He loved music himself, and justified this profane pleasure by the example of Bishop Grosseteste, who lodged his harper in the chamber next his own; but he holds up as a warning to gleemen the fate of the minstrel who sang loud while the bishop said grace, and was miserably killed by a falling stone in consequence.
This is the foundation for the tale of his discovery by the faithful minstrel Blondel, which first occurs in a French romantic chronicle of the next century.
The minstrel of early Germanic times was required to be learned not only in the traditions of his own people, but also in those of the other peoples with whom they felt their kinship. He had a double task to perform.
It is certainly not impossible that a Christian Saxon, sufficiently educated to read Latin easily, may have chosen to follow the calling of a stop or minstrel instead of entering the priesthood or the cloister; and if such a person existed, it would be natural that he should be selected by the emperor to execute his design.
He figures in the works of Barbour and Harry the Minstrel as the sympathizing contemporary of their heroes, and Walter Bower, who continued the Scotichronicon of Fordun, tells how he prophesied the death of Alexander III.
He is the type of the medieval knightly minstrel of the age of the Minnesang.
The poem was first written down by a wandering minstrel about 971 to 991, was remodelled about 1140 by Konrad,' who introduced interpolations in the spirit of chivalry and was perhaps responsible for the metre; during the wars and miseries of the next fifty years manners and taste became barbarized and the fine traditions of the old popular poetry were obscured, and it was under this influence that, about 1190, a jongleur (Spielmann) revised the poem, this recension being represented by group B.
That authority cannot be implicitly relied on, though we need not conclude that the minstrel invented the stories he relates.
We cannot determine the date at which some book-learned man, interested in poetry, took down from the lips of a minstrel one of the stories that he had been accustomed to sing.
As Blair's account has perished, we cannot tell how far the minstrel has faithfully followed his authority, but some comparatively recent discoveries have confirmed the truth of portions of the narrative which had previously been doubted.