In modern times, the morphing of hard news into news entertainment is not a new concept. In the Middle Ages, Minstrels wandered around towns, musical chroniclers and re-enactors of love and war, both local and foreign events, to a one man band soundtrack – usually a stringed accompaniment, either a tabor or on a viele which is similar to a guitar.
In Feudal times, the Minstrels were divided into various classes, and were attached to noble houses – wearing the arms of their patron, hung round the neck by a silver chain. The badge (brand) of the Minstrel profession was a wrest or turning-key.
The Minstrel was a high-honoured and welcome guest after supper when cups of sticky mead were passed around a ready crowd, eager to receive the latest news of victories over common enemies which would incite the simple folk into cries of war, or whet their eyes and soften hearts with tales of loves lost.
However, the job of Minstrel fell into low esteem, after Queen Elizabeth passed an Act of 1597, which relegated Minstrels to the status of rogues, vagabonds and beggars. Cromwell, another cheerful fellow, denounced severe penalties against fiddlers or minstrels too, making the profession as appealing as contracting syphilis.
We’ve experienced technology making past vocations obsolete and how new technology creates future vocation pathways. Indeed, the Minstrel was no stranger to restructuring too. Over time, the Poet took the song, and the Juggler and Tumber stole the movement, leaving the Minstrel a player of only music.
Now that five hundred years is past since the Minstrel hey-day, I propose a full Minstrel Revival. Today’s news providores generally trade in slander, rumour and mostly conjecture to suit the economic/political agendas of private interests. The Minstrel on the other hand, was refreshingly neutral and multi-talented. They were an independent news source that was vulnerable to immediate and sometimes fierce public feedback – which made them not only entertaining, but deeply accountable.
Till next time, crack a queer whid!