Pedro, conde de Barcelos
Trovador medieval

Nationality: Portuguesa

Biographical Note:

The first-born bastard of King Denis, and also a troubadour, Dom Pedro of Barcelos is one of the more important cultural figures of the peninsular middle ages. Born around 1285, from the liaison of King Denis with Gracia Anes Froiaz (a lady from Torres Vedras, whose tomb lies in the See of Lisbon), Pedro Afonso seems to have been raised, from a certain date (as were, incidentally, other bastard sons of King Denis) in the royal court, at the queen Elisabeth of Aragon’s house. The oldest document mentioning him dates from 1289, and provides us an account of a set of donations granted to him by his father, a gesture that would be repeated in the following years. He marries, in the first years of the 14th century, the rich heiress Branca Pires, daughter of Dom Pero Anes de Portel and Constança Mendes de Sousa, becoming a widower shortly thereafter, due to the premature death of Dona Branca (1307). Inheriting his wife’s considerable assets, Dom Pedro, by that time already largely benefited by his father, becomes one of the kingdom’s richest men.
In 1307 he assumes the role of mordomo to princess Beatrice, future wife of Afonso IV, his brother (Beatrica came to Portugal at a very young age). At the end of 1308 he marries again, this time with the equally rich aragonese heiress Maria Ximenes Coronel, a marriage negotiated by queen Elisabeth (although, as Resende de Oliveira suggests1, Dom Pedro may have met his bride in 1304, when he accompanied king Dinis in his trip to Aragon). For reasons somewhat obscure, but related to calumnious facts imputed to Maria Ximenes (mentioned, but never clearly stated, in the abundant correspondence exchanged between king Denis, queen Elisabeth and king James II of Aragon on this subject2) the couple quarrels seriously and, in 1316, effectively breaks-up, starting a complicated process of separation of assets that would go on for many long years.
In the meantime, since 1314, Pedro Afonso already bore the title of count of Barcelos, granted to him by his father on the account of services rendered to the crown, equally occupying the role of alferes-mor of the kingdom (title and role left vacant with the death of Martim Gil de Riba de Vizela, in 1312). From 1317-1318, however, when the open conflict between King Denis and prince Afonso, his first-born and heir, erupts, the count of Barcelos seems to have taken the side of his brother, reason by which the king confiscates all of his assets, and also leading him to take refuge in Castilla, where he remains until 1322. Upon his return to Portugal, however, he regains the possession of most of his vast wealth, certainly due to the placating role he by then had played in the conflict.
Be that as it may, with the death of King Denis in 1325, and the ascent to the throne of his brother, he seems to have chosen to mainly live in his domains of Lalim, Arouca, with his companion, the Castillian Teresa Anes de Toledo, and where, by all indications, he seems to have maintained a restrict circle of troubadours and minstrels, and embark in a extremely notable cultural work, from which results his “Livro de Linhagens” (book of lineages) and the writing of the “Cronica Geral de Espanha de 1344” (General Chronicle of Spain), the first big portuguese historical text. But it will also certainly be in Lalim that count Dom Pedro proceeds with the compilation of material from which will result his “Livro das Cantigas” (Songbook) (that he will bestow, in a will dated 1350, to his nephew Afonso IX of Castilla), surely the last great anthology of troubadourean poetry, likely the matrix of the manuscript that will be copied in Italy in the 16th century, and from which results the two italian aphographs where today we find the most substantial part of the galician-portuguese songs.
Count Dom Pedro dies in Lalim, in the early months of 1354, being buried, in a tomb of interesting artwork, at the monastery of S. João da Tarouca, as determined in his will.


1 Oliveira, António Resende de (1994), Depois do espectáculo trovadoresco. A estrutura dos cancioneiros peninsulares e as recolhas dos séculos XIII e XIV, Lisboa, Edições Colibri.

2 Fernandes, A. de Almeida (1990), A história de Lalim, Câmara Municipal de Lamego, Junta de freguesia de Lalim.

Read all cantigas (in Cancioneiros' order)

Cantigas (alphabetical order):

Álvar Rodríguez, monteiro maior
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Mandei pedir noutro dia
Escárnio e Maldizer

Martim Vásquez, noutro dia
Escárnio e Maldizer

Natura das animalhas
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Nom me poss'eu de morte defender
Cantiga de Amor

Nom quer'a Deus por mia morte rogar
Género incerto

Os privados, que d'el-rei ham
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Que muito bem me fez Nostro Senhor
Cantiga de Amor

Tal sazom foi em que eu já perdi
Cantiga de Amor

Um cavaleiro havia
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer