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About Marcabru

"L'autrier jost'una sebissa"


About Marcabru

(c. 1127 - 1148)

According to his vida, Marcabru was of humble birth. He probably had the education of a cleric. At the outset of his career, he may have benefitted from the patronage of William X, son of the first troubadour; subsequently, he seems to have traveled to other courts without attaching himself permanently to any. Forty-two poems are attributed to him; four have been preserved with their music. Most of Marcabru’s poems are composed in a difficult, hermetic style; he cultivated a type of writing called "closed", the trobar clus. His vocabulary is very rich and includes a number of words he probably invented. He handles with consummate skill the traditional weapons of the satirist: irony, invective, scathing criticism, but can also call upon vivid resources of poetic image and symbol. He attacked what he considered to be false love and false lovers, errant nobles who did not live up to his ideals of true love (fin’amor) and civilized behavior.


Marcabruns si fo de Gascoingna, fils d’una paubra femna que ac nom Marcabruna, si com el dis en son chantar:

Marcabruns, lo fills Na Bruna
Fo engendraz en tal luna
Qu’el saup d’amor cum degruna,
-- Escoutatz --
Que anc non amet neguna,
Ni d’autra no fo amatz.

Trobaire fo dels premiers c’om se recort. De caitivetz vers e de caitivetz serventes fez, e dis mal de las femnas e d’amor.

Marcabru was from Gascony, son of a poor woman named Marcabruna, as he says in his song:

Marcabru, son of Lady Bruna
Was sired beneath such a moon
That he knew how love behaves
-- Listen! --
So that he’s never loved a woman
Nor been loved by any.

He was one of the first troubadours we remember. He made poor vers and poor sirventes, and spoke ill of women and of love.


Margaret Switten, Project Director (
Image: © Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

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