Goliards

The term ‘goliard’ may first have arisen in connexion with Abelard*, though what we identify as the ‘goliardic’ tradition is some centuries older. An alternative, equally unsatisfactory, epithet is ‘wandering scholars’, a translation of vagantes, depicting the clerics whose journeys between ecclesiastical establishments in Europe was responsible for the transmission of Latin verse of various types such as love-songs, hymns and carols, polemical or trivial lyrics, planctus* and liturgical dramas. Yet many of these suppositious down-at-heel vagrants were in reality established personages such as Philip the Chancellor*; and for all the lascivious, bibulous and amoral attitudes displayed in...

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