Monday, March 29, 2010


Gracious the lady is, and débonnaire
For her beauty many look at her,

And in her heart is loyal love astir

Oh God, oh God, the dawn! it comes so soon!

~ from The Night's Dark Shade

Above is a portion of the "dawn song" which Sir Martin sang at Raphaëlle's wedding in The Night's Dark Shade. While Sir Martin composed and sang songs, he did not make a living at it as did the professional troubadours. (A female troubadour was called a trobairitz.) According to Virtual Medieval Church:

Troubadours were poet-musicians who emerged in the south of France in the 12th and 13th centuries. They composed their lyric verse in the language known as Provençal (langue d’oc). Poitiers seems to have been the first major center of troubadours. However, as time went by troubadour song extended to such places as Bordeaux, the north of Italy, and Catalonia. These poet-musicians combined their poetry and music in the service of courtly love. In the judgment of the troubadour, courtly love or fine amour was the source of all true virtue and nobility. In Courtly Culture: Literature and Society in the High Middle Ages, Joachim Bumke writes that:

[C]ourtly love could be unrequited love or it could culminate in sensual fulfillment. Love could be directed at a lady of high nobility or at a woman of more humble descent. If the chosen lady was married, courtly love was adulterous in nature. … Courtly love frequently demanded lengthy service by the man, yet sometimes it was quickly consummated without service. (361)
It is the element of service that becomes most important when medieval religious writers begin to adapt or rehabilitate courtly love in terms of the Church and religious love of God. For example, St. Francis of Assisi in his service of the poor solemnized a marriage with Our Lady Poverty. The troubadours used different verse forms to suit a variety of moods. The pastourelle was a song about an amorous encounter between a knight and a shepherdess. The tenso was the verse form employed to debate over questions of love. The alba was a dawn song about the nightingale that warned lovers of the approaching day. The escondig was the form used as a lover’s apologia, while the formal love song was known as the canzone, canso, or chanso.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was responsible for the growth of courtly culture and for bringing the troubadours to England. Her son, Richard the Lion-hearted, was counted among the most famous troubadours, as were other knights and kings. Share


Julygirl said...

From that all the way to "You Ain't Nothing But A Houndog"!

Julygirl said...

He was also the longest living of the 'Signers'. It is said that while in his 90's he was known to go galloping off on his horse to survey his land.

Julygirl said...

The previous comment was meant for the Charles Carroll post.