Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Judith M. Davis (Goshen College)
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Although the word “troubadour” has become nearly synonymous with “singer”, scholarly opinion varies regarding the etymology of the word itself. Romanists hold that the noun derives from


, the Occitan verb for “to compose, invent, devise” or from the Vulgar Latin


“to say with tropes” or


, “composer of tropes” (Topsfield). Arabists, on the other hand, cite the verb


, “to sing” as the more probable source (Menocal). The question of etymologyas well as the importance of influences from Latin and Arabic, Celtic and liturgical songremain open to discussion.

The troubadours were composers of songs or poems who flourished from about 1100 to about 1300. Their literary activity covered a wide area, extending across France south of the Garonne

2944 words

Citation: M. Davis, Judith. "Troubadours". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 August 2005 [, accessed 26 May 2024.]

1310 Troubadours 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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