From Jongleur to Minstrel: The Professionalization of Secular Musicians in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Paris
Daniels, Nathan A. (The Johns Hopkins University)
Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe: Graduate Student Essay (2011)
On Monday, September 14, 1321, the Feast of the Holy Cross, a group of thirty- seven jongleurs and jongleuresses living on and around the Rue aus Jugléeurs in Paris signed a charter addressed to Gille Haquin, the city provost, for the incorporation of a minstrels’ guild—the Corporation des ménétriers. The statutes of the charter outline the rules and regulations of the guild—similar to those of many other contemporary craft guilds in Paris. This action also marks a major pivot point in the history of urban minstrelsy. For centuries, the Church had derided jongleurs as agents of the devil because of their associations with profane music and obscene bodily movement that inspired men to lustful behaviors. Because they had no practical use to society, they were forbidden the sacraments and marginalized. The incorporation of a craft guild—a marker of utility, artisanship, and professionalism—stands in stark contrast to the theologians who said that jongleurs had no hope for salvation.