This introductory chapter provides an overview of how troubadour song came to occupy a unique place in the French literary canon. The story of the current misprision of troubadour song as French begins in the earliest stages of its transmission in francophone space. Far from being treated as a foreign entity, Occitan lyric was already considered “native” in French sources, even long before Occitan-speaking territories were officially annexed to France. To tell this story of assimilation, the process through which Occitan song was domesticated, this book surveys the two types of medieval material—songbooks and lyric-interpolated narratives—that quote or compile Occitan song in native francophone territory. The chapter then looks at the relationship between the troubadours and their francophone counterparts, the trouvères. It also describes birdsong, and explains two of the assimilative strategies that are common to both songbooks and the lyric-interpolated romances that quote the troubadours: Gallicization and geographical remapping of troubadour song into either francophone or transitional regions between French- and Occitan-speaking territories.
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