Age of Troubadours and the Birth of Modernity

Instructor: Yunus Tuncel
from 1st Jun 2019 to 15th Jun 2019

In this Philo Trip we will explore an important cultural movement that shaped the rise of modernity in Europe from 1100 to 1500: the culture of troubadours of Occitania. The troubadours were a group of poets, singers, and performance artists who emerged as a literary, artistic movement in early 1100s; they have their antecedents in the previous century, but not much is known about them). Scholars are still puzzled about the origin of this movement, but it was like a wild fire that spread first throughout Occitania (what is southern France today) and then throughout Europe, as it inspired poets and triggered the rise of vernacular poetry in Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, German, English and other European languages.

The influence of troubadours, however, cannot be confined to language and literature. Troubadours, under the concept of ‘gai saber,’ had a tremendous impact on the late medieval culture, as they questioned its obsession for a strictly religious life and called for earthly, “secular” expressions of culture. They glorified the feminine principle and raised the ‘domna’ to a godly status, unheard of during the Middle Ages. They were clearly not liked by the Church, and their religious compatriots, the Albigensians (named after Albi), were crushed by the Church and the French Kingdom in a special crusade organized against them, the so-called Albigensian Crusade (1209-1260). The early figures of Humanism and Renaissance, like Dante and Petrarch, knew about the troubadours and carried on their project of ‘gai saber’ onto new heights. The Renaissance too questioned the old medieval order, but their larger scope of creative works, support by many leading figures and patrons, and their integration into the mainstream culture allowed them to spread throughout Europe and make a bigger impact on culture than their immediate predecessors, the troubadours. The trip will explore many troubadour related sites from Nice to Bordeaux, as Philo Wanderers interact with locals, local artists and scholars and taste local wines and flavors. Although the focus of the trip is on troubadours, we will include visits to museums and other sites depending on time left.

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General Itinerary