minstrel: Bards in period

Ed Hopkins Ed.Hopkins at MCI.Com
Mon Apr 28 10:41:00 PDT 1997

> Macbeth (1044-1057) is said to have made the following decree:
> "Fools, minstrels, bards, and all such idle people, unless they
> be especially licensed by the king, shall be compelled to seek
> some craft to earn their living.  If they refuse, they shall be
> drawn like horses in the plough and harness."

At first glance, this sems to show that Macbeth was not one to
suffer fools gladly, but a careful rereading shows that the punishment
was just for unlicensed professional fools.  A passage from modern
mundane law about penalties for driving, say, or practicing medicine,
without a license, would not tell a future anachronist about how
drivers or doctors are regarded in our times.  Also, note that
amature bards and minstrels are specifically left out of this
decree.  It reminds me of the modern Olympic games, which (until
recently) only allowed amatuer athletes.

-- Alfredo

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