Find the word definition


Bonfilh or Bonfils (meaning "godson") was a Jewish troubadour from Narbonne. He is the only known Jew who wrote in the troubadour language, Old Occitan, and style. His only known work is a partimen (debate) with Guiraut Riquier, Auzit ay dir, Bofil, que saps trobar ("I hear tell, Bonfilh, that you know how to compose"). It has been suggested that Bonhilh may have been a poetic invention of Guiraut and not a historical person, or that he was the same person as the Jewish poet Abraham Bedersi. There is a lacuna in the only surviving manuscript version of this song that lasts from the middle of the third stanza through to the middle of the fifth. The seventh stanza is also missing the ending of its final line. Each stanza has eight lines, but the last two are tornadas of four each.

The poem starts off amicably, but ends on bad terms, with Guiraut resorting to antisemitism (he names Bonfilh as having hurt Jesus). Riquier poses a polylemma for his debate partner: does Bonfilh sing out of fear, because a lady makes him do it, "to ply the joglar's trade" (that is, for money), or to advance his fame? Bonfilh's responds that it is out of joy and for his lady that he sings. He also reproaches Guiraut for using the formal second-person pronoun vos with his lady, while he, Bonfilh, uses the familiar and intimate tu. This is unusual, however, as the troubadours universally use vos with ladies (even those of low rank, as in pastorelas). It is not a Jewish custom, as the fourteenth-century Roman de la Reine Esther by Crescas Caslari puts vos in the mouth of the king, Assuérus, when addressing Esther. Both Guiratu and Bonfilh submit their partimen to Bertran d'Opian (fl. 1229–42), a knight of Narbonne, for judgement. He was known to Guiraut.