Flamenca & Guillem, with servant women & men, enjoy sexual intimacy

Thinking of meeting his beloved Flamenca in the baths, Guillem didn’t sleep all that medieval night. The next morning, he called softly, moaning in great suffering, to his wife:

I’ve never felt such misery
as I felt all night long. Please, get
you away from me, and don’t be upset.
I’ll soon be dead, and you’ll be free.
Death seems better than life to me,
such is my torment. And unless
the baths can ease my wretchedness
and in some slight degree relieve me,
I shall die very soon, believe me.

{ Anc mais, lassa! tan mal non trais,
Sener, con eu ai fag anueg.
Levas d’aici, e nous enueig,
Quar de mi seres tost desliures.
E plus mi plas murirs que viures,
Tan son destrecha e cochada!
E s’un pauc, quant serai bainhada,
D’aquesta dolor non revenc,
Per morta, sapias, mi tenc. }

Guillem’s wife Archimbaut said that he would not die of this disease. She urged him to have courage and told him to stop longing for death. She promised him that the baths would cure him.

That Wednesday morning, Archimbaut took Guillem, along with Guillem’s two servant-men, to the baths next to Flamenca’s inn. Driven by her fear that another woman might love her husband, Archimbaut thoroughly searched the baths before she allowed him to enter. After he and his two servant-men entered, she locked the bath door and took the key with her. Guillem’s two servant-men, loyal and true, locked the bath door from inside with a huge, solid bar. Then their joy began.

To be rested enough to play all day, Flamenca had resigned from her clerical duties at the evening plague news and worship service. Thus ready for action that morning, Flamenca eagerly opened the secret door from the tunnel running between the baths and her bedroom in the inn. She nervously entered the baths. Despite traversing the earthen tunnel, she presented herself finely dressed to Guillem and his servant-men:

The blouse and long dress that she wore
were of Rheims linen, fine, well-cut
and delicate, and subtly wrought.
Her jacket was made of ciclaton,
well-cut and pleated, fitting on
her body tight in best of taste.
Her slim belt, circling around her waist
up to where her jacket fell,
suited her gracefully and well.
Her hose, of silk embroidered fair
with varicolored flowers, appeared
so perfectly designed, so trim,
it looked as if she had painted limbs.
A luxurious linen bonnet on her head
she wore, with silk dots embroiderèd.
She did not put this on to screen
her short hair — merely to keep clean
her hair from the loose chalk and stone.
Her skin had courtly Love’s pale tone,
but blended with her own complexion
so finely that it was near perfection.

{ Camis’ e bragas ac de tela
De Rens, ben faita e sotil
E per corduras e per fil.
Blisaut portet de cisclaton,
Ben fait e fronzit per razon
E tiran per lai on si ten.
Et estet li mout avinen
Li corregeta don s’estrein:
Tro al som del blisaut atein.
Caussas hac de pali am flors
Obradas de mantas colors,
Tan ben e tan gen si causseron
Que disseras c’ab el nasqueron.
Un capell lini ben cosut
Ab seda, e moscat menut,
Ac en son cap, non per celar
La corona, mais per garar
Sos pels de la cauz qu’es el trauc.
Fin’ amors l’a donat un pauc
De son tenc, mas non l’estet mal:
Tam bes tais ab lo natural }

She greeted Guillem reverently and submissively:

Kneeling before her man, she said:
“My lord, I pray that she who made
you beautiful, who was pleased to bless
you with such charm and loveliness
that none could hope to equal you,
will guard you and your companions too!”

{ Davan si donz s’aginollet
E dis li: “Domna, cel queus fes
E vole que ja par non acces
De beutat ni de cortesia
Salv vos e vostra compannia!” }

She bowed down so low as to nearly kiss his feet. Guillem in turn spoke to her a courtly blessing:

Good lady, God whose truth is pure and who
permitted this access here to you,
empower you so that you may fulfill
your desire and achieve your will.

{ Bel sener, cel qu’anc non menti
E vol que vos sias aici
Vos salv eus gart eus lais complir
D’aisso queus plai vostre dosir. }

Guillem promised to do for her all that she had long wished to experience. They embraced and kissed. Flamenca then led Guillem and his servant-men back through the tunnel to her bedroom in the inn.

