Riquier, Guiraut

Riquier, Guiraut
(ca. 1230–ca. 1300)
   Guiraut Riquier is known as the last of the TROUBADOUR poets of southern France. Although, unlike the other better-known troubadours, Guiraut has no surviving VIDA, much of his biography can be inferred from his 89 extant lyrics. Born in Narbonne near the Spanish border, Guiraut seems to have spent much of his life searching for a generous patron.
   One of Guiraut’s earlier poems is Ples de Tristor, a planh, or lament, for Amalric IV,who was viscount of Narbonne until his death in 1270. It was perhaps after Amalric’s death that Guiraut sought the patronage of the king of Castile, Alfonso el Sabio. In 1274, Guiraut addressed a letter to Alfonso, requesting better treatment for troubadours and JONGLEURS at court. Whether Alfonso responded or not we do not know. In any case, by 1279, Guiraut had left Castile and seems to have been in the service of Henry II, the count of Rodez. Although Guiraut probably made some later journeys, it is likely that he died in the vicinity of Rodez, probably some time near the end of the 13th century.
   All of Guiraut’s poems survive in a single manuscript, apparently based on his own manuscript copy. In his poems he satirizes the decadent nobility of his age, and longs for the poetic tradition of the past.He also is known for adapting some of the traditional images of the COURTLY LOVE tradition to poetry in praise of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps most remarkably, the music for some 48 of Guiraut’s lyrics is extant. This is more than twice the number surviving from any other troubadour. Perhaps this is the result of his compiling his own manuscript copy of his poems.
   ■ Aubrey, Elizabeth. The Music of the Troubadours. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.
   ■ Bossy, M. A. “Cyclical Composition in Guiraut Riquier’s Book of Poems,” Speculum 66 (1991): 277–293.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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