Peirol or Peiròl[1] (French: [peʁɔl], Occitan: [pejˈɾɔl]; birth ca. 1160,[2] known in 1188–1222[3]/1225,[4] death in the 1220s) was an Auvergnat troubadour who wrote mostly cansos of courtly love in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries.[5] Thirty-four surviving poems written in Occitan have been attributed to him;[6] of these, seventeen (sixteen of them love songs) have surviving melodies.[5] He is sometimes called Peirol d'Auvergne or Peiròl d'Auvèrnha,[7] and erroneously Pierol.[8]

Peirol, from a 13th-century chansonnier


Not much is known of his life, and any attempt to establish his biography from a reading of his poems is soundly rejected by the most recent scholarship.[9]

Peirol's birth is commonly estimated around 1160.[2] He may have hailed from — and been named after — the village of Pérols in Prondines, Puy-de-Dôme, "at the foot of" (al pe de) the castle of Rochefort-Montagne (Rocafort).[10] Another candidate for his birth town is Pérol in modern Riom-es-Montagnes.[11] His homeland was thus en la contrada del Dalfin: in the county of the Dauphin of Auvergne.[10]

Peirol was originally a poor knight, described as "courtly and handsome" by the author of his late thirteenth-century vida (biography).[12][13] He served at the court of Dalfi d'Alvernha, but was in love with his sister Salh (or Sail) de Claustra (which means "fled from the cloister"), the wife of Béraut III de Mercœur,[11] and wrote many songs for this "domna" (lady). While Dalfi had brought his sister to his court for Peirol and had helped Peirol cater to her tastes in his compositions, eventually Dalfi grew jealous of the attention his sister gave Peirol and, in part because of the impropriety, had to dismiss Peirol, who could not support himself as a man-at-arms.[11] His biographer indicates, Peirols no se poc mantener per cavallier e venc joglars, et anet per cortz e receup dels barons e draps e deniers e cavals.[4] That is: Peirol being unable to maintain himself as a knight became a jongleur, and travelled from court to court, receiving from barons clothing, money, and horses.

Peirol is known to have been a fiddler and singer from a reference in a tornada of Albertet de Sestaro.[14] After returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem sometime in or after 1222, Peirol may have died in Montpellier in the 1220s.[15]

A picture of Peirol illustrates his vida in a 13th-century chansonnier

Courtly loveEdit

Peirol's works are simple and metaphysical; based on familiar concepts of courtliness, they lack originality.[16] They are most characteristic in their abstractness and lack of concrete nouns; the adjectives are rarely sensory (related to sight, touch, etc.) and there are no extended references to nature as found in many troubadours.[16] The purpose behind his writing was probably economical and chivalric — for reputation, prestige, and honour — rather than emotional or sentimental; his writing is intellectual and formulaic.[17] Among the personal statements in his works, he expresses a preference for the vers over the chansoneta.[17] Among his love songs can be distinguished the light-hearted "gay songs", which sometimes at least had equally gay melodies, and the more "serious songs", which were "theoretical discussions of love".[18] He wrote in the trobar leu (light poetry) tradition.[19]

To Peirol, the "crafty lover" can "circumvent the foolish watchfulness of the jealous husband."[20] Peirol gave up a nobler woman for a lesser "that I love in joy and peace and am loved in return."[21] Peirol also waded into the discussion concerning whether it was permissible to love in a pure, elevated form at the same time as one sought low, physical love.[22]

One of Peirol's works, "Mainta gens mi malrazona", survives with a melody to which a piano accompaniment was written as "Manta gens me mal razona" by E. Bohm.[23] Among his surviving melodies, Théodore Gérold has ascertained a discord between music and lyric, and although Switten denies this, she admits that they are generally melancholic and not expressive of the mood of the lyrics (if one is conveyed).[16] Both agree, however, that his melodies are simpler than those of contemporary troubadours Folquet de Marselha and Peire Vidal.[16] They are usually written in either the Dorian or Mixolydian modes and "cannot be rejected as tiresome pedantries [...] yet possessed of an intrinsic harmony, a singularity of purpose, a unanimity of conception and intent that may properly be termed artistic."[24]

A trouvère, Guiot de Dijon, writing in Old French, probably modelled his song Chanter m'estuet, coment que me destraigne after Peirol's love song Si be.m sui loing et entre gent estraigna.[25]

Peirol also tried his hand at the art of the sirventes with the "Ren no val hom joves que no.s perjura", which was widely copied.[26] This poem, which has stark and vivid imagery and even a prosaic reference to merchants, is so unusual for Peirol that its authenticiy has been placed in doubt.[27]

