Troubadours

troubadours (trōō´bədôrz), aristocratic poet-musicians of S France (Provence) who flourished from the end of the 11th cent. through the 13th cent. Many troubadours were noblemen and crusader knights; some were kings, e.g., Richard I, Cœur de Lion; Thibaut IV, king of Navarre; and Alfonso X, king of Castile and León. Of the more than 400 known troubadours living between 1090 and 1292 the most famous are 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, and Guiraut Riquier. Of lower birth were the jongleurs who performed the troubadours' works and perhaps assisted in their composition. Troubadour lyrics were sung and accompanied by instruments that probably duplicated the melody (all the music preserved is monophonic). The poems were written in the southern dialect called langue d'oc. The most common forms were sirventes (political poems), plancs (dirges), albas (morning songs), pastorals, and Jeux-partis (disputes); the favorite subjects were courtly love, war, and nature. After the Albigensian Crusade (see Albigenses), in which many troubadours were caught up because their noble patrons were either sympathetic to the heretics or heretics themselves, Provençal culture declined. The influence of the widely traveling troubadours spread to central and N France, where their counterparts were the trouvères. In Germany they were imitated by the minnesingers. The tradition was also carried to Spain and Italy. In France annual festivals known as the Jeux Floraux were established in the 14th cent. to revive troubadour art.

See H. J. Chaytor, The Troubadours (1970); R. D. L. Jameson, Trails of the Troubadours (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Troubadours: Selected full-text books and articles

The Troubadours and England By H. J. Chaytor The University Press, 1923
The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours By William D. Paden University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989
Proverbs in Medieval Occitan Literature By Wendy Pfeffer University Press of Florida, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "At the Midpoint in Troubadour Time"
Spain to England: A Comparative Study of Arabic, European, and English Literature of the Middle Ages By Alice E. Lasater University Press of Mississippi, 1974
Librarian’s tip: "The Provencal Troubadours" begins on p. 44
Romantic Medievalism: History and the Romantic Literary Ideal By Elizabeth A. Fay Palgrave, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of troubadours in multiple chapters
Early Medieval Music, up to 1300 By Dom Anselm Hughes Geoffrey Cumberlege; Oxford University Press, 1954
Librarian’s tip: "Troubadours and Trouveres" begins on p. 224
Poetry in France: Metamorphoses of a Muse By Keith Aspley; Peter France Edinburgh University Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Troubadours, Trouveres, Peetes"
FREE! Early History of Singing By W. J. Henderson Longmans Green, 1921
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "The Troubadours, Descant and Mensural Music"
The Pit or the Pedestal? the Dichotomization of the Lady in Troubadour Lyric By Sigal, Gale The Romanic Review, Vol. 84, No. 2, March 1993
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