Troubadours Cultural Influence

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Troubadours Cultural Influence

July 29, 2021 Michigan 0

A composer and a performer of Occitan lyric poetry during the Middle Ages from about 1100 to 1350 was called a troubadour. The word troubadour is of masculine roots so a female troubadour would have been called a trobairitz.

Troubadours, those who composed elegant love songs (as opposed to people who just sang others’ songs), were especially common in southern France, where they began.  A lot of their songs were addressed to powerful ladies, but often written in code, so that a lady whom the troubadour admired might be addressed as “She who says No.”  In practice, people might well guess who was meant, but the lady could either deny it or claim it as she preferred.

Did you know Michigan has an official Troubadour?

Troubadour tradition began in the late 11th century in Occitania, and then quickly spread to Italy and Spain with related movements springing up throughout Europe.  Dante Alighieri in his De vulgari eloquentia defined the troubadour lyric as fictio rethorica musicaque poita: rhetorical, musical and poetical fiction. 

The lyrics of the troubadour music mainly dealt with themes of chivalry and courtly love. Most of them were metaphysical, intellectual, and formulaic. Many were also humorous or vulgar satires. 

Around the turn of the 13th century with a mid-century resurgence, the art of the troubadours declined and then eventually died out as it entered the 14th century and the time of the Black Death (1348).  The Renaissance period followed with classical music spanning from approximately 1400 to 1600 and then followed by the Baroque period.

What was the troubadour’s relationship to the minstrels?

Originally troubadours sang their poems, later they were accompanied by jongleurs who played musical instruments. The musical instruments the jongleurs played were the fiddle and the lute. The subject of their songs were based on topics such as love, politics, religion, war, and death.

A minstrel was typically a medieval European entertainer, which was originally described as any type of entertainer to include musicians, jugglers, acrobats, singers or fools (today known as comedians). Troubadours were the entertainers of the noble courts of the High Middle Ages, bringing not just poetry and song, but also acting and occasionally juggling to the courts. Today, we might have added caricature artists to that list had the art form not wandered more down the musical path instead of expanding its artistic expressions. 

The minstrels, those who made a living wandering around singing songs they picked up everywhere, were essentially indistinguishable from jongleurs, wandering entertainers who were welcomed to town or court with both keen enjoyment and sharp suspicion.  Women often were part of a jongleur troupe.

The Medieval Minstrels that were replaced by the Troubadours, started to move around, thus earning the name ‘Wandering Minstrels’. They were not as refined or poetic as the Troubadour and their role often required many different styles of entertainment skills due the expectations of their paying audiences.

Secular Music

Back in those days, music for worship was mostly written down, and the music that was outside of worship was not. Music historians assume that most of the secular music in the early Middle Ages was improvised however, as the era progressed, a tradition of “courtly” music developed.

Kings and nobles of the day wanted the best entertainment, of course but they also wanted their courts to be known as places of culture. This expectation led to the composition of poetry and songs that was performed in many cases by members of the court themselves rather than by minstrels. The educated musicians had different names depending on the region where they lived and worked, but it is most commonly associated with the name troubadour.

One of the most famous fictional minstrel is Alan-a-Dale who was a wandering minstrel that became a member of the band of outlaws, also known as the ‘merry men’ who were led by the infamous Robin Hood. The story of this minstrel reflects the exact type of songs sung by real minstrels.

What are the examples of modern art?

  1. Neo-Impressionism
  2. Symbolism 
  3. Fauvism
  4. Cubism 
  5. Futurism 
  6. Expressionism 
  7. Suprematism
  8. Constructivism 
  9. Metaphysical painting 
  10. De Stijl 
  11. Dada
  12. Surrealism 
  13. Social Realism
  14. Abstract Expressionism 
  15. Pop art 
  16. Op art 
  17. Minimalism 
  18. Neo-Expressionism

What are the example of modern medium of art?

  • Sculptures in the medium of bronze or marble 
  • Painting in the medium of oil paint on canvas
  • Watercolour on paper
  • Drawings in the medium of pencil or crayon (like caricatures)
  • Print in the medium of etching or lithography

How the troubadours cultural influence is deepened through the understanding of how the aesthetic and linguistic code of the troubadours helped form the mindset of courtly society. In doing so, an intellectual and stylistic background in which the literary culture of Europe is deeply rooted and established.

Courtly love and chivalry

Chivalry was an eccentric practice of war in medieval Europe and was part of the courtly society attributed to the troubadour movement.  The feudal knight was expected to be devout, honest, selfless, just, brave, honorable, obedient, kind, charitable, generous, and kind to women. It had very complex rituals and rules.  The “rules” for this game are roughly:

  1. Worship of the chosen lady
  2. Declaration of passionate devotion
  3. Virtuous rejection by the lady
  4. Renewed wooing with oaths of eternal fealty
  5. Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire 
  6. Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady’s heart
  7. Consummation of the secret love
  8. Endless adventures and subterfuges also known as schemes or deceptive motives
  9. Tragic endings

Courtly Love

  1. Franco-German ideal of Holy Roman Empire with Charlemagne as a saint
  2. Nourished by 
  1. Celtic inspiration
  2. Provençal eroticism 
  3. Islamic poetry
  1. Theme: initiation, dedication, metamorphosis, and absorption into a higher and fuller life
  2. Love is a cue for chivalric adventure, and chivalry is a means of deserving love”

Roots of chivalry and the code of chivalry

Both come from the Asian martial arts’ traditions. Both are practices intended on getting soldiers from a bygone era ready for battle.  The code of honor that drew from the Asian traditions is very similar to the code of chivalry in its authentic and historical form as a martial code. Both codes really do the job of bringing together some elements of the human character that may seem contrary such as courage with meekness and humility, a sense of fierce competitiveness with a sense of compassion and a responsibility to help other people.  Chivalry makes an awareness of tempering the bravery, the ferocity, the competitiveness with humility. At home, in the dining hall amongst the civilized company, a warrior is expected to be kind and gentle and courteous to other people.  Although practices in chivalry are rooted in Asian traditions, the Troubadors cultural impact on society in this area was, in the end, for the greater good. Chivalry is alive and well today, maybe not in the way it was in the dark ages with the troubadors, but in a way today, that works for all.