Airas Moniz de Asma
Trovador medieval

Nationality: Galega

Biographical Note:

Troubadour from the early stages of the Galician-Portuguese movement, as is inferred from the fact that he is the first author appearing in the National Library of Portugal Songbook, and as his two preserved songs, rather distant from the later canon models, seem to confirm. From the little we know about his biography it follows that he should be Galician and not Portuguese, as Carolina de Michaelis thought1 (based on the toponym of São Lourenço de Asme, a parish outside Porto - but whose name is, in reality, Asmes). In fact, as José-Martinho Montero Santalha2 tells us, Asma is a well-known Galician toponym, already abundantly documented troughout the middle-ages, since it named all the county around the current village of Chantada, in the meridional part of the current province of Lugo. Resende de Oliveira3, although refering the existence of several homonyms in the documentation from the 13th century, identified him as the esquire Arias Nuni de Asma, that appears in a 1224 document testifying the will of the Galician Pero Fernandes, known as O Dente (the tooth). Recently, however, José António Souto Cabo4 has disputed this identification, suggesting instead that he is more certainly the knigh Airas Moniz de Asma, that in 1219 had the tenancy of the castle of Alva, in the Galician district of Búval, Ourense (a region to which several authors from that first generation are connected), and furthermore suggesting that the troubadour may equally be the Airas Moniz whose will, dated from 1230, is preserved in the documentation of the monastery of Oseira. The fact that the troubadour Fernão Pais de Tamalhancos, a contemporary of his, equally possessed assets in Asma lead this researcher to hipotethise a possible social or familiar connection between both. We do not have, however, any other documental evidence regarding his biography.
In relation to its initial path, however, we can eventually consider the hypothesis, advanced by José Carlos Miranda5, of Airas Moniz having traveled out of the Peninsula, particularly to the Italian court of the powerful Marquis of Monferrato, great patron of Provençal troubadours, and where, before 1203, we find, among others, the troubadours Raimbaut de Vaqueiras and Perdigon. The fact that his dialogued song (– Mia senhor, venho-vos rogar) approaches a rare model but a model also followed by Vaqueiras (who is also the author of a famous multilingual discort, with one of the stanzas in Galician-Portuguese), and also the fact of Perdigon, "referring, in the tornada of one of his songs, a certain En'Arias, an unknown name in Occitan context" and that may be our troubadour, leads this researcher to defend "the possibility of Airas Moniz, in the retinue of someone necessarily powerful, having visited that Italian court, thus confirming its antiquity as troubadour”
It should be further noted that, being his songs immediatly followed, in the anuscript, by those of another troubadour with the same patronymic, Diego Moniz, it is possible, as Carolina de Michaelis suggested, that they were brothers. As for the hypothesis of the troubadour being the Airas Moniz refered by Lopo Lias in one of his songs, it seems to be harder to confirm. However, given that a new chronology recently proposed to Lopo Lias points to exactly the same period of activity, and taking into regard the proximity of Asma to the plaza of Lemos, equally mentioned by Dom Lopo, this hipothesis may eventually be considered.


1 Vasconcelos, Carolina Michaëlis de (1990), Cancioneiro da Ajuda, vol. II, Lisboa, Imprensa nacional - Casa da Moeda (reimpressão da edição de Halle, 1904).

2 Montero Santalha, José-Martinho, Cantigas Trovadorescas (edição digital). Critérios de transcrição e de edição de textos.
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3 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.

4 Souto Cabo, José António (2012), Os cavaleiros que fizeram as cantigas. Aproximação às origens socioculturais da lírica galego-portuguesa, Niterói, Editora UFF, p. 138.
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5 Miranda, José Carlos (2007), "Alfonsinos, sicilianos e o mundo feudal do Ocidente ibérico. Em busca da primeira geração dos trovadores", Na nosa lyngoage galega. A emerxencia do galego como lingua escrita na Idade Media, Ana Isabel Boullón Agrelo (ed.), Santiago de Compostela, Consello da Cultura Galega, Instituto da Lingua Galega.

Read all cantigas (in Cancioneiros' order)

Cantigas (alphabetical order):

- Mia senhor, vim-vos rogar
Cantiga de Amor

Pois mi nom val d'eu muit'amar
Cantiga de Amor