Flamenca and Guillem sat together on the bed. Guillem’s two servant-men, Alain and Corentin, sat on a cushion on the floor in the bedroom. Flamenca wished them well, implying that they should leave the bedroom. But Guillem intervened:

Guillem said: “There is no need,
beautiful sweet lover, for you to shun
their love advice and instruction.
Due to their sense and savoir-faire,
you shall lose none of your pleasure.”

{ Flamencha dis : Non las coven,
Bels dous amics, pregar de vos.
Per lur consseill, per lur somos,
Per lur sen ni per lur saber,
Nom perdres null vostre plaser. }

She understood. Flamenca and Guillem then talked at length. She told him who she was, how she had fallen in love with him from afar, and how she had traveled here to rescue him from the misery of being imprisoned by his wife in a tower. She gave herself totally to him:

Embracing his neck, she kissed him with ardor,
determined — of nothing did she fear —
in her will to serve him with tenderness,
with kissing and with caresses
and in all things to do Love’s will.
Not hands nor lips nor eyes were still.
In ardent and impetuous fashion
they kissed, and didn’t hide their passion.
And they achieved such joy as they
could not have had in any other way.
Each tried somehow to requite
the burning pain, the sad plight,
the pangs each one had to bear
for the other. And Love told them to share
their joy, and not fail to capture
the full fruit of Love’s rapture.
Each loved the other, and the fire
of Love kindled in them desire
so keen, and gave them joy so real,
that they forgot the long ordeal
they had borne, and their pain.

{ Prent s’a son coll, estreg lo baisa,
De nulla ren mais non s’esmaia
Mas que lo puesca pron servir
E de baisar e d’acuillir
E de far tot so qu’Amors vol.
Oilz ni boca ni mans non col,
Ans l’us l’autre bais’ es estrein.
De ren l’us vaus l’autre nos fein,
Ans es totz cels d’entr’ els eissitz,
Qu’estier non fora jois complitz.
Cascus s’esforsa de grazir
Lo cochos mal el lonc dosir
Que l’us a per l’autre suffert.
Neguns per Amor ren no i pert:
Gen los envida els somon
De far tot so que lur sap bon;
E veramens l’us l’autre ama.
Amors los enpren elz aflama,
E dona lur de plasers tanz
C’oblidat an totz lur affans
Ques an suffert entro aici. }

Watching them, Alain and Corentin could do nothing but cheer and applaud Flamenca and Guillem’s vigorous love performance. Flamenca recognized and rewarded their forbearance:

Flamenca did not ignore
the servant-men. Gently she implored
their love, their kindheartedness,
then gave them, as largesse,
knives and helmets, and such things
as belts, pouches, clasps, rings,
powder boxes filled with musk, and as well
other loving gifts that I’ll not tell —
all were beautiful and fashionable.

{ Jes las donsellas non oblida
Guillems, car mot gent las envida
Que de lui amar las sovenga.
Poissas lur donet per lausenga
Cordas e frontals e frezells,
Noscas e fermals et anells
E botonetz plens de musquet,
E d’autras joias qu’ieu no i met
Qu’eron bellas e covinens. }

The servant-men responded with thanks and a courageous pledge to the ardent Flamenca:

All our desire springs forth
to do what may please you best,
beautiful lady, whatever you may request.

{ Totz mos talens
Es, bels sener, de vos onrar
E de totz vostres plazers far. }

When the time for parting came, both Flamenca and Guillem wept and their tears flowed together. They collected that outflow and drank it. Guillem gave Flamenca no material gifts, but told her:

He said, “Lovely sweet lover, courtly, true,
none of my things have I given to you.
Do you know why? It’s because, my honey,
all myself to you I give and abandon fully.”
It was beyond his power to say
this in one breath. He must delay
and halt, while racking sobs impeded
his utterance. But he succeeded,
and made his lover understand
the gift he placed at her command.
She thanked him for it, bowing deep,
embracing him, and continued to weep.

{ E dis: “Belz dous amics cortes,
Mon aver nous ai donat ges.
Sabes per que? Car totaus don
Mi meseissa eus abandon.”
Ges tot aisso ad un alen
Nom poc dire, ans la coven
Pausar soven, tan fort la cocha
Lo sanglotirs. Tan fort y locha
Que sos amix ben entendet
De qual guisa l’o presentet,
E mercejet lan soplejan,
Baisan, ploran et abrassan. }

In the baths they finally parted, yearning to be together again. Flamenca lifted the secret door and went back through the earthen tunnel to her bedroom in the inn.

