Troubadours Illustration

Middle Ages for Kids


Troubadours, during the Middle Ages in Europe, were colorfully dressed musicians, who traveled from village to village. They sang songs and carried the news of the day with them on their travels. They were nearly always warmed welcomed by the village leaders and the village people. Troubadours were a little different from other musicians in that not all of their music or poetry was religious. Some of their music was unusual because they sang about real people, love stories, and heroes.

Troubadours performed for the nobles at feasts and for everyone at tournaments and festivals. Troubadours often had other men along with them to help entertain with dances and stunts. These men were called jugglers. Troubadours sang songs of great battles, and songs of beautiful ladies. They sang historical songs, some very long ones. The heroes always won in these songs. The bad guys always got their just punishment.

Troubadours idealized knights and their quests in song, and real knights hearing their music seemed to want to be like the heroes of the music. This promoted the rise of chivalry and manners.

Since the troubadours' music was not religious it was not written down, so most of their music has been lost forever. But a couple of the songs they sang have made it through time, and were written down after being sung or told orally for hundreds of years. One of those is the epic poem, Beowulf. Beowulf was spoken by some, and sung by others. Beowulf is the story of a hero who fights and defeats a huge monster. The other is the Song of Roland.

As the story goes, Roland was a troubadour. He was the nephew of the famous Charlemagne, king of the Franks (and Holy Roman Emperor.) During medieval times, Charlemagne was a great and famous king. There were many stories and legends about Charlemagne and some of the knights who followed him. One of the most famous stories about Charlemagne and his Paladins was the Song of Roland. Roland was a Paladin who went to fight the Muslims. Roland and a few other knights and soldiers were quickly surrounded by a Muslim army. Roland had a magic horn that would call the other Paladins to help him. He blew and blew the horn, but there were no knights close enough to help. Roland and his band were wiped out. But the King and other warriors had heard the horn and were rushing to help. When they got there they found the bodies of Roland and his band. King Charlemagne was so upset that he asked the gods to help him. Then Charlemagne and the other knights and the rest of the army found the Muslim army and in a great battle defeated them.

All troubadours, forever after, carried a musical horn with them, as a reminder of Roland, the famous troubadour.

Music in the Middle Ages

Chivalry and Troubadours


Interactive Quiz about the Middle Ages (with answers)