License: Public Domain

Troubadours (or female trobaritz) were musicians. Although they sometimes traveled, minstrels were the true traveling musicians of the time.

Troubadours were most often employed entertainers in royal courts playing mainly for royalty and nobility. They were talented poets who wrote their own lyrics and set them to music. Not only did they sing romantic verses of chivalry and “courtly love,” they also brought stories of distant places and events. The news might be old news by the time it arrived, but it was news nonetheless. In fact, many troubadours were nobles and knights who sang of their heroic deeds in the Crusades.

A troubadour may have played a lute, a gittern, a psaltery, a harp, a flute, or other stringed instruments, many resembling what we know as guitars, fiddles, or mandolins.

Minstrels, sometimes known as gleemen, ranked below troubadours and usually traveled among villages singing songs of love, epic tales of saints, off-color tavern songs, and ballads of heroic deeds. Minstrels also played at weddings and feasts for royals and lords. They also appeared regularly at fairs and markets. The most common instrument played by a minstrel was a lute or a harp.

License: Public Domain



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