Alain rang a bell to signal to Guillem’s wife Archimbaut that their bath was over. Archimbaut ran to unlock and open the bath door. Guillem said to his wife:

Great potency
within these baths, my wife, I feel.
If I bathe here, I will be healed.
Already I’m improved, moving toward cured,
and further bathing will do more,
according to what’s written here.
The sovereign benefits inhere
in bathing many days, with these
matched to days of feeling diseased.

{ De gran vertut,
Sapchas, sener, bon son li bain:
Garida serai se m’i bain,
Que jam sent un pauc mellurada.
Mais ren non val una vegada,
So dison letras que lai son,
Mais adoncas tenon gran pron
Quant om s’i baina per egual
Dels jorns ques a sentit lo mal. }

Despite her general jealousy, Guillem’s wife Archimbaut responded obligingly:

Then, my husband, bathe as you see fit —
each morning, if you fancy it.
I leave that wholly to your choice.

{ E donc, domna, bainas vos i,
Sius asauta, cascu mati,
Qu’eu o met ben en vostr’ asaut. }

Guillem’s servant-man Corentin spoke up in support:

These baths are needed to relieve
him, lady. You scarcely would believe
the excruciating pangs and throes,
the bitter sweats, the racking woes
that he has been forced to endure
today. Indeed, we were far from sure
at one time that he’d even live.
Now, thank God, we are positive
that these baths are the only thing
for him. They’ll cure his suffering.

{ Segner, ben a obs del bainar,
Car homs nous poiria comtar
Las espoinchas ni las dolors,
Las angoissas ni las suzors
Ques a ma dona uei suffertas.
Tat ora fon non siam certas
De sa vida, mais ar vezem,
La merce Dieu, e conoissem
Qu’ab lo bainar estorsera,
Oimais ren als pron nol tenra. }

Men’s sufferings should matter. Archimbaut, for all her jealousy as a wife, at least helped her husband by allowing him to take baths.

When they arrived back at the prison-tower, Guillem’s servant-man Alain sent Archimbaut away. Alain claimed that Guillem needed to sleep. Guillem enjoyed that ploy. But he was too filled with love for Flamenca even to be able to pretend to sleep. When Archimbaut returned to eat with Guillem, he said he was too sick to eat and sent Archimbaut away. When she was gone, Alain as a joke then asked Guillem again if he wished to dine. Guillem responded:

Dear Alain, don’t you think
that this day I’ve had food and drink,
since in these arms I have held close
my lover? In heaven do you suppose
people have any wish to dine?
I dine well, thanks to the divine
sweet glances filled with tenderness
in my love’s eyes. And they possess
such rich and savory nourishment
that I’m more filled and more content
than the children of Israel
with manna that from heaven fell.
Such joy and rapture captivate
me that I am not adequate
to keep the whole of it confined
within my body and my mind.
The only thing I hunger for
is to see my dear lover once more.

{ Non hai pron manjat e begut
Cant mon amic ai hui tengut
Entre mos bras, bell’ Aelis?
E cujas ti qu’en paradis
Aia hom talent de manjar?
Pron mange quan puesc recordar
Los dous esgartz e plens d’amor
De mon amic, c’una dousor
Tan saboros’ al cor mi mena
Quem replenis mielz e m’abena
Que non fes li mana de cel
El dosert los fils d’Israel.
Aissi sui plen’ e jausionda
Que ges nions cors ben non m’aonda
A tener lo gauh ques ieu ai,
Ans sobreveza sai e lai.
De neguna ren non ai fam
Mas de veser celui cui am. }

Guillem didn’t want to sleep or eat. He was eager to talk of love without his wife present.

Guillem described to his servant-men his perfect love with Flamenca. He explained:

I am her true love; she is mine.
I give all to her freely. She may hold
me, clothed or naked, and enfold
me in her arms when she’s content
to do that. I shall always give consent.
It’s a tawdry shame and treachery
to a true lover-woman to deny
her what she most desires.
From such denial comes ire
and wrath, ill-temper, and vexation,
and that word of abomination,
that base word “no.” But between us,
please God, that word so obnoxious
is banned. Neither she nor I can abide
that word. It’s foul and filled with pride.
Some men lure women on, and show
semblance of love, and then say “no.”
And having thus denied the lure
they’ve offered, they think they’re pure.
A curse on the man who by spoken word
denies what his heart has averred.
Despite all that he seems pious and chaste,
he’s harsh and bitter to the taste.
Dear young men, you know you’ll not find
that I wish to be a man of that kind.

