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  • Il canzoniere del trovatore Roi Queimado by Pilar Lorenzo Gradín, Simone Marcenaro
Lorenzo Gradín, Pilar and Marcenaro, Simone. Il canzoniere del trovatore Roi Queimado. Alessandria: Edizioni dell’Orso, 2010. 347pp. ISBN: 978-88-6274-234-4

The poetry of the mid-thirteenth century Portuguese troubadour Roi Queimado has until now remained a somewhat hidden gem contained in three extensive collections of Galician-Portuguese lyric verse, the Cancioneiro da Ajuda, the Cancioneiro da Vaticano and the Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional. For the first, the 1904 edition of Carolina Michaëlis de Vasconcelos and the 1941 ediiton of Henry Carter continue to be authoritative, while the latter are available to modern scholars primarily through facsimile editions from 1982 and 1973. Pilar Lorenzo Gradín, professor of Romance philology at the University of Santiago de Compostela and Simone Marcenaro, a researcher at the same institution when this book was published, have created the first edition of Queimado’s complete works, bringing the poet and his opus to life and into a rich critical perspective.

Their introduction begins with a biographical sketch of the Portuguese troubadour. Gradín and Marcenaro acknowledge they were unable to discover new primary documentary evidence, arriving instead at a well-crafted, dense and meticulous synthesis of previous research. They conjecture that the poet, whose epithet suggests either his dark complexion or his burning passion, was a nobleman from a lesser lineage in southern Portugal. While they are open to the possibility that Queimado may have been raised by an adoptive father, Gradín and Marcenario question previous scholarship claiming to have found his daughter in a notary document.

Because of his literary relations with Pero Garcia Burgalés and other poets active in the court of Alfonso X, Gradín and Marcenario are confident that Queimado was of Portuguese rather than Galician extraction. He may in fact have visited or lived at the Alfonsine court sometime between 1245 and 1250, as suggest cantigas in which Quiemado takes a stand in the battle for ascendancy between Alfonso III and the Infante Alfonso de Castilla. Gradín and Marcenario [End Page 349] examine possibilities for the identity of Don Estevan, a partisan of Alfonso III, whom Queimado attacks in one of his poems of derision. They evaluate the connections previous scholars have found between the polyvalent term ama and one of the love interests of Queimado, possibly a woman known as Beltrán, nurse of Don Denis. Finally, they present two possibilities for the historical identity of a Juan Garcia mentioned in one of his poems. Whether this was actually Johan de Guilhade or Johan de Sousa, they feel confident that this confirms that Queimado, who left few biographical traces, was active in northern Portugal in the 1250s.

The authors provide a brief account of the extant manuscripts of Queimado’s poetry. The late thirteenth-century Cancioneiro de Ajuda contains his cantigas de amor, while the complete body of his works is found in the sixteenth-century apocryphal copies of the Italian humanist Angelo Colocci (the Biblioteca Nacional and the Vaticana manuscripts), and a descriptus of the Colocci codices at the Bancroft library of the University of California, Berkeley. For readers unfamiliar with this textual tradition it would have been helpful to indicate the full names of the collections and to provide some context for how they were discovered rather than referring to them by their abbreviations alone (MSS A, B, V and K). However, Gradín and Marcenaro adeptly discuss the ordering of compositions in the various manuscripts while placing his opus in clear relation to other poets in the same collections.

In discussing the possible meaning of a rather cryptic marginal note in MS A, “nota cartuxo”, Gradín and Marcenaro generously acknowledge the contributions, while challenging some of the weaknesses, of previous explanations by Carolina Michäelis, Susan Pedro and Anna Ferrai, basing their own hypothesis on a careful examination of the Colocci manuscripts. The footnotes in this section and throughout the anthology are precise and informative, providing ample clarification while avoiding excessive detail. Their exploration of this enigma leads them into a fascinating treasure hunt connecting the popularity of Queimado’s love poetry in the court of Portugal to the mysterious author of the note who may have been referencing Juan de Padilla, a Carthusian monk and poet in the court of the Catholic Kings, or Ludolfo di Sassonia, opening a discussion on the critical reception of his work by moralistic readers some 250 years after its composition.

