Pero Garcia de Ambroa
Jogral medieval

Nationality: Galega

Biographical Note:

Galician author, most probably from of Santo Tirso de Ambroa, north Galicia, active around the mid-13th century. The exact identification of Pero de Ambroa has however raised some doubts, which a recent study by José António Souto Cabo1 seems to partly solve. Actually, until recently, documented in the region, and between 1228 and circa 1236, was only one Pero Garcia de Ambroa, a knight from a gentry lineage connected to the magnate Dom Rodrigues Gomes de Trava, and who should have died around the aforementioned last date. But the compositions by Pero de Ambroa transmitted by the songbooks, as well as some playful compositions directed at him, seem to indicate not only that he was most probably a minstrel, but also that this author was active far beyond 1237. Based on these facts, and the placement of his songs in the manuscripts, Resende de Oliveira2 had no doubts to postulate, then, the existence of two different authors, one Pero Garcia de Ambroa, troubadour, and of an earlier chronology, to whom he attributes the authorship of the only love song of the set (also, it is only in the attributive item of this composition that his full name is stated) and one Pero de Ambroa (not documented), minstrel, of a later chronology, author of the remaining songs.
As it was said, recently Souto Cabo brought to light a set of very elucidative documents, not only concerning the first of these individuals, already attested in 1203, but mostly concerning the second, whose full name seems to have been also Pero Garcia de Ambroa. One of these documents, written between 1260 and 1263 and relating to a donation of some properties that belonged to him, explicitly mentions a trip to terra de ultramar (overseas) where he would have died (at the document’s date, in quite some time). Being the overseas trips of Pero de Ambroa the central theme of a set of playful compositions, the Pero Garcia de Ambroa mentioned in this document is most certainly our author. Furthermore, in the same document, an inventory of assets held by Dom Murio Fernandes de Rodeiro allows us to relate him to this Galician magnate, by all appearances a central figure in the initial stage of the troubadourean movement in Galicia.
As Souto Cabo suggests, it is not impossible that Pero Garcia de Ambroa also had familiar relations with his homonym from the early 13th century, although all indications are that they would be of a completely different social status – that is, that he would effectively be a minstrel at the service of the lord of Rodeiro. And although this researcher only considers the hypothesis that the author present in the songbooks is this minstrel (that is, the love song would also be of his authorship), this seems to us the most probable hypothesis (also by the complementary reasons we describe in a note on this song), a hypothesis that we therefore adopt.
More recently, Joaquim Ventura Ruiz3, carefully analysing all the documents, confirm this hypotesis, admiting that there is only one author, the troubadour becoming a minstrel at some moment in his life.
By the document mentioned by Souto Cabo we learn, then, that Pero Garcia de Ambroa would have died during one of his overseas expeditions, most probably around 1257/1258 (maybe, we add, in the expedition to the north-african plaza of Taount, near Orão, undertook by the armada of Alfonso X exactly in 1257 and in which, according to González Jiménez numerous Galicians participated4, or, as sugested by Ventura, in the expedition to Salé, one year after). Be that as it may, these data allows us to situate his poetic activity in the court of Fernando III and also the first years of Alfonso X’s, a chronology compatible with his compositions and those directed at him.


1 Souto Cabo, José António (2006), “Pedro Garcia de Ambroa e Pedro de Ambroa”, Revista de Literatura Medieval, XVIII, Universidad de Alcalá.
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2 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.

3 Ventura, Joaquim (2014), "A trindade de Pedro Garcia de Ambroa", Revista de Cancioneros, Impresos y Manuscritos, nº 3.

4 González Jiménez, Manuel (1999), Alfonso X, Burgos, Editorial La Olmeda, 2ª Ed., p. 81.

Read all cantigas (in Cancioneiros' order)

Cantigas (alphabetical order):

Ai meu amigo, pero vós andades
Cantiga de Amigo

[...] Ca vós nom sodes d'amor tam forçado
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

De Pero Bõõ and'ora espantado
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Grave dia naceu, senhor
Cantiga de Amor

- Joam Baveca, fé que vós devedes

Maior Garcia est homiziada
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

O que Balteira ora quer vingar
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Ora vej'eu que est aventurado
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Os beesteiros daquesta fronteira
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Pedi eu o cono a ũa molher
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Pero d'Armea, quando composestes
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Querri'agora fazer um cantar
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Sabedes vós: meestre Nicolao
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer

Se eu no mundo fiz algum cantar
Cantiga de Escárnio e maldizer