Bieiris de Romans

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Bieiris de Roman(s)[1] (from Bietris, also Beatriz or Beatritz; English: "Beatrice") was a trobairitz of the first half of the thirteenth century. Her birthplace was Romans near Montélimar.[2] Other than her name, which includes her place of birth, nothing is known of the details of her life, which has led to a significant gap in knowledge for scholarship analyzing her work. She left behind one canso, "Na Maria, pretz e fina valors" ("Lady Maria, in your merit and distinction"), addressed to another woman named Mary. The poem is written in the typical troubadour style of courtly love and has been consequently analyzed as a lesbian poem.[3] Bieiris may, however, be simply writing from the masculine point of view, fully immersing herself in the masculinity of the genre.[3] Nonetheless, the certain ascription of the poem to a woman makes it unlikely that there was any attempt to "fool" the audience: the poem is consequently emasculated. The Na Maria of the poem has even been interpreted as the Virgin Mary, and the sincerity and innocence of the lyrics do not disqualify it.[4]

François Zufferey has argued that Bieiris' composition is in fact a work by Gui d'Ussel.[5] Joining him in ascribing the poem of Bieiris to a man are Oskar Schultz-Gora, Gianfranco Folena, and Elizabeth W. Poe.[6] The early French medievalist Jean-Baptiste de Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye believed it to have been written on behalf of a man.[6] Bieiris' lesbianism, too, has its defenders: Pierre Bec, Magda Bogin, Renat Nelli, and John Boswell.[4] Angelica Rieger, on the other hand, has forcefully defended her authorship but denied her lesbianism, saying that modern readers are imposing their biases onto the text.[7] She has sought to show that Bieiris is in fact employing the language of affection popular among noblewomen of the period.[8]

The last stanza of her canso goes like this:

Bella doman, cui pretz e joi enansa
e gen parlar, a vos mas coblas man,
car en vos es gajess' e alegranssa,
e tot lo ben qu'om en domna deman.
Lovely woman, whom joy and noble speech uplift,
and merit, to you my stanzas go,
for in you are gaiety and happiness,
and all good things one could ask of a woman.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There is some disagreement as to whether the manuscripts read "Beiris", "Bierris", or "Bietris". Some scholars who question if the work was actually written by a woman have even argued that the name is a distortion of the male name "Alberic".
  2. ^ a b Bogin, 132–133.
  3. ^ a b Sankovitch, 122.
  4. ^ a b Pendle, 32.
  5. ^ Poe, 208.
  6. ^ a b Pendle, 31.
  7. ^ Harvey, 333.
  8. ^ Paterson, 198.

Sources[edit]

  • Bogin, Magda. The Women Troubadours. W. W. Norton & Company, 1988. ISBN 0-393-00965-3.
  • Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn; Shepard, Laurie; and White, Sarah. Songs of the Women Troubadours. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8153-0817-5.
  • Dronke, Peter. Women Writers of the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • Harvey, Ruth E. Review of The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours by William D. Paden. In Medium aevum, 59 (1990) pp. 332–333.
  • Paterson, Linda M. Review of The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours by William D. Paden. In The Modern Language Review, 86:1 (Jan., 1991), p. 198.
  • Pendle, Karin. Women and Music: A History. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-253-21422-X.
  • Poe, Elizabeth W. Review of The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours by William D. Paden. In Speculum, 67:1 (Jan., 1992), pp. 207–209.
  • Sankovitch, Tilde. "The trobairitz". The Troubadours: An Introduction. Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay, edd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-521-57473-0.