{ Mos amix es et eu s’amia,
Que no i a si ni retenguda.
Tener mi poira tota nuda
Quan li plasera, o vestida,
Que ja non li farai ganzida.
Quar baratz es e tricharia
Quan corals amics si fadia
En so que plus vol ni desira.
Quar d’aqui nais corros et ira
E mal cujars e sospeissos
El vilans motz, fols, enujos,
Que non a nom. mais antre nos
Non aura luec, si Dieu plas, nos,
Car el non vol ni eu non voill,
Qu’avols motz es e plens d’orgueill.
Mas tals n’i a que fan languir
Lur amador ab lur non dir,
Quais que digon ques ellas son
Castas e puras per dir non.
Mal aia domna qu’esconditz
De bocca so ques ab cor ditz!
Quel semblans es simples e purs
El respos sera braus e durs.
Mais sapchas ben, bellas donzellas,
Que ja non vueil esser d’aquellas }

Guillem strongly condemned men who are ungenerous to women in their love:

I wonder where his heart can be,
that man who unmoved can see
his woman-friend dying of love and fear,
calling on him and God to hear
her plea, while he still remains
indifferent, nor even deigns
to lift a hand to offer for all her need.
Such a man should be hanged indeed,
as are hung thieves, for such as they
most evil, stupid cruelty display.
May God curse such foolishness,
such proud and heartless churlishness!

{ Bem meravill on a son cor
Domna quan ve que per lei mor
Sos amics, tan la tem e l’ama,
E per Dieu e per leis si clama.
Et il ja parer non fara
Qu’en ren s’o tenga, neis la ma
Non la deigna vas lui estendre.
Certas, hom la deuria pendre
Coma lairon per miei lo coll:
Trop a mal cor e dur e foll.
Maldiga Dieus aital follesa,
Plena d’ergueill e de malesa! }

In medieval Europe, Ovid was regarded as an eminent authority on love. Guillem cited Ovid in counseling his servant-men on loving:

As Ovid so clearly avows,
time will come when he, who now
is harsh to his woman-friend and cold,
will be left lonely, chill, and old.
And he to whom at night women bore
roses and placed them at his door
to please him when he awakened,
will find that he is so forsaken
that none will touch him even in pity.
Be warned against such stupidity,
young men, and do not offend
with harsh coldness your woman-friend
if you wish to retain her true love.

{ Aissi con Ovidis retrai,
Tems sera que cil c’aras fai
Parer de son amic nol vueilla,
Jaira sola e freja e veilla.
E cil a cui hom sol portar
De nugz las rosas al lumtar
Per so qu’al matin las trobes,
Non trobara qui la toques
Per nulla ren que puesca dire.
Gare si ben de fol consire
Joves domna qu’es tant eniga
Que son coral amic destriga,
Et el reman corals amix }

Today, most men find such advice dated and ridiculous within our rape-culture culture. That’s one reason why so many women today sleep only with their cats and dogs.

The next morning, Guillem urgently sought to return to the baths. He called to his wife Archimbaut:

Guillem said: “My wife, what will you do?
Do we stay or do we go? What say you?
These baths are a necessity
to me. My pains are killing me.
Indeed, so cruelly I ache
that all night long I lay awake.”
Archimbaut said: “So help me God, I swear,
my husband, I am well aware
that you have passed a wretched night.
Therefore, I urge you, eat a bit
before you go. You ought to eat.”
“My dear wife, please do not entreat
me to eat. To eat now wouldn’t be good.
At noon I shall have some food,
after I’ve bathed.” “Well then, husband, let us
go forth, since you will have it thus.”
A shabby and threadbare smock
Archimbaut put on, and out she went,
unkempt, slovenly, and unshod.
She could not spy rock, lime, or clod
displaced in the baths, so she,
after much searching, locked the key
as usual, then was silently gone.
Guillem was thus left in the baths alone
with his servant-men. They locked the door
firmly from the warm, moist interior,
and scarcely had they turned their key
when Flamenca entered gracefully.

