BERNARTZ DE VENTADORN (ca. 1130 - ca.1190)
Bernartz de Ventadorn fo de Lemozi, del castel de Ventadorn. Hom fo de paubra generatio, filhs d'un sirven del castel que era forniers' qu'escaudava lo forn a coser lo pa. Bels hom era & adregz e saup ben cantar e trobar & era cortes & ensenhatz. El vescoms, lo sieus senher, de Ventadorn s'abelic molt de lui e de son trobar e fetz li gran honor. El vescoms si avia molher mot gentil domna e gaia, & abelic se mot de las cansos d'en Bernart, e s'enamoret de lui & el de la domna, si qu'el fetz sas cansos e sos vers d'ella e de l'amor qu'el avia d'ella e de la valor de leis. Lonc tems duret lor amors, ans quel vescoms ni l'autra gens s'en aperceubes; e quan lo vescoms s'en aperceup, el s'estranhet de lui, e fetz fort serrar e gardar la domna. E la domna fetz dar comjat an Bernart ques partis es lunhes de tota aquela encontrada. Et el s'en partit e s'en anet a la duquessa de Normandia, que era joves e de gran valor, e s'entendia en pretz & en honor, & en ben dig de lauzor; e plazion li fort las cansos eil vers d'en Bernart. Et ella lo receup e l'aculhi mot fort. Lonc temps estet en sa cort, & enamoret se d'ella & ella de lui; en fetz motas bonas cansos. Et estan com ella, lo reis Anricx d'Angleterra si la pres per molher e la trais de Normandia e lan menet. En Bernartz remas de sai tritz e dolens; e venc s'en al bon comte Raimon de Toloza, & ab el estet tro quel coms mori. Et en Bernartz, per aquela dolor, si s'en rendet a l'orde de Dalon; e lai definet. E lo coms n'Ebles de Ventadorn, que fo filhs de la vescomtessa qu'en Bernartz amet, comtet a mi, n'Uc de San Circ, so que ieu ai fait escriure d'en Bernart (Chabaneau 10-11).
Bernard de Ventadorn was from the castle of Ventadorn in Limousin. He was a man from a poor family, the son of a servant who was an oven-tender and heated the oven to cook the bread for the castle. He grew handsome and skilled, and knew how to compose and sing, and he was courtly and educated. The Viscount Ventadorn, his lord, was greatly pleased with him and his composing and singing, and honored him greatly. Now, Viscount Ventadorn had a wife who was beautiful and gay and young and noble, and she was pleased with Sir Bernard and his songs, and she fell in love with him and he with her, so that he made his poems and songs about her, the love that he had for her and her noblesse. Their love lasted for a long time before the viscount the lady's husband, and the other people realized it. And when the viscount caught on, he distanced Sir Bernard from him and had his wife shut in under guard. Then he had the lady dismiss Sir Bernard, and made him agree to leave and depart from the district. So he left, and went to the Duchess of Normandy,1 who was young and of great nobility, and well-versed in worthiness and honor and eulogy. And she was most pleased with Sir Bernard's poems and songs, so she received, honored, and supported him and and gave him many great favors. He was at the court of the duchess for a long time and he fell in love with her and she with him, so Sir Bernard made many good songs about it. But King Henry of England took her to wife and took her from Normandy and took her to England. Sir Bernard stayed behind, sad and ailing, and he left Normandy and went to the good count Raymond of Toulouse, and was with him at his court until the count died. And when the count was dead, Sir Bernard abandoned the world, and composing and singing and the world's solace, and entered the order of Dalon and died there. And all that I have told you about him was told to me by Viscount Eble of Ventadorn, who was the son of the viscountess Sir Bernard loved so much.
Translated by Todd Tarantino.
1. The Duchess of Normandy - Eleanor d'Aquitaine. Only two months after her marriage to Louis VII was annulled, Eleanor married Henry, Duke of Normandy, in May 1152. For two years, before Henry became King of England under the name of Henry II, she was thus Duchess of Normandy. It was at this time that Bernart came to sing at her court.
Chabaneau, Camille. Les Biographies des troubadours en langue provençale. Toulouse: Édouard Privat, 1885. 10-11. The Cantos Project. General Sources.
Tarantino, Todd, ed. and transl. “Bernart de Ventadorn.” Free online. See also the translation of this vida in Peter Makin Pound & Provence, 135.