Frederick Second, last Holy Roman Emperor and celebrated patron of arts and letters, established his court at Palermo, about the year 1230 A.D. Of the many Sicilian poets who gathered round him, the foremost was Giacomo da Lentino. This author invented a new and very important kind of poetry.
The circumstances appear to have been as follows: In medieval Sicily a common form of popular verse was the strambotto. Poetry of this kind never was set down in writing but was learned by heart and was sung or recited by professional minstrels for the enjoyment of the common people. The poems usually were about love. They were eight lines in length and were divided into groups of two lines each. Divisions of thought often agreed with one or more of these groups and very frequently occurred at the end of the fourth line. The strambotto had two rhymes, which kept alternating throughout the poem. We may represent their pattern by the letters ab, ab, ab, ab. Often a few extra lines were added as a sequel.
Giacomo da Lentino made the popular strambotto a basis for his new, artistic form of poetry. He wrote always as if he were presenting his own ideas, and almost always he wrote about love. The tone of his