Music From The Time of the Crusades (1 of 2)


This is a genuine 800 year old Troubadour song, arranged here for solo lyre, & written by King Richard the Lion Heart, whilst imprisoned during the Crusades! The song he wrote, over 800 year ago, is called “Ja Nus Hons Pris”…

“Ja nus hons pris ne dira sa reson
Adroitement, s’ensi com dolans non;
Mes par confort puet il fere chancon,
Moult ai d’amis, mes povre sont li don;
Hont en avront, se por ma reancon
Or sai je bien de voir certainement
Que mors ne pris n’a ami ne parent,
Quant hon me lait por or ne por argent.
Moult m’est de moi, mes plus m’est de ma gent,
Qu’apres ma mort avront reprochier grant,
Se longuement sui pris.”

Here the English translation:

No prisoner ever tells his story objectively;
rather, it is cloaked in sorrow.
To comfort himself, however,
he may write a song:
I have many friends, but their gifts are few.
Dishonor will be theirs if I remain in prison
these two winters; my ransom unpaid.

My men and my barons,
from England, Normandy, Poitou, and Gascony,
know that I would never forsake
even the least of my friends.
I do no say this as a reproach.
Still… I remain a prisoner.

Despite all the pointless religious intolerance and bloody brutality of the Crusades, at least they resulted some amazing, utterly timeless melodies, like this! Indeed, it was upon hearing the late great David Munrow’s arrangement of this tune performed on medieval Gemshorn, (which I happened to find by chance, on an utterly obscure tape cassette I found in WH Smith when I was just 14, waaaay back in 1982!) which is what got me hooked on ancient music in the first place…whilst my peers were all buying the latest “Bananarama” LP, I was “geeking out” to THIS! ;o)

Richard was imprisoned by the Duke of Austria who he had insulted while on Crusade. Traditionally he was discovered by his minstrel Blondel. It was his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and the officials he left in charge of England, who raised the 150,000 Marks from the common people, that secured his release in February 1194.

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