Provençal belongs to the Romance or Romanic group of the Aryan or Indo-European family of speech. (See Romance Languages.) Its real home is the south of France, the boundary line running through Dauphiny, Lyon-nais, Auvergne, Limousin, Périgord, and Sain-tonge. It is spoken also in the east of Spain, Catalonia, Valencia, and the Baleares, and in Savoy and a portion of Switzerland. At present several dialects may be distinguished: New Provencal, Languedocian, Limousinian, Auvergnian, Dauphinese, Waldensian, Gascon, and Catalan. The Provençal language separated from the idiom of northern France, designated as la langue d'oil, from the use of the affirmation oil (Lat. illud), about the beginning of the 9th century. Probably there was once but one Romance language in the whole of Gaul, though some of the early literary monuments which are generally produced as examples of the original uniform tongue, also dating from the 9th century, have a preponderance of French forms. In order to distinguish the newly formed dialect of the south of France from Italian, Spanish, and French, and to give it a geographically comprehensive name, it was natural to select for it the name of the largest province within its territory.
Thus, in distinction from romana, came into use la lengua proensal, la proenzal, le proensalès, and vulgar proensal; and the people who spoke it were called Provinciales, though also Francigenoe. It received also the name of Limousinian (lemosi), after the province of Limousin, which was gradually transferred also to the Catalonian-Valencian idiom. As a large part of southern France came to be called Languedoc or Llen-guadoch, after the use of the affirmation oe (Lat. hoc), which is the origin also of the middle Latin name Occitania and of the French adjective occitanien, later writers fell into the habit of applying the name of langue d'oc to the whole Provençal language, while it should be strictly confined to the Occitanian dialect. The middle of the 10th century furnishes the first monument of the Provençal language, but its principal development occurred in the 12th and 13th centuries, the flourishing period of the peculiar poetry of the troubadours. But as early as the middle of the 13th century the language ceased to be used by the higher classes.
As the troubadours took particular pains to ridicule the clergy and the practices of the church, they drew upon themselves the ill will of the ecclesiastical party, and in 1245 Innocent IV. issued a bull in which he called Provencal the language of heretics, and forbade its use by students. The wars which during the early part of the 13th century desolated the south of France were also fatal to the language. The troubadours sought refuge at the court of Aragon and in Catalonia, and kept the language for a time from corruption; but by the beginning of the 14th century Provencal generally succumbed in Spain also to the adjacent dialects. An attempt was made to preserve the language by establishing consistories of the "gay science" in Toulouse and Barcelona, but their success was short. In Italy, in the northwest of which it was spoken, it was quickly forgotten on the revival of the ancient literature, and was superseded by Tuscan. The language thus passed into dialects spoken only by the peasantry in its former territory, and its use for poetical composition has come to be only a matter of caprice. - Provencal is the earliest Romance language which received grammatical treatment; but the object was only to check the carelessness of expression on the part of the poets, and thus to counteract the threatening decadence of the language.
Provençal scarcely ever developed into a uniform literary language, as the poets lived at the various courts. But the efforts on the part of the troubadours to attain a certain elegance, ease, and variety of diction, causing them to reject many expressions as inelegant and impure, led to the formation of a choicer language than that used by the masses, which was called lo dreg proensal, or la dreita parladura; this was not peculiar to any one province, though not without provincialisms. The want of an orthography, and the indefiniteness of the dialectical variations, render it very difficult to determine either the pronunciation or the construction of the language. The grammatical treatises of Uk Faidit and Raimon Vidal hardly touch upon these subjects. They contain discourses on long and short syllables, and there is an attempt to show the difference of pronunciation between French and Provençal. Only the Leys d'amors makes frequent reference to the value of the letters and to orthography. The forms fan and fatz, plai and platz, faire and far, conques and conquis, ditz and di, and the like, are used for the same words by one poet, and the rhymes follow accordingly; yet such instances cannot be cited to prove that quar (Lat. quare) was pronounced differently from car, or altre otherwise than autre; for quar and altre may have been written according to etymology, while car and autre represented the pronunciation.
Accordingly but little is said in modern philological works on Provençal about the pronunciation of it. When Ray-nouard, the great student of the langue d'oc, was interrogated in regard to it, he replied: Il n'y a pas de prononciation provençale ("There is no Provençal pronunciation"); and Diez, who has given the fullest treatise on Provençal vowels and consonants, admits that there is a great amount of truth in the reply. - The characteristics of the modern Provençal dialects are the following. In the New Provençal many words ending in e in French have i, as agi, couragi; au is generally sounded oou; l is changed into u and ll (as in fille) into y; and c before a is sometimes guttural and sometimes palatal. The Occitanian dialects of Languedoc resemble New Provençal very closely. In Toulouse oi is sounded instead of ei; in Montpellier, io for ue; the letter l is not always changed into u; final n, preserved in Montpellier, is dropped in Toulouse; Latin ct and di change into ch, and v into b. The Limousinian dialect may be divided into Upper and Lower Limousinian. In the latter a is generally sounded as o, ai as ei, ieu as iou, ch as ts, j and soft g as dz.
