minstrel: Bards in period

mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU
Mon Apr 28 13:28:00 PDT 1997

On Mon, 28 Apr 1997, Ed Hopkins wrote:

> > 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

Actually, my understanding of th decree was that it was specifically FOR
amatuer bards (fools, and minstrels).  This is not to mean ameatuer as in
anyone who sand or performed.  This is to mean ameatuer in that you
perform full time, but are not employed by the powers that be, i.e.,
the various courts.  The decree did not affect those who were smiths or
cobblers, who liked to sing for others enjoyments.  But generally, those
who called themselves fools, bards, or minstrels thought themselves as
such full time.  This decree was against those full time performers who
were not employed in the courts and instead made a smaller living.  This
was mainly to prevent political slander.  I suspect the nobles wanted to
keep an eye on their minstrels, and so only allowed thier brand of

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