MINNESINGER, min'e-sing-er, or MIN NESANGER (from old German mimic', love), the name given to the German lyric poets of the 12th and 13th centuries on account of love being the chief subject of their poems. The cradle of German lyric poetry was Upper Austria. The earliest German poetry was chiefly narrative, and this not only when past events formed the poet's theme, but also when he celebrated pres ent occurrences. But this contact with the pres ent naturally gave occasion to the expression of the poet's feelings and gradually led to the lyric pure and simple. Such was the origin of the oldest extant poems of Dietmar von Aist (1143-70) and others. But the development of German lyric poetry was greatly hastened by the influence of the French poetry of the same class, which at that time flourished in Cham pagne and Flanders. The immediate effects of this French influence were greater strictness and variety in the versification, a greater pre ponderance of the subject of love and a more purely lyrical treatment. The minnesing, ss
were generally of noble birth, and like the trou badours who preceded them wandered from place to place. The Westphalian Heinrich von Veldeken, afterward regarded by the minne singers as the true father of their art; Fried rich von Hansen, a native of the Palatinate; the Thuringian Hugo von Salza; the Saxon Heinrich von Morungen; the semi-mythical Heinrich von Ofterdingen; and the two Swa bians Heinrich von Rucke and Ulrich von Gutenberg, were the chief minnesingers of the latter half of the 12th century. The 13th cen tury witnessed the highest cultivation of the minnesong, and also the beginning of its decay. Its greatest masters are Walther von der Vogel weide, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Strassburg and Hartmann von Aue. After the art had ceased to be practised by the minne singers, it was taken up by the artisans of the towns under the name of meistersingers (q.v.).