1. What you will find in this site

The current database offers, to researchers as well as to the broader public, all the 'cantigas' (songs) contained in the medieval Galician-Portuguese 'Cancioneiros' (songbooks), the manuscripts' images and also the music (either medieval or the contemporary versions or original compositions which take the texts of medieval songs as a starting point).The DB also includes brief information about all the authors included in it, of the characters and places mentioned in the songs, as well as the "Arte de Trovar", the little poetic treaty on troubadours’ art that opens the “Cancioneiro” of the Portugal National Library.

The edited text of the songs also gives access to a set of information meant to make easier both their reading or their historical background (glossary, verses’ notes, toponymy, references to people, general notes). It also provides some basic information on its formal aspects. In each song, the edited text can be confronted with the original handwritten text, and a number of notes justificatory of the proposed readings can be found as well (reading notes).

The database displays a lot of images related to the 'Cantigas'. It allows a sequential reading of the songbook's folios, as well as independent view of the miniatures included in Cancioneiro da Ajuda.

Regarding the music, the database allows you to play audio files and read the respective musical scores (when available) and includes brief information on composers, editors and interpreters.

Multiple ways to search and filter the database are available.

The database is a result of the Project Littera - edition, update and preservation of Portuguese medieval literary heritage, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDC/ELT/69985/2006), and developed by Instituto de Estudos Medievais of the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas of Universidade Nova de Lisboa. The fund applied to the period between October 2007 and October 2010. The team had also the cooperation of Portugal National Library (Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal) regarding the images of Cancioneiro da Ajuda and Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional.


2. The team

Scientific team

Graça Videira Lopes (coordinator)
Manuel Pedro Ferreira (coordinator of the musical area)
Nuno Júdice

Research Fellows

Pedro Madeira
Vera Lopes Inácio Cordeniz
Ana Raquel Baião Roque
Diogo Fernandes
Cláudio Neto
Alexandra Antunes

Technical team

Pedro Diniz de Sousa (IT coordinator, web programming, database)
Paula Neves (web interface design)


3. Criteria

The main goal of the database is to offer the public, both specialized and a broader one, the whole of the texts transmited to us by the Galician-Portuguese songbooks, in a rigorous, yet accessible way. To achieve this, the following criteria were applied:

3. 1. Texts included

At its present state, the database includes:

- all medieval profane Galician-Portuguese Cantigas (about 1680) contained in the three major songbooks: Cancioneiro da Ajuda (A), Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional (B) and Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Vaticana (V).

- the so-called "Arte de Trovar", a small treaty on troubadours’ art, of unknown authorship, transcribed at the beggining of Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional.

- the two Cantigas of Santa Maria, from Afonso X, included in B (and only in this songbook), for unknown reasons. As they don't unequivocally belong to the profane Galician-Portuguese lyric, the incipit of both cantigas is displayed within brackets.

- the compositions usually classified as "espúrias", in other words, the 12 or 13 late compositions, appended later to the medieval manuscripts and also transcribed in the Italian apographs. As they don't fully belong to the profane Galician-Portuguese lyric, the incipit of these cantigas is displayed within brackets. For the same reason, the name of these songs' authors show up within box brackets in the authors general list.

3. 2. Criteria for editing texts

The edited texts from all Cantigas and from the Arte de Trovar is presented in our own edition, resulting from the direct reading of the manuscripts. For this edition, however, we took into account previous readings from numerous experts: the classic ones, as those from Carolina Michaëlis, Henry Lang, Oskar Nobiling, José Joaquim Nunes or Rodrigues Lapa, and the more recent ones, as the monographic editions of each author and the anthological editions envolving text editing (like 500 Cantigas d'Amigo, by Rip Cohen), published until now (and as long as we had access to them). We usually marked in particular notes the contribution, often precious, from each one of them, regarding the clarification of problematic steps, or additional information of every kind.

However, given the frequent difficulties of the manuscripts, the present readings present sometimes a conjectural character, which is, in every such occasion, marked through a reading note. By accessing the image of the manuscript the reader will be able to confront our reading proposal with the original lesson presented by the codices.

In what concerns the gaps of manuscripts, we mark missing text segments with the usual sign [..........]. This option, always used whenever the gap affects two or more verses, has several exceptions, such as the gaps affecting only one verse or a verse segment, gaps that the classical editors usually reconstructed. Thus, when those reconstitutions are inevitable or very likely, we have chosen to keep them (marking their author in a note). When reconstitutions are more problematic, we have chosen to transcribe them only in a separate note.

In the very few cases where a song appears in two manuscripts with significant differences, we chose to edit separately the two variants, presenting one of them in a note.

When the authorship of a song is dubious or when reasonable doubts about its authorship remain, the names of the two or more possible authors are displayed (in the form X or Y), together with an explanatory note, in which the authorship is discussed.

"RUBRICAS": Numerous satirical songs ("cantigas de escárnio e maldizer") are accompanied, in the manuscripts, by small explanatory texts (whose author or authors we ignore). In the manuscripts, the "rubricas" are transcribed both before or after the song to which they refer. However, as they play a fundamental role in understanding the song, we display them, in italic, always before the song.

