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WOMEN

&

MUSIC

to women in the real world was exceptional, if not

unknown.“~

Is that assertion true? Let us look at one obvi- ous exception to Gaunt’s generalization and ask if she is truly exceptional, and if so in what ways.

Ermengard of Narbonne was one of the major patrons of twelfth-century troubadours. She ap-

1114,

into the fourteenth century, its ships sailing as far as Byzantium. Narbonne’s fleet and army made it a force to be contended with. In under the command of Ermengard’s father, they joined the fleets of Genoa, Barcelona, and Montpellier to capture (if only momentarily) the Moslem strong- holds of Majorca and Ibiza. In 1148 they joined

pears to figure in the songs of

Bernart

de

Venta-

the

Genoese,

Catalans, and Aragonese to capture

d’Alvernhe, Azalais Rogier.’

dorn, Peire

de Porcairagues,

Giraut de Bornelh, and Peire

Her fame as

itan

“she who protects joy and youth” and as one who gives “joy and merit” spreads to the far reaches of the Latin Christian world. Even a Norse skald of the Orkney Islands knew of the legendary beauty named Ermingerda who ruled the sea town of “Nerbon.” The child Ermengard succeeded her

father, viscount

II, in

She took over

personal control of her city and viscounty in when an alliance of the major barons of the

plain freed her from the marriage bed and her

city from the political control

Jourdan,

count of Toulouse, and remained in power until she was forced into exile by her impatient nephew in 1192 or 1193. She died in Perpignan in

Aimery

1134.

1143,

ofAlfonse

Occ-

7

1196.~

When Ermengard came to power her city was the most important port between the mouth of the Rhone and Barcelona, and though its com- mercial traffic was soon surpassed by that of Montpellier (with its vast nearby lagoon that con- nected directly to the Rhone), it continued to be a major trading and cloth manufacturing center

re-

Tortosa, at the head of the Ebro River delta, win- ning substantial trading privileges as the city’s ward.9 Ermengard may very well have been present at this siege. She certainly was present at

the siege of les Baux in

1162,"

and, but a

fay

years

later, after a momentary shift in alliances, she promised King Louis VII to “march with [her] army against the enemies [of the count of Toulouse] Nineteenth-century scholars may be pardoned for seeing this Ermengard behind the

.“I1

legendary Ermengard,

the

one in the poem

Ah-

cans

who boasts:

I myself will ride there

Wearing my

coat

of mail, my shining helmet laced on,

war.I’

Shield at my neck, sword at my side, Lance in hand, ahead of all others. Though my hair is grey and white, My heart is bold and thirsts for

invento-

Ermengard’s viscounty included far more than her city. From the practices of her contemporary lords we can be sure that she once kept

5.

See Gaunt’s extended discussion, Gender and

Genre, 146ff.

6. The various references to

Ermengxd

in troubadour poetry are discussed in The Poems

ofthe

Troubadour Peire

Rogia

ed. Derek

Caille,

idylle entre

vicomtesse

Hogarth

1978).

le

Rognvald

Earls

T. Orkneyinga

The

Orknqr

1976), Hermann Palsson

Press, prince

la

Ermengarde de Narbonne et

E. 7.

160-64.

and Paul Edwards (London:

For a discussion of this text, see Jacqueline

“Une

Nicholson (Manchester: Manchester University Press

Saga:

History of the

of

ed.

,

II. Renreildes

historiem

Gawks

12. Alixanr,

Rkgnier

Hommage li

Privat, 1981).

HGL) 5x264:

Twe@b-Century

Kali des Orcades

21, Memoires Rogie~ 164 Fredric history

Soci& archCologique

dot.

la

chanson degeste

Gtlillaume d’orange:

Ferrante

1993),

XIle

Inventaire des HirtoiregtWra/e Trencavel

L+ ~01s.

1738-1904), 1690,

ryyo), vv. 2717-22.

275.

Caille Histoire communales Devic

les Baux.

Politics

IO. Dom Cl.

and Dom J. Vaissete,

tion. An abridged translation of the entire

(New York: Columbia University Press, 1974).

de Lzng~&~, 16 ~01s.

agreement between Ermengard and Raimond

(Toulouse: Privat, 1872-73) (hereafter negotiated by the count of Barcelona and his court. At this moment the

z.

de la serie

Montpellier (Montpellier,

229-33, and older bibliography listed in Nicholson, Peire

8. The documentation for what follows will be found in a forthcoming book by

Ermengard of Narbonne and the

of Her Age. For a general survey of Narbonne’s

et de

France,

(Paris: Champion,

(Paris,

appears in

no. Thanks to Paul Rockwell for assistance with the transla-

Four

Epics, ed. Joan

de

n.

Cheyette, Lady of the Troubadours: in the Middle Ages, see the chapters

by Jacqueline

9. Archives

in

de Narbonne, ed. Jacques Michaud and Andre Cahanis (Toulouse:

de Narbonne,

archives,

(Annexes

AA),

I.

count was besieging

ed. Claude

des

Robert Saint-Jean, vol.

de la

au milieu du

siecle?” in

28

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