One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
Note 1 - Some internal cross-references mention entries in the Literature in the Flanaess series and the Chivalric Literature in the Flanaess sub-series that have not yet been posted to CF. All are completely written but await upload and/or display to CF.
Note 2 - The Countess Dia was not a major historic figure outside of her role in establishing the Troubadours. She likely did not rule in her own right.
Chivalric Literature in the Flanaess:
The Troubadors of the Gran March
By Glenn Vincent Dammerung (aka GVDammerung)
Chivalric literature in the Sheldomar Valley is directly traceable to the influence of Naso Viode (See Chivalric Literature in the Flanaess - The Origins of Romance). Viode’s emphasis on the art of love and the relishing of anticipation or delayed gratification becomes the concept of “fin amors,” or refined love, that is easily understood as a regional precursor of courtly love as codified by Capellan (See id.). This metamorphosis is likewise directly traceable to a single person - Dia, Countess of Hookhill. A well educated woman of Suel extraction, the Countess sought to soften the coarseness of her court in the outer dependencies of the Keoland, specifically the northern reaches of the Duchy of Dorlin.
The Knights of the Watch, which would come to dominate the Gran March, the establishment of which would see Hookhill and the Countess’ court divorced from Keoland, were a military order of a particularly unchivalrous nature in their origins. Xenophobic, to put matters nicely, they cared little for finer things, deeming them soft and a needless impediment to the Order’s military function. Countess Dia, playing upon this preoccupation, introduced the idea of an adjunct or auxiliary force, composed chiefly of women, who were otherwise not well represented in the Order, that would play a support role. Called Troubadors in the local dialect, the auxiliaries would be trained bards and poets, who could succor and augment the Knights of the Watch with their bardic abilities.
That Countess Dia’s idea proved acceptable to the Knights of the Watch is unremarkable, as a simple taking of stock demonstrated the utility to a group of knights of having a bard among their number. What the Order did not count upon was the Countess’ true agenda - the fostering of a knighthood that, while puissant, would also be courteous and civil - courtesia. In this manner, the early chivalric tradion of the Sheldomar Valley stands in sharp contrast to that of the Aerdi Minnesingers. (See Chivalric Literature in the Flanaess - The Minnesingers of Aerdi). Whereas the Aerdi developed an early chivalry from hunting practices and the celebration of martial prowess at tourney, the Suel Troubadour tradition was always more purely social in its nature, defining behaviors as appropriate without preamble or the pretext found in the Aerdi tradition of the hunt and the tourney.
Like the Minnesingers, however, the Troubadours of the Gran March organized themselves. This structure, however, was more like that of a guild than an military organization. The Troubadours admitted of the following ranks:
Senhal - The leader of a group of Troubadors, usually regional.
Midons - A master or mistress Troubadour, fully trained and proficient.
Miadon or Damsel - An apprentice Troubadour.
Countess Dia was the first Senhal. While her influence was initially confined to the Gran March, it spread to Keoland and Bissel as her Miadons, Alais, Iselda and Carenza, achieved Midons status. Alais relocated to the Keosh court in Niole Dra, becoming Senhal of Keoland. Carenza relocated to Bissel, becoming Senhal of that land. In time, Iselda, who remained in the March, would succeed Countess Dia as the second Senhal of the Troubadors of the Gran March. Due to regional dialects, what were Troubadours in the Gran March were Trouveres in Keoland and Trobairitz in Bissel. Over time, however, the tradition of the Gran March mother house came to dominate the common usage. Troubadour is now the common appellation.
Despite the common name, the traditions of the Troubadours in Keoland and in Bissel necessarily reflect the local conditions. Those of Keoland are almost completely non-martial, compared to the distinctly martial inclination of the Troubadours of the Gran March. Those of Bissel are intermixed with Baklunish traditions, particularly the sentiments of Hazim’s Al-Hamah. (See Chivalric Literature in the Flanaess - The Origins of Romance). The Bisselite tradition would prove particularly important as its influence on Capellan’s seminal work is both obvious and profound. (See id.)
The common Troubadour styles were established during that period of Keosh hegemony and imperial expansion within the Sheldomar. Where the Gran March’s martial stylings had previously held a pride of place because of the location and influence of the original motherhouse, the Keosh expansion shifted the focus south toward Niole Dra. In the end, the Troubadour’s of the Sheldomar Valley benefitted from this realignment, as the Troubadours of Keoland had developed a far wider and richer selection of themes and forms. The following catalog of Troubadour styles reflects those prevalent at the height of Imperial Keoland:
Alba - Also called a morning song, it classically features illicit lovers caught by the dawn. (A Keosh innovation)
Caso d’ amor - A song or poem that praises a person as an object of desire. (A Marcher innovation)
Chason - A love song. (A Bisselite innovation)
Jeux-patis - A song or poem in the form of a dispute between persons (Marcher) or lovers (Keosh).
Pastorela - A song or poem that classically features the courtship between a knight and a shepardess (A Marcher innovation)
Plancs - A dirge (A Marcher innovation)
Razo - A story of knighthood (A Marcher innovation)
Sirventes - A political poem, often a satire (A Keosh innovation)
Tenson - A love song or poem that features a duet. (A Keosk innovation)
Trobar Clus - A witty allegory. (A Bisselite innovation)
The notation of where a form originated conveys only that. As Troubadours were highly mobile, forms were shared up and down the Sheldomar Valley.
The fate of the Troubadour is interesting. While the Minnesingers of Aerdi have all but died out, seeing their works now practiced by bardic performers of no particularly Aerdi tradition, Troubadours thrive throughout the Flanaess, having spread well beyond the Sheldomar Valley. While in many cases no distinction between a Troubadour and a bard will be made, in Keoland, the Gran March, Veluna and Furyondy (a lasting good to come out of the Short War), Troubadours are recognized as a unique type of bardic performer.
