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Tannhauser

knight, court and lisaura

TANNHAUSER, tin'hoi-zer, German min nesinger, probably of Salzburg or Bavaria, who in the 13th century appears at the court of Frederick the Warlike and other princes. He led a wandering and adventurous life, and taking Neidhart (q.v.) as his model, celebrated in song the loves of the Bavarian peasantry. A didactic poem (Hofzucht) (Court Behavior) is also attributed to him. He is credited with the original tale of Tannhiuser the knight. This chivalrous knight in the course of his wanderings meets a sage named Hilario, who instructs him in secret lore. At the same city a lady called Lisaura conceives a violent passion for him which he returns. Gradually, however, the tales of his instructor regarding spiritual beings lead him to desire association with some beautiful spirit in mortal form. Hilario assures him that he may attain this at Venusberg, a hill near Freiburg, where Venus holds her court in the midst of all de lights. Tannhauser starts for the haunt of the goddess, on hearing of which Lisaura kills herself. For a long time the knight remains in Venusberg, but at last his conscience touches him, he thinks with regret of Lisaura, and listens to the Virgin Mary, who calls upon him to return. The goddess allows him to de

part, when he proceeds to Rome to seek from Pope Urban absolution for his sins. The Pope, however, declares to him that it is as impossible for him to obtain the grace of God, as it is for the staff which he holds in his hand to bud and bring forth green leaves. Despair ing, the knight retires and enters the Venus berg once more. Meanwhile the Pope's staff has actually begun to sprout, and Urban, taking this as a sign from God that there is still an opportunity of pardon and salvation for the knight, hastily sends messengers into all lands to seek for him. But Tannhauser is no longer to be found, and never again appears on earth. The Tannhauser legend has frequently received poetic treatment, and Richard Wagner has adopted it (with modifications) as the subject of one of his operas. Consult Zander, 'Die Tannhausersage and der Minnesinger Tann hauser' (1858) ; Baring-Gould, Popular Myths of the Middle