{ E dis: “Segner, vos qu’en fares?
Anares vos, o remanres?
Qu’ieu nom puesc ges dels bains suffrir.
Ist gotam vol ades aucir,
Et aitan fort per tot mi doil
Ques anc anuit sol non claus l’oil.”
Le gilos dis: “Si Dieus m’ajut,
Domna, ben o ai conogut,
Que mal aves anuig pausat.
Per so manjares, per mon grat,
Un petitet ans qu’anasses.”
“Belz sener cars, no m’en parles,
Mal mi faria, ben o sai.
Vaus lo mieijorn mi disnarai
Quan serai del bans repairada.”
“Anem donc, pos tan vos agrada.”
Una samarra fera e trida
Vest Ens Archimbautz, e pois guida,
E vai s’en als bains totz descauz.
No i conoc ni peira ni cautz
Ni ren c’om mogut y agues.
A grans penas mogutz s’en es
E serra l’uis aissi con sol.
Flamenca remas en lo sol
Ab sas donzellas qu’en dese
Apres de lui serran l’uis ben.
E non an gaire demorat
Qu’intret Guillems tot a celat. }

Dressed differently from last morning, Flamenca again had traversed the earthen tunnel while beautifully attired:

She wore a purple dress, on
which golden flowering starlets shone.
It had such perfect cut and fit
that no one could find fault with it.
Her hose was samite and bright red.

{ Et ac una polpra vestida
Ab esteletas d’aur florida.
Et estet li tan ben e gent
Qu’e nuilla re no i si desmen.
Caussas ac d’un vermeil samit. }

Most men greatly appreciate women in their simple, naked, barefoot beauty. Men generally are delighted when a beloved woman, who has cared for her bodily health, takes off her clothes, shoes, jewelry, and other unnatural accessories. Yet men also appreciate women’s efforts to be beautifully dressed, especially when the cost doesn’t come from the man’s income.

After Flamenca and Guillem had embraced and fervently kissed, Flamenca lead him and his two servant-men through the tunnel to her bedroom in the inn. There they had the joy and pleasure that released them from love’s burning torments. Afterwards, something concerned Flamenca. Guillem urged her to say what was on her mind. Guillem said he would favor whatever would bring her pleasure. With sympathy for Alain and Corentin, who had sat quietly and watched Flamenca and Guillem have sex, Flamenca dared to propose:

My sweet thing, the matter is this:
my two cousins Margarida and Alis
are here, learning arts of woman’s worth.
They’re girls of wealth and noble birth.
If it pleases you, I would wish these two
might know the loving charm that you
possess. That would make my joy more
complete to see. Much pain I bore,
much peril, anguish, and dismay,
pangs of which neither you nor they
have known. Now God has willed to grant
to me bliss for which greater can’t
be possessed, a bliss beyond compare.
Each of these girls deserves her share.
They’re sterling women, these girls of mine,
well-bred and courtly, fair and fine.
The same can be said of your
servant-men. If they should meet, I’m sure
they’d have friendship and good cheer.
And if they fell in love, my dear,
their love for you and me would be greater.

{ Ma dousa res, dui miei cosin,
L’us a non Ot, l’autre Clari,
Estan ab mi per adobar.
Ric home son, de gran afar.
E volgra ben, s’a vos plagues,
Cascus de vostr’ azaut saupes,
Car mos jois ne valria mais.
Car mant’ angoiss’ e man pantais,
E man trebail e man peril
Ai eu suffert, que vos ni ill
Non saupses ren. E pos Dieus vol
Que m’estiu mielz que far non sol
E tot quant ai es gauhz e bens,
Volgra cascus sa part n’agues.
Li miei donzel son jovensell,
Cortes, adreit e bon e bell,
Et aitals son vostras donzellas.
E s’ambedui eron ab ellas
Aurion ab cui si deportesson;
E s’avion cor que s’entr’ amesson,
Amariu mais e vos e me. }

Guillem agreed immediately to Flamenca’s proposal. She then brought into her bedroom her servant-women Alis and Margarida. When Alis and Margarida saw Alain and Corentin, the young women felt as if a love-spell had been cast over them. Guillem urged on his servant-men:

“Come here,” he said, “the two of you.
Here are two young women, and you are two.
Each one of you may have his own.
And don’t be modestly shy, either one
of you. I order and require
that each in all things please his girl.
Now, out into the baths you go!
You’ll find amusement there, I know.”

