There were two types of Medieval Musicians - the Minstrels and the Troubadours. A troubadour was originally a travelling musician. The early Troubadours travelled from one village to the next and many also travelled abroad.
Some travelled to the major cities of Europe whilst other troubadours travelled to the Holy Land accompanying the people who went on Crusade. The travelling of the early troubadours allowed them to spread the latest news. The themes of the songs sung by the Troubadours mainly dealt with chivalry and courtly love - romantic ballads. The troubadour would play for royalty nobles. The themes of the songs sung by the Troubadours also dealt with chivalry and courtly love but they also told stories of far lands and historical events.
Troubadours become the elite
The role of the troubadours changed to part of an elite society of royalty and nobles. These elite Troubadours originated as aristocratic poet and musicians of Provence, France. Travel in the Middle Ages, prompted by the Crusades, led to a new and unprecedented interest in beautiful objects, elegant manners, poetry and music. Many troubadours were nobles and knights who had joined the Crusades. The aristocratic troubadours were poets who originated in the south of France where they wrote the lyrics in Provencal (langue d'oc). The troubadours of the north of France wrote in French (langue d'oil)and were called called trouvères. The poetry of the troubadours and the trouvères was invariably linked with music. These elite troubadours even included nobility such as the King of Navarre, the King of Spain and King Richard the Lionheart of England. Richard the Lionheart was the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine who was one of the greatest patrons of Music and the Troubadours of the Middle Ages.
Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Troubadours
Eleanor of Aquitaine was the granddaughter of William IX of Aquitaine. Her grandfather was the first influential patron of the aristocratic music of the troubadours. Her father was William X continued to patronize the music and poetry of the troubadours. It was only natural that Eleanor of Aquitaine would continue in this tradition. Eleanor of Aquitaine married King Henry II on 18 May 1152. She encouraged the Troubadours and received them at the English court. The tradition and arts of the Troubadours soon became part of the English culture and her son, Richard the Lionheart became one of these aristocratic troubadours and his story has included the legend of Blondel.
The elite troubadours included many famous and influential men of the Middle Ages. The most famous troubadours included:
- King Richard I of England (the Lionheart)
- King Thibaut IV of Navarre
- King Alfonso X of Castile and León
- Jaufré Rudel de Blaia
- Bernart de Ventadorn
- Peire Vidal
- Raimbaut de Vaqueiras
- Folquet de Marseille (archbishop of Toulouse)
- Bertrand de Born
- Arnaut Daniel
- Gaucelm Faidit
- Raimon de Miraval
- Arnaut de Mareuil
- Guiraut Riquier.
The jongleurs were often collaborators or assistants of troubadours or trouveres. Jongleurs gained a reputation of itinerant entertainers of the Middle Ages in France and Norman England. Their repertoire included extravagant skills in dancing, conjuring, acrobatics, and juggling. The Jongleurs also played a part in singing, and storytelling. Many were skilled in playing musical instruments, although their skills were not greatly recognised or rewarded.
The Troubadours and Courtly Love
The ideals of courtly love was publicised in the poems, ballads, writings and literary works of various authors of the Middle Ages and sung by Troubadours. Geoffrey Chaucer, the most famous author of the Middle Ages, wrote stories about courtly love in the Canterbury Tales. The Troubadours of the Middle Ages sang ballads about courtly love and were expected to memorize the words of long poems describing the valour and the code of chivalry followed by the Medieval knights. The Troubadours sang about the Dark Age myths of Arthurian Legends featuring King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The Troubadours of the Middle Ages therefore strengthened the idea of a Knights Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love.
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