Sordello da Goito (c. 1200 – c. 1269), a poet active in the courts of Northern Italy and Provence, is often considered the most famous Italian troubadour. Born near Mantua, Sordello achieved fame as a poet early in life, exchanging verses with Aimeric de Peguilhan while still in his twenties. After befriending several prominent Ghibelline families at Treviso and Verona, Sordello became involved in a scandalous affair with Cunizza da Romano, daughter of Ezzelino III da Romano, and was accused of abducting her from her wealthy husband, Count Riccardo da San Bonifacio, a romantic episode later referred to in Dante’s Divine Commedy. As a result of this and possibly other scandalous love affairs, Sordello went into exile after 1229, travelling widely across the courts of Provence and the Iberian Peninsula. He eventually settled at the court of Raimond Berenger V in Aix, finding favor with the count himself and later with his successor, Charles of Anjou. When Charles invaded Italy in 1265, Sordello joined his retinue. He was captured and imprisoned at Novara, until Pope Clement IV personally interceded on his behalf. Charles afterward rewarded Sordello’s services, as both poet and knight, with property in the Abruzzi.
See The Complete Works of Sordello. Forty-three poems survive, of which the most famous is aplanh, “Planher vuelh en Blacatz en aquest leugier so,” dedicated to the memory of the troubadour Blacatz, lord of Aups. A political diatribe, this planh endeared the poet to Dante, who included Sordello as a guide in the Purgatorio.
James J. Wilhelm, The Poetry of Sordello (New York, 1987).
Miriam Cabré, “Italian and Catalan troubadours,” in The Troubadours: An Introduction (Cambridge: CUP, 1999), 127-140.
Clares E. Honess, “Dante and Political Poetry in the Vernacular,” Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies 6 (1998), 21-41.
Hans-Erich Keller, “Italian Troubadours,” in A Handbook of the Troubadours, eds. F.R.P. Akehurst and Judith M. Davis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 295-304.
Stefano Asperti, “Sordello tra Raimondo Berengario V e Carlo I d’Angiò,” Cultura Neolatina 60:3-4 (200), 341-369.
See also information on the Italian Angevins from the French of Italy site.