Crusading songsEdit

Peirol supported the Third Crusade (1189–1192) and wrote a tenso, "Quant amors trobet partit" (When Love discovered that my heart / Had parted from his concerns), encouraging the kings of Europe to make peace and send aid to "the noble and valiant marquess" Conrad of Montferrat, then King of Jerusalem.[28] Though Peirol expresses a desire to accompany his lord, Dalfi d'Alvernha, on the Crusade, he is ultimately convinced by Love not to abandon his lady (domna) by pointing out that "never by your intervention will the Turk and Arab yield up the Tower of David" and giving the counsel: "love and sing often."[28]

It appears that Peirol never did go on the Third Crusade, but he eventually pilgrimaged to Jerusalem in 1221 and may have witnessed the surrender of Damietta.[29] He placed some of the blame on the Emperor Frederick II in a crusading song — his last poem[30] — entitled "Pus flum Jordan ai vist e.l monimen".[29][31] He even went so far as to mock the imperial eagle (vostr'aigla, qu'en gitet us voutors)[32] and praise the victorious Sultan of Egypt (Anta y avetz e.l Soudan onramen).[33]

"M'entencio ai tot'en un vers mesa", one of Peirol's cansos and not one of his crusading songs, was used twice around the time of the Eighth Crusade (1270) as the basis for a contrafactum in support of the Crusades.[34] First, Ricaut Bonomel, a Palestinian Templar, wrote a scathing analysis of the future of Christianity in the Holy Land, and a few years after that, Austorc d'Aurillac, composed a sirventes encouraging conversion to Islam. Both later poems were exercises in reverse psychology and attempts to spur further Crusades.[34]


The thirty-four surviving poems that constitute Peirol's complete works have been titled after their first line.

The cansos, alphabetically
The tensos, alphabetically

Modern recordingsEdit

Several dozens albums[35] exist featuring at least one recording of a Peirol song. Below are some recordings, alphabetically by poem name. (If you have enabled JavaScript, you can reorder the table by clicking any column heading.)

Poem Recorded by Album Year
"Ab gran joi mou maintas vetz e comenssa"
(as "Ab joi")
Graziella Benini,
Walter Benvenuti
Troubadours, Vol. 3
+ Courts, Kings, & Troubadours
"D'eissa la razon qu'ieu suoill"
(as "D'elsa la razon")
I Ciarlatani Codex Manesse 1996
"D'un sonet vau pensan" Graziella Benini,
Walter Benvenuti
Troubadours, Vol. 3
+ Courts, Kings, & Troubadours
"Mainta gens mi malrazona"
(as "Mainta jen me mal razona")
C. Carbi,
R. Monterosso
Trouvères & Laudes 1955?
"Mainta gens mi malrazona"
(as "Manhta gens mi malrazona")
Gérard Zuchetto, et al. Terre de Troubadours
(Land of Troubadours)
"Mainta gens mi malrazona"
(as "Manhtas gens")
Troubadours Art Ensemble Troubadours Art Ensemble – Vol. 2 2001
"M'entencion ai tot' en un vers mesa"
(as "M'entensio")
Ensemble Jehan de Channey Trouvères et Troubadours 1994
"Per dan que d'amor mi veigna"
(as "Per dan")
Graziella Benini,
Walter Benvenuti
Troubadours, Vol. 3
+ Courts, Kings, & Troubadours
"Per dan que d'amor mi veigna"
(as "Per dam que d'amor")
Troubadours Art Ensemble Troubadours Art Ensemble – Vol. 2 2001
"Quant Amors trobet partit"
(as "Quant Amors trobèt partit")
Clemencic Consort Troubadours 1977
"Quant Amors trobet partit" Graziella Benini,
Walter Benvenuti
Troubadours, Vol. 3
+ Courts, Kings, & Troubadours
"Quant Amors trobet partit" Estampie Crusaders in Nomine Domini 1996


