Thomasin von Zirclaere, also called Thomasîn von Zerclaere or Tommasino Di Cerclaria (c. 1186 – c. 1235) was an Italian Middle High German lyric poet. The epic poem Der Wälsche Gast (original: Der welhische gast, "The Romance stranger") is the only preserved work by him.
Middle High German is the term for the form of German spoken in the High Middle Ages. It is conventionally dated between 1050 and 1350, developing from Old High German and into Early New High German. High German is defined as those varieties of German which were affected by the Second Sound Shift; the Middle Low German and Middle Dutch languages spoken to the North and North West, which did not participate in this sound change, are not part of MHG.
The Romance languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries and that form a subgroup of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.
Thomasin's ancestry remains obscure. The noble Cerclaria dynasty from Cividale was among the ministeriales in the Patria del Friuli (Patriarchate of Aquileia), an ecclesiastical Imperial State in Italy. From about 1206 he was a canon of the cathedral chapter under Patriarch Wolfger von Erla, the former Bishop of Passau, who had already been a patron of Walther von der Vogelweide and Albrecht von Johansdorf.
Cividale del Friuli is a town and comune in the Province of Udine, part of the North-Italian Friuli-Venezia Giulia regione. The town 135 metres (443 ft) above sea-level in the foothills of the eastern Alps, 15 kilometres (9 mi) by rail from the city of Udine and close to the Slovenian border. It is situated on the river Natisone, which forms a picturesque ravine here. Formerly an important regional power, it is today a quiet, small town that attracts tourists thanks to its medieval center.
Ministerialis were people raised up from serfdom to be placed in positions of power and responsibility. In the Holy Roman Empire, in the High Middle Ages, the word and its German translations, Ministeriale(n) and Dienstmann, came to describe those unfree nobles who made up a large majority of what could be described as the German knighthood during that time. What began as an irregular arrangement of workers with a wide variety of duties and restrictions rose in status and wealth to become the power brokers of an empire. The ministeriales were not legally free people, but held social rank. Legally, their liege lord determined whom they could or could not marry, and they were not able to transfer their lords' properties to heirs or spouses. They were, however, considered members of the nobility since that was a social designation, not a legal one. Ministeriales were trained knights, held military responsibilities and surrounded themselves with the trappings of knighthood, and so were accepted as noblemen. Both women and men held the ministerial status, and the laws on ministeriales made no distinction between the sexes in how they were treated.
The Patria del Friuli was the territory under the temporal rule of the Patriarch of Aquileia and one of the ecclesiastical states of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1420, the Republic of Venice acquired it, but it continued to be ruled for some time under its own laws and customs.
The title wälsch/welsch ( walhaz ) refers to himself, as his mother tongue was Italian (or Friulian) and he apologizes in advance for any linguistic inadequacies. The poem has about 14,750 lines and is written in the Middle High German language with distinct Bavarian elements. According to Thomasin's own accounts he put it down within ten months in 1215/16. The poem became exceptionally popular and is rendered by 24 preserved medieval illuminated manuscripts. It seems that the miniature illustrations were also conceived by Thomasin himself.
*Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Western Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning "French"; Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance"; New High German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance speakers; Dutch Waals "Walloon"; Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British". The form of these words imply that they are descended from a Proto-Germanic form *walhiska-. It is attested in the Roman Iron Age from an inscription on one of the Tjurkö bracteates, where walhakurne "Roman/Gallic grain" is apparently a kenning for "gold".
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.
Friulian or Friulan is a Romance language belonging to the Rhaeto-Romance family, spoken in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy. Friulian has around 600,000 speakers, the vast majority of whom also speak Italian. It is sometimes called Eastern Ladin since it shares the same roots as Ladin, but, over the centuries, it has diverged under the influence of surrounding languages, including German, Italian, Venetian, and Slovene. Documents in Friulian are attested from the 11th century and poetry and literature date as far back as 1300. By the 20th century, there was a revival of interest in the language that has continued to this day.
The text is aimed at young nobles lecturing on courtesy, courtly love ( minne ), and chivalry, based on contemporary scholastic works on ethics, philosophy, and the liberal arts. The adoption of (Bavarian) Middle High German by a non-native speaker is a valuable contemporary source for linguistic researchers.
Courtesy is gentle politeness and courtly manners. In the Middle Ages in Europe, the behaviour expected of the nobility was compiled in courtesy books.
Courtly love was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their "courtly love". This kind of love is originally a literary fiction created for the entertainment of the nobility, but as time passed, these ideas about love changed and attracted a larger audience. In the high Middle Ages, a "game of love" developed around these ideas as a set of social practices. "Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice.
Minnesang was a tradition of lyric- and song-writing in Germany that flourished in the Middle High German period. This period of medieval German literature began in the 12th century and continued into the 14th. People who wrote and performed Minnesang were known as Minnesänger, and a single song was called a Minnelied.
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Swiss German is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and in some Alpine communities in Northern Italy bordering Switzerland. Occasionally, the Alemannic dialects spoken in other countries are grouped together with Swiss German as well, especially the dialects of Liechtenstein and Austrian Vorarlberg, which are closely associated to Switzerland's.
Bion of Smyrna was a Greek bucolic poet.
Carmina Burana is a manuscript of 254 poems and dramatic texts mostly from the 11th or 12th century, although some are from the 13th century. The pieces are mostly bawdy, irreverent, and satirical. They were written principally in Medieval Latin, a few in Middle High German, and old Arpitan. Some are macaronic, a mixture of Latin and German or French vernacular.
