Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SBB-PK), Ms.germ.qu. 719 Our main exhibit is a Berlin manuscript, ms.germ.qu. 719, a collection of Minnereden, whose parts were written around 1470. These individual parts were bound together to form a book at … Continue reading →
Since the second half of the 13th century, Minnesang has been compiled in large collections. The most famous collection in the German Middle Ages is the so called Codex Manesse. Like in the other collections of love poetry, the songs … Continue reading →
Many Minnereden are narratives (even if their narrative content is not very interesting to modern readers), they often begin with a first person narrator, an unspecified ‚I‘ taking a walk into the beautiful woods, and chancing upon a knight or a lady who turn out to be allegorical figures in pursuit of love (or Love in pursuit of the ideal lover).
While we have good knowledge of Minnesang, the Minnereden are well-known only in their major examples, there are countless Minnereden that have not been dealt with in research. But while they do not fascinate today, they captured the imagination of noblemen around 1500 – and they were collector‘s items.
Here you can find an example, including a short text excerpt with original text and translation.
Love has always been a noble hobby: The first troubadours, the first Minnesänger were noblemen. They produced creative works using the theme of love as a form of musical and textual discourse (not only about love, but also about other things like social hierarchy, social advancement or the individual). It was a noble hobby to perform (?), and also a noble hobby to collect songs and make them into books.
A Change in Taste
In German Literature, Minnesang, while still being transmitted, and occasionally performed and renewed, becomes old-fashioned in the 14th century. But love as a discursive field remains. Instead of songs, noblemen and writers now turn to shortish (or sometimes longish) texts written either in complex stanzaic forms or in rhymed couplets. And many of them (although by no means all) make extensive use of allegory (?). Research calls them – in lieu of a better name – Minnereden, texts about love.
Collecting Minnereden in Manuscripts
Other than the very costly Codex Manesse transmitting Minnesang, most Minnereden manuscripts are rather unassuming affairs (although we have spectacular exceptions). But often they tell us important things about the literary life they were part of.