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Bernard de Ventadour, the troubadour who sang love

The ruins | Tubamirum / CC-BY-SA
Castle Eleanor of Aquitaine Bernard de Ventadour Ventadour ruins

The fortress of Ventadour

High of its rocky spur, the fortress of Ventadour seems impregnable! And yet… During the Hundred Years War, the English besieged the place after a treason, and kept it 13 years. But it was during the Renaissance that the proud castle was abandoned by the viscounts of Ventadour, who moved in a more comfortable dwelling in the city of Ussel...

Bernard de Ventadour, troubadour

The poet’s quill

Hey, do you know the famous troubadour Bernard de Ventadour?

Boohooooo!! Did you hear something? Bernard was just born in the castle. Oh, our future poet wasn’t born in a noble family. He was the son of a domestic of the fortress. As he was a teen, he started to develop a talent for writing poetry and singing love. A gift which amazed the viscount de Ventadour’s wife, Agnès de Montluçon: she was not indifferent to Bernard’s charms… Hey, he had a nice quill, but he also was a handsome guy! The viscount didn’t like that situation and expelled the poet away from the castle. This one left the place and took the name of Ventadour… A troubadour was born!

Eleanor and Ventadour

Then, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry of England’s wife, housed the young Bernard. She was beautiful, witty, intelligent (troubadour Guillaume de Poitiers’ granddaughter, also) and she was under the spell of the talented budding poet… But Eleanor’s life was pretty stormy: queen of France, then queen of England, she left France for England, bringing Bernard with her. She came back in France in her court of Poitiers, but she was in tiff with Henry. Then, after an umpteenth trip in England, her husband locked her in jail… Alone, one more time, our Bernard didn’t lose countenance: he went in Southern France. But he was tired of all this… he withdrew in Dalon abbey (Dordogne)… located next to the castle of Hautefort: hey, here, another troubadour withdrew. Bertran de Born! They became friends… and both died in Dalon.

Ventadour sings loooove

Bernard is the most famous troubadour, who wrote delicate and powerful songs, magnifying the love for his ladylove. He let 45 poems! He wrote this one after he was expelled from Ventadour:

« Tous mes amis m'ont bien perdu, là-bas, vers Ventadour, puisque ma dame ne m'aime plus... Elle me montre un visage irrité parce que je mets mon bonheur à l'aimer ; voilà la seule cause de sa colère et de ses plaintes. Semblable au poisson qui se lance sur l'appât et qui ne s'aperçoit de rien jusqu'à ce qu'il s'est pris à l'hameçon, je me laissai aller un jour à trop aimer, et je ne m'aperçus de ma folie que quand je fus au milieu des flammes qui me brûlent plus fort que le feu au four ; et cependant je suis si pris dans les liens de cet amour que je ne puis secouer ses chaînes. Je ne m'étonne pas qu'Amour me tienne pris dans ses liens, car ma dame est la plus belle qu'on puisse voir au monde ; belle, blanche, fraîche, gaie et joyeuse, tout à fait semblable à mon idéal ; je ne puis en dire aucun défaut... Aussi ne peut-il pas rompre la chaîne mystérieuse qui l'attache à elle. Je voudrai toujours son honneur et son bien, je serai toujours son homme-lige, son ami et son serviteur ; je t’aimerai, que cela lui plaise ou non, car on ne peut maîtriser son cœur sans le tuer. »

The visit of Ventadour

We reach the ruins of Ventadour by a path: the climbing takes about 30 minutes. From the castle remain two towers and a piece of the dwelling house. A platform allows us to have a dizzy view upon all the valley: don’t miss it! You can make a stroll around the ditches (6 km.), with nice views on the ruins.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!