In Au-vergne ai becomes oue; oi, eu; eu and iu, iau; final l and n disappear; s, ç, and z often become palatals; ch is sounded as in French, and final c as t; l often becomes r. In Dauphiny, especially at Grenoble, the influence of the French pronunciation becomes more apparent, while the Waldensian dialect has experienced some changes through the influence of Italian. In fact, we may doubt whether the latter has been directly derived from Provençal, though the early Waldensian literary monuments betoken a near kinship to it. Gascon still shows its Provençal origin, but it has absorbed so many foreign elements that its parentage is greatly obscured. Prominent among its peculiarities are the preceding of r by a, opening ll for l, internal r for l, ch for s and ss, qua sounded with an audible u, b for v, and h for f. Catalan is properly not a dialectical variation of Provençal, but rather an independent idiom closely related to it. Its peculiarities are the change of mute e into a; the preservation of e and o without change into diphthongs; the absence of ie, ue, iei, ieu, and the rare use of other diphthongs and triphthongs; the softening of l into ll; the dropping of Latin final n; the palatal sounds of g, j, and x; ch in the beginning of words for c; the sound of z for c; and the audible u in qua and gua.
Valencian is almost the same as Catalan, only somewhat softer in pronunciation. - The first monument of the Provençal language belongs to the middle of the 10th century. It is a fragment of 257 ten-syllable verses on Boëthius, and has been preserved in a manuscript of the 11th century, which, according to Paul Meyer, and as appears from the language and mode of writing, originated in Li-mousin or Auvergne. Next in historical order come a few partly Provençal poems, including a long poem on the passion of Christ, and the legend of St. Leodegar, published in Cham-pollion-Figeac's Documents historiques. Ray-nouard has collected several Latin documents with sentences of Provençal interspersed, dating from about 860 to 1080; and other documents in part or entirely Provençal, of a later date, have been embodied in Bartsch's Chres-tomathie. Several minor poems on religious subjects and several sermons, dating from about the 11th century, have been collected by Paul Meyer. Of the same date, or perhaps of the beginning of the 12th century, is a manuscript recently published by Konrad Hoffmann, containing a paraphrase of the discourse of Christ in John xiii. The main feature of the flourishing period of Provençal literature is the poetry of the troubadours.
According to Quiraut Riquier, it would seem that the troubadours were in a measure the successors and disciples of the jongleurs, who made a sort of trade of rhyming and singing and dancing. Some account of the art de trobar (art of in-. venting) is necessary for an adequate idea of the main characteristic of Provençal poetry. In one class of versification, the canson (canzo, canzoneta), the rhymes, pauses, and general manner of the first stanza had to be maintained through all the succeeding stanzas, and at the close came a commiato, or summary of the whole, addressed by the poet to his friends, patrons, or mistress. The sirvente permitted greater ease of composition, and while the canson was used chiefly for moral and amorous effusions, the office of the latter poetic form was to serve as a vehicle for attacks on the secular and spiritual lords, as well as for love songs of a satirical or light nature. In the tensons, or poetic combats, two or more persons support opposite sides on some subject of philosophy or love.
Though these combats were originally extemporary, in later times several troubadours would choose a common subject and metre; the first would compose a stanza and transmit it to another, who would compose the second stanza, and so on; and when each of the disputants had added his part, the whole would be submitted to competent judges, forming what was called a "court of love." There are also epistolary treatises on the subjects of love, friendship, and chivalry, which were called donaire, salute, and ensenhamen. The planh is a kind of elegy celebrating the memory of a fallen knight, or mourning over disappointments in love. Little poems sung during the dance were called balada and dansa; they were mostly of a very simple nature. The serena, serenade or evening song, gives utterance to the most passionate love, but only one has come down to us. The alba, or waking song, reminds the lovers that it is dawn. The pastoreta or pas-torela generally gives a conversation held between a knight and a shepherdess, one complimenting the other, and always on the subject of love. - The earliest troubadour of whom any poetic remains have been preserved is William IX. of Poitiers (1071-1127). Among the most important Provençal poets subsequent to him must be mentioned first of all Giraud de Borneil (1170-1220), who in the opinion of his contemporaries was the greatest of all.