The authors describe how Colocci marked textual divisions, decorated refrains [End Page 350] and the initials of coblas and clarify a confusing interlineal commentary. The three plates with images of manuscripts they include are very helpful in providing the reader a visual reference to accompany their abstract discussion. It is unfortunate that more such images were not incorporated into the text, especially in the presentation of the poetry itself, where it is sometimes difficult to form clear mental pictures of the descriptions of rubrics and marginal notes.

The next section of the introduction is dedicated to a preliminary discussion of the poetry. Gradín and Marcenario vigorously refute Queimado’s reputation as a poet who excessively developed the motif of “morte per amore” (59), a criticism that began in the work of Carolina Michäelis. They emphasize that this theme was, in fact, common in Peninsular lyric poetry and that other critics such as Manuel Rodrigues Lapa actually defend Queimado in his use of the motif because they recognize its ironic and humorous overtones.

In discussing the first four cantigas de amor the authors show how Queimado encompasses the most commonly found motifs and situations in the courtly love tradition: the suffering poet who cannot communicate his feelings to his beloved and thus imagines no other possible outcome than his own death; the need to conceal versus the desire to reveal his love; his open confession and the desire to serve the beloved. Here, as in all of the poetic analyses of this edition, the writing style is elegant and sensitive to the dynamic psychology of love. The reader learns of the inventive and ironic twists Queimado brings to the treatment of stock poetic material. In their comments on cantigas XIV and XV, the authors highlight Queimado’s full break with tradition in allowing his poetic narrator to reveal the name of the beloved, Guiomar Afonso, violating the fundamental law of the celar or concealment and, they assert, de-mythifying her status by allowing her to enter the text as a real person.

Gradín and Marcenaro define the cantiga de amigo as a distinct but related genre to de amor. They show how in Cantiga XVII a female voice belittles the poet because of the sanha or ire her indifference provokes in him. In the following cantiga the lady playfully feigns anger because her amigo is late. A further standard de amigo theme developed by Queimado includes the jealousy of the lady, expressed through her friend as deuteragonist. The discussion of Queimado’s amigo poetry in which the lovers enter into open conflict, a kind of love war, most likely in intertextual relation with a cantiga by Gonçal’Eanes do Vinhal, engages the reader with its detail and depth. [End Page 351]

The authors next offer a survey of Queimado’s cantigas de escarnio e maldizer. Their differentiation between two types of this poetry of insult, the “personal vituperation” and the “noble satire”, allows for a more nuanced reading of these texts and provides the reader with a richer understanding of this jocular genre. In their brief introduction to the cantigas in this section Gradín and Marcenaro discuss themes such as the lack of hospitality of the scorned nobleman; his greed; his poor habits in attire and eating. The writing here is colorful, capturing the essence of several poems.

A wide range of rhetorical devices across all three types of cantiga are explored. The authors do not merely amass a catalogue of these strategies but show how they bring life to Queimado’s poetic expression. Their presentation of Queimado’s use of derivatio, however, leads the reader so rapidly through a series of examples from several poems that it is easy to get lost. Nevertheless, their thorough body of evidence enriches one’s reading of the cantigas themselves. Other phenomena registered in several cantigas include parataxis, invocations, allocutions, hypotaxis, sermocinatio, parallelistic structures, enjambment, anaphorae, polysyndetons, geminatio, accumulatio, apostrophes, parentheses, exclamations, and interrogations. The authors’ readings of these poems are informed by a deep knowledge of Portuguese grammar and syntax, with numerous insightful references to what is typical for the genre.

