Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Minnesingers
MINNESINGERS, a class of German lyric poets of the 12th and 13th centuries, so called from love being the chief theme of their verse. They consisted almost exclusively of men of aristocratic birth, the most prominent names being Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Strassburg, Hartmann von der Aue, and Walther von der Vogelweide. They sang their lyrics to the accompaniment of the viol, generally in honor of the high-born dames. The songs, chiefly in the Swabian dialect, were seldom written down by their authors, and the manuscripts which contain their verse are mostly the result of oral traditions and repetitions. This remarkable poetical movement gradually merged into that other class of German lyric poets called Meistersingers (q. v.).