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Medieval Music Database

La donna mia vuol esser el messere

ballata by Niccolò da Perugia


Florence: Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana, Palatino 87 (Squarcialupi Codex), fol. 93v-94 (2/2); Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Magliabechiano VII 1078, fol. 13v (text);
London: British Library, Additional 29987, fol. 26 (2/2).


1. The Manuscript London, British Museum Add. 29987, facsimile edition by Gilbert Reaney, [n.p.]: American Institute of Musicology, 1965. Musicological Studies and Documents 13, (Lo).
2. Il Codice Squarcialupi edited by F. Alberto GALLO, Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, 1992.


1. Der Squarcialupi-Codex Pal. 87 der Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana zu Florenz, edited by Johannes Wolf and H. Albrecht, Lippstadt: Kistner and Siegel, 1955, p. 149.
2. Italian Secular Music: Anonymous Madrigals and Cacce and the Works of Niccolò da Perugia, edited by W. Thomas Marrocco, Monaco: Editions de L'Oiseau-Lyre, 1972. Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century VIII, p. 139 (Lbl29987).
3. KELLY, Stephen K. The Works of Niccolò da Perugia, 2 vols., Ph.D. dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1974.
4. GOZZI, Marco. [London, British Library 29987: Transcription and Commentary], 2 vols., dissertation, Cremona, Scuola di paleografica musicale, University of Pavia: 1984-1985.
5. GARFORTH, Constance C. The Lo Manuscript: A Trecento Collection, Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University: 1983.

Text Editions

1. Poesie musicali dei secoli XIV, XV, XVI, edited by Antonio Capelli: Bologna, 1868, p. 40.
2. Lirica italiana antica: novissima scelta di rime dei secolo XIII, XIIII, XV, compiled by Eugenia Levi, Florence: Olschki, 1906, p. 148.
3. SAPEGNO, Natalino. Poeti minori del Trecento, Milan: Ricordi, 1952, p. 521.
4. CORSI, Giuseppe. Rimatori del Trecento, Turin: Unione tipografica editrice torinese, 1969, p. 1057.
5. CORSI, Giuseppe. Poesie musicali del Trecento, Bologna: Commissione per i testi di lingua, 1970, p. 106.


1. KÖNIGSLÖW, Annamarie von. Die italienischen Madrigalisten des Trecento, Würzburg-Aumühle: Triltsch, 1940, p. 5.
2. GALLO, F. Alberto. 'The musical and literary tradition of 14th century poetry set to music', Musik und Text in der Mehrstimmigkeit des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts, edited by U. Günther and L. Finscher, Kassel: Bärenreiter: 1984, pp. 55-76.


La donna mia vol esser el messere.
e, perchT ci= mi spiace
non poss'aver con lei triegua nT pace.

Lieva la cresta col viso superbio
che sottometterme al su voler si crede.
ma i' rineghere' prima la fede
ch'i' stessi a lei com'a lione el cerbio.
perchT mi tocca l'antico proverbio:
"La casa non mi piace
dove gallina canta e 'l gallo tace".

Chi de la donna sua si fa suggetto
ben F vil uom, pognam che a molti tocca:
dovrebbe, a mio parer, chiuder la bocca
e lasciar andar lei a suo diletto.
Per che si dice, per antico detto:
"Chi non F uom verace
ma feminil, de gli uomini F fallace."


My mistress wants to be the master.
and, since I do not like it.
I cannot find with her concord or peace.

She lifts her crest with a conceited face
because she thinks she'll bend me to her will;
but I would rather disavow my faith
than cringe before her like a deer to a lion.
The ancient proverb suits my present state:
"The houses I dislike are those
where the cock remains silent, the hen crows".

He who makes himself a subject to his lady
is a wretch (I grant it is a common failing);
he should, in my opinion, shut his mouth.
and let her carry on, just as she pleases.
"Whoever", the ancient dictum says.
"is not a real man
but is effeminate, is false to his own sex".

Text revision and translation © Giovanni Carsaniga

Content Approved by: MMDB Director
Last updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2003

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