Love in the German Middle Ages

Literature around 1200
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.
We invite you to take a look at our main exhibit now, the manuscript Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SBB-PK), Ms.germ.qu. 719.

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