{ “Sai venes,” fai s’il, “ambedoas.
Aquist son dui e vos est doas,
E voil quel sieu aia cascuna.
Non s’en fassa pregar neguna,
Car eus prec eus dic, eus coman
Que fassas tot so qu’il volran.
Isses vos en elz bans defors
On nous fallira ja demors.” }

Each young woman took her young man and led him into the baths. Neither young man left the baths without laboring heavily. Each pair of lovers made a pact to be true to each other.

When time for parting sadly came, Flamenca was distraught that Guillem’s wife Archimbaut would come and take him back to the prison-tower. But Guillem comforted her:

“Truly I promise you,” he told her,
“I’ll come tomorrow, and I’ll stay
and we’ll enjoy ourselves all day.”
He kissed her eyes, he kissed her face,
and intently gazed with such grace
on her eyes that from her aching heart
he purged the pain. His eyes impart
such healing balm through Love’s kind care,
that she feels no hurt anywhere.

{ E dis: “Eus promet verament,
Amix, qu’eu deman torn a vos,
E tot jorn deportarem nos.”
Los ueilz li baisa e la cara
Et aissi dousamen l’esgara,
Dreitz oilz, que tota la dolor
Li trais del cor, e tal doussor
Li don’ Amors ab cel esgart
Que non sen mal vas nulla part. }

Flamenca escorted Guillem from her bedroom back to the baths. She discretely coughed next to the secret door before entering the baths. Upon hearing her cough, Flamenca’s servant-women and Guillem’s servant-men quickly got up and put their clothes back on. Then they opened the secret door and greeted them. Before Flamenca and her servant-women returned to the inn, Guillem’s servant-men profusely thanked Flamenca:

The young men, saying their farewells, grieved
so sorely, so many tears they shed,
that their eyes became swollen and red.
They thanked Flamenca warm and sincere
for all the gladness and the cheer
her servant-women’s company had brought
them. After this, no gloomy thought,
no worry, woe, or care can bring
them any misery or suffering.
They will forget the sad tower-prison
where the jealous wife without reason
sent them, since now they know bliss.

{ E quan las donzelletas vi
Vaus si venir per comjat penre,
Lur oilz foron del plorar tenre.
Fan li merces ben et em pas
Del ric doport e del solatz
Ques an avut de sos donzels.
Ques anc pueis que foron ab els
Non agron negun pensament,
Ira ni dol ni mariment,
Ni lur sovenc de la preison
On las tel gilos em perdon,
Quar vengutz lur n’es gaugz e bens. }

For Guillem and his servant-men, love and anticipation of further loving made the prison-tower a manly refuge to share memories, joy, and laughter.

After four months of daily, intimate meetings with Flamenca, Guillem’s health improved greatly. His health-restoring joy in loving her affected his relationship with his wife Archimbaut:

During this time Guillem had so thrived,
thanks be to God, and grown so sprightly
and proud and brisk and gay, that rightly
he looked on Archimbaut with eyes
of scorn. Now he didn’t even rise
when she arrived or when she went —
to her showing himself indifferent.
Being a woman of little and slow wit,
though she couldn’t fail to notice it,
she knew not how this change came about.
But at last one day she spoke out:
“Husband,” she told him, “it would seem
that you hold me in low esteem.
You look on me with haughty eye
and contempt. And I know not why.”
At this Guillem promptly said:
“The woman who caused us two to wed
erred greatly and is much to blame.
Since we’ve been married, your name
has just gone down and down.
You once commanded such renown
that everyone spoke well of you.
God loved you and the world did too.
But as it is, your jealousy
has nearly ruined you and me.

