Mareuil was part of the 4 famous baronies of Périgord, with castles of Biron, Beynac et Bourdeille. A big strong fortress! Hey, famous people succeeded one another: we have the famous troubadour Arnault de Mareuil in the 12th century, but also Raymond de Périgueux the bishop becoming archbishop of Bordeaux (he consecrated Cadouin abbey).
After the battle of Bouvines, brothers Hughues and Roger de Mareuil came back in France with glory and honor: king Philippe Augustus gave the neighbouring land of Villebois (Charente) to the elder one, as a reward.
Then, we had the Hundred Years War: in the castle of Mareuil, that bloody boor of Raymond de Mareuil both supported the English and the French! The enemy didn’t like that at all. The chronic says he was kidnapped by henchmen, sent by lord Hugh of Calverly, seneschal of Limousin.
King Edward, in England, was happy with this kidnapping: he ordered that Raymond was locked in jail. Hey, this one laughed at them, after all! In his jail, Raymond negotiated his freedom with his jailer. He even promised him a half of his land of Excideuil in exchange. So… one day, they found Raymond’s jail wide open…
The Frenchy was running away! The night was cold, the wood so dark, and our two guys ran, half-naked, tracked down. Towards Mareuil! They took shelter, and Raymond kept his promise: half of his fortune for his English jailer. This one refused but stayed with his brand new pal in the castle: our English became a French man…
What about this famous troubadour? Let me introduce Arnault de Mareuil, a simple cleric born in the castle from very modest parents. But he made good studies. He was intelligent, shy, humble.
And soon, he started to sing: from castle to castle, with his loyal musician Pistoleta, he finally arrived at the court of viscount de Béziers. Of course, Arnault fell in love with the lord’s wife, the beautiful Azalais de Burlats. We imagine that the husband was furious!
So, what’s next? Did he expel the poet in love? Err… no! A rival did it: king of Aragon himself, who just sacked the artist. Hey, two men in love with one lady, well… it’ll end in disaster! Arnault packed his bags and moved in the court of Guillaume of Montpellier.
There, he only thought and wrote about his ladylove (for her and only her), before he died in 1200, poor, alone, just after his dear Azalais’ death… His daydreamings, his sweetness, his thoughts (chaste!) and his touching shyness characterize his poems. He’s tender, but so passionate!
« L’Amour sait que je suis un fidèle amant. Alors, il m’apprit comment posséder vos douces faveurs. Je vous tiens dans mes bras, je vous donne des baisers et nul jaloux n’en est témoin. »
In the beginning, by his lady’s side, he was radiant with joy:
« Le premier jour que je vous vis, ma dame, votre amour me traversa le cœur si profondément, il y alluma un feu si ardent que depuis il n'a pas diminué. Les feux de l’amour sont puissants ; ni le vin ni l'eau ne peuvent les éteindre ; une fois allumés, ils brûlent à jamais, s'accroissant et redoublant chaque jour.
Je ne croyais pas en venant dans ces lieux avoir le plaisir de voir tant de beauté et tant de grâce. La croyance dit souvent, et je l’approuve : qui voulait se chauffer se brûle. J'aime, sans oser l’avouer.
Je me vois condamné à fuir celle que j'adore, de peur que mes regards ne trahissent mon secret : cette hardiesse lui paraîtrait inexcusable. Mais mon cœur me la représente comme un miroir, et je suis heureux de l'y contempler. »
But when he lost his lady, his world collapsed:
« Je ne vois plus l’objet de ma flamme, me voilà tellement préoccupé par le bien que j’ai perdu. De terribles souffrances j'endure tout le jour. Et la nuit, ma peine augmente.
Quand je vais pour me mettre au lit, et que je pense y trouver un peu de repos, que tous mes compagnons dorment, que la nuit ne résonne plus d’aucun bruit, alors je me tourne et me retourne, je pense et ressasse, et je soupire... »
His poems are call saluts d’amour.