It should be noted that, due to the nature of this electronic edition, it will be possible to carry out at anytime small or larger corrections, revisions and modifications in both the readings or the proposed interpretations of the songs and the remaining data included in the database. Except for the correction of minor errors, all these changes and new data will be displayed in the Recent updates page.

3. 3. Orthographic criteria

Medieval orthography lacked strict rules, regarding both spelling and the syllable's segmentation or merging. Therefore, we developed an orthographic normalization of texts, following the modern Portuguese language norm (and the New Orthographic Agreement), following the general criteria of maintaining the vocabulary and phonetic rules of what we assume to have been the spoken language at the time. Specif criteria can be found in the Portuguese version of this text.

3. 4. Music related criteria

We've tried to make a broad survey of the musical versions of profane Galician-Portuguese medieval texts created until the end of this project. We included versions of any time, origin or musical genre, either released or unreleased, recorded or written. Therefore, we've included, beyond the thirteen original melodies that lasted until today (sometimes in a fragmentary state), modern reconstructions based upon other medieval melodies (contrafacta), modern recreations in medieval style and free composition musical works. While, in several cases, it is easy to distinguish a neo-medieval melody (a historically informed "recreation") from a modern musical composition, there are situations where the frontier between historicist proposes and free invention is more porous and ambiguous, which led us to merge both categories in one single table, and to identify the neo-medieval approach only in a separate note, and if unequivocal. Moreover, having been the first survey of this kind, results are necessarily incomplete, yet updatable, if new information or new access to materials make it justifiable.

After building the survey, we've tried to gather the publicly available materials (musical scores, recordings), apply to them the technical interventions needed (scanning, conversion to mp3) and to grant their publication online, by asking permission to authors, curators and interpreters. These goals haven't always been accomplished. Legal constraints to the disclosure of works subject to copyright or related rights forced us to display only the first page of several musical scores, or the first seconds of audio files. On the other hand, modern compositions referring to texts of medieval songs which we weren't able to identify, were not included in the database.

In the case of Martin Codax's "cantigas de amigo", the large number of existing musical recordings led us to confine the audio files to selected examples and to suggest the users particularly interested in this author a hyperlink to the respective online discography. Among the existing musical transcriptions, we've decided to disclose the edition of Higini Anglès, (the most influential one for the period between 1958 and the early 80s) and the only released critical edition (by Manuel Pedro Ferreira), which has been a reference to most of musical performances and recordings after 1986.

3. 5. Images related criteria

The manuscripts images available in this database proceed from the following sources:

- Cancioneiro da Ajuda and Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional: images courtesy of Portugal National Library. The presented images of Cancioneiro da Ajuda result from digital photography of the codice taken specifically for this project. As for Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional, and given the fact that new photos would imply a complex intervention in the codice, the presented images result from digital processing, by BNP, of the photography negative films from the facsimile edition of this songbook (Lisboa, BN/ Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 1982). The research team is thankful to BNP, and especially to its vice director, Dra Maria Inês Cordeiro, for the commitment and permanent availability throughout our work.

- Cancioneiro da Vaticana: since the Vatican Library aims to publish the whole codice online in the medium-term, the images included in this database result, for the moment, from digital photography taken to the facsimile edition of this songbook (Lisboa, Centro de Estudos Filológicos, 1972). The research team also thanks Vatican Library, especially its vice perfect, Mr. Ambrogio Piazzoni, all the willingness during the several contacts held.

Note: after this database was made available online, Vatican Apostolic Library has taken, at our request, new high definition digital photos of Cancioneiro da Vaticana. Although we cannot publish them online, they may be found at the Instituto de Estudos Medievais (FCSH-UNL, at office hours).

- the Sharrer Parchment is available through link to the Arquivo Digital da Torre do Tombo, where the manuscript is available online. But photos of the Sharrer Parchment prior to the recent restoration, from the work Cantus Coronatus, from Manuel Pedro Ferreira and Harvey Sharrer (cf. Bibliography) were also included.

- Images from Vindel Parchment were obtained by scanning the photos in the work O som de Martin Codax, from Manuel Pedro Ferreira (cf. Bibliography).

- Legends of the miniatures from Cancioneiro da Ajuda were retrieved from Manuel Pedro Ferreira's Cantus Coronatus (pp. 22-23, within note) (cf. Bibliography).

3. 5. Search related criteria

The search modes currently retrieve only portions of the information in the database. Therefore this is an area to be developed in the near future. In which concerns the thematic search, we must draw the attention to the necessary partial character of both our choice of themes and subthemes and the search results retrieved within these.


4. Acronyms, symbols and abbreviations used

Please refer to the page of acronyms.


5. Citing this database

Lopes, Graça Videira; Ferreira, Manuel Pedro et al. (2011-), Cantigas Medievais Galego Portuguesas [online database]. Lisboa: Instituto de Estudos Medievais, FCSH/NOVA. [Information retrieved on (indicate date)] Available at: <>.