{ Mas adoncas, la merce Dieu,
Flamenca fon si ben estans,
Gaia e conda e presans
Qu’En Archimbaut ren nom preset,
Et anc sol per lui nos levet
Cora ques armes o vengues;
Non fes parer qu’en rel tengues.
Et el, aissi cass oms con fon,
Conoc o ben, mais l’ocaison
Don so avenc non conoissia.
Per so parlet ab lui un dia:
“Donna,” fai s’el, “ben m’es vejaire
Que nom temes nim presas gaire.
Tornadaus est encontra me
Ergoillosa, non sai per que.”
Flamenca dis, que no i tarzet:
“Bels segner cars, qui ajostet
Mi e vos gran peccat y fes,
Quar unquas pois que mi agues
Vostre pres non fes mas caser.
E vos solias tan valer
Que totz le monz de vos parlava,
E Dieus e segles vos amava.
Mais ar est tornatz tan gilos
Que mort aves e mi e vos. }

Guillem proposed that his wife Archimbaut trust him and set him free. If she did, he solemnly promised to be just as chaste and true to her as he had been while imprisoned in the tower. Archimbaut resented the extra housework that she had to do, without any help from him, in keeping him imprisoned. More equal spousal sharing of housework while not having to worry about her husband having affairs with other women was clearly advantageous to her. For one, if he rather than she would go to repel marauding knights, her life expectancy would rise. Given his promise, why not release her husband from the tower in which she had imprisoned him? That day she did. Then she told him to change the wheels on their carriages and to polish the household swords.

To give his wife an opportunity to improve her worth, Guillem decided to establish at their castle a woman’s beauty tournament and grand festival. It would be held every year two weeks after Easter. Along with bathing suit, guest hospitality, and cooking competitions for women, there would be a sumptuous dinner and music and dancing. Beautiful, young women from every land would be invited to come and participate. Guillem himself, now able to associate freely with the contestants, would serve as one of the competition’s judges. He looked forward eagerly to that tournament and grand festival.

Now not his wife’s prisoner, Guillem no longer was interested in carrying on a secret extra-marital affair. He went one more time to the baths with his servant-men to speak with Flamenca. Meeting her there, they went with her as usual through the tunnel to her bedroom, where her servant-women were eagerly waiting. Guillem told Flamenca that his wife had given up her jealousy and had recovered her courtly manners. He said that he was now busy setting up a woman’s beauty tournament and grand festival. Then he told her:

And thus, I do not wish, my dear,
for you to remain imprisoned here.
And so it is my will that you
depart. For me as before to do,
to come to see you day by day,
I can’t. So I bid you go your way,
to your own country, with intent
to come back for the tournament.
And meanwhile, send me, if you will,
by some pilgrim or subtle skill,
some messenger or minstrel, true
account of how things are with you.

{ E per so, amics, non vueill plus
Que vos estes sains reclus.
Anas vos en, ques eu o vueil,
Car ges aissi con far o sueil
Sai a vos venir nom poiria.
Per so vueil tengas vostra via
Et en vostra terra tornes,
Et al tornei sa tornares.
Et antretan mandares mi
Per alcun adreg pellegri,
Per message o per juglar,
Tot vostr’ esser e vostr’ afar. }

Stunned, Guillem’s servant-men and Flamenca’s servant-woman then felt an onrush of great anguish. They immediately left the bedroom in the inn and went back to the baths to enjoy some final time there together. Flamenca was so distraught that she fainted and fell into Guillem’s arms. He didn’t know what else to say. He wept. She revived and started weeping too. She said nothing even as Guillem implored her to speak to him. Finally she spoke to him:

When I heard you say
that you would have me go away,
it was as if you cut right through me,
cleaved my heart in two, and slayed me.

{ Cant mi dises
Qu’ieu de vos mi parla voles,
No i a plus mais quem partisses
Lo cor per miei e m’aucisses. }

He hugged her and comforted her:

Then a good thousand times they kiss.
They take their leave with grace and tact
and their leave-taking nothing lacked,
nothing except hope in their parting
that they might again have joy in uniting,
whatever future days might bring them.
Meanwhile, no act that could delight them
had they omitted to do before they said
final farewell. And they were comforted
in knowing that Easter was just months near.
The tournament would come later many a year.

{ Adonc si baizon ben mil ves
E prendon comjat si con tain.
Neguna res non y sofrain
Mas un pauc de bon’ esperansa
Que lur fassa qualque fermansa
Ques puescan vezer si con solon.
Mentre qu’estan ensems non colon.
Ans fan ades totz lur plazers.
Et es lur vengutz bos espers
De la pasca qu’er aboriva,
Car a l’autr’ an fo mout tardiva. }

The time was close to three in the afternoon when Guillem and his servant-men, exhausted and morose, emerged from the baths. None knew when such love would again be theirs.


