The dazzling culture of the troubadours - the virtuosity of their songs, the subtlety of their exploration of love, and the glamorous international careers some troubadours enjoyed - fascinated contemporaries and had a lasting influence on European life and literature. Apart from the refined love songs for which the troubadours are renowned, the tradition includes political and satirical poetry, devotional lyrics and bawdy or zany poems. It is also in the troubadour song-books that the only substantial collection of medieval lyrics by women is preserved. This book offers a general introduction to the troubadours. Its sixteen newly-commissioned essays, written by leading scholars from Britain, the US, France, Italy and Spain, trace the historical development and setting of troubadour song, engage with the main trends in troubadour criticism, and examine the reception of troubadour poetry. Appendices offer an invaluable guide to the troubadours, to technical vocabulary, to research tools and to surviving manuscripts.