The National Library Songbook


Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional (The National Library songbook) is a compilation of 1,560 Portuguese-Galician troubadour poems from the 12th−14th centuries. The poems are preceded by an incomplete text, Arte de trovar (Art of poetry), which gives practical guidance on composition of this kind of poetry, with a general picture of the rules of the genres developed by the minstrels and troubadours for their poems. Also known as the Colocci-Brancuti Songbook, the codex was made in Italy around 1525−26 by order of Angelo Colocci (1474−1549), an Italian humanist and Jesuit priest with a keen interest in early Italian, Provençal, and especially Portuguese poetry. Attributed to approximately 150 different Portuguese troubadours and minstrels, the poems are in three genres: cantigas de amor (poems by a troubadour to his lover), cantigas de amigo (poems by a woman addressed to a troubadour lover), and cantigas de escárnio e maldizer (songs of mockery and satire). Colocci transcribed the Arte de trovar, numbered the songs, made an index, and annotated almost the entire codex. The codex was written by six copyists, mainly in chancery italic script, as well as in bastard and cursive gothic scripts. Included are annotations by Colocci. Among the poets represented are Dom Dinis, king of Portugal (reigned 1279−1325), Sancho I, king of Portugal (reigned 1185−1211), and Pedro, Count of Barcelos (1289−1354); and 13th-century troubadours Pay Soarez de Taveirós, Johan Garcia de Guilhade, Ayras Nunes, and Martin Codax. The codex was part of the library of Count Paolo Brancuti di Cagli, where it was found in 1875. It passed into the hands of Italian philologist Ernesto Monaci in 1880. It later was acquired by the Portuguese government and entered the National Library of Portugal on February 26, 1924.

Title in Original Language

Cancioneiro da Biblioteca Nacional

Type of Item

Physical Description

355 folios ; 28 centimeters


  1. Ana Ferrari, Formazione e struttura del canzoniere portoghese della Biblioteca Nazionale di Lisbona (COD 10991: Colocci Brancuti): premesse codicologiche alla critica del testo Paris: Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, Centre Culturel Portugais, 1979).
  2. Giulia Lanciani e Giuseppe Tavani, editors, Dicionário da Literatura Medieval Galega e Portuguesa (Lisbon: Caminho, 1993).

Last updated: August 18, 2014