Women in Music | Female Minstrels | Medieval Era | Classical
There are specific words for female minstrels in many medieval languages, such as jougleresse (Provençal), ménestrelle (Old French) and gliewméden (Middle English). The Provençal word trobairitz was used for female troubadours. Over 20 of these women are known by name, including Azalais de Porcairages (b. 1140) from Montpellier, Bieiris de Romans (fl. early 13th century); Dame Castelloza (b. c. 1200), a noblewoman from the Auvergne whose lyrics are full of misery; and Beatriz de Dia (fl. late 12th century). Beatriz de Dia is the only trobairitz whose music survives: her defiant song ‘A Chantar m’er de so qu’eu no volria’ (‘I Must Sing of That Which I Would Rather Not’) has been preserved alongside its text.
There were also female trouvères. Works survive with both music and text by Maroie de Dregnau of Lille (fl. 13th century) and Blanche of Castile (1188–1252), wife of Louis VIII of France. The popular trouvère Marie de France (fl. 1160–1215), originally from Normandy, was a member of the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. She wrote a famous collection of lais (short narrative poems), which she may have performed to her own harp accompaniment.
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