By Valerie Michelle Wilhite
Courtly Arts and the Arts of Courtliness, ed. Christopher Kleinhenz and Keith Busby (Cambridge: DS Brewer, 2006)
Introduction: As the twelfth century closes and the thirteenth begins, a Catalan troubadour, Raimon Vidal, produces texts of various genres: the Razos de trobar, a grammar text meant to instruct the amateur troubadour; Abril issia, an ensenhamen instructing a joglar; and So fo eAl tems, a nova which details the piquant debating and ruling in a casuistique amoureuse. When Raimon Vidal’s own linguistic, literary, and pedagogical theories guide the reading of the different texts, we find each to function as a part in the teaching apparatus that is joglaria. Saber, knowledge or learning, is central to each text, but it is also central to the ideals of cortezia or courtliness that each text so ardently valorizes. Raimon Vidal senses that for courtliness to be maintained saber must find its way into the center of the court and courtiers must be inspired to seek to acquire it. It is, after all what allows for the court to function smoothly with each member knowing good from bad and the proper way to behave. It is the joglar who carries to the court a repertoire which, carefully tailored to the abilities of the audience, will bring as much saber and thus cortezia to the court as possible.