Walther von der Vogelweide was a Minnesänger, who composed and performed love-songs and political songs ("Sprüche") in Middle High German. Walther has been described as greatest German lyrical poet before Goethe; his hundred or so love-songs are widely regarded as the pinnacle of Minnesang, the medieval German love lyric, and his innovations breathed new life into the tradition of courtly love. He is also the first political poet writing in German, with a considerable body of encomium, satire, invective, and moralising.
Hartmann von Aue, also known as Hartmann von Ouwe, was a Middle High German knight and poet. He introduced the courtly romance into German literature and, with Wolfram von Eschenbach and Gottfried von Strassburg, was one of the three great epic poets of Middle High German literature. He was also a Minnesänger, and 18 of his songs survive.
Martin Opitz von Boberfeld was a German poet, regarded as the greatest of that nation during his lifetime.
Wolfgang Xavier Franz Ritter von Kobell was a German mineralogist and writer of short stories and poems in Bavarian dialect.
Neidhart von Reuental was one of the most famous German minnesingers. He was probably active in the Duchy of Bavaria and then is known to have been a singer at the court of Duke Frederick II of Austria in Vienna. As a minnesinger he was most active from 1210 to at least 1236.
Heinrich von Morungen or Henry of Morungen was a German Minnesinger.
Albrecht von Johansdorf was a Minnesänger and a minor noble in the service of Wolfger of Erla. Documents indicate that his life included the years 1185 to 1209. He may have known Walther von der Vogelweide and is believed to have participated in a crusade. He is known to have written at least five "recruitment" songs in Middle High German, most likely for the Third Crusade. His "Song 2" owes a debt to the structure and melody from a song in Old French by trouvère poet Conon de Béthune. His "Song 5", which mentions the capture of Jerusalem, may suggest that he wrote around 1190. Von Johansdorf's Minnelieder conform outwardly to the standard pattern of man subordinating himself to the woman above him and is responsible for the classical formulation of "the educative value of Minnedienst". His integrity and warmth of heart are most evident in poems referring to the departure for the crusade.
Hugo von Montfort was an Austrian minstrel of the Late Middle Ages.
Wilhelm Molitor was a German poet, novelist, canon lawyer and publicist, and Roman Catholic priest. He was a chief promoter of the Catholic movement in the Palatinate.
A courtesy book or book of manners was a book dealing with issues of etiquette, behaviour and morals, with a particular focus on the life at princely courts. Courtesy literature can be traced back to 13th century German and Italian writers.
Der arme Heinrich is a Middle High German narrative poem by Hartmann von Aue. It was probably written in the 1190s and was the second to last of Hartmann's four epic works. Combining courtly and religious narrative patterns, it tells the story of a noble knight who has been stricken by God with leprosy and can be cured only by the heart's blood of a virgin who willingly sacrifices herself for his salvation.
Lombardic or Langobardic is an extinct West Germanic language that was spoken by the Lombards (Langobardi), the Germanic people who settled in Italy in the 6th century. It was already rapidly declining by the seventh century because the invaders quickly adopted the Latin vernacular spoken by the local Gallo-Roman population. Lombardic may have been in use in scattered areas until as late as c. AD 1000. A number of place names in the Lombardy Region in Northern Italy and items of Lombard vocabulary derive from Lombardic. Some linguists have argued that the modern Cimbrian and Mocheno varieties in Northeast Italy, usually classified as Austro-Bavarian, are in fact surviving Lombard remnants. This could, in turn, indicate that Lombardic was itself an Austro-Bavarian dialect.
In legends about Theoderic the Great that spread after his death, the Gothic king Theoderic became known as Dietrich von Bern, a king ruling from Verona (Bern) who was forced into exile with the Huns. The differences between the known life of Theoderic and the picture of Dietrich in the surviving legends are usually attributed to a long-standing oral tradition that continued into the sixteenth century. The majority of legendary material about Dietrich/Theoderic comes from high and late medieval Germany and is composed in Middle High German or Early New High German. Another important source for legends about Dietrich is the Old Norse Thidrekssaga, which was written using German sources. In addition to the legends detailing events that may reflect the historical Theoderic's life in some fashion, many of the legends tell of Dietrich's battles against dwarfs, dragons, giants, and other mythical beings, as well as other heroes such as Siegfried. Dietrich also appears as a supporting character in other heroic poems such as the Nibelungenlied, and is frequently referenced and alluded to throughout medieval German literature.
Laurin or Der kleine Rosengarten is an anonymous Middle High German poem about the legendary hero Dietrich von Bern, the legendary counterpart of the historical Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great. It is one of the so-called fantastical (aventiurehaft) Dietrich poems, so called because it more closely resembles a courtly romance than a heroic epic. It likely originates from the region of South Tyrol, possibly as early as 1230, though all manuscripts are later.
Der Busant, also known as Der Bussard, is a Middle High German verse narrative, containing 1074 lines of rhyming couplets. The story tells of a love affair between the Princess of France and the Prince of England, who elope but are separated after a buzzard steals one of the princess's rings. After more than a year of separation, with the prince having gone mad and living as a wild man, they are reunited.
Friedrich Ranke was a German medievalist philologist and folklorist. His Old Norse textbook Altnordisches Elementarbuch remains a standard, and all literature concerning Gottfried von Strassburgs Tristan und Isold uses Ranke's line numbering for references to the text.