The Entertainers: Minstrels and Jesters
Minstrels provided a form of entertainment to both the upper and
peasant classes of the middle ages. They sang and played songs telling of great
battles, honor and chivalry, myths like the story of King Arthur, and of course,
love. Minstrels played many different instruments. Usually they played a harp or a
flute. Sometimes they could also play bagpipes, a trumpet, or a guitar. Most
traveled all around the country, wandering where they pleased. However,
some also permanently stayed with a certain person, like a king. The traveling
minstrel usually traveled primarily to a castle or manor. He would perform there and
would expect to be fed, and sometimes given gifts of clothes. He would also generally
pay the lord so that he could get permission to perform for the local villagers. The
songs they sang while in the castle or manor's walls were very different from those
performed outside. Inside they often sang of knights' honor, love, and great battles.
Also, these songs were often performed in French, while songs outside were sung in
Outside the walls, they sang of stories of Robin Hood and satires of social station
A medieval harp.
Jesters enjoyed a more sedentary life than a minstrel. While
minstrels often traveled all over the country, jesters usually stayed in the same
place, serving the same lord. A jester's job was simple: Entertain his master and
make him laugh. He
was a medieval comedian, of sorts. He wore funny clothes with bells and bright
colors. He usually also performed tricks like juggling, acrobatic stunts, and other
comedic feats. He also was expected to be quite witty with words, making funny puns
and twisting words around.
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