The Project

Troubadours and European identity

The origins of Europe have often been identified with the creation of political spaces: the emergence of modern nation states, and especially the founding of supranational institutions as a consequence of the World Wars. Nevertheless, the Latin cultural substratum, and later the substratum of Romance languages, is equally —if not more— important in defining the idea of Europe and European identity in particular. Like a common thread, long predating those political developments, it has, through cultural production and through education, been woven into the fabric of Europe throughout its evolution.

Troubadours, who played a central role in Catalan medieval culture, are also an essential element of this common heritage which still informs our European identity today. Their legacy, whether it is more or less direct, as in the French or Catalan cases, or whether it appears at one remove, as in the Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon cases, determined the poetical and cultural evolution of all European poetical traditions.

The poetry of the troubadours and the trobairitz is the formal mould that shapes all European poetry, but its influence goes even deeper: their discourse on love permeates our notions of the sentimental; their interleaving of politics, literature and the legitimisation of power has had an enduring influence; and their lyrical voice has created an idea of the poet that still informs many contemporary attitudes. And, no less important, the ideology of courtliness, that spread throughout the courts of western Europe, coloured the aristocratic culture of the medieval world, became a dominant element in European narrative (think Arthurian legends or chivalric novels), and lies behind the idealised image of man and woman which lasted, mutatis mutandi, until the 19th century and beyond. Formally, thematically, and ideologically, the troubadour legacy is a fundamental element in the construction of European cultural identity as well as an invaluable tool for understanding the cultural roots which forged this common identity.

The project

The project Troubadours and European Identity: The Role of Catalan Courts (Recercaixa 2015ACUP 00127) led by Miriam Cabré of the University of Girona aims to re-examine the historical reception of this legacy, in other words the ways in which the troubadours introduced innovative and long-lasting cultural tendencies throughout Europe. A team of researchers from ten centres in Catalonia, Italy, France, and Britain have joined forces to expand our knowledge about two fundamental aspects of this reception: the courts which hosted the troubadours and the manuscripts which transmit their works.

By focusing on these two aspects, we are continuing the work of generations of scholars in our desire to readdress fundamental issues that remain unsolved, as well as formulating new questions and challenging some established ideas. We want to revisit, for example, the itinerant nature of the troubadours, their relationship with the courts and the role of their patrons, the sources of the manuscripts and the criteria for their compilation, the links between the various centres of culture and power, and the typology of troubadours active in the Kingdom of Aragon.


Research team

Stefano Asperti Sapienza Università di Roma
Lola Badia Universitat de Barcelona
Alexandra Beauchamp Université de Limoges
Miriam Cabré Universitat de Girona
Lluís Cabré Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Isabel Grifoll Universitat de Lleida
Marco Grimaldi Sapienza Università di Roma
Anna Gudayol Biblioteca de Catalunya
Ruth Harvey Royal Holloway, University of London
Thomas Hinton University of Exeter
Sadurní Martí Universitat de Girona
Marina Navàs Université París - Sorbonne
Pere Ortí Universitat de Girona
Anna Radaelli Sapienza Università di Roma
Albert Reixach Universitat de Girona
Victoria Rodríguez Winiarski Universitat de Girona
Simone Sari Universitat de Barcelona
Jaume Torró Universitat de Girona


Mariña Arbor Aldea Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
David Barnett Translations into English
Laia Danés Universitat de Girona
Laura Gallegos Ambel Universitat de Girona
Xavier Lamuela Universitat de Girona
Marta Marfany Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Victor Millet Schröder Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Maria Ponsí Universitat de Girona
Camilla Talfani Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès
Ivan Vera Universitat de Girona
Mariona Viñolas Solés Universitat de Girona

With the support of RecerCaixa, a programme promoted by Obra Social “La Caixa” with the collaboration of ACUP. has also the support of the project FFI2014-53050-C5-5-P of the Institut de Llengua i Cultura Catalanes (Universitat de Girona).

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