Gradín and Marcenaro’s comments on the troubadour’s conservativism in his use of meter are well expressed and illuminating. Queimado uses metric schemes common to Peninsular poetry from his time period, a few of which appear in Giuseppe Tavani’s Repertorio metrico della lirica gallego-portoghese. The description of the way in which several cantigas conform or diverge from tradition is well organized, moving from examples of polymeter to an overview of the meters used for the fiinda or refrain. The reader is given an overview of Queimado’s preferred metric and rhyme schemes, in an overview that is rich with detail, but where the poems given as examples are presented in a somewhat disjointed way. Here a master table listing these poems and their outstanding metrical and rhyming patterns would have been helpful.

In their criteria of edition Gradín and Marcenaro explain that they chose MS A for the cantigas de amor because they feel it best reflects the language of the time period of Queimado’s composition. For the cantigas de amigo and cantigas de escarnio et maldizer they used B, finding its readings more accurate than MS V. [End Page 352]

The texts were transcribed using criteria common to other editions of Galician-Portuguese lyric, respecting the linguistic reality of the epoch of the poetry’s composition. Gradín and Marcenaro explain their norms for representing phenomena such as nasalization and a variety of consonants and vowels that are easy to confuse. This reflects their comprehensive knowledge of Portuguese phonetics and international standards of transcription.

Cantiga XXI, “O demo m’ouvera oj’a levar” (237–47) illustrates the highly effective organization the authors have provided for presenting each poem. The three strophes of this poem of derision are presented with line numbers, followed by the type of composition, here a cantiga de maestria, and lists of errata and variants. The section on rubrics and marginal notes lists the attribution of the text to “Roy queymado”, the numeration Colocci gave to the text, marginal notes such as “9ged” as an abbreviation for “congedo” and the marginal lines Colocci used to mark the fiinda and to divide this text from the following poem. The section on meter lists the three coblas unisonnans of seven verses and a three-verse fiinda (refrain). A clearly organized table shows the metric and rhyme schemes for each strophe and the refrain. The translation they provide in contemporary Italian prose is, as is consistently the case in this edition, logically rendered and esthetically pleasing. This allows readers who have limited experience with medieval Portuguese but can read Italian a way to quickly learn some of the unique vocabulary and linguistic features encountered in the poetry.

The commentary to this poem allows the reader to appreciate the cultural and literary context for this work, making the writing much more accessible. At the same time, careful attention is given to the innovative elements that distinguish this poem from its cohorts. The protagonist and narrator of the poem is a cavaleiro or nobleman lacking the material resources appropriate to his social class. In a situation typical of the genre and also found in the poetry of Goncal’Eanes do Vinhal, he naively offers a first-person account of an experience that confounded him: being greeted at the gate of a fellow nobleman by vicious dogs. Here Queimado introduces a new character, a porteiro, of an inferior noble caste, who dismisses him, assuming he is impoverished and looking for food. The crux of the satire plays with questions of social class, transcending the burlesque criticism of eating habits or physical defects that are typical of the genre to highlight the rival’s lack of hospitality. [End Page 353]

The authors give a brief analysis of the structure of the poem and the importance of the devices of hyperbole, anaphora, hyperbaton and polyptoton. A section of scholarly notes follows the commentary. Much of this section is dedicated to etymological explanations, such as in this examination of the unusual word fareleiro, translated into Italian as “farinoso” (floury) (245), which is shown to have resonances with the Portuguese “farlero”, as in the celebration of “Domingo Fareleiro” from the province of Ourense on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, in which the townspeople throw flour on each other for diversion.

The Appendix is a cantiga de escarnio et maldizer by Pero Garcia Burgalés in which he playfully mocks Roi Queimado for his overuse of the motif of “death by love”. This is followed by a rhyming dictionary and glossary of key terms, which are particularly useful given the sophistication and range of the troubadour’s lexicon. Finally, the bibliography of over 20 pages is testament to the authors’ meticulous and exhaustive research.

The result is an authoritative, beautifully written and intellectually vigorous edition of a skilled, exuberant poet and personality that sets a high standard for our profession. This edition will surely serve the community of medieval Peninsular poetry scholars for many years to come.

Mark T. Aquilano
University of Arkansas

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