Richard Coeur de Lion of England, Alfonso II. of Aragon, and Robert I. of Auvergne were also celebrated troubadours. They were excelled, however, by Bertrand de Born, their contemporary, whom Dante and Uhland would have immortalized if his own fiery and warlike rhymes had not. Other famous troubadours toward the end of the 12th century were Mar-cabrun, Jaufre, Randal, Count Rambaut III. of Orange, Peire of Auvergne, Peire Rogier, Peire Raimon of Toulouse, Arnaut de Marueil, Peire Vidal, Rambaut de Vaqueiras, Peirol, the monk of Montauban, and Arnaut Daniel. To the 13th century belong the names of Faidit, Raimon of Miraval, Savarik of Mauléon, Uk of Saint Cyr, Aimerik of Peguilain, Peire Cardinal, Guillem Figueiras, Sordel, Bonifaci Calvo, Bertolome Zorgi, and Quiraut Riquier. Among the treatises on the troubadour's art stands foremost La dreita maniera de trobar, "The Correct Art of Versifying," by Raimon Vidal, who seems to have been a famous troubadour of the middle of the 13th century. Another, but more of a grammatical nature, is the Donatus Provincialis by Uk Faidit, extant in two editions, one Romance, the other Latin; both have been published in Guessard's Gram-maires romanes inédites. A full grammar and science of poetry was published by the consistory del gay saber of Toulouse, and edited by Moulinier, entitled Leys d'amors, "Laws of Love," i. e., of the poetry of love.
A portion of it, Las flors del gay saber, appeared in 1356. But by this time Provençal verse was almost extinct. The troubadours had lost their most eminent patrons, and the attempt to revive them by distributing prizes for the best composition in the floral games of Toulouse failed to establish the name of any Provençal poet. Still, there have always been some who used Provençal for their poetic compositions, and in the 19th century several have even gained celebrity as Provençal poets. Foremost among these stands Jacques Jasmin, the barber of Agen (1798-1864), and after him come José Roumanille, Théodore Aubanel, and the marquis de la Fare-Alais. The most eminent living Provençal poet undoubtedly is Frédéric Mistral, the pupil of Roumanille, and one of the largest contributors to Li Prouvençalo (1852), a collection of modern Provençal poetry. His fame rests principally on his charming rustic epic entitled Mirèio (1859), translated by himself into modern French (Mireille), and set to music by Gounod, and of which there are versions in English by H. Crich-ton and by Harriet W. Preston. - The earliest writers on the Provençal literature were Cardinal Bembo and Jean de Nostre Dame, or Nostradamus, brother of the astrologer.
Nostre Dame collected a large number of manuscripts, and composed a work on the lives and writings of the old Provençal poets. Lacurne de Sainte-Palaye expended a vast amount of time and labor in ransacking the libraries of France and Italy, and collecting materials on the subject, which the abbe Millot published under the title of Histoire littèraire des troubadours (3 vols., Paris, 1774; abridged English translation by Mary Dobson, London, 1779). But it is chiefly to M. Raynouard, a native of Provence, that we are indebted for our knowledge of the Provençal. In his Choix des poésies originates des troubadours (6 vols., Paris, 1816-21), he published vestiges of their early poetry, and lives and extracts from the writings of about 350 poets. Previously he had written a grammar of the language (1816), and to this he added a lexicon which appeared after his death (6 vols., 1838-'44). In his footsteps followed Charles Claude Fauriel, whose Histoire de la poésie provençale (3 vols. 8vo, Paris, 1846; abridged English translation, New York, 1860), delivered in a series of lectures as professor in the faculty of letters at Paris, is the most elaborate work on the subject upon which it treats.
In Germany the study of Provençal received a scientific foundation at the hands of Friedrich Diez, whose Die Poesie der Troubadours (Zwickau, 1826) and Leben und Wirken der Troubadours (1829) have been translated into French and English. See also Mahn, Die Werke der Troubadours in provenzalischer Sprache (Berlin, 1846 et seq.), Die Biographien der Troubadours (1853), and Gedichte der Troubadours (4 vols., 1856-68); Paul Meyer, Anciennes poésies religieuses en langue d'oc (Paris, 1860), Cours d'histoire de la littérature provençale (1865), and Recueil d'anciens textes bas-latins, provençaux et fran-çais (1873 et seq.); Böhmer, Die provenzalische Poesie der Gegenwart (Berlin, 1870); Karl Bartsch, Grundriss zur Geschichte der pro-venzalischen Literatur (1872), and Chrestoma-thie provençale (Paris, 1875); and Rutherford, "The Troubadours: their Loves and their Lyrics" (London, 1873).