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Austorc de Segret, “[No s]ai qui·m so tan suy [des]conoyssens” (BdT 41.1)

Author(s): Linda Paterson

Journal: Lecturae Tropatorum
ISSN 1974-4374

Volume: 5;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Austorc de Segret | Troubadours | Old Occitan | Textual criticism | Interpretation

Discussion of this ‘sirventes’, composed in the aftermath of Louis IX’s second crusade and death at Tunis in 1270, raises two main issues: the identity of “Haenric”, and Austorc’s introduction of his song as a ‘devinalh’ in the tradition of Guilhem de Peitieus and Raimbaut d’Aurenga. Contrary to the hypothesis that “Haenric” is the Infant Henry of Castile, the lines “qu’era de sen e de saber ses par / e tot lo mielhs era de sos parens” point conclusively towards the son of Richard of Cornwall, Henry of Almain. The speaker’s mental and spiritual confusion faced with the defeat of the Christian faith is attributed to some unknown force, either God Himself or a devil, and following on from this unspecified “dïables”, “esperitz” suggests an evil spirit and may refer back to Charles of Anjou. The rhetorical evocation of the ‘devinalh’ tradition serves both to express dismay at Louis’ failure and to focus blame on his brother. Essentially propagandistic, it lacks the subtlety of earlier examples of the riddling tradition, though the undeveloped potential for this hovers around the possibility of God destroying his own religion.
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