According to his biography by Miguel de la Tor, Peire came from Velay, the son of a knight and a lady. He studied at the foremost cathedral school in Puy before becoming a song writer. He visited the courts of kings and barons, and had a jongleur to sing with him.
Peire Cardenal is best known for his pious works. Those songs which lambasted hypocritical clerics won him many enemies.