Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Shopping Discounts



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
WILLIAM I. TO RICHAKD I.                                               9
After the Conquest, the first notice we have relating to the Minstrels is the founding of the Priory and Hospital of St. Bartholemew,8 in Smithfield, by Royer, or Raherus, the King's Minstrel, in the the third year of King Henry I., a.d. 1102. Henry's conduct to a luckless Norman minstrel who fell into his power, tells how keenly the minstrel's sarcasms were felt, as well as the ferocity of Henry's revenge. " Luke de Barre," said the king, " has never done me homage, but he has fought against me. He has composed facetiously indecent songs upon me; he has sung them openly to my prejudice, and often raised the horse-laughs of my malig­nant enemies against me." Henry then ordered his eyes to be pulled out. The wretched minstrel rushed from his tormentors, and dashed his brains against the wall.b
In the reign of King Henry H., Galfrid or Jeffrey, a harper, received in 1180 an annuity from the Abbey of Hide, near Winchester; and as every harper was expected to sing,c we cannot doubt that this reward was bestowed for his music and his songs, which, as Percy says, if they were for the solace of the monks there, we may conclude would be in the English language. The more rigid monks, however, both here and abroad, were greatly offended at the honours and rewards lavished on Minstrels. John of Salisbury, who lived in this reign, thus declaims against the extravagant favour shown to them: " For you do not, like the fools of this age, pour out rewards to Minstrels (Histriones et Mimosd) and monsters of that sort, for the ransom of your fame, and the enlargement of your name." —(Epist. 247.)
" Minstrels and Poets abounded under Henry's patronage: they spread the love of poetry and literature among. his barons and people, and the influence of the royal taste soon became visible in the improved education of the great, in the increasing number of the studious, and in the multiplicity of authors, who wrote during his reign and the next."—Sharon Turner's Hist. Eng.
Li the reign of Richard I. (1189.) minstrelsy flourished with peculiar splendour. His romantic temper, and moreover his own proficiency in the art, led him to be not only the patron of chivalry, but also of those who celebrated its exploits. Some of his poems are still extant. The romantic release of this king from the castle of Durrenstein, on the Danube, by the stratagem and fidelity of his Min­strel Blondel, is a story so well known, that it is needless to repeat it here.6
Another circumstance which proves how easily Minstrels could always gain admittance even into enemies' camps and prisons, occurred in this reign. The young heiress of D'Evreux, Earl of Salisbury, " was carried abroad, and secreted
* Vide the Monasiicon, torn. ii. pp. 166-67, for a curious history of this priory and its founder. Also Store's Sur~ vey. In the Pleasaunt Ilistory of Thomas of Reading, 4to. 1662, he is likewise mentioned. His monument, in good preservation, may yet he seen in the parish church of St. Bartholomew, in Smithfleld, London.
b Quoted from Ordericus Vitalis. Hist. Eccles. in Sharon Turner's Hist. England.
c So in Horn-Child, K. Allof orders his steward, Althebrus to "teche him of harpe and song." And Chaucer, in his description of the Limitour or Mendicant Friar, speaks of harping as inseparable from singing—"in his harping, when that he had sung." Also in 1481, see
Lord Howard's agreement with William Wastell, Harper of London, to teach ahoy named Colet" to harp and to sing." ' A Histrio, Mimus, Joculator, and Ministrallus, are all nearly equivalent terms for Minstrels in Medieval Latin. " Incepit more Histrionlco, fabulas dicere, et plerumque cantare." "Super quo Histriones cantabant, sicut modo cantatur de Rolando et Oliverio." "Dat sex Mimis Domini Clynton, caniantibus, cttharisantibus, Inden­tions," &c. 4 s. Geoifrey of Monmouth uses Joculator as equivalent to Cilharisla, in one place, and to Cantor in another. See Notes to Percy's Essay.
• The best authority for this story, which has frequently been doubted, is the Chronlque de Rains, written in the