Sunday, February 8, 2009

Behold, the Courtly Troubadour

Valentine's Day is coming up so I thought I'd kick off the week by paying tribute to the Troubadour, for what's Valentine's Day without a love song?

If you're like me, you probably think of a troubadour as some love-struck, renaissance warbler. There's actually a bit more to it than that, as I've discovered and will now share with you. Troubadours actually had 'rules' that governed their writings and there were many genres of songs/poems that they wrote. For example there was the:

Alba: the song of a lover as dawn approaches, often with a watchman warning of the approach of a lady's jealous husband

Canso: a love song, usually consisting of five or six stanzas with an envoi - a short stanza expressing the poet's hope that the poem may bring them some benefit (the beloved's favors, increased patronage, and so on)

Comiat: a song renouncing a lover

Enuig: a poem expressing indignation or feelings of insult

Maldit: a song complaining about a lady's behavior and character

Pastorela: the tale of the love request of a knight to a shepherdess

Salut d'amor: a love letter addressed to another, not always one's lover

Serena: the song of a lover waiting impatiently for the evening (to consummate his love)

Torneyamen: a poetical debate between three or more persons, often with a judge (like a tournament)

The song/poem could be written with religious significance, or as a political attack. The maldit and the comiat were often connected as a maldit-comiat and they could be used to attack and renounce a figure other than a lady or a lover.

Troubadours often performed at court where songs could be used not only as entertainment but also as propaganda, praising a patron, mocking enemies, encouraging wars, teaching ethics and etiquette, and maintaining religious unity.

Of course the more romantic image of a troubadour is of a young man, such as the one above, singing below the balcony of his beloved. Now here's a fellow befitting a valentine!


Vee said...

Fascinating! I had no idea and feel as if I've had quite the lesson here this evening.

Significant Snail said...

Vee: I didn't start out with the intention of educating, but I found all this interesting info and so there you go!