Minstrels, or traveling thespians, thrived throughout Europe in medieval times. The term
minstrel referred to a professional entertainer of any kind from the 12th century to the 17th
century. Minstrels were instrumentalist, but were also often jugglers, acrobats, and storytellers.
Although minstrels no longer exist, they played an important role in medieval history and, at one
time, could be found, in one form or another, throughout the entire continent of Europe.
Different countries had different names for minstrels. In Germany, they were called
minnesingers. In France, they were known as troubadours and joungleurs. The Scandinavian
minstrels were called skalds. The Irish called their minstrels bards, while the English minstrels
were referred to as scops.
Minstrels were primarily singers and musicians. These wandering performers were also
story tellers, jugglers, clowns, and tumblers. Often minstrels were an important part of
prominent house holds providing entertainment for the upper class of society.
who were not part of a noble's homestead, traveled from town to town providing entertainment
not only to noble classes but also to common village folk as well.
There were not many forms of entertainment, nor was there a means for people to learn
about news events. There was no television or radio in medieval times. Even books were very
scarce. Minstrels served to entertain the public. They made up songs, stories, and repeated
ballads and folk tales popular during this time. Traveling from town to town minstrels were also
a source of news. This would share information with the townspeople of the village. The
townspeople would share this news with the minstrels who would then share this news with the
townspeople in the next village in which they performed.
Each country in medieval Europe had their own type of minstrel. Each, while similar in
their general role...