The End of Europe's Middle Ages

The Troubadours and Trouvères

The first Troubadour that is known by name is Guillaume IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071-1127). His works are typically ribald and full of puns and jests but his sentimental verses foretell the deeply artistic and eloquent art of later Troubadour masters, such as Bernart de Ventadour (d.1194/5). In less than half a century, the Troubadour influence had spread north to the Loire and beyond. Poetry in the Troubadour style was written by many, even the king of England, Richard I the Lion-Hearted (1157-1199), put quill to parchment to express the sentiments of chivalry. In music, Adam de la Halle (c.1240-1287) stood out in the period, writing numerous monodies, roundels, and motets. He is best remembered for his work in the dramatic style and his Le Jeu de Robin et Marion is considered the first French opira-comique. A pastoral with very simple airs that were likely already popular, the piece was composed for the court of Charles of Anjou, probably in 1280. Troubadour music declined during the thirteenth century as the courts of southern France were destroyed in the course of the Albigensian Crusade.

  Play music sample de la Halle - "Jeu de Robin et Marion"
Click on musical notes for sound file and on link ofr Volume of file may have to be manually adjusted on console.

Music Forms of Troubadours and Jongleurs

While the dances of the jongleurs were seldom written down, many of the songs of the Troubadours survive and they can be categorised by subject: the albe, or aube, a morning song, often about the separation of lovers at dawn; the serena, an evening song; the canso, a stanza song; the sirventès a political or satirical canso; the planh, or plainte, a complaint, funeral lament or dirge; the enueg, or ennui, an attack on the misfortunes of life; and two additional styles in the form of debates or dialogues - the tenso, about politics or morality, and the joc parti, or jeu-parti, about love. The chansons de toile (spinning songs), the pastourelles and many of the pious songs which extolled the cult of the Virgin Mary in the thirteenth century also fall into the Troubadour style.

  Paly music sample Anonymous - "Lamento di Tristana"