Peire de Corbiac

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Peire de Corbiac or Corbian was a Gascon cleric and troubadour of the thirteenth century. His most famous works are a religious piece, the Prière à la Vierge (prayer to the Virgin), and his "treasures", Lo tezaurs (c. 1225).[1]

Peire was born at Corbiac near Bordeaux to a poor family.[2] He was educated at Orléans in the Scholastic tradition.[3] His nephew was the troubadour Aimeric de Belenoi, whose vida refers to him as maestre (master, teacher) and Peire elsewhere calls himself maistre. Certainly Peire's Tezaur is didactic in nature: his purpose in writing was to convince the wise that though he was poor in material terms he was richer still. Composed in 840 alexandrines, the Tezaur is an encyclopaedic compilation of all that the troubadour knew.[2] The work displays a great breadth of knowledge. He expends 547 lines narrating the chief events of the Old and New Testaments, then discusses the seven liberal arts, medicine, surgery, necromancy, mythology, the lives of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and those of the contemporary French and English.

Peire was familiar with the work of Venerable Bede, of John de Holywood, and of Chrétien de Troyes.[4] He also provides the modern historian with several pieces of crucial information not found elsewhere. He refers to dancing the Sanctus, Agnus, and the Cunctipotens, showing that the liturgy was performed.[3] The Tezaur also contains the first mention of contrapointamens, a century before its appearance in Latin as contrapunctus, today's counterpoint.[3] The Tezaur had a lasting influence in the Late Middle Ages. The Jew Emanuele da Roma wrote the Ninth Meḥabbereth, a Hebrew poem based on the Tesoretto of Brunetto Latini, itself based on the Tezaur of Peire.[5]

Peire was a religious man, as the dedicatory first verse of his Tezaur attests: it contains a dedication to Jesus and Mary and a statement of Trinitarian faith. His prayer to the Virgin, therefore, is unsurprising:

Domna, rosa ses espina,
sobre totas flors olens,
verga seca frug fazens,
terra que ses labor grana,
estela, del solelh maire,
noirissa del vostre paire,
el mon nulha semelha
ni londana ni vezina.
Domna, verge pura e fina,
ans que fos l'enfantamens,
et apres tot eissamens,
receup en vos carn humana
Jesu Crist, nostre salvaire,
si com ses trencamen faire
intra.l bels rais, quan solelha,
per la fenestra veirina.
Domna, estela marina
de las autras plus luzens,
la mars nos combat e.l vens;
mostra nos via certana;
car si.ns vols a bon port traire
non tem nau ni governaire
ni tempest que.ns destorbelha
ni.l sobern de la marina.
Lady, rose without thorn,
sweet above all flowers,
dry rod bearing fruit,
earth bringing forth fruit without toil,
star, mother of the sun,
nurse of thine own Father,
in the world no woman is like to thee,
neither far nor near.
Lady, virgin pure and fair
before the birth was
and afterwards the same,
received human flesh in thee
Jesus Christ our Saviour,
just as without causing flaw,
the fair ray enters when the sun shines
through the window-pane.
Lady, star of the sea,
brighter than the other stars,
the sea and the wind buffet us;
show thou us the right way:
for if thou wilt bring us to a fair haven,
ship nor helmsman fears
not tempest nor tide
lest it trouble us.[6]



  1. ^ Lo tezaurs is commonly referred to as Tezaur or Thezaur, also Trésor or Tresaur (in French)
  2. ^ a b Sacerdote, 718.
  3. ^ a b c Aubrey, "References", 147.
  4. ^ Paris, 255, based on a reference to rei Marc.
  5. ^ Sacerdote, 718–26.
  6. ^ Chaytor, 93–4.