Rui Dias de los Cameros
Trovador medieval

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Nationality: Castelhana

Biographical Note:

Castillian troubadour, active in the in the initial stage of the troubadourean poetry. Although his name is present in the Colocci Index as author of three songs placed in the love songs zone, none has reached us due to gap affecting the initial folios of the National Library Songbook.
Son of Dom Diogo Ximenez and his Galician wife, Guiomar Rodrigues de Trava, Rui Dias belonged to a lineage of Navarrian origin, but who drifted to the orbit of Castillian politics, and whose lordship, in the border zone between the kingdoms of Navarra, Leon and Castile, was one of the more important and vast at the time. Between 1186 and 1230, the probable year of his death, Rui Dias is documented in the Castillian courts of Afonso VIII and his successor, Fernando III, confirming numerous documents, although that presence seems to disappear at specific times (from 1188 to 1200, from 1220 to 1224), that would correspond to moments of disagreement with the monarchs. The strategic zone in which the vast domains of the Lord of Cameros were situated allowed, in fact, to gamble with several alliances, and it’s possible, as José Carlos Miranda believes1, that the periods when Rui Dias is absent from the Castillian records correspond to periods in which is allegiance was transferred to the King of Navarra. He married, furthermore, with Aldonça Dias de Haro, daughter of the powerful Navarrian lord, Dom Diogo Lopes, the Good. But his connection to Galicia, through his powerful maternal lineage, seems to have been equally effective, being namely documented as lieutenant of Sarriá and Monte Negro. It should be added that, according to a document of the epoch, still not fully contextualized, the father of Rui Dias would have died in Portugal, in military circumstances (around 1187). As to the troubadour, although his presence in Portugal isn’t recorded, the great sum he leaves in his will to the monastery of Alcobaça is of some significance.
Besides being a poet, Rui Dias seems to have been one of the patrons of the troubadourean movement, being mentioned as such by two Provençal troubadours, Elias Cairel (active from 1204 to 1222) and Aimar lo Negre (1212-1219); also, the Vida of Guilhem Magret says that he finished his days in the lands og Rui Dias. On this subject José Carlos Miranda defends that the Lord of Cameros would have played a central role in the initial start of the Iberian troubadourean poetry, gathering around him, and in his Castillian-Navarran lordship, a nucleus of troubadours and minstrels, of which may have been part some of the oldest authors present in the Italian aphographs, as it would be the case of João Soares de Paiva, Pero Rodrigues de Palmeira, or João Velaz. José António Souto Cabo2, however, disagrees with this suggestion, proposing instead that it would be his Galician connections (to the Trava, his mother’s lineage) and his effective presence in the region that would explain the troubadourean activity and patronage of Rui Dias. Joining this Galician context, this researcher also call into attention to the friendship and affinity relation between the Lord of Cameros and Gonçalo Ruiz de Azagra, ensign of Fernando II of Leon between 1180 and 1182, an occitanic troubadour and grand-uncle of his wife, Aldonça de Haro.


1 Miranda, José Carlos (2004), Aurs mezclatz ab argen. Sobre a primeira geração de trovadores galego-portugueses, Porto, Edições Guarecer.

2 Souto Cabo, José António (2012), Os cavaleiros que fizeram as cantigas. Aproximação às origens socioculturais da lírica galego-portuguesa, Niterói, Editora UFF, pp. 167-175.
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