The Minstrel

Essay by Matt4Elementary School, 4th grade February 1997

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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.

Those minstrels

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...