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1. any of a class of lyric poets who flourished principally in Provence and N Italy from the 11th to the 13th centuries, writing chiefly on courtly love in complex metric form
2. a singer



a medieval Provençal poet-singer and songwriter; the troubadours flourished from the 11th to 13th centuries in southern France. About 500 troubadours are known, most of them knights or feudal lords, such as William IX, duke of Aquitaine. A few, however, were from the townspeople, for example, Folquet of Marseille, a merchant’s son, and Peire Vidal, the son of a furrier.

The poetry of the troubadours celebrated the joy of life and generally concerned the cult of the “fair lady, ” courtly love, or military exploits (many troubadours, such as William IX, count of Poitiers, had fought in the Crusades). Social and political themes may also be found, as in the work of Bertrán de Born. The lyrics of the troubadours are distinguished by their refinement, complexity of verse form, and musicality; they influenced the trouvères and the German minnesingers. A troubadour often performed with a minstrel, who accompanied him on a musical instrument.

G. Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore is based on the drama of the same name by A. Garcia Gutierrez. H. Heine, E. Rostand, L. Aragon, and T. S. Eliot were all influenced by the poetry of the troubadours, and themes from troubadour poetry appear in A. Blok’s The Rose and the Cross (1913). Many of the troubadours’ compositions have been published in the collection The Musical Heritage of the Troubadours. (See alsoPROVENÇAL LITERATURE.)


Ivanov, K. A. Trubadury, truvery i minnezingery, 2nd ed. Petrograd, 1915.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 80–93.
Lommatzsch, E. Leben und Lieder der provenzalischen Troubadours, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1957–59.
Gennrich, F. Der musicalische Nachlass der Troubadours, vols. 1–2. Darmstadt, 1958–60.


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