Fact of the day: 22nd October

On this day in 1071 William IX, Duke of Aquitaine (d. 1126) was born.

William’s greatest legacy to history was not as a warrior but as a troubadour — a lyric poet employing the Romance vernacular language called Provençal or Occitan.

He was the earliest troubadour whose work survives. Eleven of his songs survive. The song traditionally numbered as the eighth (Farai chansoneta nueva) is of dubious attribution, since its style and language are significantly different. download (2)

Song 5 (Farai un vers, pos mi sonelh) has two significantly different versions in different manuscripts. The songs are attributed to him under his title as Count of Poitou (lo coms de Peitieus). The topics vary, treating sex, love, women, his own sexual and literary prowess, and feudal politics.

An anonymous 13th-century vida of William remembers him thus:

The Count of Poitiers was one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanizing, and a fine composer and singer of songs. He traveled much through the world, seducing women.

It is possible, however, that at least in part it is not based on facts, but on literal interpretation of his songs, written in first person; in Song 5, for example, he describes how he deceived two women.

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