What follows are descriptions of the three leading compilations of the works of the Troubadours of the Gran March, and to a lesser extent Keoland and Bissel. It should be understood that any single poem or song would not, by itself, be of sufficient length to justify being published, except perhaps in a special presentation scroll or the like. Most of the Troubadour works were collected some time after the principles’ deaths.
The Vidaesa (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 95 CY
Note - Subsequent editions exist up to 500 CY. There are 12 in total. Each subsequent edition incorporates the works of the prior additions, adding new material current to the date of publication.
The Vidaesa was begun by Dia, Countess Hookhill, as a record of the works of her Damsels and Midons. Subsequent Senhals added to the work. The eventual publication of the Vidaesa came about more by accident than anything else, in an effort to capture the works of the expanding ranks of the Troubadours, such that quality could recorded for posterity and talent judged in modernity. Unique among the collections of Troubadour works, the Vidaesa incorporates works from the Gran March, Keoland and Bissel without distinction.
The 1st Edition of the Vidaesa is most prized and features the works of Countess Dia, as well as the works of her Midons, Alais, Iselda and Carenza. Some few works by the latter’s Miadons are also included. The range of poetry and song foreshadows the growth of the Troubadours in Keoland and Bissel, as well as the Gran March. However, the scope of the work clearly shows the influence of the early Gran March, and its military preoccupation. The 1st Edition is also notable for the inclusion of vida or biographies of each of the Troubadours. This practice was kept up until the 5th Edition, when it became physically impossible to include the works deemed worthy of collection as well as biographies of all of the contributing Troubadours.
The Joglaresa (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 197 CY
Note - Each 1st Edition is numbered and has a unique dedication. The 1st Edition was intended only for the Senhals of the Gran March. As such, only 7 copies were published. Of these, 4 are known to have survived and of these one is known to be in the present possession of the current Senhal of Hookhill.
The Joglaresa is much the same as the Vidaesa but is limited to the works of the Troubadours of the Gran March. Included in the Joglaresa are the works of the Countess Dia’s successors as Senhal of Hookhill. These include Iselda’s later works, as well as the works of Iseult, Azalais, Alamanda and Garsenda. The best works of each Senhal’s Midons and Damsels are also included. Unlike the Vidaesa, the currency of the Joglaresa was not maintained. Subsequent editions republish the first. While the Vidaesa may be understood to be the more useful, if not finer work, the Joglaresa is considered the classic Troubadour work. It captures the martial spirit of the Gran March Troubadours and in so doing is the high water mark of the proto-chivalry of the Sheldomar Valley, prior to the modern era.
Unsurprisingly, the razo is the featured form of the Joglaresa. Herein are tales that, but for a discernable feminine sensibility, most notable in the number of pastorelas, might well have been heard in an Aerdi court. The Aerdi warrior and hunter mentality meets its like in the martial prowess of the Gran Marchers of the Sheldomar Valley. These are tales that approach history in their recounting of knightly exploits and the aid provided by faithful Troubadours. That such adventures may have occasioned a bond that in some cases went beyond a pure platonic comradery should not surprise or prove unexpected. It is with this in mind that the emotional power of some of the plancs may, perhaps, be best understood. The Joglaresa is thus a one of a kind, a unique chivalric literary document, predating the Thrommel Cycle (See Literature in the Flanaess - The Thrommel Cycle) and Capellan’s work. Throughout the Flanaess, it is not uncommon to encounter selections from the Joglaresa, whether they are so attributed or not.
The Histrions by Senhal Bieiris of Niola Dra (7 Volumes)
1st Edition - 459 CY
Note - The Histrions in the 2nd and 3rd Editions were published in expurgated form. In the 2nd Edition, those works not deemed “correct” by Keoland censors were omitted. In the 3rd Edition, those works not deemed “correct” by censors in the Gran March were omitted. Thankfully, fanatics of various stripes found other matters with which to occupy themselves by the publication of the 4th Edition.
Bieiris, a direct descendant of Countess Dia, is perhaps the finest poet to have been born in Keoland. A noted scholar, she wrote in Ancient Suloise as well as in the common vernacular. Her achievements in every form of poetry and song are those of a prodigy and a genius. That she is, by some records, accounted male is a tribute to a certain chauvinism among some segments of the population but also to Bieiris’ penchant for adopting disguises when traveling. Further confusing the issue, Bieiris is known to have taken lovers of both genders and from a variety of races. In some quarters, this was regarded as very improper and un-Suel and likely contributed to the bowdlerizing of the 2nd and 3rd Editions of The Histrions. Talent, however, will out, and The Histrions is both a monumental exhibition of talent and scholarship.
In the Histrions, Bieiris collects the works of the Troubadors, Trouveres and the Trobairitz extant at the time, as well as latter works of note, to include Bieiris’ own complete works. Volumes 1-3 collect the works of the early Troubadors, Trouveres and the Trobairitz respectively. While these volumes draw heavily on the Vidaesa, they also range further afield and do not reproduce the individual vidas. Volumes 4-6 collect the most notable later works of Keoland, the Gran March and Bissel respectively. The Joglaresa is substantially reproduced with respect to the Gran March but at least as many later works are also included. Volume 7 is composed entirely of Bieiris’ work and that of her Midons and Damsels. In total, the Histrions is a monumental work of scholarship, as well as a purely artistic endeavor. _________________ GVD
I cant believe it, but somehow I missed this thread completely!
Sorry, GVD, I found the article excellent and very detailed. I should point out that there are no Counts or Countesses in GM, nor ever have been. That is actually a fairly canon statement. Can we change her to baroness? Or maybe someone who styled herself a countess?
This is excellent, can I get it emailed in a Word Doc?
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