The Guild of the Minstrels
The reputation of the wandering minstrels declined and “rude rustics and artificers” were seen as pretending to be minstrels and neglecting their business, to go about the country, levying heavy exactions on the lieges. In 1469 a charter of King Edward IV ordered all minstrels to join a guild. It was called the Guild of Royal Minstrels. Medieval Minstrels were required to either join the guild or to stop being minstrels.
The Medieval Minstrels and Courtly Love Poems and Songs
The ideals of Courtly love was publicised in the poems, ballads, writings and literary works of various Medieval authors and sung by wandering minstrels. Geoffrey Chaucer, the most famous Medieval author of the times, wrote stories about courtly love in his book called the Canterbury Tales. The wandering minstrels sang ballads about courtly love and were expected to memorize the words of long poems describing the valour and the Code of chivalry followed by the Medieval knights. The Medieval Minstrels sang about the Dark Age myths of Arthurian Legends featuring King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. The minstrels of the Middle Ages therefore strengthened the idea of a Knights Code of Chivalry and Courtly Love.
The Image of the Medieval Minstrels
The image of the Medieval Minstrel is a strong one. Medieval Minstrels were first and foremost entertainers and are remembered for their lasting image wearing bright multi-colored costumes riding on a costumed horse from castle to castle, singing as he went with a lutes thrown across his back. The most famous fictional English minstrel is Alan-a-Dale who was a wandering minstrel who became a member of the band of outlaws, the 'merry men', led by Robin Hood. The story of the minstrel Alan-a-Dale reflects the type of songs sung by real minstrels. The story tells of Robin encountering a broken-hearted Alan-a-Dale. Alan's true love Ellen was being forced to marry a cruel, old knight. Disguised as a minstrel, Robin interrupts the wedding and rescues Ellen. Alan-a-Dale and Ellen were married by Friar Tuck.