The New Student's Reference Work/Minnesinger
Minnesinger (min′nē-sĭng-ẽr), German lyric poets who flourished from the middle of the 11th to the close of the 13th century. They, however, not only wrote the poetry but composed the music for their love songs. They sang mostly of love, as the German word minne indicates, and often roamed from castle to castle and from court to court like the troubadours, reciting or singing their songs. The chief exponents of this feudal verse are Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. The songs of 160 of these singers are preserved. After the decline of their art the meistersinger (master-singers) took their place. Unlike the minnesinger, who were of the knightly or courtier class, the meistersinger were men of the artisan class, and formed themselves into guilds and wrote poems as they plied their tasks. Though there is little real poetry in the songs of the meistersinger, they were popular for three centuries, the last guild being dissolved in 1830.