A cobla esparsa (Old Occitan [ˈkubla esˈpaɾsa] literally meaning "scattered stanza") in Old Occitan is the name used for a single-stanza poem in troubadour poetry. They constitute about 15% of the troubadour output, and they are the dominant form among late (after 1220) authors like Bertran Carbonel and Guillem de l'Olivier. The term cobla triada is used by modern scholars to indicate a cobla taken from a longer poem and let stand on its own, but its original medieval meaning was a cobla esparsa taken from a larger collection of such poems, since coblas esparsas were usually presented in large groupings.
Sometimes, two authors would write a cobla esparsa each, in a cobla exchange; this corresponds, in a shorter form, to the earlier tenso or partimen .Whether such exchanges should be regarded as a "genre" unto themselves, as a type of short tenso, or as coblas esparsas, one of which happens to be written in response to the other, is debated. The Cançoneret de Ripoll distinguishes between the cobles d'acuyndamens, which bonds of vassallage, love, or fidelity, and cobles de qüestions, which posed dilemmas. The acuyndamentum was a special bond of vassallage-fidelity in medieval Catalonia.
A troubadour was a composer and performer of Old Occitan lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages (1100–1350). Since the word troubadour is etymologically masculine, a female troubadour is usually called a trobairitz.
The partimen is a cognate form of the French jeu-parti. It is a genre of Occitan lyric poetry composed between two troubadours, a subgenre of the tenso or cobla exchange in which one poet presents a dilemma in the form of a question and the two debate the answer, each taking up a different side. Of the nearly 200 surviving Occitan debate songs, 120 are partimens and 75 are open tensos. The partimen was especially popular in poetic contests. See also Torneyamen.
The trobairitz were Occitan female troubadours of the 12th and 13th centuries, active from around 1170 to approximately 1260. Trobairitz is both singular and plural.
The canso or canson or canzo was a song style used by the troubadours. It was, by far, the most common genre used, especially by early troubadours, and only in the second half of the 13th century was its dominance challenged by a growing number of poets writing coblas esparsas.
A tenso is a style of troubadour song. It takes the form of a debate in which each voice defends a position; common topics relate to love or ethics. Usually, the tenso is written by two different poets, but several examples exist in which one of the parties is imaginary, including God, the poet's horse or his cloak. Closely related, and sometimes overlapping, genres include:
The Comtessa de Dia, possibly named Beatritz or Isoarda, was a trobairitz.
Peirol or Peiròl was an Auvergnat troubadour who wrote mostly cansos of courtly love in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Thirty-four surviving poems written in Occitan have been attributed to him; of these, seventeen have surviving melodies. He is sometimes called Peirol d'Auvergne or Peiròl d'Auvèrnha, and erroneously Pierol.
Uc de Saint Circ or Hugues (Hugh) de Saint Circq was a troubadour from Quercy. Uc is perhaps most significant to modern historians as the probable author of several vidas and razos of other troubadours, though only one of Bernart de Ventadorn exists under his name. Forty-four of his songs, including fifteen cansos and only three canso melodies, have survived, along with a didactic manual entitled Ensenhamen d'onor. According to William E. Burgwinkle, as "poet, biographer, literary historian, and mythographer, Uc must be accorded his rightful place as the 'inventor' (trobador) of 'troubadour poetry' and the idealogical trappings with which it came to be associated."
In Old Occitan literature, a tornada refers to a final, shorter stanza that appears in lyric poetry and serves a variety of purposes within several poetic forms. The word tornada derives from the Old Occitan in which it is the feminine form of tornat, a past participle of the verb tornar. It is derived from the Latin verb tornare.
UcCatola was a knight and early troubadour, possibly a participant in the Second Crusade and perhaps later a monk.
Bertran Carbonel was a Provençal troubadour from Marseille. He is a polarising figure among scholars and his reputation varies between authorities. Eighteen of his lyric works survive, as well as seventy-two or ninety-four (Riquer) single coblas triadas esparsas on "edifying" themes. He was patronised at the court of Hugh IV and Henry II of Rodez.
Peire Guilhem de Luserna was a Piedmontese troubadour.
N'Iseut de Capio was a noblewoman and trobairitz from Gévaudan. She was a neighbour and contemporary of the trobairitz Almucs de Castelnau, with whom she shared the composition of a tenso. It is her only surviving piece of work.
Alais and Yselda were two young noble trobairitz, probably sisters or nuns, who wrote an Occitan tenso with an elderly woman named Carenza. Their poem begins Na Carenza al bel cors avinen, and the first two stanzas were composed by Alais and Yselda. It is the last two stanzas, composed by Carenza, that are the most difficult to interpret. Magda Bogin and Peter Dronke have read the opening line of both her stanzas as beginning with the address N'Alais i na Iselda. There is, however, an alternative interpretation that sees the address as to a "N'Alaisina Iselda". Under this interpretation, there are two, not three, interlocutors in the poem: Carenza and Alaisina Yselda. Within the poem, in favour of the multiplicity of younger women is the phrase nos doas serors, but against it is the continuous use of the first person singular. The poem is preserved amidst a collection of coblas esparsas in only one Italian chansonnier.
N'At de Mons was a troubadour of the latter half of the thirteenth century. He was from Mons, near Toulouse. Kings James I of Aragon (1213–76) and Alfonso X of Castile (1252–84) acted as his patrons and he addressed "La valors es grans e l'onors", a sirventes on the rights of kings, to James. At is also credited as the author of a cobla esparsa, "Reys rix romieus mas man milhors".
The Cançoneret de Ripoll, now manuscript 129 of Ripoll in the Arxiu de la Corona d'Aragó, is a short Catalan-Occitan chansonnier produced in the mid-fourteenth century but after 1346, when Peter IV of Aragon held a poetry competition which is mentioned in the chansonnier. Influenced by Cerverí de Girona, the chansonnier and its ideology serve as transition in the history of Catalan literature between the dominance of the troubadours and the new developments of Ausiàs March.
Turc Malec was a minor troubadour and nobleman, probably from Quercy. He wrote the cobla esparsaEn Raimon, be.us tenc a grat, the first in a series of four poems, constituting a debate with Raimon de Durfort, and Arnaut Daniel. All three sirventes were written in monorhyming stanzas of nine lines, the first two of seven syllables and the last seven of eight, mirroring the structure of Turc's single one.
Las, qu'i non sun sparvir, astur, which translates "Oh, to be a sparrow-hawk, a goshawk!", is the incipit of an anonymous Old Occitan cobla. It was found in the margins of an eleventh-century manuscript in the British Library. Possibly it was added late in that century, certainly by a German scribe. It was first published in 1984, and has been translated into French and English.
Bonfilh or Bonfils was a Jewish troubadour from Narbonne. He is the only known Jew who wrote in the troubadour style and language, Old Occitan. His only known work is a partimen (debate) with Guiraut Riquier, Auzit ay dir, Bofil, que saps trobar. It has been suggested that Bonhilh may have been a poetic invention of Guiraut and not a historical person, or that he was the same person as the Jewish poet Abraham Bedersi. There is a lacuna in the only surviving manuscript version of this song that lasts from the middle of the third stanza through to the middle of the fifth. The seventh stanza is also missing the ending of its final line. Each stanza has eight lines, but the last two are tornadas of four each.
Montan was a Provençal troubadour whose real name, as well as any biographical detail, is unknown: his sobriquet means "the mounter", which has pornographic overtones, evidenced in his piece Eu venh vas vos, seinher, fauda levada, which is considered the most obscene ever produced by a troubadour. Other than this, three pieces are extant, a single stanza in a tenso with Sordello and two coblas esparsas.