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  • Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas
  • Henry Berlin
Base de dados online. Ed. Graça Videira Lopes and Manuel Pedro Ferreira et al. Lisboa: Instituto de Estudos Medievais, FCSH/NOVA, 2011–. Web. <>.

The corpus of secular medieval Galician-Portuguese lyric survives chiefly in three manuscripts: the Cancioneiro da Ajuda (CA), the Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional (CBN), and the Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Vaticana (CV).1 These codices and the corpus of poems they contain have been edited numerous times in diplomatic, facsimile, and critical editions, although the quality of the last has been debated (see, for example, Cohen 33–35). In recent years, comprehensive editions have given way to a growing number of editions dedicated to individual poets.2 To the extent, then, that there has been a move away from comprehensive editions of the cantigas and that earlier editions have been found to be deficient, the new online database Cantigas Medievais Galego-Portuguesas (CMGP) constitutes an important, even groundbreaking resource for scholars of medieval Galician-Portuguese lyric.

The database, coordinated by Graça Videira Lopes and Manuel Pedro Ferreira, is part of a broader project entitled Littera, edição, atualização e preservação do património literário medieval português, financed by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDC/ ELT/69985/2006), and housed at the Instituto de Estudos Medievais da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Its stated purpose is “to offer the public, both specialized and a broader one, the whole of the texts transmitted to us by the Galician-Portuguese songbooks, in a rigorous, yet accessible way” (“Presentation”). Available in Portuguese and English (although the poems themselves are not presented in translation), CMGP contains not only the corpus’ texts, however, but also images of the manuscript folios on which each cantiga is preserved and, whenever available, each cantiga’s music (both recordings and notation). Included are the almost 1,680 cantigas drawn from the CA, CBN, and CV, along with the anonymous “Arte de Trovar” found in the CBN, the two cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X also found therein, and the so-called “spurious” (espúrias) [End Page 319] later compositions added to the medieval cancioneiros and transcribed by their Italian copyists. The edition of the poems themselves is original to the database, and the editorial and orthographical criteria (resolution of abbreviations, conservation of doubled vowels, etc.) can be found in the “Presentation.” They are too numerous to describe at length here, but are presented in detail on the website and, when combined with the manuscript images also provided, make the database more than suitable for rigorous scholarship.

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CMGP’s basic search screen. <>

The cantigas are indexed by title and author, and keyword searches can be filtered by cancioneiro, by genre, by type (for example, whether the poem contains a refrain or is dialogic), and by themes and subthemes such as “animals: birds.”3 The genre filter is particularly useful in that it goes beyond the traditional (and increasingly disputed) tripartite division into cantigas de amor, de amigo, and de escárnio e maldizer, adding forms such as the tenção and pranto. [End Page 320]

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Author page for Nuno Fernandes Torneol.


To this primary material is added biographical information for each author, some explanatory notes, and an excellent glossary of Galician-Portuguese whose entries link to each cantiga in which they appear. Each author’s page contains biographical information with references and, to the right, a list of all of the author’s poems in alphabetical order by first line. It is also possible to view all of the poems by one author on a single page, in the order in which they appear in the cancioneiros.

Individual cantigas are presented with explanatory notes indicated by colored boxes to the left of the relevant line. The color (and, sometimes, letter) indicates the type of note (explanatory, paleographic, names of people and places, lexical glosses, and marginal notes from the...


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pp. 319-323
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