*  *  *  *  *

The above is Flamenca Queered, part 4. See also part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 5.

Read more:


The above story is based on the medieval (thirteenth-century) Old Occitan Romance of Flamenca. For a freely available English prose translation, Prescott (1933). For a less conveniently readable but higher quality edition, McGuire & Scrivner (ND). The quotes in Old Occitan above are from the Flamenca text in Hubert & Porter (1962). The English translations are based on id., but include my significant, small changes. The translations aren’t a faithful representation of the Old Occitan Flamenca, but are strongly and consistently related to it.

Guillem’s agreement with his wife Archimbaut and her major change in behavior occurs abruptly in Flamenca. This plot shifts occurs in vv. 6687-92 (Hubert & Porter’s verse numbers), plus some verses in one leaf missing from the manuscript. Blodgett (1995) p. 346. The manuscript is a “small codex (220 x 148 mm), containing 139 leaves.” Id. p. xxxix. How the spouses made peace isn’t quite clear in the surviving text. When the text resumes after the missing leaf, Archimbaut is announcing a large, public festival that Guillem will freely attend. Bradley (1922) rejects this mysterious plot shift. Bradley concluded his English translation / abridgment of Flamenca just before that plot shift occurs.

The Flamenca verses quoted above are (cited by the verse numbers of the Old Occitan text of Hubert & Porter (1962)): vv. 5762-70 (I’ve never felt such misery…), 5824-44 (The blouse and long dress that she wore…), 5846-5850 (Kneeling before her man…), 5853-6 (Good lady, God whose truth is pure and who…), 5910-14 (Guillem said: “There is no need…”), 5937-57 (Embracing his neck, she kissed him with ardor…), 5985-93 (Flamenca did not ignore…), 5994-96 (All our desire springs forth…), 6029-40 (He said, “Lovely sweet lover, courtly, true…”), 6054-62 (Great potency…), 6063-65 (Then, my husband, bathe as you see fit…), 6067-76 (These baths are needed to relieve…), 6087-6104 (Dear Alain, don’t you think…), 6204-28 (I am her true love; she is mine…), 6261-72 (I wonder where his heart can be…), 6277-89 (As Ovid so clearly avows…), 6351-78 (Guillem said: “My wife, what will you do? …”), 6379-83 (She wore a purple dress…), 6421-39 (My sweet thing, the matter is this…), 6461-68 (“Come here,” he said…), 6536-44 (“Truly I promise you,” he told her…), 6646-57 (The young men, saying their farewells, grieved…), 6662-86 (During this time Guillem had so thrived…), 6780-91 (And thus, I do not wish, my dear…), 6848-51 (When I heard you say…), 6867-77 (Then a good thousand times they kiss…).

[image] Video: Cardi B, WAP, featuring Megan Thee Stallion (official music video). This video on YouTube has received 136 million views since uploaded on Aug. 7. A few of the more explicit lyrics are obscured in the music video. Here’s the WAP official audio, including the full lyrics, on YouTube. It has 25 million views since uploaded on Aug. 6.

Cardi B is not only a highly successful rapper singer song-writer, but also an important American public figure. On August 17, 2020 in the prestigious, world-leading fashion magazine Elle, Cardi B interviewed U.S Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Near the end of the WAP music video, the woman dressed in red and doing flamenco-type poses is Rosalía. Rosalía’s popular and award-winning 2018 album, El mal querer {The Bad Loving}, drew considerably upon the medieval romance Flamenca.


Blodgett, Edward D., trans. 1995. The Romance of Flamenca. New York: Garland.

Bradley, William Aspenwall. 1922. The Story of Flamenca: the first modern novel, arranged from the Provençal original of the thirteenth century. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.

Hubert, Merton Jerome, trans. and Marion E. Porter, ed. 1962. The Romance of Flamenca. A Provençal poem of the thirteenth century. Princeton University Press: Princeton.

McGuire, Michael and Olga Scrivner. ND: Not Dated. “The Flamenca Project: Le Roman de Flamenca (The Romance of Flamenca).” Online presentation of the Old Occitan text of Meyer (1901) and the English translation of Blodgett (1995).

Prescott, H. F. M. 1933. Flamenca. Translated from the thirteenth-century Provençal. Here attributed to Bernardet the Troubadour. London: Constable & Co.

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