Sources consulted
  • Aston, S. C. Peirol: Troubadour of Auvergne. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953.
  • Aston, S. C. "On the Attribution of the Poem 'Be·m cujava que no chantes oguan' and the Identity of 'Marqueza'." The Modern Language Review, Vol. 48, No. 2. (Apr., 1953), pp. 151–158.
  • Aubrey, Elizabeth. "References to Music in Old Occitan Literature." Acta Musicologica, Vol. 61, Fasc. 2. (May–Aug., 1989), pp. 110–149.
  • Aubrey, Elizabeth. The Music of the Troubadours. Indiana University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-253-21389-4.
  • Chambers, Frank M. "Three Troubadour Poems with Historical Overtones." Speculum, Vol. 54, No. 1. (Jan., 1979), pp. 42–54.
  • Egan, Margarita, ed. and trans. The Vidas of the Troubadours. New York: Garland, 1984. ISBN 0-8240-9437-9.
  • Jones, W. Powell. "The Jongleur Troubadours of Provence." PMLA, Vol. 46, No. 2. (Jun., 1931), pp. 307–311.
  • Kehew, Robert (ed.) Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours. Ezra Pound and William De Witt Snodgrass, trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. ISBN 0-226-42932-6.
  • Moller, Herbert. "The Social Causation of the Courtly Love Complex." Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 1, No. 2. (Jan., 1959), pp. 137–163.
  • Moller, Herbert. "The Meaning of Courtly Love." The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 73, No. 287. (Jan.–Mar., 1960), pp. 39–52.
  • Nichols, Stephen G. "Poetic Places and Real Spaces: Anthropology of Space in Crusade Literature (in Allegory and the Space of Otherness)." Yale French Studies, No. 95, Rereading Allegory: Essays in Memory of Daniel Poirion. (1999), pp. 111–133.
  • Paterson, Linda M. "Occitan Literature and the Holy Land." The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, edd. Marcus Bull and Catherine Léglu. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84383-114-7.
  • Puckett, Jaye. "'Reconmenciez novele estoire': The Troubadours and the Rhetoric of the Later Crusades." MLN, Vol. 116, No. 4, French Issue. (Sep., 2001), pp. 844–889.
  • Siberry, Elizabeth. Criticism of Crusading, 1095–1274. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-821953-9.
  • Schutz, A. H. "Where Were the Provençal "Vidas" and "Razos" Written?" Modern Philology, Vol. 35, No. 3. (Feb., 1938), pp. 225–232.
  • Smythe, Barbara. "The Connection between Words and Music in the Songs of the Trobadors." The Modern Language Review, Vol. 3, No. 4. (Jul., 1908), pp. 329–336.
  • Switten, Margaret Louise. "Text and Melody in Peirol's Cansos." PMLA, Vol. 76, No. 4. (Sep., 1961), pp. 320–325.
  1. ^ In Occitan, peir (French "pierre") means "stone" and -ol is a diminutive suffix, the name Peirol being understood as the equivalent of "Little Stone" but also "Petit Pierre" (Lil' Peter) or "Pierrot" (Pete or Petey); however, "peiròl" also meant a cauldron or a stove. The Occitan usually write Peiròl with an accented "ò" because "Peirol" would be pronounced [pejru].
  2. ^ a b The common 1160 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2007-10-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) [1] Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine [2] [3][permanent dead link] [4][permanent dead link] [5] [6] is possibly inferred from his being established active starting around 1188.
  3. ^ Nichols, 129.
  4. ^ a b Aubrey, "References to Music in Old Occitan Literature", 123.
  5. ^ a b Switten, 320.
  6. ^ Though one poem, "Be.m cujava que no chantes oguan", has been disputably assigned to Pons de la Guardia by M. Frank (Aston, 151).
  7. ^ Not to be confused with troubadour Peire d'Alvernha (Pierre d'Auvergne, born around 1130)
  8. ^ By conflation with the French "Pierre".
  9. ^ Switten, 321 n5.
  10. ^ a b Schutz, 227.
  11. ^ a b c Egan, 82.
  12. ^ Jones, 310.
  13. ^ Egan, 81.
  14. ^ Aubrey, The Music of the Troubadours, 257.
  15. ^ Kehew, Pound, and Snodgrass, 244.
  16. ^ a b c d Switten, 321.
  17. ^ a b Switten, 322.
  18. ^ Switten, 323.
  19. ^ Kehew, Pound, and Snodgrass, 245.
  20. ^ Moller, "The Meaning of Courtly Love", 44.
  21. ^ Moller, "The Social Causation of the Courtly Love Complex", 158.
  22. ^ Moller, "The Social Causation of the Courtly Love Complex", 159.
  23. ^ Smythe, 332 n2.
  24. ^ Switten, 325. More indicative of her final evaluation of his tunes may be the reference to their "sheer enjoyableness as music".
  25. ^ Theodore Karp, "Guiot de Dijon," Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online (Accessed 20 September 2008).
  26. ^ Chambers, 52–53. The metre consists of five coblas unissonans with seven lines each.
  27. ^ Switten, 321–322 n6.
  28. ^ a b Siberry, 59.
  29. ^ a b Siberry, 66.
  30. ^ It can be dated to between September 1221 and April 1222 and was written on his return from pilgrimage (Puckett, 885).
  31. ^ Paterson, 92.
  32. ^ "your eagle, which the vulture has cast down" (Nichols, 132).
  33. ^ "The Sultan has all the honour, and you the shame" (Nichols, 132).
  34. ^ a b Puckett, 878.
  35. ^ alone lists about 26 CDs
  36. ^ a b c d Troubadours, Vol. 3 at
  37. ^ Codex Manesse at
  38. ^ Trouvères & Laudes at
  39. ^ Terre de Troubadours – Land of Troubadours at
  40. ^ a b Troubadours Art Ensemble – Volume 2 at
  41. ^ Trouvères et Troubadours at
  42. ^ Troubadours at
  43. ^ Crusaders in Nomine Domini at

External linksEdit