This critical edition of the corpus of secular Galician-Portuguese cantigas has been created following the basic methodological principles of textual criticism. Poems with variants in different witnesses are edited using the reconstructive method developed in the early 19th century by the German philologist Karl Lachmann and his contemporaries, and built upon and improved subsequently by members of the Italian school of textual criticism (including M. Barbi, G. Contini and d’A. S. Avalle).
In the case of texts attested in only one manuscript (see Arbor Aldea 2017a), accuracy is given precedence over unjustified conservatism, and decisions with regard to spelling, punctuation and other typographical details dispense with the misunderstood equation between text and witness, since the aim is to create a critical edition, not to present the work in alternative formats.
The methodological approach also includes data from previous studies on the manuscript tradition of secular lyric poetry in Galician-Portuguese and a fresh collation of the witnesses, and uses the system of orthographical representation agreed by a committee of experts in 2006 (see Ferreiro, Martínez Pereiro and Tato Fontaíña 2007). Continuous refinement of the criteria over the course of the project and the standardisation of typographical and textual features have made the resulting text more readable and easier to understand.
An additional aim of the editing process is to offer a unified system of punctuation and segmentation throughout the corpus, given the influence of both elements on the interpretation of the text. Equally, however, as a complex amalgam of work by 150 troubadours from different backgrounds, extending over a period of 150 years and representing the whole tradition of secular lyric poetry in Galician-Portuguese, internal variation within the corpus is also respected at all times.
As a final consideration, the system of ‘syllable counting’ characteristic of the medieval lyric is taken into account throughout (Arbor Aldea 2008, 2012a, 2012b, 2013). This metrical principle is particularly useful when determining whether to include or exclude elements that do not coincide with the general principles of the edition.