Twelfth Century” etc. Guillaume, writing a century earlier, is just as much of our age as of his own. I think it quite likely that all sorts of free forms and doggerel existed and that nobody thought it worth-while to write them down. Guillaume being a great prince, snobbism took note even of his spontaneity.) The poetry, as a whole, is the poetry of a democratic aristocracy, which swept into itself, or drew about it, every man with wit or a voice (SR 39).


Ezra Pound. “Troubadours: their Sorts and Conditions” [Quarterly Review 1913]. 

The argument whether or no the troubadours are a subject worthy of study is an old and respectable one. If Guillaume, Count of Peiteus, grandfather [sic] of King Richard Coeur de Leon, [sic] had not been a man of many energies, there might have been little food for this discussion. He was, as the old book says of him, “of the greatest counts in the world, and he had his way with women.” He made songs for either them or himself or for his more ribald companions. They say that his wife was Countess of Dia, “fair lady and righteous,” who fell in love with Raimbaut d’Aurenga and made him [sic] many a song. Count Guillaume brought composition in verse into court fashions, and gave it a social prestige which it held till the crusade of 1208 against the Albigenses. The mirth of Provençal song is at times anything but sunburnt, and the mood is often anything but idle. De Born advises barons to pawn their castles before making war, thus if they won they could redeem them, if they lost the loss fell of the holder of the mortgage (LE 94). 

Farai un vers, pos mi sonelh, 79-80. Poem.





Chabaneau, Camille. Les Biographies des troubadours en langue provençale. Toulouse: Édouard Privat, 1885.The Cantos Project: General Sources.

Guillaume d'Aquitaine. Farai un vers poi mi sonelh. Ensemble für Frühe Musik Augsburg. Camino de Santiago - Musik auf dem Pilgerweg zum Heilige Jacobus / Music on the Pilgrimage Route to St. James, 2011. YouTube.

Pound, Ezra. The Spirit of Romance. New York: New Directions, 2005. (SR).

Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. Ed. T. S. Eliot. New York: New Directions, 1968. (LE).

Terrell, Carroll F.  Canto VI, n.1. In A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993, 22-23. (C).


The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

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